Autobiography has an important place in the canon of African American literature, as authors present in their own words what time, circumstance and history have made of them and reveal to readers “life within the veil” in a country where we struggle to come to terms with “the color line.” From the earliest slave narratives to Barack Obama’s Dreams of My Father and beyond, African American authors have constructed a sense of self, expressed their politics and articulated their aesthetics in the form of life writing. The instructor will offer introductions to 12 autobiographies from various historical periods by African American men and women, some well-known and some who should be. While participants are not expected to read these works during the term, we will explore the range and rich variety of African American literature to inspire participants to have a context if they choose to read on their own.
Catherine Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org) is director for OLLI at UNC Asheville and holds three degrees in English from UNC Chapel Hill. She has always enjoyed literature as a way to see the world through new eyes and looks forward to sharing her perceptions of seeing the American experience as presented by African American writers.