Teaching‎ > ‎2012 Herbstsemester‎ > ‎

BA Seminar: Life Writing

B.A. Seminar

Life Writing

Prof. Elisabeth Bronfen and Elizabeth Kollmann

Tuesday 16.15 -18.00



(1.) 18.9. Introduction


(2.) 25.9. Key theoretical issues

            -- James Olney, "Autobiography and the Cultural Movement: A Thematic,        Historical and Bibliographical Introduction"

            -- Robert Folkenflik, "Introduction: The Institution of Autobiography"



Fiction and Autobiography: A murky interface


(3.) 2.10. Frank McCourt – Angela's Ashes


(4.) 9.10. Virginia Woolf – A Room of One's Own

            -- "The New Biography"


(5.) 16.10. Lecture by Prof. Lisbeth Larsson:

            -- "Virginia Woolf, Biographism, and Life Writing"



            -- Lauren Rusk - "The Common Life of Uncommon Women: Woolf's A Room of One's Own"

            -- Catherine Dahlström - "In my end is my beginning: The Death of Virginia Woolf"



Writing in the face of death


(6.) 23.10. Sigmund Freud – From Beyond the Pleasure Principle, part 1-3

            -- Elisabeth Bronfen – "The Lady Vanishes" (from Over Her Dead Body)


(7.) 30.10. Allon White - Too Close to the Bone


(8.) 6.11. Joan Didion - The Year of Magical Thinking


(9.) 13.11. Tony Judt - The Memory Chalet


-- hand in your photograph to Elizabeth Kollmann


The philosophy of life writing


(10.) 20.11. Roland Barthes - Barthes by Barthes


(11.) 27.11. Barthes cont., with discussion of personal photographs


(12.) 4.12. J.M. Coetzee - Youth


-- hand in as well as upload on OLAT your piece of life writing


(13.) 11.12. Paul Auster - Invisible


(14.) 18.12. What we have learned - Discussion of student's own life writing

and Christmas Party (bring food and time)





We are fully aware that this is a reading-intensive course, yet we expect all students to take this reading load upon themselves. We are sure the pleasure of these texts, given their existential drive, will draw you in.


All students will be asked to write a brief thesis for all the sessions. You may be called on individually to present it or be asked to feed it into the general discussion. This is meant as an exercise for you to prepare each class session efficiently in advance. All students will, furthermore, be asked to do a written protocol of one of the sessions. Finally, all students will be asked to do a piece of life writing themselves.

6 KP B.A. students will be asked in addition to write a paper on issues raised in the seminar. Ideally you would use the class sessions to develop ideas you might want to write on.