What is a “life” when it’s written down? How does memory inform the present? Why are autobiographies and memoirs so popular? How do they differ from fiction? This class will address these questions and others, considering the relationship between biography, autobiography, and memoir and between personal and political themes. Examples include such classics as Mary Rowlandson, Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Solomon Northrup, and Harriet Jacobs; then more recent examples like Tobias Wolff, Art Spiegelman, Sherman Alexie, Alison Bechdel, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, or Edwidge Danticat. Students will have an opportunity to write memoirs of their own.