Skip to main content

Family Secrets in Contemporary Memoirs and Documentary Films

ID : 7569   
« back to classes page

This class explores contemporary memoirs and documentary films that revolve around family secrets.  In some cases, the authors or people in the story discover secrets about their family background that were obscured or hidden from them.  In other stories, parents expect children not to reveal fundamental things about their families outside the home; or simply to not ask about aspects of their family’s past.  We will discuss questions such as: how much we know about the circumstances of our birth and about the parents who raised us? Why do some writers work to uncover long-hidden secrets and then reveal their stories in a book or film?  What insights do they offer about shame, privacy, and disclosure; the construction of personal identity; the complexity of parent-child relationships; and social belonging? Other topics include adoption, biomedical ethics, national identity and the Holocaust, African-American social history, race, class, and religion.  Note: students will need to view both films for this class on their own; films are available on DVD at libraries or via various internet streaming services. The first class on Sept. 18 will include an introductory overview and a discussion of Inheritance by Dani Shapiro and the film Three Identical Strangers directed by Tim Wardle.  Additional books and films include: The World According to Fannie Davis by Bridgett Davis; All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung; the graphic memoir Belonging by Nora Krug; and the film Open Secret directed by Steve Lipteig.


Class Details

4 Sessions
Weekly - Wed

Westchester Reform Temple

Lori Rotskoff 



Please read:  Class meets Wednesdays: 9/18, 10/16, 11/13, 12/4



Schedule Information

Skip dates: (No class on 09/25/2019, 10/02/2019, 10/09/2019, 10/23/2019, 10/30/2019, 11/06/2019, 11/20/2019, 11/27/2019)

Date(s) Class Days Times Location Instructor(s)
9/18/2019 - 12/4/2019 Weekly - Wed 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM Scarsdale, Westchester Reform Temple  Map Lori Rotskoff