Spirituality, Revelation, and Rhetorical Strategy in Genres of Life Writing

Taking one of the authors we have read so far, ponder how they construct a sense of authorial “self” relative to an intended audience, using specific rhetorical strategies and metaphors of spirituality or revelation. Some ideas are below, but feel free to use your own. Due September 17th.

Invention of self in “Revelations,” “How it Feels to be Colored Me”, Turner’s “Confessions” or Once More We Saw Stars.
How do these authors use creative language, image, and metaphor to invent and reinvent themselves What rhetorical distancing mechanisms do they use to write about “self” as subject? What post-memoir subgenre would you assign these to? Choose a specific textual section in which to ground your analysis.

Lying & Rhetorical Strategies of Power: Susan Willis suggests that Hurston self-consciously employs language as a means of manipulating a white, middle-class reading audience. Locate specific moments in Hurston’s as “Colored Me” (or in other texts) that you feel employ rhetorical strategies like metaphor, pronoun use (I/you/we), or lying to manipulate the reader into identifying with the speaker in a certain way. Willis suggests that Hurston’s writing is a type of “trick” which she uses to trick and consume her audience –could the same be said of Turner? Why or why not?

Genres of Life Writing: Tie one or more of these narratives to Smith and Watson’s genres of life writing. Are we reading Testimonial or Witness? Postcolonial memoir? Genres of Breakdown and Recovery, or Grief? Test your interpretation of a specific moment of our reading out against a genre defined in Ch. 5 or Appendix A of Smith and Watson.

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