Publications by List Members

The following publications are texts or issues of journals that IABA listserv members have published, announcement for new journals with calls for papers, announcements of new publication series, or schedules and programs of events held by lifewriting programs and centers.


Special Issue “Stories of Violence, War, and Displacement: Intersections of Life,  Research, and Knowledge Production” 

Korac, Maja (2024) Guest Editor

Genealogy 8:2 (2024)    (ISSN 2313-5778).    



Transformations: A Personal History of Introducing Complicité into Academic Life and Learning Communities

by Nergis Canefe

Conversation with My Classmates: Displacement, War, and Survival

by Eva Mikuska

Listening to, Reconstructing, and Writing about Stories of Violence: A Research Journey Amidst Personal Loss

by Kristine Andra Avram

On Being Too Close to It 

by Azra Hromadžić

Gender Justice and Feminist Politics: Decolonizing Collaborative Research

by Dolores Figueroa Romero

Re-Search on the Hyphen: (Re)writing the Fragmented Self within Contexts of Displacement

by Lina Fadel

Life History Research and the Violence of War: Experiencing Binary Thinking on Pain and Privilege, Being and Knowing

by Maja Korac andCindy Horst

Hosts, Again: From Conditional Inclusion and Liberal Censorship to Togetherness and Creative/Critical Refugee Epistemologies

by Saida Hodžić

Lost in Translation? Agency and Incommensurability in the Transnational Travelling of Discourses of Sexualized Harm

by Alison Crosby

Indigenous Research: The Path towards Mapuchization

by María Gloria Cayulef


Hybridity in Life Writing: Combining Text and Images

Palgrave, May 2024 (Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Life Writing)

Editor: Arnaud Schmitt


Explores how text and image can be brought together to enhance autobiographical narrative

Chapters explore a range of examples of intermediality, from the eighteenth century to the present

Includes new insights into the interaction between life narratives and social media

This book offers new perspectives on text/image hybridity in the context of life writing. Each chapter explores the very topical issue of how writers and artists combine two media in order to enhance the autobiographical narrative and experience of the reader. It questions the position of images in relation to text, both on the page and in terms of the power balance between media. It also shows how hybridity operates beyond a semantic and cultural balance of power, as the combination of text and images are able to produce content that would not have been possible separately. Including a range of life writing and different visual media, from paintings and photography to graphic memoirs and social media, this edited collection investigates the point at which an image, whether fixed or moving, enters the autobiographical act and confronts the verbal form.

Table of contents (15 chapters)


Arnaud Schmitt

Pages 1-19

I- Photography, Text, Photographic Texts

Interanimation in Joanne Leonard’s Being in Pictures: An Intimate Photo Memoir (2008)

Griselda Pollock

Pages 23-48

In Search of a Lost Past: Family Photography and Postmemory in Michael Ignatieff’s The Russian Album

Laure de Nervaux-Gavoty

Pages 49-66

Inserting the Manfish: Hybridity in Underwater Memoir Illustrations

Clare Brant

Pages 67-85

Beyond Authentication: The Construction of Patti Smith’s Identity Through Text and Image

Silvia Hernández Hellín

Pages 87-103

“Moving Shadows Disappearing”: Erasure of Self in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Autobiographical “Photo-essay”

Marie-Agnès Gay

Pages 105-124

The Hybrid Life Writing of Sally Mann: Capturing Human Nature in Words and Images

Anne Green Munk

Pages 125-140

Writing a Life Written in Pictures: Postmemorial Phototextualities in Helena Janeczek’s La ragazza con la Leica

Veronica Frigeni

Pages 141-161

“This Counter History”: Teju Cole’s Pandemic Visual Diary on the Kitchen as a Domestic Postcolonial Medi[t]ation

Julia Watson

Pages 163-180

II- The Materialities of Hybridity: Artists, Autobiographies, Textualities, Images and Graphic Narratives

Arenas of Hybridity

Teresa Bruś

Pages 183-198

“Leaving the marks in”: The Dialectic of Journal & Drawings by Keith Vaughan

Alex Belsey

Pages 199-215

Photography, Intermediality, and Graphic Illness Narratives

Nancy Pedri

Pages 217-240

Sounds and Silence Made Visible: Cece Bell’s El Deafo (2014)

Nathalie Saudo-Welby

Pages 241-253

The Hateful Narcissism of Allie Brosh in Hyperbole and a Half (2013)

Hélène Tison

Pages 255-274

Ambiguous and Absent Imagery in Contemporary Culinary Memoirs

Virginia Terry Sherman

Pages 275-289


Book by a list member: 

Olga Michael, Human Rights in Graphic Life Narrative: Reading and Witnessing Violations of ʻthe Other’ in Anglophone Works

Bloomsbury Academic

Kate Douglas, John David Zuern, Anna Poletti, Series Editors

Short Description:

Surveying print and digital graphic life narratives about people who become ‘othered’ within Western contexts, this book investigates how comics and graphic novels witness human rights transgressions in contemporary Anglophone culture and how they can promote social justice. With thought given to how the graphic form can offer a powerful counterpoint to the legal, humanitarian and media discourses that dehumanise the most violated and dispossessed, but also how these works may unconsciously reproduce Western neo-colonial presentations of the ‘other,’ Olga Michael focuses on gender, death, space, and border violence within graphic life narratives depicting suffering across different geo- and biopolitical locations. Combining the familiar with the lesser-known, this book covers works by artists such as Joe Sacco, Thi Bui, Mia Kirshner, Phoebe Gloeckner, Kamel KhélifFrancesca SannaGabi Froden, Benjamin Dix and Lindsay Pollock, as well as Safdar Ahmed and Ali Dorani/EatenFish.
Interdisciplinary in its consideration of life writing, comics and human rights studies, and comparative in approach, this book explores such topics as the aesthetics of visualised suffering; spatial articulations of human rights violations; the occurrence of violations whilst crossing borders; the gendered dimensions of visually captured violence; and how human rights discourses intersect with graphic depictions of the dead. In so doing, Michael establishes how to read human rights and social justice comics in relation to an escalating global crisis and deftly complicates negotiations of ‘otherness.’ A vitally important work to the humanities sector, this book underscores the significance of postcolonial decolonized reading acts as forms of secondary witness.


Now introducing issue a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 38.3 2023!

