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21W.022.03 Writing and Experience: Reading and Writing Autobiography | Comparative Media Studies/Writing

21W.022.03 Writing and Experience: Reading and Writing Autobiography | Comparative Media Studies/Writing

The reading and writing in this course will focus on the art of self-narrative or autobiographical writing. Such writing can be crafted in the form of a longer autobiography or of separate, shorter autobiographically-inspired essays. The various forms of autobiographical narrative can both reflect on personal experience and comment on larger issues in society.This course explores, through reading and writing, what it means to construct a sense of self-and a life narrative-in relation to the larger social world of family and friends, education, media, work, and community. What does it mean to see ourselves as embodying particular ethical values or belonging to a certain ethnic, racial, national or religious group(s)? How do we imagine ourselves within larger "family narrative(s)" and friendship groups? In what ways do we view our identities as connected to and expressed by our educational and work experiences, including experiences at MIT? How do we see ourselves as shaping and shaped by the popular media culture of our society? How do we think about our ethical and social responsibility to our friends, families and communities (large and small)? Readings will include autobiographically-inspired nonfiction and fiction. 

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Leslie Dupont
Leslie Dupont (Combo of faculty and admin)
4 years ago

I was impressed with the thoroughness and relevance of this course material, which seems carefully designed to anticipate student questions and provide scaffolding for their learning process. Autobiographical readings are clearly connected to homework exercises. For instance, prompts that accompany readings help students think deeply about not only how and why those readings are constructed but also ways in which these elements could relate to their (students') own autobiographical writing choices. (And the information/links on how to get published encourage an even deeper level of student investment.) I can see myself adapting assignments and prompts for working with both undergraduate and graduate students.

The one area of concern I have (and it's a challenge I still grapple with, too) is the extremely "text-dense" design of the course materials--huge chunks of text loaded with information to the point of potentially overwhelming the readers. Things to think about: redesigning assignments for online-learning/multi-modality contexts; separating lengthier assignment handouts into step-by-step (e.g., here's what to do / how to do it) vs. relevant but non-sequential information (e.g., here are some narrative writing strategies) focuses; playing with visual/organizational redesign (e.g., color and placement choices); and simplifying the homework submission process to electronic only (while being quietly flexible about accepting hard copies in an emergency).

There is a ton of rich content overall, which I plan to return to and explore more deeply.

Thanks for sharing it!

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