A Life Between Black and White: Identity Construction in Afro-American and Afro-German Autobiographical Narratives

PS, Thu 08:15- 9:45, S.93
WS 2008/2009
Universität Bayreuth

Course Description:

We may not know who we are and what is happening to us, but if we are able to narrate how we became who we are, than we can integrate ourselves”. This quotation by Wolfram Fischer-Rosenthal shows that autobiographical narratives are an excellent tool to trace the individual course of identity construction, because they consist of experiences and memories transformed into a text. The course will concentrate on autobiographies that are written by authors having either an Afro-German or an Afro-American cultural background. This division will allow us to analyse how the respective society, which is shaped by different historical events, influenced the development of the individual. Hence we will work out crucial features that can determine the story of a life. Our theoretical approach will be based on the following concepts: identity, culture and race.

Texts to be obtained by students:

Hans Massaquoi. Destined to Witness: Growing up Black in Nazi Germany
Ika Hügel-Marshall. Invisible Woman: Growing up Black in Germany
Barack Obama. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
Rebecca Walker. Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self