“Life Writing at the Crossroads: Autobiographical Theory and Practice in Poland”

“Various forms of life writing have become very popular in recent decades both in Poland and abroad, and many critics emphasize that we live in times dominated by “a culture of confession.” In the present moment, life writing texts in their multifarious forms are both selected for bestseller lists and subjected to serious debates in academia. Polish writers, poets, diarists, archivists, and memoirists have actively contributed to life writing practices for centuries. Moreover, researchers agree that “autobiographism” has been one of the leading conventions and modalities of Polish literature for more than a hundred years. This special issue examines diversified autobiographical gestures in order to show how 20th- and 21st-century Polish life writing theories and practices challenge and bridge Western discourses on auto/biography, memory, travel narratives, diaries, and archives”


Autofiction Studies Network Launches New Listserv (Auto-Fiction)

The Autofiction Studies Network is an interdisciplinary and international network devoted to autofiction studies. The network’s primary purpose is to allow for broader dissemination of information relating to autofiction studies. The network aims to facilitate a productive discussion on autofiction, inform scholars about recent publications in the field, share academic events, and promote research and exploration of the concept of autofiction. 

The forum should be used for postings that connect with our subject area. Within that broad area, we encourage discussing cultural, linguistic, literary, social, historical, philosophical, practical and pedagogical matters relating to our discipline. The list is moderated by Hywel Dix of Bournemouth University and Auto/Fiction editor Shashibhusan Nayak.

Joining the list

Visit this link to join. Once you sign up, you will receive an e-mail with a confirmation link to click on. Shortly after subscribing to Auto-Fiction, you will receive a welcome message which confirms your membership. Please keep this message, which provides essential information about the functioning of the list and how to sign off when you wish to do so. If you have any questions about subscribing, please don’t hesitate to contact


European Journal of Life Writing Volume 13 (2024) out now!

We are pleased to announce that the first articles of volume 13 of the European Journal of Life Writing are now online. The 2024 edition of the journal is off to a great start with the papers “Life Writing at the Terminus: Glacier Memoirs and Planetary Relationality” by John Zuern and “Marina Warner’s Inventory of A Life Mislaid: An Unreliable Memoir. From Memoir to Filiation Narrative” by Souhir Zekri Masson; and a book review of Virginia Newhall Rademacher’s Derivative Lives. Biofiction, Uncertainty, and Speculative Risk in Contemporary Spanish Narrative by J. Ignacio Díez.

We look forward to more publications over the coming months. When visiting our website, do also have a look at the book reviews that we finished volume 12 with: Life Writing in the Posthuman Anthropocene edited by Ina Batzke, Lea Spinoza Garrido and Linda M. Hess, reviewed by Inés García; Élise Hugueny-Léger’s Projections de soi. Identités et images en mouvement dans l’autofiction, reviewed by Maaike Koffeman; and Imagining Gender in Biographical Fiction edited by Julia Novak and Caitríona Ní Dhúill, reviewed by Bethany Lane.

Long-term followers of the journal may have notice we have been a bit quiet on social media lately. We are currently revising our social media presence and will soon share an update on this with you.

As always, you are cordially invited to publish your life writing research, book reviews and creative matters in our journal. Guidelines can be found here or you can contact us at if you have any questions about the process.

Warm regards, also on behalf of the journal’s board and editorial team,

Sjoerd-Jeroen MoenandarJournal

For more information, visit our website.

This message is sent to you on behalf of European Journal of Life Writing.


Reading Autobiography Now: An Updated Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives, Third Edition


 “A superb wayfinder through the rich and strange forest of life writing and its many forms of art.”Margaretta Jolly, Director, Center for Life History and Life Writing Research, University of Sussex
“This book is what theorists, critics, teachers, and students need now.”Craig Howes, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Updated and expanded, Reading Autobiography Now is an accessible and contemporary guide to autobiographical narratives. Exploring definitions of life narrative, probing issues of subjectivity, and outlining salient features of autobiographical arts and practices, Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson offer both a critical engagement with life narrative in historical perspective and a theoretical framework for interpreting texts and practices in this wide-ranging field. 

$27.00 paper ISBN 978-1-5179-1688-6$108.00 cloth 978-1-5179-1687-9400 pages • July 2024

Published by University of Minnesota Press

For IABA-L subscribers, get 40% off with Code MNIABA4 (Good through July 31, 2024)


Life Writing, Volume 21, Issue 2, June 2024 is now available online

Conference Report
Field Culture in Unprecedented Times: Writing the Unexpected, Narrating the Future at a Virtual Conference | Open Access
Kate Douglas, Kylie Cardell, Marina Deller, Emma Maguire & Shannon Sandford
Pages: 179-195 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2296752

Couples: A Collective Life | Open Access
Joe Moran
Pages: 199-213 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2250931

‘To You, Who May Find Yourself in This Story’: What a Baker’s Memoir Taught an Emerging Education Scholar
Amber Moore
Pages: 215-221 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2160935

I Want to Become: My (Own) Reference List | Open Access
Dave Yan
Pages: 223-229 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2206258

Reflecting on Memory, Imagination and Place: Reading Janet Frame’s The Envoy from Mirror City Through a Cognitive Literary Lens
Merril Howie
Pages: 233-254 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2250928

Fantasy and Dissimulation in the Memoirs of Getzel Zelikovits (1855–1926)
Rachel Mairs
Pages: 255-276 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2226834

Intercultural Mediation in the Translation of the Self in Travel Writing: A Case Study of Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper
Pan Xie & Xiaoxiao Xin
Pages: 277-293 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2226363

Ludwig Wittgenstein and Georg Henrik von Wright: An Unexpected Friendship | Open Access
Päivi Kaipainen
Pages: 295-313 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2225134

Individualism, Collectivism, and Identity Politics in Palestinian Life Writing | Open Access
Eman Alasah
Pages: 315-332 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2219865

‘A Stranger in the City’: Selfhood, Community and Modes of (Un)belonging in Muhammad Iqbal’s Self-Portraitures
Saliha Shah
Pages: 333-348 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2205547

No Longer a ‘Guy’, But a ‘Flaming-Hot Mess of a Queen’: The Role of Language in Contemporary Nonbinary Autobiographical Life Writing | Open Access
Karolína Zlámalová
Pages: 349-367 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2204399

Memoir and Respectable Femininity: Shirani A. Bandaranayake’s Hold Me in Contempt
Kanchanakesi Warnapala
Pages: 369-380 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2202329

Crossing the Bamboo Curtain: Occidentalism and the English Language in Cultural Revolution Memoirs
Mai Wang
Pages: 381-400 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2201685

Survivor Memory and Rape Memoir: Chanel Miller’s Know My Name
Marta Fernández-Morales
Pages: 401-418 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2196367

As Told by Herself: Women’s Childhood Autobiography, 1845–1969
by Lorna Martens, Madison, The University of Wisconsin Press, 2022, 306 pp., ISBN: 978-0-29933-9-104
Valerie Sanders
Pages: 421-424 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2177505

Writing Life Writing: Narrative, History, Autobiography
by Paul John Eakin, foreword by Craig Howes, New York and London: Routledge, 2020, Pp. xxi + 151, (paperback), ISBN 978-0-367-51577-5
Jeremy D. Popkin
Pages: 425-427 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2165472

How I Lost My Mother: A Story of Life, Care and Dying
by Leslie Swartz, Johannesburg, Wits University Press, 2021, 222 pp., ISBN: 9781776146949
Joan C. Tronto
Pages: 429-432 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2159754

Metaphor in Illness Writing: Fight and Battle Reused
by Anita Wohlmann, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2022, 216 pp., ISBN 978 1 3995 0088 3
Richard Freadman
Pages: 433-436 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2207321

Pages: I-I | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2234167


Reading Mediated Life Narratives: Auto/Biographical Agency in the Book, Museum, Social Media, and Archives

by Amy Carlson


Hardback | 248 pp | February 2024 | 9781350324664 | $115.00

To purchase from Bloomsbury with the discount, click here

Enter code GLR AQ4 at the checkout for 35% off!* ($74.75)

An exploration of how mediation can shape and control online and physical life writing texts and spaces, and how the traces of this mediation are a critical aspect of reading a life narrative.

