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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Christine Di Stefano
GEN ST 297
Seattle Campus

Undergraduate Seminar

Small-group discussion with faculty representing a wide spectrum of academic disciplines. Topics include faculty's research techniques or findings, concentrated reading in his/her area of interest, or illustrated problems and alternative related to the study of a particular academic discipline. Class structure varies based on instructor. Credit/no-credit only. Offered: AWSp.

Class description

For this class, we will read the recent memoir of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, MY BELOVED WORLD, in anticipation of her visit and public address to the UW later this academic year. Students who take this undergraduate seminar will be eligible to attend her lecture. In this seminar, we will be especially interested in exploring Sotomayor's account of the specific challenges that she faced as a Puerta Riqen~a with childhood diabetes, raised by her widowed mother after her father passed away. What can we learn from Sotomayor's account of success in the face of adversity? How does her account square with individualist and structural accounts of success and failure in contemporary American society?

Student learning goals

Students will learn about the genre of memoir.

Students will learn how to execute/perform the genre of memoir with material from their own lives.

Students will learn how to read memoirs with cultivated sensibilities of empathy as well as criticism.

Students will learn about the experiences of Americans that are different from standard (white, male, Anglo) accounts of the American experience.

Students will be encouraged to compare/contrast their life experiences with those of others, such as Justice Sotomayor.

General method of instruction

General method of instruction will be small-group discussion.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites are required for this class.

Class assignments and grading

Students will be required to submit short response papers (2 pages, typed and double-spaced) to the weekly readings, most of which will be drawn from Sotomayor's memoir. A final paper assignment will ask students to write a short (5 page) memoir from their own lives, based on a particular experience with strong repercussions for their lives, fears, and aspirations in the current moment.

Grades of CR/NCR will be assigned on the basis fidelity to the weekly assigned response papers and final paper. All assigned papers must be completed.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Christine Di Stefano
Date: 11/24/2013