Auto-Criticism: Writing the Self in the World

December 15, 2020

By Nancy Kuhl

Well known on campus and around the world as a site of important historical documents of all kinds, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript is also a regional and national center of the living art of American literature. In addition to collecting significant contemporary books and archives and hosting the Yale Collection of American Literature Reading Series, a dynamic series of readings and related events on campus, the Beinecke’s Yale Collection of American Literature is co-sponsoring a Spring 2021 seminar with the Departments of English, American Studies, and Ethnicity, Race and Migration: Auto-Criticism: Writing the Self in the World. Professors Leah Mirakhor and Claudia Rankine will lead the course.

Course Description: This course brings together a group of contemporary cultural critics who examine the intersections of aesthetics and politics across visual and literary forms. Our discussions focus on the different formal techniques and practices regarding archive driven scholarly works, public essays, memoirs, and reviews. We discuss different approaches toward interdisciplinary writing and criticism, the public humanities, and engaging scholarly expertise with a broader audience. In preparation for meetings, participants read selections of works from guest scholars and cultural critics. Our hope is to build a discussion about writing across different disciplinary background and domains and engage with how these practices might contribute to our works as scholars, writers, and activists. Workshops with critics are twice a month.

Completed student projects associated with the Beinecke Collections will be eligible for publication on the Beinecke Library website.
Beinecke Library resources for contemplating and studying a broad range of topics related to writing the self: memoir, self-portraiture, self-presentation, life writing, personal archiving, and much more. Resources gathered here may support creativity, small-scale research projects, and in-deep scholarship into collections that may be of interest to scholars of American Studies, Women and Gender Studies, African American Studies, Literary Modernism, Sexuality Studies, Gay and Lesbian literature and more.