Calling attention to the unseen mediation and re-mediation of life narratives in online and physical spaces, this ground-breaking exploration uncovers the ever-changing strategies that authors, artists, publishers, curators, archivists and social media corporations adopt to shape, control or resist the auto/biographical in these texts. Concentrating on contemporary life texts found in the material book, museums, on social media and archives that present perceptions of individuality and autonomy, Reading Mediated Life Narratives exposes the traces of personal, cultural, technological, and political mediation that must be considered when developing reading strategies for such life narratives. Amy Carlson asks such questions as what agents act upon these narratives; what do the text, the creator, and the audience gain, and what do they lose; how do constantly evolving technologies shape or stymie the auto/biographical “I”; and finally, how do the mediations affect larger issues of social and collective memory? An examination of the range of sites at which vulnerability and intervention can occur, Carlson does not condemn but stages an intercession, showing us how it is increasingly necessary to register mediated agents and processes modifying the witnessing or recuperation of original texts that could condition our reception. With careful thought on how we remember, how we create and control our pictures, voices, words, and records, Reading Mediated Life Narratives reveals how we construct and negotiate our social identities and memories, but also what systems control us.

Amy Carlson received her PhD from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in English and is the Serials librarian at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library, USA. She has published articles in Marvels and Tales and The Serials Librarian. Her research focuses on how materiality, reformatting, access, and use accentuate or limit experiences with life narrative texts.

Also available:


Amy Carlson

Head, Serials Department
Hamilton Library
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa


pronouns: she, her, hers


New Book Announcement by Eugene Stelzig

Remarkable It Is: Late Life Poems, 113 pages 

Poets’ Choice []

The title—Remarkable It Is—refers to the poet’s calling to notice things that most of us take for granted (such as our breathing and our hearts beating) but that actually constitute the miracle of our being alive. These poems range from the playfully wistful, to the probingly thoughtful (about old age and the specter of mortality as well as our place in the universe), and the satirical (especially about contemporary politics and world events). The poems in this new collection reflect a “late life” outlook, but they also speak to perennial topics and experiences that readers of all ages should be able to relate to.

Eugene [“Gene”] Stelzig has steadily written and published poetry since his adolescence, including three collections: Fool’s Gold: Selected Poems of a Decade (2008), Assorted Selfscriptings: 1964-1985 (2015), Walking Through the Four SeasonsAn Impromptu Poetry Journal (2021). He has published extensively (both books and articles) in his areas of academic scholarship, Life Writing and Romanticism. His translation of Goethe’s Faust, Part I was published in 2019, and a gathering of his autobiographical essays, True Lies and Short Takes: Assorted Life Writing Essays appeared in 2022. He lives with his wife Elsje van Munster in rural retirement among the Finger Lakes in Western New York.


Reading the Contemporary Author
Narrative, Authority, Fictionality
Edited by Alison Gibbons and Elizabeth King
University of Nebraska Press

December 2023
PB | 9781496234612 | £58.00* | 290pp

Alison Gibbons is a reader in contemporary stylistics at Sheffield Hallam University. She is the author or coeditor of several books, including Fictionality and MultimodalNarratives; Metamodernism:Historicity, Affect and Depth afterPostmodernism; and Pronouns in Literature: Positions and Perspectives in Language.

Elizabeth King is the author of The Novelist in the Novel: Gender and Genius in Fictional Representations of Authorship, 1850 – 1950.

 “A brilliant exploration of new manifestations of authorship in the twenty-first century. Alison Gibbons and Elizabeth King provide a powerful through line that reveals transformations in how we approach the subjectivity and intent of the author amid the digital revolution.”

—Virginia Newhall Rademacher, author of Derivative Lives: Biofiction, Uncertainty, and Speculative Risk in Contemporary Spanish Narrative

Readers, literary critics, and theorists alike have long demonstrated an abiding fascination with the author, both as a real person—an artist and creator—and as a theoretical concept that shapes the way we read literary works. Whether anonymous, pseudonymous, or trending on social media, authors continue to be an object of critical and readerly interest. Yet theories surrounding authorship have yet to be satisfactorily updated to register the changes wrought on the literary sphere by the advent of the digital age, the recent turn to autofiction, and the current literary climate more generally. In Reading the Contemporary Author the contributors look back on the long history of theorizing the author and offer innovative new approaches for understanding this elusive figure.

30% Discount Code: FFF23
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We are delighted to also inform you about a new publication, a special issue on Women’s Life Writing in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe (Dacoromania Litteraria, Issue 10/2023), edited by Andrada Fătu-Tutoveanu, Laura Cernat, Bavjola Shatro.

Available here (Open Access):

We hope this will be of interest to you.


Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
vol. 46, no. 1, 2023

on Project Muse:

From University of Hawaiʻi Press

In addition to the table of contents, see the texts of the introductions to the sections below–they provide over views of the range and the riches of life writing.

“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
Editors’ Notes

International Year in Review

Biography’s International Year in Review is returning after a one-year hiatus, during which time our editorial team took stock of the feature’s accomplishments since its launch in 2016 and reflected on its possible future directions. One change is evident in the essays in this issue: we have asked contributors to focus on a single work of life writing (broadly conceived, as always) that they find especially noteworthy, ideally one that speaks to them personally as readers and scholars.
We were glad—and sometimes moved—to see how the authors embraced this invitation. In his review of Marighella, a biopic of the communist militant Carlos Marighella, Sergio da Silva Barcellos recalls his own involvement in the movement for democratic elections in Brazil in the 1980s. Emma Maguire incorporates a reflection on the limitations of slogans against sexual violence on posters at her Australian university into her discussion of the journalist Lucia Osborn-Crowley’s memoir My Body Keeps Your Secrets, an account of Osborn-Crowley’s confrontation with the trauma of a sexual assault early in her life. Marianne Høyen’s concerns about the increase in air and noise pollution after a lull during the COVID-19 pandemic informs her examination of the Danish meteorologist Jesper Theilgaard’s narrative of his work to broaden public understanding of the causes and effects of climate change. Liam Harte takes up the memoir Belonging by the historian Catherine Corless, whose research revealed that in the first half of the twentieth century the bodies of hundreds of children had been buried in an unmarked mass grave at St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Ireland. In the conclusion of his essay, Harte reveals a striking personal connection to this topic, which I will leave to our readers to discover on their own.
Several of the essays collected here examine life writing by and about politicians and activists. Monica Soeting’s lively engagement with René van Stipriaan’s biography of William of Orange shows how van Stipriaan’s scrupulous research infuses vitality and complexity into shopworn tributes to the Dutch national hero; Gabriel Jaime Murillo-Arango’s essay describes the impact of a profile of Gustavo Petro Urrego, Colombia’s first left-wing president, which appeared at the height of a campaign that resulted in Urrego’s election in 2022; Ilaria Serra reviews the auto­biography of Gino Strada, the founder of an NGO providing aid for civilians impacted by war; and Gerardo Necoechea Gracia examines a collectively authored portrait of Mexican human rights advocate Lucía Castro.

Three contributors to this issue focus on life writing by poets. Kirsi Tuohela and Maarit Leskelä-Kärki celebrate the launch of Kerstin Söderholm, a website presenting both an edition and a facsimile of the diary of the twentieth-century Finnish poet who wrote in Swedish, one of Finland’s two national languages. Zeina Hashem Beck’s collection O, which explores and critiques the conflation of womanhood and motherhood in Lebanese culture, is the focus of Sleiman El Hajj’s essay. Tom Overton’s contribution begins by reminding us that “the UK” comprises people and places other than England, and he goes on to describe how voting on Brexit illuminated political fault lines in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and the rest of the United Kingdom. He concludes with a discussion of Outlandish, a 2023 collection of poetry by Jo Clement that critiques the marginalization of Gypsy, Roma, and Travellers through what Overton calls “the violent politics of borders” in the past and the present.

Overton’s essay provokes a question that has occupied me since the start of the International Year in Review: how feasible is it to organize the feature along the lines of political geography? The impact of many works of life writing extends well beyond the borders of the country in which it happens to be published, so in some cases our standard title “The Year in . . .” turns out to be arbitrarily constraining. This year we decided on “The Year in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland” for Tobias Heinrich’s review of the volume of intimate letters exchanged between the Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann and the Swiss novelist Max Frisch, which was published in Berlin. A similar conundrum arose with Rose Mary Allen and Jeroen Heuvel’s review of Mary Romney-Schaab’s An Afro-Caribbean in the Nazi Era, a biography of her father, Lionel Romney, who had been a prisoner in the Mauthausen concentration camp during World War II. Born in the Dominican Republic to parents from the island of Sint Maarten, Romney lived at different times in Aruba, Curaçao, and Venezuela. Romney-Schaab’s book was self-published in the United States. After some back and forth with the authors, we decided on “The Year in Sint Maarten” to foreground what Romney-Schaab views as her primary audience—the young people of Sint Maarten who might find inspiration in Lionel Romney’s fortitude. Hermanito, reviewed by Ana Belén Martínez García, also complicates the question of the “national origin” of a lifewriting text. Originally published in Basque, Hermanito is the outcome of a dialogue between Ibrahima Balde, a migrant from Guinea living in Spain’s Basque country, and Amets Arzallus Antia, a Basque poet, which was conducted in French, their common language. Life narratives in themselves are often geographically fluid, with their writers traveling in memory across national borders. Ioana Luca introduces us to the most recent volume of Vasile Ernu’s autobiography, in which Ernu, a prominent writer in Romania, returns to his childhood in the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in the decade prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and as Gergely Kunt notes in his essay, the Lutheran pastor Gábor Sztehlo was living in Switzerland when he wrote his account of his efforts to secure the safety of Jews in Budapest during the Second World War.

Alana Bell’s discussion of the Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley’s Run Toward the Danger, a memoir including chapters recounting Polley’s struggles as an exploited child actor and her adult life as a working mother of three children, is one of several essays about life narratives foregrounding the experiences of young people and families. Heui-Yung Park reviews T’aehun Kim’s “inverse bildungsroman” detailing his grueling preparation for university entrance exams in Korea, which included sleep deprivation and self-harm; Gunnþórunn Guðmundsdóttir examines the Icelandic writer Hlín Agnarsdóttir’s book-length letter to her abusive father; Chen Shen reviews Me Shu-yi’s account of her parents’ experience of the political upheavals of twentieth-century China; and Leigh Gilmore introduces us to Come Back in September, the writer Darryl Pinckney’s memoir of his relationship with his mentor Elizabeth Hardwick and the New York literary luminaries in her orbit.

Paweł Rodak’s essay about the Polish painter Jósef Czapski’s multimedia diary prompted me to search the internet for examples of Czapski’s work, which in turn led us to choose his 1980 painting Jeune homme sur fond rouge for the cover of this issue. I want to thank Paweł for approaching the National Museum of Krákow to secure permission to reproduce the image. For us, it captures the spirit of the International Year in Review: reading is always a kind of journey, and we hope the feature will offer our readers an invigorating journey around the world of contemporary life writing.

John David Zuern

Annual Bibliography of Works about Life Writing

Covering the year 2022, this installment of Biography’s annual annotated bibliography of critical and theoretical works in life writing strongly suggests that while things may never go back to “normal,” the numbers and the contours of publications are becoming more familiar. From a low of 625 entries for the 2020 installment, followed by 800 for 2021, this year’s bibliography has climbed up to 927, moving into the range of our highest totals in the 2010s.

The most dramatic increase has taken place in the category of monographs. From a low of thirty-four in 2021, down from fifty-seven in 2020, this year’s total has shot up to 101. Anyone familiar with its huge number of publications will not be surprised to learn that Routledge was responsible for twenty of this year’s books—almost a fifth. Other publishers issuing more than a couple of books include Brill, Columbia, De Gruyter, Duke, Edinburgh, Nebraska, Oxford, Universitätsverlag Winter, and Yale.

The number of articles in edited volumes and journal special issues and clusters actually decreased a bit this year—382, down from 2021’s 400, which was itself a retreat from 2020’s 450. For more than a decade, these publications have represented the majority of entries, with special issues and clusters accounting for most of the articles. While the number of these journal gatherings has increased—from twenty-nine in 2021 to forty this year—this is somewhat deceiving, as the Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies from Shanghai Jiao Tong University tends to organize its offerings in clusters—ten in 2022, containing a total of thirty-six essays. Perhaps not surprisingly, the journals devoted to life writing produce the most special issues and clusters: a/b: Auto/Biography Studies gathered thirty-one essays into three special issues; the European Journal of Life Writing also had three, featuring sixteen articles between them. AvtobiografiЯ set fourteen essays into two special issues, and Persona Studies put fifteen into two as well. Special notice should be paid to Radical History Review, which printed twenty-three articles in two special issues devoted to lifewriting subjects.

