In our storytelling times, biography and autobiography are once again significant, experimental forms of writing in French. This seminar will investigate this comeback through its long inventive record. Major authors from different times and places will serve as our guides including Ernaux, Feraoun, Montaigne, Proust. Among the critics guiding us: Barthes, Foucault, Jablonka, Edith Thomas. Who merits a life story? The humble with the famous? Animals and inanimate objects? What modes of writing capture experience in all its conflictual energy? How do writers represent lives as processes of discovery and change? Investigating all these questions will lead us finally to consider why writers working in French experiment with a rich variety of models for life-writing.
The syllabus is here: