Making Up Your Life


Mostly we make our lives up as we go along, and although we might sometimes find it hard to imagine doing anything else, we may also sometimes wish that there was a narrative or organizational principle that we could point to, or create, in our lives. The purpose of this course, then, is both to reflect on the notion of life history and to consider a few of the ways that people have tried to plan, strategize, or design their lives and the lives of others as well.  To this end, we will be looking at written and image-based texts that try to imagine what a self is, exactly (so things like Hamlet, Freud’s case histories, Virginia Woolf, Spalding Gray’s monologues); that offer useful or interesting examples of lives both fictional and real, both exemplary and admonitory (like maybe books by Toni Morrison, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Amitav Ghosh, films such as Mustangor Citizen Kane, etc.); and that are deliberately involved in the project of trying to imagine what the ideal way of living a life might be (utopian and speculative narratives, self-help, or popular psychology, for instance).