GNDS 410 – “Autobiofictionalography”
Queen’s University, WINTER 2017
Co-Instructor with Dr. Jane Tolmie
Coined by comics artist and playwright Lynda Barry, this term signals the impossibility of direct or perfect revelation of lived experience. All forms of self-narration – autobiography, memoir, life writing, long-form comics, confessional poetry, autoethnography – are mediated, subjective, imperfect, and poised whether easily or uneasily between memory and fiction. This mixed undergrad/grad course exposes students to a wide range of forms of memory-based work, with attention to gender, feminist, and queer theory; critical race studies; transgender studies; and literary theory. While primarily a literature and theory course, there is also substantial engagement with films, oral performance, and documentary work in various formats. The class also examines the dangers of appropriation, whether by instructors or by authors/creators telling the stories of others. Self-narration, in the end, is never just about the self, nor is it simple to teach the difficult stories of other people.
Course description by Jane Tolmie
Course image from Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic