This course is discontinued

ENG4424 – Autobiography: Writing Selves in English

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

How does one write one’s own life? What happens when a life is (re)constructed in the form of autobiography or memoir? What are the generic boundaries of such writing?

In this course we will be reading a range of both historical and more recent examples of autobiography. In doing so we will hope to get a better grasp of the diversity of this capacious genre, its potential and limitations, as well as understand how it achieves its effects.

In addition to this, we will be undertaking a study of a number of central theoretical contributions to our understanding of autobiography and of life narratives more generally. How has this genre evolved historically and what explains its popularity today? Which theories can help us understand the genre of autobiography, as well as the more comprehensive category of life writing?

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you:

  • can identify developments within, and the variety of, the genres of autobiography and memoir in English, especially in the twentieth century;
  • can analyse this category of non-fiction texts with recourse to relevant theory;
  • can demonstrate the ability to reflect on the distinctions between fiction and non-fiction;

  • know the central points of a selection of theory on autobiography and life writing more generally;
  • can contextualise a number of autobiographies, both in terms of generic developments and relevant historical contexts.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

The course has a capacity of 15 students. The department will notprovide additional capacity if there are more applicants.


Seminar, two hours per week for 10 weeks, 20 hours in all.

Obligatory activity:

  • Students must give an oral presentation in class at a given time during the semester.
  • Attendance is obligatory at least 8 out of 10 seminars.  Additional absences must be justified by documentation. Read more about rules concerning valid excuses and how to apply for approved absences or postponements here. Read more about guidelines relating to obligatory activities.

All obligatory activities must be approved in the same semester. All obligatory attendance and assignments are only valid the semester you attend the course.


The form of assessment is a term paper of 12–15 standard pages (a standard page consists of 2,300 characters). References and bibliography comes in addition.

Assessment guidelines

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

A term paper or equivalent that is passed may not be resubmitted in revised form.

If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Spring 2019

This course is taught irregularly


Spring 2019

Teaching language