Barrie Borich, English
How do artists make sense of their lives in the city—using the “I see,” “I want,” “I remember,” first-person point of view? How might personal documentary, memoir, and self-portraiture works help the rest of us find our place in the intimidating metropolis? Chicago has over nine million people inhabiting its city and suburbs, and this population density might lead us to believe individuals don’t matter, but what gives Chicago vitality is the interplay of many, each particular story complex, full, and inseparable from the parts of city where the story occurred. In this course, led by a working Chicago memoirist, we look at how authors, visual artists, and performers use memory and observation to make books, photographs, paintings, and live lit monologues that illuminate common experience and witness, helping us see how to live within the metropolitan roar. We will read from older memoirs that describe loving and surviving in the Chicago that used to be, as well as contemporary autobiographical writings that grapple with, and pay homage to, city life today. We will travel to neighborhoods described in the stories we read, and visit big and little museums to consider how established and outsider artists of the city have created their own ways of seeing themselves clearly, even while encompa
ssed by the throng. We will also attend a Chicago nonfiction storytelling event—part of the city’s thriving live lit scene. Students will keep an urban observation and memory daybook—which will include a bit of first-person creative work about their own experience of the big city—as well as write short response and analysis papers.
- Schedule compatible with BIO 191 General Biology I for Science Majors
- Schedule compatible with CHE 130 General Chemistry I