AMST 8920, "Topics: Personal Narratives in Interdisciplinary Research", will be taught Fall 2011 by Professor Jennifer Pierce. This course examines epistemological, theoretical, and methodological questions related to research using personal narrative sources such as oral histories, in-depth interviews, autobiographies, memoirs, diaries, and letters.
AMST 8920 - Topics: Personal Narratives in Interdisciplinary Research
Professor Jennifer L. Pierce
Course Description: This course examines epistemological, theoretical, and methodological questions related to research using personal narrative sources such as oral histories, in-depth interviews, autobiographies, memoirs, diaries, and letters. As narrative constructions about selves, these sources can provide unique insights into subjectivity, meaning, emotion, and desire 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 analyses can provide important insights into the history of the self and its variations at the same time that they have the potential to enrich theories of human agency and social practices. Analyses of personal narratives can also illuminate historical, cultural, and social dimensions. In this light, personal narratives are never solely individual.
We begin by reading about epistemological, theoretical, and methodological issues related to personal narrative analysis in work by literary scholars as well as historians and social scientists. The next section focuses on a number of studies analyzing personal narratives drawing from different kinds of sources such as oral histories, autobiographical life stories, letters, diaries, and even forms of social media such as blogs and online games in fields such as American studies, feminist studies, ethnic studies, history, anthropology, and sociology. In the final section, we consider hybrid forms of personal narrative analysis, the difficulties researchers encounter when they encounter "ephemeral traces of subjectivity," and the ethics of conducting personal narrative research.
Hokulani Aikau, Karla Erickson, and Jennifer L. Pierce, editors, Feminist Waves, Feminist Generations: Life Stories from the Academy, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.
Tom Boellstorff, Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human, Chapel Hill: Duke University Press, 2008.
G. Thomas Couser, Vulnerable Subjects: Ethics and Life Writing, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004.
Paul John Eakin, How Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999.
Mamie Garvin Fields with Karen Fields, Lemon Swamp and Other Stories: A Carolina Memoir, New York: Free Press, 1985.
Wendy Luttrell, Pregnant Bodies, Fertile Minds: Gender, Race, and the Schooling of Pregnant Teens, New York: Routledge, 2003.
Saba Mahmood, The Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.
Mary Jo Maynes, Jennifer L. Pierce, and Barbara Laslett, Telling Stories: The Use of Personal Narratives in Social Science and in History, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008.
Tiya Miles, Ties that Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and in Freedom, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.
Carolyn Kay Steedman, Landscape for a Good Woman, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987.
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on her Diary, 1785-1812, New York: Vintage, 1991.
Required articles and book chapters:
Nancy Chodorow, "Seventies Questions for Thirties Women" in her Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory, New Haven: CT: Yale University Press, 1989.
Nancy Chodorow, "Introduction," and "Creating Personal Meaning,"in her The Power of Feelings, New Haven: CT: Yale University Press, 1999.
Ann Cvetkovich, "AIDS Activism and Public Feelings: Documenting ACT UP's Lesbians," An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality and Lesbian Public Cultures, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.
Arthur Frank, "Dialogical Narrative Analysis as a Method of Questioning," Letting Stories Breathe: A Socio-Narratology, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.
Sigmund Freud, "Screen Memories," in The Uncanny. New York: Penguin, 2003, translated by David McClintock with an introduction by Hugh Haughton, and his essay "On Mourning and Melancholia"
Macarena Gómez-Barris and Herman Gray, "Toward a Sociology of the Trace," in Herman Gray and Macarena Gómez-Barris, editors, Toward a Sociology of the Trace, University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
Katherine Hodgkin and Susannah Radstone, "Introduction: Contested Pasts," in Katherine Hodgkin and Susannah Radstone editors, Contested Pasts: The Politics of Memory (Routledge, 2003)
Walter Johnson, "Introduction" and "Making A World out of Slaves," in Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.
Shula Marks, "The Context of Personal Narrative: Reflections on Not Either an Experimental Doll," in The Personal Narratives Group, editors, Interpreting Women's Lives, Indiana University Press, 1989.
Luisa Passerini, "Memories between Silence and Oblivion" all in Katherine Hodgkin and Susannah Radstone editors, Contested Pasts: The Politics of Memory (Routledge, 2003)
Alessandro Portelli, "What Makes Oral History Different," The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History, Albany: State University of New York, 1991.
Alessandro Portelli, The Massacre at Fosse Ardeatine," in Katherine Hodgkin and Susannah Radstone editors, Contested Pasts: The Politics of Memory (Routledge, 2003)
Adam Reed, "'My Blog is Me': Texts and Persons in UK Online Journal Culture (and Anthropology) Ethnos 70, 2 (June 2005).
Andrew C. Sparks, "Autoethnography: Self-Indulgence or Something More?" in Arthur Bochner and Carolyn Ellis, editors, Ethnographically Speaking: Autoethnography, Literature, Aesthetics, Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press, 2002, pp. 209-32.
Liz Stanley, "The Epistolarium: On Theorizing Letters and Correspondences," Auto/Biography 12 (2004).
Julia Swindells, "Liberating the Subject? Autobiography and Women's History: A Reading of the Diaries of Hannah Cullwick," in Personal Narratives Group, editors, Interpreting Women's Lives, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989.