HDS 3721

The Self Writing the Self: Autobiography and Religion

Janet Gyatso


This course explores the nature of selfhood as it is constituted in the writing of autobiography. Our questions include: What do autobiographies tell us about the relationship of personal identity, individuality, subjectivity, and alienation to religious truth? What can we say about the relationship of the lived live to what is remembered and written in autobiography? To whom are autobiographers telling their self-stories, and why? What constitutes such critical experiences as moments of conversion, enlightenment, or self-consciousness? Our interpretive methodology will draw from literary theory on autobiographical writing. Students will also keep autobiographical journals for the course, as an exercise in the practice of this genre of writing. Autobiographical writings to be studied include those by Augustine, Teresa of Avila, a Tibetan Buddhist hermitess, a Jewish Kaballist mystic, a contemporary Chinese-American novelist, a 17th century Venetian Rabbi, an American freed slave, a Japanese pilgrim poet, and James Joyce.

Enrollment Limited: No
Open to BTI Students: Yes
Jointly offered as Religion 1043


0.50 credits
Spring 2014
Wed 10am-12pm
Andover Hall Room 102

Relationship to Program Requirements

Program Requirement Area / Category / Art / Designation
MTS Area(s) of Focus
  • Comparative Studies
  • History of Christianity
  • Religion, Literature, and Culture
  • Theology
MDiv Distribution Category/ies None
MDiv Art(s) of Ministry
  • Pastoral Care and Counseling
  • Public Leadership, Community Organizing, and Planning
  • Preaching and Worship
  • Religious Education and Spiritual Development
Language Course Designation(s) None