This Course at MIT

This Course at MIT pages provide context for how the course materials published on OCW were used at MIT. They are part of the OCW Educator initiative, which seeks to enhance the value of OCW for educators.

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 21L.512 American Authors: Autobiography and Memoir as it was taught by Dr. Wyn Kelley in Fall 2013.

The course covered American authors and specifically focused on “life” when it is written down as autobiographies or memoirs. The course addressed the relationship between biography, autobiography, memoir, and between personal and social themes as well as considering how memory informs the present and why these works are so popular. The texts included classic authors and more recent examples.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

Some of the texts come very close to fiction or are fictional, but are still based on the author’s life. The goal of the class was to identify and discuss fact versus fiction using a series of fluid texts.

 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

One previous literature course or permission of the instructor.

Requirements Satisfied

HASS-H

Offered

This course on American authors is taught every second fall semester, though the focus and texts have changed with each iteration. Examples of past focus topics included American Trilogies, Classics Remixed, and American Women Authors.

The Classroom

  • This photo shows a central table with chairs around all sides and a chalkboard on one wall.

    Lecture

    This course is taught in a seminar-style classroom where students sit at around all sides of a central table. There is a chalkboard and projector to facilitate discussions.

 

Assessment

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by attendance. 10% Attendance
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by class participation. 15% Class participation
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by in-class reports. 15% In-class reports
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by essay assignments. 60% Essay assignments; four essays worth 15% each
 

Student Information

On average, fewer than 10 students take this course each time it is offered.

Breakdown by Year

Primarily juniors and seniors.

Breakdown by Major

A range of majors.

Typical Student Background

This is an intermediate level class, so students have had some experience with college writing and exposure to at least one introductory or survey-level course.

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

3 hours per week
  • Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 26 sessions total; mandatory attendance
  • Discussion of texts and specific factual or fictional passages
  • In-class student presentations
 

Out of Class

9 hours per week
  • Reading of texts
  • Completion of essay assignments
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
2 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
3 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT.
4 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
5 Class session; essay assignment due date. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
6 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
7 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
8 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
9 Class session; essay assignment due date. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
10 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
11 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
12 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session; essay assignment due date. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
13 Class session. No session scheduled. In-class reports presented. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
14 In-class reports presented. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
15 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session; essay assignment due date. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when class sessions are held. Class session
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when essay assignments are due. Essay assignment due
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when reports are presented in class. In-class report
 

Instructor Insights

Dr. Kelley provides extensive insights into how she taught another course 21L.501 The American Novel: Stranger and Stranger, which includes pages on: