Available Now: Biography 46.2

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

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
volume 46, number 2

Editor’s Note

Open-Forum Articles

Exvangelical (De)conversion Narratives and the Religious Politics of Spiritual Autobiography

Matthew Mullins

Scholars and pundits have devoted significant attention to the rise of the religiously unaffiliated in the United States in recent years. Within that demographic there are many former evangelical Christians who remain Christian but are no longer evangelical or have abandoned Christianity altogether. Many of these former evangelical Christians identify as exvangelicals. This essay analyzes autobiographies written by exvangelicals, and argues that their narratives of deconversion can best be understood in the generic tradition of the conversion narrative. When situated in this generic context, these exvangelical autobiographies testify to a crisis in twenty-first-century religious politics that mirrors similar tensions in the past and suggests the US is in a period of civic transition.

Psychoanalytic Readings of the Soul: The Birth of Psychography and the New Strategies of Psycholiterary Portraiture

Agnieszka Sobolewska

As a simultaneously psychoanalytic, literary, and lifewriting genre, psychography has not yet been the subject of any systematic reflection. As a genre that sprouted out of nineteenth-century pathography, psychography prepared the ground for the development of innovative strategies for writing lives. The author introduces a genealogy of this hybrid writing genre that found itself at the core of early psychoanalytic literature, and points to its interconnections with life writing and literary modernism.

“With Its Shadows Dominating the Brightness”: Jamaica Kincaid’s My Brother and the Subjects of AIDS History

Jacob E. Aplaca

This essay reads Jamaica Kincaid’s My Brother (1997), a memoir that recounts her brother Devon’s AIDS-related death, in relation to both the corpus of US AIDS life writing that emerged during the so-called height of the AIDS crisis and today’s ongoing practices of AIDS commemoration. Challenging the activist-centered knowledge paradigms through which the subjects of AIDS memoir largely continue to be understood, My Brother lays bare the conditions that sustain the celebratory legacy of US AIDS activism and its exemplary gay white male subject—an understanding of AIDS that brackets off what Jih-Fei Cheng, Alexandra Juhasz, and Nishant Shahani have described as the uneven distribution of AIDS crises across the world. At the same time, this essay considers the risks that attend contemporary efforts to bring into greater relief these global crises by assuming the transparency of Devon, and those similarly situated, as objects of our knowledge.

Between Genre and Medium: Hilda Tablet, Henry Reed’s Fictional Metabiography for Radio

Birgit Van Puymbroeck

In the 1950s, Henry Reed wrote the seven-part series Hilda Tablet, a humorous radio play for the Third Programme, the BBC’s cultural channel. The series deals with the fictional biographer Herbert Reeve—Henry Reed’s alter ego—who writes a biography of the also fictional author Richard Shewin and later the composer Hilda Tablet. This article analyzes Hilda Tablet in the light of biography studies. It argues that the series “remediates” the genre of biography on radio, and uses techniques associated with fictional metabiography and mockbiography to highlight, question, and satirize genre and media conventions. Through a contextual and audionarratological analysis, it recovers Hilda Tablet for critical analysis, and reflects on the use of audio techniques for biographical construction and interpretation. It contributes to the study of biography in two ways: by focusing on the little-explored hybrid genre of the radio biography, and by paying close attention to aspects of the fictional metabiography and mockbiography.

“Beyond the Front, Specificity Is Abandoned”: Illustrating Backgrounds in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home

Olivia Abram

This essay examines setting and its illustration in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic as autobiographically representative of its author. This approach inverts the conventional prioritization of subject and foreground as illustrative of the author/self, and instead focuses on the surroundings in which (and on which) they draw themselves.

