• Congratulations! 2024 Biography Prize Announcement

    The Center for Biographical Research is pleased to announce the winner of the 2024 Biography Prize for outstanding creative, critical, or theoretical work in the field of life writing by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa graduate students. 

    This year, we awarded the prize to Kristin Olsen Santana for “The Waiting Room.” We also recognized Kalilinoe Detwiler’s “Live Again: Rebuilding Intimacy Through Mediation” with an honorable mention. More detailed descriptions of the projects and the judges’ comments appear below. 

    “The Waiting Room” by Kristin Olsen Santana

    The prize committee found “The Waiting Room” to be at once brave, beautiful, powerful, tender, and tough.

    “We appreciated your insights into the loneliness of chronic pain and illness and also into the gendered experiences of what beauty is and what it means to be loveable. We were also impressed by your powerful use of metaphor.”

    “Live Again: Rebuilding Intimacy Through Mediation” by Kalilinoe Detwiler

    The Prize Committee appreciated how this ambitious multimodal project makes significant contributions to life writing studies.

    “We thought you did wonderful work interweaving your grandmother’s story with your own as you provided insights into what it means to tell one’s own and a family member’s story that, from Kanaka Maoli perspective, adds to and sometimes challenges understandings of what it means to write a life. We were especially struck by your explorations of intergenerational memory, cartography, and wahi pana.”

  • Tides of Change: Mapping the Legacy of US Island Imperialism and Community Empowerment

    UPDATE: Due to inclement weather on Oʻahu, Part II has been rescheduled from May 16 to June 4.

    The King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center presents, with cosponsorship from the 1898 Project and the Center for Biographical Research:

    “Tides of Change: Mapping the Legacy of US Island Imperialism and Community Empowerment”

  • The 1898 Project Summit, April 13-14, 2024

    Native Hawaiian Student Services and the Center for Biographical Research present:

    The 1898 Project Summit

    Saturday, April 13, 1:00–8:00 pm
    Sunday April 14, 9:00 am–6:00 pm

    Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    The 1898 Project is a two-day summit of leading scholars and activists on American imperialism from Hawaiʻi, Guåhan, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico; the how and why, its effects, and what can be done now and in the future to cope, heal, and decolonize.

    Please see here for the full program: https://manoa.hawaii.edu/cbr/the-1898-project/summit-program/

  • The 2024 Biography Prize

    The Center for Biographical Research is now accepting nominations for the 2024 Biography Prize

    Criteria for Nomination:

    • The candidate should be a PhD or MA student in any graduate department of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (or have graduated with an MA or PhD in December 2023).
    • The submission can be work written for a class, a section of a thesis or dissertation, or a completed thesis or dissertation. If written for a class, it should be work completed between May 2023 and April 2024 (and not previously submitted for a Biography Prize).

    The project should be 3,000 to 10,000 words in length. Longer projects can be submitted in their entirety, with a particular chapter or section highlighted for consideration. The work should demonstrate knowledge or awareness of central debates and theorizing in the field and study of life writing.

    Please send nominations (graduate student’s name and subject or title of project) and contact information to Paige Rasmussen (biograph@hawaii.edu) by Tuesday, April 9.

    Once you send your nomination, the Center for Biographical Research will notify the student to arrange for submission of the project. Candidates may also nominate their own work for the award. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, April 16.

    The winner of the Biography Prize receives a monetary award and is invited to give a presentation in the Brown Bag Biography lecture series.

  • Congratulations to L. Ayu Saraswati!

    Please join the Center for Biographical Research in congratulating Biography coeditor L. Ayu Saraswati! Her book Scarred: A Feminist Journey Through Pain (NYU Press, 2023) won the Autobiography and Biography category of the AAP PROSE Book Award!

    You can find the full announcement here: https://publishingperspectives.com/2024/03/the-aaps-prose-awards-2024-category-winners/

    For more information on the award-winning book, visit this link: https://nyupress.org/9781479817078/scarred/

  • Available Now: Biography 46.1

    We are pleased to announce the publication of Biography 46.1. Find it on Project Muse: https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/51965.

    Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly

    vol. 46, no. 1, 2023

    Table of Contents

    International Year in Review

    “Shame, Trauma, and the Body After #MeToo: The Year in Australia”

    Emma Maguire

    “The Romantic Battle of Carlos Marighella: The Year in Brazil”

    Sergio da Silva Barcellos

    “‘Sarah Polley Needs No Introduction’: The Year in Canada”

    Alana Bell

    “Micro Life in Macro History: The Year in China”

    Chen Shen

    “Vientos de cambio: El año en Colombia”

    Gabriel Jaime Murillo Arango

    “Did We Forget about Climate Change during the COVID-19 Pandemic?: The Year in Denmark”

    Marianne Høyen

    “The Visible and Invisible Lives of Kerstin Söderholm: The Year in Finland”

    Kirsi Tuohela and Maarit Leskelä-Kärki

    “Love’s Labour’s Regained: The Year in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland”

    Tobias Heinrich

    “Responsibility and Confronting the Holocaust in Memoir: The Year in Hungary”

    Gergely Kunt

    “The Maiden and the Patriarchy in Hlín Agnarsdóttir’s Meydómur: The Year in Iceland”

    Gunnþórunn Guðmundsdóttir

    “What Lies Beneath: The Year in Ireland”

    Liam Harte

    “Gino Strada, An Italian Hero for World Medicine: The Year in Italy”

    Ilaria Serra

    “Unfinished Bildungsroman: The Year in Korea”

    Heui-Yung Park

    “Autobiographical Verse, Demythologizing Motherhood: The Year in Lebanon”

    Sleiman El Hajj

    “La lucha de todas: El año en México”

    Gerardo Necoechea Gracia

    “A New Portrait of William of Orange: The Year in the Netherlands”

    Monica Soeting

    “The War Diary of Józef Czapski: The Year in Poland”

    Paweł Rodak, translated by Alessandro Nicola Malusà

    “Between Inter-Imperial Pasts and the Neoliberal Present: The Year in Romania”

    Ioana Luca

    “An Afro-Caribbean in the Nazi Era: The Year in Sint Maarten”

    Rose Mary Allen and Jeroen Heuvel

    “Collaboration and Testimony in Hermanito: The Year in Spain”

    Ana Belén Martínez García

    “Outlandish: The Year in the UK”

    Tom Overton

    “Desperation, Revenge, and Memoir: The Year in the US”

    Leigh Gilmore

    Annual Bibliography of Works about Life Writing, 2022

    Compiled by Caroline Zuckerman


    Edited Collections and Special Issues

    Articles and Essays


  • Refaat Alareer (1979–2023)

    Let us continue to tell the tale. On December 7, 2023, Refaat Alareer was killed in his sister’s home—along with his brother, his sister, and her four children—in Gaza by an Israeli airstrike. Refaat Alareer was a father; a beloved professor at the Islamic University in Gaza (destroyed last month by Israeli airstrikes) who taught poetry, Shakespeare, and creative writing; a mentor; the editor of the story collection Gaza Writes Back and coeditor of the essay collection Gaza Unsilenced; a poet and writer; and the founder of the organization We Are Not Numbers.

    He was also a highly valued contributor to “Life in Occupied Palestine,” a 2014 special issue of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly.

    As the editors worked with Refaat and other contributors in the summer of 2014 to finalize that special issue, Israeli forces killed Refaat’s brother Mohammed Alareer during Israel’s fifty-one-day siege on Gaza. That special issue was dedicated to Mohammed:

    “In memory of Mohammed Alareer, and every Palestinian whose life was cut short in the summer of 2014, and in the decades before, struggling against Israeli colonization.”

    “A house of four floors but thousands of stories is no more. The stories, however, will live to bear witness to the most brutally wild occupation the world has ever known.” —Refaat R. Alareer

    Almost ten years later, during Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, Refaat pinned to his X account the very poem that concludes his contribution to that special issue of Biography—and that has now been shared around the world:

    If I must die

    If I must die, you have to live
    To tell my story, to sell my things
    To buy a piece of cloth and some strings,
    (Make it white with a long tail)
    So that a child, somewhere in Gaza
    While looking heaven in the eye,
    Making it blush under his gaze,
    Awaiting his Dad who left in a blaze—
    And bid no one farewell
    Not even to his flesh, not even to himself—
    Sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above
    And thinks for a moment an angel is there
    Bringing back love.
    If I must die, let it bring hope.
    Let it be a tale.

    Refaat Alareer’s essay for Biography, along with the entire special issue, is freely available on Project Muse: https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/31638.

    We mourn his passing, and honor his vision for hope and liberation.

  • Available Now: “After(Life) Narratives of #MeToo”

    The Center for Biographical Research is pleased to announce the latest special issue of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, available on Project Muse!

    Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
    volume 45, number 4

    “After(Life) Narratives of #MeToo”

    Rebecca Wanzo and Carol A. Stabile, guest editors

    Table of Contents

    “#MeToo: A Biography”

    Rebecca Wanzo and Carol A. Stabile

    This introduction looks at the difference between Tarana Burke’s “me too” and #MeToo. The chronologically distinct origin stories for the forms of activism #MeToo has generated illustrate a distinction between Burke’s “me too,” grounded in her work with Black girls and created to raise awareness of the collective plight of survivors of sexual violence, and “#MeToo,” an example of hashtag feminism that has come to be associated with identifying individual bad actors. We look at various manifestations of #MeToo as well as feminist debates in telling the story about #MeToo’s successes and failures.

    “Micro-disclosures for Macro-erasures: #MeToo in the Academy”

    Roopika Risam

    This essay explores how we might account for the influence of #MeToo in the academy and the extent to which we can understand the power of these utterances as a form of narrative agency expressed through digital life writing. Drawing on a blend of quantitative and qualitative analysis of #MeToo-related tweets about academia, the essay first examines how narrative agency over sexual harassment and violence in higher education is expressed through #MeToo. It further explores how the threat of retaliation and the troubling operationalization of Title IX by universities as an anti-survivor discourse produces macro-erasures of narrative agency. Finally, the essay proposes that #MeToo tweets about higher education are best understood as “micro-disclosures,” a distinct form of life writing that facilitates the narrative agency denied by institutional systems and processes.

    “#MeToo Storytelling: Confession, Testimony, and Life Writing”

    Leigh Gilmore

    This article argues that two discourses—confession and testimony—influence the stories survivors tell about sexual violence, the stories others tell about them, and the contexts in which #MeToo storytelling is heard. It identifies how confession and testimony crop up in several #MeToo forms within and beyond the courts, including abuser apologies, letters of support, victim impact statements, memoirs, and lawsuits. It demonstrates that #MeToo is altering the form of testimony itself as its commitment to truth-telling enacts justice-seeking in an extrajudicial form.

    “Reproducing and Resisting Sexual Violence: Narrative, Genre, and Power Structure in Fang Siqi’s First Love Paradise

    Rong Huang and Xiaotian Jin

    In her semi-autobiographical novel Fang Siqi’s First Love Paradise, Lin Yihan weaves her own traumatic experience of being sexually abused into a powerful narrative that sheds light on the pervasive acquiescence to violence against women in patriarchal cultures. Focusing on the sociocultural factors behind sexual violence, this article examines certain forms of narrative and literary genre, as revealed in the novel, that can be manipulated by male perpetrators and thus play a complicit role in reproducing crimes. But by blurring the divide between fiction and nonfiction, the reception and massive readership of the novel attest to a sort of narrative solidarity against sexual violence, making it an iconic text of the contemporary feminist movement in East Asia.

    “Sex, Violence, and Memoir: David Wojnarowicz’s Close to the Knives

    Greta LaFleur and Dana Seitler

    This article engages David Wojnarowicz’s “memoir of disintegration” Close to the Knives (1991), a text that contains numerous and variegated representations of sexual encounters before and during the beginnings of the AIDS crisis in the United States. Wojnarowicz’s memoir provides this article with its critical focus because it points us to one iteration of the narratological before-life of the #MeToo movement. In this article, we explore how, in the text, the violence that infuses sex, as well as the sexual intensity that drives violence, is presented as a social and structural problem rather than as an individualized desire, aberration, or impulse. Sexual harm, rather, is primarily a structural reality that in turn informs the way that both sex and violence are practiced—by Wojnarowicz himself, by his lovers and friends, and even by his family. Close to the Knives thus presents the reader with a tension between, on the one hand, Wojnarowicz’s playful curiosity surrounding the relationship between sex, violence, and harm, and on the other, formal questions about memoir. In this article, we ask: how can we develop an ethics around sexual violence—without reifying either sex or acts of self-narration?

    “‘If it didn’t hurt so bad, I’d kill myself, but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now’: #JusticeforGemmel and Black Queer Narratives in the Age and Afterlife of #MeToo”

    Terrance Wooten

    Gemmel Moore, a gay Black man, was found dead in the West Hollywood home of Edward Buck, a gay white LGBT rights activist. Gemmel’s death was originally classified as an accident until his family published his journal, which was used to ignite both a criminal investigation and a set of Twitter campaigns, #Justice4Gemmel and #StopEdBuck, that have intersected with the #MeToo movement. In this essay, I analyze how Black queer men narrate their experiences of sexual trauma in relation to Black women, and subsequently how Black women have carved space for Black queer survivors by providing a new language for conceptualizing the racialized gendering of sexual violence. In doing so, I examine how Black queer men’s autobiographical narratives function not only as evidence of their sexual injury but also as modes of networked connectivity that position Black queer subjects as integral to anti-sexual violence work and #MeToo activism.

    “Disability and Sexual Assault in Public(s): Performance/Nebula”

    Petra Kuppers

    This montage essay investigates elliptical fractured storytelling modes around disabled embodiment, a court case of sexual assault, and the social media aftermath. It tracks how knowledge of perceived sexual vulnerability folds into one’s bodymindspirit, and how pain runs through and shifts in these multiple foldings. The essay’s earthy, plate-moving tectonics build an autoethnographic star-reaching galaxy that incorporates various modes of storytelling, including social media, poetry, movement, and court discourse. This storytelling montage is hesitant, and creates temporal folds that allow an “I” to slip away into sheltering silences.

    “‘We Grew Up in This Movement’: A Conversation between Salamishah Tillet and Scheherazade Tillet”

    Salamishah Tillet and Scheherazade Tillet

    Writer and activist Salamishah Tillet and photographer and organizer Scheherazade Tillet engaged in a lively and in-depth conversation about their work to end sexual violence before and beyond #MeToo. In 2003, the Tillet sisters founded A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit that empowers young people to use art to end violence against girls and women. Yet their actual organizing work began five years earlier when Scheherazade, at twenty years old, began documenting Salamishah’s healing after being sexually assaulted in college. From 1998 to 2013, Scheherazade took thousands of images, many of which became the spine of Story Of A Rape Survivor (SOARS), a performance that the Tillet sisters created and toured with a cast of Black women singers, dancers, and actors at rape crisis centers and college campuses over two decades. Some of those photographs are included here, along with others from the performances, to provide a visual archive of the innovative artistic process and the unique political intervention of SOARS from its very beginning.

    “The Afterlives of #MeToo: A Roundtable Discussion with Māhealani Ahia, Michelle Cho, Pallavi Guha, Régine Michelle Jean-Charles, Kahala Johnson, and Ever E. Osorio”

    Organized by Greta LaFleur and Dana Seitler

    One of the risks of a special issue with US-based editors and with a topic overwhelmingly identified not only with the US but also with affluent white women is that conversations might neglect the expertise of scholars focused on Indigeneity and the majority of the world. The diverse scholars who contribute to this roundtable—while by no means covering every region in which #MeToo activism has taken place—decenter the US in exploring #MeToo discourse, and blend discussions of medium in activism, solidarity, and cultural specificity in relation to their own stories.

  • Brown Bag Biography: Fall 2023

    We’re excited to announce the schedule for Brown Bag Biography, Fall 2023. 

    All of our talks will be held in person in Kuykendall 410 or Biomed B-104 (UH Mānoa). For streaming information for select talks, please visit our website and social media, where we will post detailed announcements for each event. We will also record and post many of the talks. You can find some past presentations on our YouTube channel here.




    THURSDAYS, 12:00 NOON–1:15 PM HST • 

    All are welcome to attend. To find streaming information for select events, please visit the Center for Biographical Research’s website https://manoa.hawaii.edu/cbr/, contact us at 808-956-3774 or gabiog@hawaii.edu, or sign up for our mailing list at https://forms.gle/Sr9WdvNBD9WdwG7EA.

    Fall 2023 SCHEDULE

    September 14: “Narrating Humanity: Life Writing and Movement Politics from Palestine to Mauna Kea: A Book Talk”

    Cynthia Franklin, Professor, Department of English, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Location: KUY 410

    Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST

    September 21: “Staging Shakespeare in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

    Tammy Hailiʻōpua Baker, Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Justin Fragiao, MFA Student in Scenic Design, Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Iāsona Kaper, MFA Student in Hawaiian Theatre, Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Joshua Kamoaniʻala “Baba” Tavares, MFA Student in Acting & Hawaiian Theatre, Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Devin Walter, MFA Student in Costume Design, Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Noelani Montas, MFA Student in Hawaiian Theatre, Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Location: KUY 410 

    Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST

    September 28: Break

    October 5: Reflections on Returning Home to Hawaiʻi

    Patrick Kirch, Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

    Location: KUY 410

    Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST

    October 12: The Political Economy of Environmental Racism in Waiʻanae

    Laurel Mei-Singh, Assistant Professor of Geography and Environment and Asian American Studies, University of Texas at Austin

