Writing Selves


This course throws the terms "self" and "writing" into question. Working with an expanded understanding of the forms and modes that writing may take, and drawing on social semiotic concerns, the course critically explores changing conceptions of the self and examines what ideas of personhood presuppose and entail. Among other things, we consider:

  • The cultural distinctiveness and embeddedness of self-writing practices (e.g., biography/autobiography, memoir, self-portraiture, tattoo, scarification)
  • Socially and historically specific notions of identity, subjectivity and authorship
  • Boundaries and slippages between species and categories (e.g., people, animals, places, genres)
  • Reproduction, love, memory and affectivity
  • Procedures, templates and models
  • The role of digital technologies and programming in the construction and curation of para-selves
  • The university itself as a site for the production of written selves, and the likely future of arts and humanities in a "post-human" era

Films and critical and creative readings form the basis for lectures and tutorials. These set texts are supplemented with materials dealing with a diverse range of objects – from selfies to sexbots to SMS-capable plants.

Methodologically, the course seeks to apply concerns drawn from set texts to new objects of inquiry in order to problematise the self-writing practices with which we engage and within which we are immersed.

Coursework tasks will invite you to consider writing as a matter of relations that are social, environmental and technological, and will extend your critical-creative skills in reading and composition.


By the end of the course, you should have improved:

  • Your awareness of what writing and selves "are" and the forms and modes they may take
  • Your ability to see self-writing practices as material and situated
  • Your ability to read and respond to a range of challenging academic and non-academic texts
  • Your ability to mobilise a technical and theoretical vocabulary
  • Your creative-critical and compositional skills
  • Your ability to analyse and problematise objects of inquiry in nuanced and reflexive ways


Coursework + Exam

Availability 2022

Not taught in 2022




Listed on Canvas


Coursework + essay + exam


ENGLISH 354: 15 points


30 points at Stage II in English or Writing Studies