Though up from the eleven published last year, the number of single-volume edited collections is still small—and deceptive, since four are Routledge journal special issues repackaged as books. These thirteen volumes nevertheless contain 116 essays, with two Palgrave publications featuring twenty-nine between them, and Duke and Routledge original collections containing thirty-two more.

The number of individual articles in lifewriting and other specialty journals, and in general edited collections, has increased dramatically—from 163 last year, down from 200 in 2020, to 390! Why such a huge increase? One explanation could be a much more diligent search for entries. But another could be that many journals and edited collections on general subjects are turning to life writing as a central concern in their areas of specialty. As always, forum issues of lifewriting periodicals contain a wide array of offerings. The familiar titles are well represented. Life Writing leads the way with nineteen essays, followed by Biography: An Inter­disciplinary Quarterly with eight, and the Journal of Life Writing Studies, the European Journal of Life Writing, AvtobiografiЯ, and the Auto/Biography Review all containing five. a/b: Auto/Biography Studies has only four, perhaps attributable to the focus on special issues and clusters that all of these journals increasingly display, and Lifewriting Annual has three. Most notable this year, however, is the appearance of Revista Brasileira de Pesquisa (Auto)biográfica, whose twenty-one essays in Portuguese and French lead all of the lifewriting journals, and also speak to another feature of this year’s bibliography—the dramatic increase in the number of journals and essays publishing in languages other than English.

But the multitudes of essays appearing in more general journals and collections has contributed greatly to the huge increase in this category. Most notable is the journal Genealogy, which published thirty-eight articles that perhaps inevitably overlap with lifewriting interests. Equally predictably, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies featured seventeen such articles, and Oral History Review fifteen. That the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics presents twenty-one essays devoted to life writing, however, suggests that graphic memoir and biography have become major subjects of interest—Studies in Comics is responsible for four more articles. And that a Routledge volume devoted to narrative theory, and the Edinburgh Companion to the Essay, would contain nineteen and fourteen lifewriting-focused articles respectively confirms that life narratives are increasingly integral texts for other disciplinary interests. Equally unmistakable trends appear in such journals as Humanities, with thirteen essays, ESC: English Studies in Canada with eleven, M/C Journal with ten, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly with nine, Journal of Holocaust Research with eight, Angelaki with seven, Journal of American Folklore with six, and Feminismo/s with five.

As for dissertations, the number has doubled—fifty-four, up from twenty-seven a year ago. Since these productions often set the foundations for future articles and books, this upward trend from the really depressed number for 2021 is certainly welcome.

Some final observations. First, I noted last year that an accelerating and irreversible trend was the move to online publication, since conservatively, ninety to ninety-five percent of lifewriting scholarship is accessed virtually. Though many of the books, journals, and dissertations live behind paywalls maintained by their publishers or distribution platforms, more and more are becoming open access, and governments, academic institutions, and grant funders are also requiring authors, and therefore journals, to make individual essays freely available. Though we cannot guarantee such access, in this year’s installment of the bibliography we are providing DOIs for all entries when available.
Second, the quality of the documentation and the annotations is directly attributable to Caroline Zuckerman, the compiler of this annotated bibliography, and the book review editor for Biography. Her diligence, comprehensiveness, and care with the final product has contributed greatly to the increase in the number of entries, the number of languages and disciplines represented, and especially the number of individual articles culled from the wide range of periodical publications available to researchers. For this we are grateful.

Craig Howes


TOC: Language, Literature, and Interdisciplinary Studies (LLIDS), Volume 5, Issue 4 (December 2023)

I am pleased to announce the publication of Volume 5, Issue 4 of the open-access, academic journal Language, Literature, and Interdisciplinary Studies (LLIDS) with the following Table of Contents: 

Journal homepage:

Editors’ Note
by Deeksha Suri and Md Faizan Moquim

                                Forum on Narrative: Current Practices and PossibleFutures
Introduction: “Assaying” the (Post-)Modern Essay
by James S. Baumlin and Craig A. Meyer

I hope you will enjoy the articles published here! 
Best wishes, 
Faizan Moquim
Associate Editor, LLIDS
Contact Email


Happy New Year and a happy new book! Changing Minds: Women and the Political Essay, 1960-2000 (U of Pittsburgh P) documents the work of five paradigm-shifting essayists who transformed American thought in the mid-to-late twentieth century. It explores how women writers, including Rachel Carson, Hannah Arendt, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, and Patricia J. Williams, reconceived the essay in an era when women were not always recognized as public intellectuals. The text includes biography, history, and deep-dives into the evolving form of the essay. If you’re intrigued, please take a look at the Publisher’s Weekly review.

Ann Jurecic
Associate Professor
Department of English
Rutgers University


Life Writing, Volume 21, Issue 1, March 2024 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:
The Translation Memoir: An Introduction
Delphine Grass & Lily Robert-Foley
Pages: 1-9 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2281044

Inhospitable Conditions: Hospitality, Kinship and Complaint in Maureen Freely’s Angry in Piraeus and Mireille Gansel’s Translation as Transhumance (tr. Ros Schwartz) OPEN ACCESS
Jen Calleja
Pages: 13-32 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2240545

Reading (Like) a Translator: The Sensory Life and Travel Writing of Danish Literary Translator Anne Marie Bjerg
Ida Klitgård
Pages: 33-48 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2226840

Our Bodies, Ourselves Translated into Brazilian Portuguese: A Study of the Impacts on the Translators
Érica Lima & Janine Pimentel
Pages: 49-66 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2230373

Neutrality Affected: Negotiating the Promise of Empathy in Interpreters’ Memoirs
Yan Wu
Pages: 67-84 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2224528

Mathematics of Translation: Encounters with Literature’s Excess Interpretive Potential |
Erin Nickalls  OPEN ACCESS
Pages: 85-105 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2229064

Deux étés (1997): The (Auto)fiction of the French Translation of Vladimir Nabokov’s Ada or Ardor (1969) OPEN ACCESS
Elsa Court
Pages: 107-120 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2230383


Echolation as Modulation: A Case Study of Chus Pato and Erín Moure’s Secession/Insecession, Accompanied by a Fan Fiction of Moure’s Work More Generally
Lily Robert-Foley
Pages: 121-140 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2268855