    Location: KUY 410

    Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST

    October 19: Makawalu Perspectives on Silence: Reimagining the ‘Gaps’ as Stories

    Kayla Watabu, PhD student and Assistant Director of the Writing Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Location: KUY 410

    Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST

    October 26: Beyond Anthropocentrism(?): Logos and the Aesthetic Relation”

    Sarah Allen, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition and the Director of

    Writing Programs, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Location: KUY 410

    NB: Time: 3:00–4:30 pm HST

    November 2: Anarchives: How We Remember Our Political Movement Is Part of the Movement

    Kathy E. Ferguson, Professor, Departments of Political Science and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Location: KUY 410

    Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST

    November 9: Lifelines: Poems for Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper

    Joseph Stanton, Professor Emeritus of American Studies and Art History, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Location: KUY 410

    Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST

    November 16: Explorations of Agency in Life Writing by LGBTQ+ Youth ”

    Dr. Roz Bellamy, Academic, La Trobe University, Melbourne/Naarm 

    Location: Biomed B-104

    Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST

    NB: November 21: Narrative self-construction in autobiographical comics”

    Zuzana Fonioková, Assistant Professor, Department of Czech Literature, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

    Location: Biomed B-104

    Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST

    November 23: Thanksgiving

    November 30: “World War II Legacies and Inheritances: Discoveries in a Community Biography Project”

    Moderated by Gail Y. Okawa, Professor Emerita of English, Youngstown State University-Ohio, and Coordinator, CONNECTIONS: Santa Fe Internment Camp Descendants Group

    Naomi Hirano-Omizo, Japanese language faculty, Punahou School, Mid-Pacific Institute (ret.)

    Alison Kaʻōlinokaimana Yasuoka, Arts Integration Specialist, Voyager Public Charter School (Honolulu), and MEd Candidate in Curriculum Studies: STEMS2, College of Education, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Annette Tashiro, Chair, State Rehabilitation Council of Hawaii; Rehabilitation Counselor, State of Hawai`i (ret.)

    Grant Din, Co-curator and lead researcher, “Taken from Their Families” exhibit, Immigration Station, Angel Island State Park (virtual from San Francisco, CA)

    Location: KUY 306

    NB: Time: 3:00–4:30 pm HST

  • Brown Bag Biography, 9/14: “Narrating Humanity: A Book Talk” with Cynthia Franklin

    We’re excited to announce our first Brown Bag event, “Narrating Humanity: A Book Talk” with Cynthia Franklin! Please join us in Kuykendall 410 (UH Mānoa) on September 14 from 12 to 1:15 pm to celebrate the recent release of Dr. Franklin’s book.

    We will announce our full Fall 2023 Brown Bag Biography schedule in the coming days.

    September 14: Narrating Humanity: Life Writing and Movement Politics from Palestine to Mauna Kea: A Book Talk”

    Cynthia Franklin, Professor, Department of English, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Moderated by Monisha Das Gupta, Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, UHM 

    Special guest appearance by ‘Ihilani Lasconia, PhD Student, Department of Political Science, UHM, and D. Kauwila Mahi, PhD Student, Department of Political Science, UHM

    Cosponsored by Students and Faculty for Justice in Palestine at UH (SFJP@UH), Sabeel-Hawaiʻi, Jewish Voice for Peace-Hawaiʻi, Hamilton Library, the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, the Matsunaga Institute, Conflict and Peace Specialist, the School of Communication & Information, the Departments of American Studies, Ethnic Studies, Sociology, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 

    Location: KUY 410

    Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST

    “Original, innovative, and thorough. In Narrating Humanity, Cynthia Franklin creates an important new language, and new critical modality, for speaking about narrative and politics, and the relationship of self to both.” -Bill Mullen

    Cynthia G. Franklin is Professor of English at the University of Hawai‘i. She coedits the journal Biography, and in addition to Narrating Humanity (2023), is author of Academic Lives: Memoir, Cultural Theory, and the University Today (2009) as well as Writing Women’s Communities: The Politics and Poetics of Multi-Genre Anthologies (1994). She has also coedited a number of special journal issues, including, for Biography, “Life in Occupied Palestine.” She is part of the Editorial Collective for the newly constituted initiative EtCH (Essays in the Critical Humanities), and cofounder of Students and Faculty for Justice in Palestine at UH (SFJP@UH) and of Jewish Voice for Peace-Hawai‘i.