Autobiography and American Literature

Module code: AM3022

Module co-ordinator: Nick Everett

American culture has always attached great value to the individual; autobiography – in one form or another – has always flourished in the United States. In this module we will read a number of modern and contemporary American autobiographical works, examining the various literary, cultural, and political purposes behind the selves and lives they present. You will produce a short, first-person, fictional or autobiographical piece of your own that is coordinated with the autobiographical works we are studying.

Topics covered

  • Conversion narratives describing moments of realisation or transformation in the author's life
  • Political narratives seeking to use a personal story to analyse a social issue
  • Thematic autobiographies exploring the significance of an interest, activity, illness, another person etc., in the author's life
  • Experimental, postmodernist approaches to the representation of selves and lives that implicitly question the purposes and effects of conventional realist autobiography

Works studied will include:


  • 15 two-hour seminars
  • one hour of project supervision


  • Essay, 2,000 words (20%)
  • Portfolio of creative exercises, 1,500-2,000 words (80%)