HUMS 184: Approaches to Contemporary Biography

December 13, 2023

Keep an eye out for HUMS 184 in the Spring! The course will be taught by Karin Roffman; details below.

AMST 184/HUMS 184/ENGL 437

Approaches to Contemporary Biography: Writing & Reading Biography

Th 9:25-11:15am

This course on the theory and practice of contemporary biography has four primary aims: to articulate current ideas about biography in relation to the history of the form; to consider how some of the most creative practitioners have arrived at their views about it; to practice undertaking sustained imaginative archival research and writing about archival materials through the class’s meetings at the Beinecke library; and to deepen one’s own process of doing biographical work through a final project that is built from archival research and presented as either an exhibition, a narrative essay, a creative project using cited and annotated archival materials, or a combination of these. The readings are primarily on artists whose interrelated artistic practices make them deeply arresting figures to study and write about and for whom contemporary biographers offer innovative techniques to capture a fuller sense of the complexity of subjects’ creative lives.

This semester the focus of our deep dive at the Beinecke will be the poet and musician Cornelius Eady and the Cave Canem Foundation that he co-founded with poet Toi Derricotte. Class will include a visit by Cornelius Eady and a performance by his band, a staged reading of his play Brutal Imagination directed by Joe Morton, and a discussion with Dante Micheaux, poet and Director of Programs at Cave Canem. Six class meetings will take place at Beinecke Library.