Jhumpa Lahiri and the Translation Memoir: To Write and Exist Beyond the Mother Tongue
Benedetta Cutolo
Pages: 141-158 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2230374

‘Expand’: From Sur les bouts de la langue and Traduire en féministe/s by Noémie Grunenwald
Lily Robert-Foley
Pages: 159-168 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2281042
Lives Beyond Borders: US Immigrant Women’s Life Writing, Nationality and Social Justice
by Ina C. Seethaler, Albany, SUNY Press, 2021, 221pp., ISBN 9781438486215
Xuesheng Yuan
Pages: 171-173 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2156261

The Oxford History of Life Writing Vol VII: Postwar to Contemporary, 1945–2020
by Patrick Hayes, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2022, 480 pp, ISBN 9780198737339
Max Saunders
Pages: 175-178 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2154582




Edited by Jo Parnell



Cultural Representation of the Second Wife: Literature, Stage, and Screen, is a multifaceted, interdisciplinary, cross-cultural work that provides insights into the realities of second wives the world over. This book allows the reader a three-dimensional view of the second wife experience. It asks: What does it mean, and what does it feel like, to be a second wife in a polygamous union or in a monogamous partnership? Is there a difference? Together, the writers in this book cleverly create an in-depth study of the subject through the productions referred to in the title, to offer a different approach to the popularly held views of the second wife. The book addresses the intricacies, customs, practices and lifestyles of the various Eastern and Western cultures and demonstrates the abilities of the Humanities to connect and interrelate with other disciplines as well as with the reader’s own world.


Jo Parnell is Honorary Lecturer in the School of Humanities, Creative Industries and Social Science (HCISS), College of Human and Social Futures, at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

 Jo Parnell’s carefully curated collection brings attention to a figure often maligned and misunderstood in popular culture. Parnell’s introduction and the chapters that follow offer readers a multidisciplinary journey across the globe and across time, from the Roman Empire to British colonial Nigeria to Hitchcock’s Manderley. Whether she is the product of concubinage, polygamy, or remarriage after the death or divorce of her predecessor, the second wife looms large in film and literature as both a victim of and threat to patriarchy.

— Julie Anne Taddeo, University of Maryland

This collection is full of surprises. Whatever you think you know about the second wife will be contradicted as the focus shifts across countries and continents and across decades and millennia. The stories intersect with religion, law, culture, divorce, polygamy, sexuality, and of course patriarchy. No wonder the second wife has proved irresistible for writers and directors. The essays show vividly the variety of these fictional versions and their impact on their audiences. Now any lucky reader of this rich collection can sample vicariously some of this ferment of attitudes and experiences . . .

— Hugh Craig, Emeritus Professor, FAHA, University of Newcastle

Hardback: ISBN 978-1-66693-284-3 December 2023 Regular price: $95.00, £73.00 After discount: $66.50, £51.10

ebook: ISBN 978-1-66693-285-0 December 2023 Regular price: $45.00, £35.00 After discount: $31.50, £24.50

*eBooks can only be ordered online.


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The common writer in modern history, edited by Martyn Lyons,

Manchester University Press, December 2023.

ISBN 978 1 526170750
The common writer in modern history spotlights the writing of ordinary, semi-literate people in history, emphasising the agency and voices of the subordinate classes and contesting conventional histories that treat them as passive or silent.
In eleven new studies by thirteen leading historians of scribal culture, this book foregrounds the ‘common writer’ and contributes to a ‘New History from Below’, which attempts to give voice and agency to those often marginalised by grand historical narratives. In presenting ego-documents, life-writing of various kinds, soldiers’ and emigrants’ correspondence and graffiti in streets and prisons, it opens up the possibility of an alternative history which contrasts with conventional top-down accounts told from the perspective of elites. The volume focusses on the concerns and assumptions of the so-called silent masses and finds them to have been not so silent after all. It explores neglected writing which provides an insight into the cultural universe of the poor, the mental world of the soldier and the personal struggles of the young emigrant or pauper.
The contributors draw on different disciplines, including cultural history, sociology and ethnography, folklore studies, palaeography and socio-historical linguistics. They cover a broad geographical and chronological range to assess the functions and purposes of writings from below. The collection demonstrates the crucial importance of writing in the past for people of modest social status and imperfect literacy competence. It suggests that ordinary writers can be seen as active agents in their own history, rather than as passive receptacles for official ideologies.
Table of Contents:

  1. The Common writer in history, Martyn Lyons                                                
  2. Writings on the walls. Approaches to graffiti in the early modern
    Hispanic world, Antonio Castillo Gómez                                                          
  3. ‘No more for Now or Praps Never’: the meaning and function of
  4. pauper writing in Britain, 1750s to early 1900s, Steven King                     
  5. Common writers in German-speaking countries from the eighteenth to the twentieth century as agents of a language history from below, Stephan Elspaß                               
  6. Narrating injuries and injustices: life stories in the struggle for working-classrights in Britain, 1820-1945, T. G. Ashplant                
  7. Music and affective signalling in an immigrant letter from 1844, David A. Gerber                   
  8. Pen, paper and peasants: the rise of vernacular literacy practices in nineteenth-century Iceland, Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon and Davíð Ólafsson    
  9. Questioning ‘the common writer’: ordinary writings from the Emagusheni trading station, Pondoland, 1880-1884, Liz Stanley             
  10. Madlands: Vincenzo Rabito as a writer, David Moss                        
  11. Copying, citing and creative rewriting: the transmission of texts and ideas in Finnish handwritten newspapers, Kirsti Salmi-Niklander and Risto Turunen                                
  12. Choreographing correspondences: how the state shaped soldiers’ mail in the US and Red Armies during the Second World War, Brandon Schechter 
  13. ‘Dear Prime Minister’: the rhetoric of apology and affiliation in letters to Robert Menzies, Australian Prime Minister, 1949-1966, Martyn Lyons

Emeritus Professor Martyn Lyons, BA, DPhil (Oxon), FAHA,
School of Humanities and Languages ,
University of New South Wales,
Sydney NSW 2052,
recent books:
The Typewriter Century: A Cultural History of Writing Practices
Dear Prime Minister: Letters to Robert Menzies 1949-1966
The History of Illiteracy in the modern world since 1750
Foundation co-editor, Lingua Franca,
Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re


Dear IABA Community, 

On November 15, 2023, my book “Becoming bell hooks. A story about the self-empowerment of a Black girl who became a feminist” was published by the University of Warsaw Publishing House. 

I have been waiting many years for this moment… With all my heart I would like to share my book with you. 

