Memoirs with a Mystery

with Joseph Luzzi / Online

What are some recent memoirs that not only tell a poignant life story, but also remind us of the “mystery” of some of the most complicated and consequential questions we face? How have writers from many different parts of the world and from many varying points of view described those common human elements – love, death, a sense of calling, the devotion to a cause – that for so many of us represent a defining part of existence? In this course Professor Joseph Luzzi, himself a memoirist as well as a Professor of Comparative Literature, will explore a range of “life narratives” that remind us why the first-person insights of the memoir and the autobiographical genre have long been a staple of the literary tradition and that have attracted devoted readers across the centuries and throughout the globe.

6 Online Sessions


Sept 9 – Dec 2, 2021

11:00am – 12:15pm EST


Session 1: SEPT 9

Karen Blixen,
Out of Africa (1937)

Session 2: SEPT 30

Ernest Hemingway,
A Moveable Feast (1964)

Session 3: OCT 14

Frank McCourt,
Angela’s Ashes (1996)

Session 4: OCT 28

Joan Didion, The Year
of Magical Thinking

Session 5: NOV 11

Helen Macdonald,
H Is for Hawk (2014)

Session 6: DEC 2

Joseph Luzzi,
In a Dark Wood (2015)

Meet the moderator

Joseph Luzzi

Joseph Luzzi is a Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard College, he holds a PhD in Italian Literature from Yale University. He is the author of five books, including My Two Italies (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love (HarperCollins, 2015), a Vanity Fair “Must-Read” selection that has been translated into Italian, German, and Korean. His writings on FILM include the books A Cinema of Poetry: Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2014), a finalist for The Bridge Book Award; and his edited anthology Italian Cinema: From the Silent Screen to the Digital Image (Bloomsbury, 2019). Learn more.