The Testimonial Imperative, Collective Autobiography, and Individual Stories of #MeToo on Twitter

Leah Anderst

This essay looks closely at testimonials posted to Twitter as part of the viral #MeToo movement in October 2017. It examines a testimonial imperative at work in the movement, a driving need and a feeling of responsibility for survivors to come forward and join others who are speaking to share, to bear witness, and to listen to each other. The #MeToo movement has been described as a collective autobiography, but what we also see when we read #MeToo testimonial tweets is that many survivors posted, replied, and quote-tweeted in ways that highlight their individual experiences and their individual selves. By reading closely a number of tweets, this essay unearths important themes, strategies, and forged connections that emerged within this online autobiographical movement.

Biobibliographical Studies of Georgian Writers

Maia Ninidze, Saba Metreveli, and Tea Tvalavadze

Most of the sources on which biographies rely are textual. Therefore, the Biobibliographies of Georgian authors became more complete and reliable after greater attention began to be directed toward textual investigations. This article describes the methods and approaches that we and our colleagues have been using to create biobibliographies.


Imagining Gender in Biographical Fiction, edited by Julia Novak and Caitríona Ní Dhúill

Reviewed by Stephanie Russo

Text and Image in Women’s Life Writing: Picturing the Female Self, edited by Valérie Baisnée-Keay, Corinne Bigot, Nicoleta Alexoae-Zagni, Stephanie Genty, and Claire Bazin

Reviewed by Amy Carlson

The Photographer as Autobiographer, by Arnaud Schmitt

Reviewed by Charles Reeve

The Human Rights Graphic Novel: Drawing it Just Right, by Pramod K. Nayar

Reviewed by Martha Kuhlman

New Forms of Self-Narration: Young Women, Life Writing and Human Rights, by Ana Belén Martínez García

Reviewed by Meg Jensen

Transnational Perspectives on Artists’ Lives, edited by Marleen Rensen and Christopher Wiley

Reviewed by Julie Codell

False Summit: Gender in Mountaineering Nonfiction, by Julie Rak

Reviewed by Denisa Krásná

Global Biographies: Lived History as Method, edited by Laura Almagor, Haakon A. Ikonomou, and Gunvor Simonsen

Reviewed by Jeremy D. Popkin

Life Writing in the Posthuman Anthropocene, edited by Ina Batzke, Lea Espinoza Garrido, and Linda M. Hess

Reviewed by Louis van den Hengel

Autobiography, Memory and Nationhood in Anglophone Africa, by David Ekanem Udoinwang and James Tar Tsaaior

Reviewed by Nick Mdika Tembo

Oral Forms of Nigerian Autobiography and Life Stories, by Adetayo Alabi

Reviewed by Nick Mdika Tembo

Dreams of Archives Unfolded: Absence and Caribbean Life Writing, by Jocelyn Fenton Stitt

Reviewed by Julie Rak

Autobiography as Indigenous Intellectual Tradition: Cree and Métis âcimisowina, by Deanna Reder

Reviewed by Rachel Stubbs

Minor Salvage: The Korean War and Korean American Life Writings, by Stephen Hong Sohn

Reviewed by Heui-Yung Park

Negotiating Racial Politics in the Family: Transnational Histories Touched by National Socialism and Apartheid, by Barbara Henkes

Reviewed by Sarah Nuttall

Dead Men Telling Tales: Napoleonic War Veterans and the Military Memoir Industry, 1808–1914, by Matilda Greig

Reviewed by Scott Krawczyk

Material Ambitions: Self-Help and Victorian Literature, by Rebecca Richardson

Reviewed by Issy Brooks-Ward

Speculative Biography: Experiments, Opportunities and Provocations, edited by Donna Lee Brien and Kiera Lindsey

Reviewed by Kylie Cardell

Our Hearts Are Restless: The Art of Spiritual Memoir, by Richard Lischer

Reviewed by Matthew Mullins

Magical Habits, by Monica Huerta

Reviewed by Regina Marie Mills

The Art of Identification: Forensics, Surveillance, Identity, edited by Rex Ferguson, Melissa M. Littlefield, and James Purdon

Reviewed by Sara Collins