Life Writing Studies at UHM

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa English department offers courses in life writing every semester. Check the menu for more information on the courses that are on rotation, the recent MA theses and Ph.D. dissertations done in the department, and more.

For the Spring 2017 semester, the following courses will be taught (click the course title for a full description!):

ENG 273: “Creative Writing: Truth and Lives in Autobiography” with Instructor Rain Wright-Cannon

How do personal history and storytelling intersect? To what extent is autobiography history? How do we tell the truth of our lives? What is the nature of identity, and how do culture and language influence our perceptions life? In this course, we will work to answer these questions while we investigate different modes of autobiography. In our discussions, postings and writing, we will consider how personal, social, economic, and cultural influences impact the narratives we write. As a class, we will read work that is evocative and compelling—this includes work that is innovative in form.

ENG 311: “Autobiographical Writing” with Professor Frank Stewart

ENG 434: “Studies from the 20th Century – Present Life Writing and Human Rights” with Professor Cynthia Franklin

“The human” may seem like an obvious term. However, it defies definition, and is continually being challenged. Understandings of who and what constitute the human are complex and politically charged. Whether individuals or groups are granted human status can determine whether they live or die. This course explores how individual life narratives, especially when situated in relation to collective traumas, can expose ways in which some people are excluded from the category of the human, or de  emed “subhuman.”

ENG 764: “Seminar in Life Writing: Human Lives, Uncivil States” with Professor Cynthia Franklin

This course addresses the slippery status of the human and the political power and ethical stakes that accompany our understandings of how humanity is defined, and who it does—and does not—include. To investigate this question—currently a pressing one in the humanities—we consider life writing texts in conjunction with contemporary theory that takes up the questions of the human. The course engages with texts and concerns central to a number of different fields: life writing, human rights, affect studies, queer studies, studies of race and ethnicity, settler colonial studies, (post-) humanism, trauma studies, and civility studies. Students should emerge with some fluency in these fields.