It’s an open access e-book, so please, feel free to read it and I hope you will enjoy it 🙂 

In the summer of 2018, I finished writing the book that was the effect of my long-standing interest in bell hooks’s writings, and bell hooks the person. Her essays, her attitude to life, her committed feminism, all this made me find in her a companion in the world of academia and the teacher I always wanted to have. After her death in 2021, I realized how much I owed to her… Even if I sometimes disagreed with her, it was a creative disagreement that enriched my horizon of seeing and “reading” the world. Therefore, working on this book was also the story of my writing as a feminist researcher. It started many years ago, when I read her essays for a first time, that I realized that writing was her way to “speak with her voice,” the self-empowering process! And this is why I wrote this book, I was interested in the autobiographical dimension of bell hooks’ essays – the “biographical work” of a woman who created herself in the course of writing her autobiography. This book is the story of Gloria Jean Watkins, a Black woman from a small town in Kentucky who became a bell hooks, a feminist icon, one of the most significant and courageous voices of the contemporary debates on racial discrimination, feminism, and women’s and minority rights. Now she is gone but what remains are her words. I don’t want to forget them. Hence the idea to publish this book. In this way, I want to recall the memory of bell hooks and her postulate “speak with your voice”, thanks to which this book was created.

Here’s the link to the book:


Theory, Research, and Practice
Writing for Wellbeing
Edited By Katrin Den Elzen, Reinekke Lengelle
20% Discount Available – enter the code EFL04 at checkout
To purchase please visit the following link: 

Writing for Wellbeing: Theory, Research, and Practice – 1st Edition – (

Writing can support our wellbeing under the most difficult of life circumstances, helping us to adapt to significant change and to make sense of loss. Numerous Expressive Writing studies have confirmed this and methodologies for practice underpin its effectiveness. However, few detailed accounts have previously offered explanations of how and why putting pen to paper can be so beneficial.

This book delves deeply into the landscape of Writing-for-wellbeing and demonstrates the transformative power of writing in a wide range of contexts. Topics include: personal trauma narratives within the Humanities; a participatory Writing-for-wellbeing study that demonstrates the effectiveness of writing in the context of grief and loss; surprise as the hidden mainspring of poetry’s therapeutic potency; the empowerment and healing potential offered by Black women’s blogs; playwriting positioning LGBTQA+ as positive identities through stories of belonging; how writing workshops have helped newly literate Indigenous adults and other participants in the Australian outback; and how the smuggled writings of Behrouz Boochani have enabled global witnessing of the stories of refugees held in offshore detention. 

This resource sets out the theory and research at the foundation of Writing-for-wellbeing in close relation to full and engaging accounts of practice. It aims to make the topic accessible, providing a holistic and inspiring resource for anyone wishing to practice, teach or research Writing-for-wellbeing. 

Over a thousand research studies have now demonstrated how putting distressing experiences into words can improve physical, emotional and mental health. Writing for Wellbeing edited by Katrin Den Elzen and Reinekke Lengelle translates the scientific findings into the art and practice of writing. The book gracefully points to ways therapists, practitioners, teachers, and those seeking self understanding have used different writing methods to come to terms with grief, tragedy, disease, injustice, and to foster positive identity change. This is ultimately an uplifting book that brings together the best of science, practice, and humanity. Whether you are a student, counselor, researcher, or a person living with pain or suffering, this book can speak to you.

James W Pennebaker, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, Author of Opening it Up by Writing it Down
Den Elzen and Lengelle have gathered experts from a range of disciplines and perspectives to illustrate the depth and breadth of Writing-for-well-being as a means of addressing human experience to facilitate growth. The scope is inspiring. In particular, authors address writing as an approach to trauma, loss and fear which beset modern society. At last we have a book that brings together current research, theory and practice with the authority to show that this field has come of age. It will inspire practitioners, writers, therapists and individuals to take up the pen and begin to understand more deeply the experiences that make them who they are.

Kate Thompson, Existential Therapist and author of Therapeutic Journal Writing: an introduction for professionals
Den Elzen and Lengelle give a clear guide to illuminating our lives by writing its stories. They guide us through the theory and practice of developmental reflective writing: we do not learn from experience alone, but from what we do with it afterwards. We are inspired to restore (re-story) our relationship with ourselves, with others and with our world. A life-enhancing process: we learn, in this writing, to ‘tread softly’.

Dr Gillie Bolton, author of The Writer’s Key: Creative Solutions for Life and co-founder of Lapidus.


Congratulations to Biography coeditor L. Ayu Saraswati on the recent release of Scarred: A Feminist Journey Through Pain!

To purchase Scarred, please visit the following link:

Enter the below code to receive 30% and free shipping over $40:


Scarred: A Feminist Journey Through Pain is a transnational feminist autoethnographic account of the author’s travels to twenty countries in one year to explore ways of carrying pain that are more humane, life sustaining, enchanting, and feminist—social justice oriented. It challenges current neoliberal (e.g., self-help, positive-thinking) approaches to healing, and argues, instead, that pain is never only personal. Pain is also political and a site for structural transformation. Scarred aims to rethink one’s relationship with pain and offer fresh theoretical and practical approaches to pain (i.e., through the feminist practices of “defiant perception,” “feminist enchantment,” “emotional contract,” and “nonstory”).  


“Drawing on her travels across 20 countries in just over a year, Saraswati, a professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies, shines a feminist light on pain. Her book fuses several modes of storytelling, including memoir, academic theory, ethnography, and criticism, and aims to reframe the reader’s understanding of pain and the female body.”  ~Publishers Weekly 

“Theoretically astute yet intensely readable, this book suggests that all of us carry pain—and that everyone also inherently possesses the ability to work with pain instead of fighting against it. The book emphasizes that pain is integral to people; it’s not an incidental feature of circumstances. An exceptional discussion of strategies for processing pain with and through the body.”  ~Library Journal (starred) 

“With her latest book, L. Ayu Saraswati offers readers an original, inclusive and intimate examination of pain through a feminist lens. As rigorous as it is readable, Scarred seeks to reframe our relationships to pain, healing, embodiment and enchantment.”  ~Karla Strand, Ms. Magazine


on Project Muse:

“After(Life) Narratives of #MeToo”
Rebecca Wanzo and Carol A. Stabile, guest editors

“#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.

