Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Working Syllabus for Inside

Anne Dalke's picture

Identity: Visible and Invisible
A Bryn Mawr Course about Reading and Writing Memoirs

In this course, we will use different kinds of writing—poetry, essays, news articles, a play, a novel, one memoir in graphic form,and one in prose—in order to think together about how identities are shaped and altered in relationship with others. Participants will read and discuss a number of texts, and write some short memoirs of their own, in various forms. By semester's end, the group will produce a short collection of their writing.

The course will be held on Fridays from 1 to 3 pm. We will meet for 13 weeks, from January 27 until April 28, except on Friday, March 10, when students at Bryn Mawr College will be on spring break.

Participants who attend at least 10 sessions will receive a Bryn Mawr College Certificate of Course Completion.

WEEK 1, Friday, Jan. 27: Orientation with Volunteer Office.
Meet and greet with students. Read and discuss several poems by Nikky Finney.

WEEK 2, 
Feb. 3: write "Where I'm from" poems and start reading a novel:
Octavia Butler, Kindred

WEEKS 3-4, Fridays, Feb. 10 & 17: Kindred, continued

WEEKS 5-6, Fridays Feb. 24 & Mar. 3:
a graphic memoir
Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis

Friday, March 10:  NO CLASS

WEEKS 7-8, Fridays, Mar. 17 & 24: a prose memoir
Janet Mock, Redefining Realness

WEEKS 9-10, Fridays, Mar. 31 & Apr. 7:  a play
Sophocles, Antigone (in Seamus Heaney’s translation, A Burial at Thebes)

WEEKS 11-12, Fridays, Apr. 14 & 21: a collection of essays
Thomas King, The Truth About Stories

WEEK 13, Friday, April 28: identity in the news

On different kinds of language: Paul Valéry wrote that poetic language creates “the need to be heard again,” whereas ordinary language “tends to bring about the complete negation of language itself” as soon as the message is understood. The particular music of a phrase may bring about this desire for repetition, but Valéry also noted that a phrase’s difficulty may endow it with poetic value, since “the person who does not understand repeats the words” until they surrender to sense. --Zack Finch, "The Politics of Language,"