Charles Dickens starts David Copperfield (1850) with a sentence both beguiling and amusing, “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether this station will be held by anyone else, these pages must show.” The resulting narrative is part novel, part memoir – an entirely fictionalized coming-of-age story predicated on Dickens’ own life but also a study of what it means to grow up, to develop a point of view, to become the masculine hero of one’s own life, often by enduring the pain and confusion that so often accompanies the loss of innocence in the journey from childhood to adulthood, all organized around the concept of self.
In a similar vein, this course will engage in a critical study of narratives that center the self, primarily using published memoirs from each of the countries we visit but as also supplemented by the grass-roots production of TED (technology, education, design) talks that use personal stories to articulate stories about innovation. As a worldwide network, TED offers a perfect point of access to the many localities and countries we will visit, each articulating a vision predicated on a specific history, circumstance, and place that is filtered through the voice of memoir and turned into a mediated web of text.
Field WorkCountry: France
Date: March 18, 2022