AMST 8920 Special Topics course, "Personal Narratives in Interdisciplinary Research" for spring 2010 will be taught by Professor Jennifer L. Pierce on Tuesdays from 1:25 - 3:20 p.m.
Course Description: This course examines epistemological, theoretical, and methodological questions related to research using personal narrative sources such as autobiographies, memoirs, oral histories, in-depth interviews, diaries, and letters. As narrative constructions about selves, these sources can provide unique insights into subjectivity, meaning, emotions, and desires that other kinds of social science and historical evidence cannot. The evidence presented in personal narratives is unabashedly subjective and, its narrative logic presents a story of an individual subject changing and developing over time. Their analysis can provide insights into the history of the "self" and its variations at the same time that they have the potential to enrich theories of social action and human agency. We begin by reading theoretical scholarship about personal narratives followed by a focus on different kinds of studies analyzing personal narrative sources in fields such as American studies, history, sociology, and anthropology. In the final section of the course, we address ethics of research drawing from life stories.
*Theoretical and Epistemological Issues*
Paul John Eakin, How Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves (Cornell University Press, 1999)
Mary Jo Maynes and Jennifer L. Pierce, Telling Stories: The Use of Personal Narratives in Social Science and in History(Cornell University Press, 2008)
Alessandro Portelli, The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History (Albany: State University of New York, 1991) [selections]
Arthur Frank, The Wounded Storyteller
*Oral history and Autobiographical Life Stories *
Mamie Garvin Fields with Karen Fields, Lemon Swamp and Other Stories: A Carolina Memoir
Hokulani Aikau et al., Feminist Waves, Feminist Generations: Life Stories from the Academy (University of Minnesota Press, 2007)
*Using more than one Life Story: Adolescent Life Stories and Coming out Stories*
Wendy Luttrell, Pregnant Bodies, Fertile Minds: Gender, Race, and the Schooling of Pregnant Teens. (Routledge, 2003)
Martin Duberman, Stonewall
*Composite Life histories*
Marion Goldman, Passionate Journeys: Why Successful Women Joined a Cult (Michigan, 2001).
*Histories of Selves: Diaries and Letters as Personal Narrative Sources*
Joan Brumberg, The Body Project
Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Life in the Antebellum Slave Market
Carolyn Kay Steedman, Landscape for a Good Woman
*Ethics and Life Writing*
Thomas Coules, Vulnerable Subjects: Ethics and Life Writing (Cornell U Press, 2004)