ENG374: "Life Writing: The Art of Biography"
Spring 2013 | Princeton University
Prof. Annalyn Swan (Winner of 2005 Pulitzer Prize, Biography)
"As literary genres go, biography has always been something of a stepchild — and understandably so, for far too many people approach writing biography as a nuts-and-bolts recitation of a person’s life. But the best biography is as different from this pedestrian approach as Jane Austin is to pulp fiction. Great biography tells the tale with panache, while never straying from scrupulous historical and biographical research.
We will begin with excerpts from a collection of essays about the biographer’s craft that will serve as a foundation for the semester-long discussion to come. The class will then focus on intellectual, structural and stylistic analysis of different biographies and autobiographies. Each student will prepare one 20-minute oral presentation over the course of the semester and lead a class discussion on his/her presentation."