Contributor Biographies

Rebecca Wanzo is a professor and chair of the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. She is the author of The Suffering Will Not Be Televised: African American Women and Sentimental Political Storytelling (State U of New York P, 2009) and The Content of Our Caricature: African American Comic Art and Political Belonging (New York UP, 2020). Her research interests include African American literature and culture, critical race theory, fan studies, feminist theory, the history of popular fiction in the United States, cultural studies, theories of affect, and graphic storytelling. She has published in venues such as American Literature, Camera Obscura, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, Signs, Women and Performance, and numerous edited collections.
Carol A. Stabile is the award-winning author of five books, including Feminism and the Technological Fix (Manchester UP, 1994), White Victims, Black Villains: Gender, Race, and Crime News in US Culture (Routledge, 2006), and The Broadcast 41: Women and the Anti-Communist Blacklist (Goldsmiths Press, 2018). Her articles have appeared in Camera Obscura, Cultural Studies, and South Atlantic Quarterly. She cofounded the Fembot Collective and Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, and coedited the Feminist Media Studies book series for University of Illinois Press. She is the coeditor of Fredi Washington: A Reader in Black Feminist Media Criticism (Reanimate, 2022) and The Ghost Reader: Recovering Women’s Contributions to Media Studies (Goldsmiths Press, 2024).
Roopika Risam is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and of Comparative Literature and part of the Digital Humanities and Social Engagement cluster at Dartmouth College. Her research interests lie at the intersections of postcolonial and African diaspora studies, critical university studies, and digital humanities. She is author of New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy (Northwestern UP, 2018). She is the coeditor of Intersectionality in Digital Humanities (Arc Humanities/Amsterdam UP, 2019); South Asian Digital Humanities: Postcolonial Mediations Across Technology’s Cultural Canon (Routledge, 2020); and The Digital Black Atlantic (U of Minnesota P, 2021). She is Principal Investigator of the Digital Ethnic Futures Consortium (DEFCon).
Leigh Gilmore, professor emeritus of English at The Ohio State University and core faculty in Project Narrative, is the author of The #MeToo Effect: What Happens When We Believe Women (Columbia UP, 2023); Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives (Columbia UP, 2017), a 2018 Choice Outstanding Academic Title; Witnessing Girlhood: Toward an Intersectional Tradition of Life Writing (co-authored with Elizabeth Marshall, Fordham UP, 2019); Autobiographics: A Feminist Theory of Women’s Autobiography (Cornell 1994); and coeditor of Autobiography and Postmodernism (U of Massachusetts P, 1994). Her pathbreaking book on trauma, The Limits of Autobiography: Trauma and Testimony (Cornell UP) was reissued with a new preface in July 2023. Her research appears in numerous scholarly journals, including SIGNS, Feminist Studies, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, and Profession, and in edited collections. She has been Professor of English at The Ohio State University, Dorothy Cruikshank Backstrand Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies at Scripps College, and has held visiting appointments at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, Northeastern University, Harvard Divinity School, Brown University, and Wellesley College. Her public feminist scholarship appears in Public Books, WBUR’s Cognoscenti, and The Conversation.
Rong Huang is an assistant professor at the School of Health Humanities, Peking University. Her research interests include life writing, literature and medicine, and narrative medicine. Her recent publications include “The Therapeutic Function of Life Narratives by Health Professionals Fighting against the Covid-19” in Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies, “Health Humanities Pedagogy in China” in the Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Health Humanities, and “Narrative Medicine in China: How Doctors Write to Understand the Profession” in Life Writing.
Xiaotian Jin is the corresponding author of the article with Rong Huang. She holds a PhD from the School of English, University of Hong Kong, and is now a professor at the School of Foreign Languages, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. Her research interests include British modernist and middlebrow literature, women’s writing, and cross-cultural studies. She has published in journals including Women’s History Review, Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Literature/Film Quarterly, and Signs and Media. She is also engaged in literary and scholarly translation.
Greta LaFleur is Associate Professor of American Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She is the author of The Natural History of Sexuality in Early America (Johns Hopkins UP, 2018), the coeditor of Trans Historical: Gender Plurality Before the Modern (Cornell UP, 2021) and American Literature in Transition, 1770–1828 (Cambridge UP, 2022), and the coeditor of three journal special issues: “Origins of Biopolitics in the Americas” (2019), a special issue of American Quarterly; “Trans Exclusionary Feminisms and the Global New Right” (2022), a special issue of Transgender Studies Quarterly; and “The Science of Sex Itself” (2023), a special issue of GLQ.
Dana Seitler is Professor of English and Director of the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Atavistic Tendencies: The Culture of Science in American Modernity (U of Minnesota P, 2008) and Reading Sideways: The Queer Politics of Art in Modern American Fiction (Fordham UP, 2019), which was a 2020 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Best Book in LGBTQ Studies. She has published in several academic journals including American Quarterly, GLQ, Criticism, Cultural Critique, American Literature, Genre, and A/SAP. Her current project, Narcopoetics: Withdrawal, Biopolitics, Ecstasy focuses on the politics and aesthetics of the opioid crisis at the intersections of race and sexuality in the US.
Terrance Wooten is the Lester D. Coltrane III Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Davidson College. He is currently working on his first book manuscript, titled “Registered: Homelessness, Sex Offense, and Carceral Sexuality.” His scholarly interests are located at the intersections of Black studies, gender and sexuality studies, carceral studies, and studies of poverty and homelessness. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Black Scholar, differences, Feminist Formations, and QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking.
Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a writer, and a community performance artist. Petra grounds herself in disability culture methods, and uses ecosomatics, performance, and speculative writing to engage audiences toward more socially just and enjoyable futures. Her latest academic study is Eco Soma: Pain and Joy in Speculative Performance Encounters (U of Minnesota P, 2022). Petra is the Artistic Director of The Olimpias, an international disability culture collective, and she cocreates Turtle Disco, a somatic writing studio. She is the Anita Gonzalez Collegiate Professor of Performance Studies and Disability Culture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a 2023 Guggenheim Fellow.
Salamishah Tillet is the Henry Rutgers Professor of Africana Studies and Creative Writing and the Director of Express Newark at Rutgers University, Newark. She is the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination (Duke UP, 2012), In Search of The Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece (Abrams, 2021), and the forthcoming All The Rage: The World Nina Simone Made. In 2021, she was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for her next project, “In Lieu of the Law: ‘Me Too’ and The Politics of Justice,” a cultural history of the world’s largest social media movement. She is a contributing critic at large for The New York Times and won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for “her writing on race in popular culture that examined Black experiences, including how the art inspired by the murder of George Floyd resonated with her.” In 2022, she also won a Webby award for “Because of Anita,” a podcast that she cohosted with Cindi Leive on the impact of Anita Hill’s testimony. She is the cofounder of A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit organization that uses art to empower young people to end violence against girls and women.
Scheherazade Tillet is a photo-based artist, curator, and feminist activist who explores the themes of Blackness, play, freedom, trauma, and healing. She is currently the Executive Director of A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit that she founded with her sister, Salamishah Tillet, in 2003, that uses art to empower young people to end violence against girls and women. Tillet has dedicated her life’s work to Black girls, including those who have been marginalized by society and who are victims of all forms of violence. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Weinberg/Newton Gallery, Project of Empty Space, Columbia University, and Rutgers University-Newark, and has been featured in The New York Times, The Cut, The Guardian, Ms. Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Teen Vogue, ELLE Decor, Gagosian Quarterly, and Vice. She was a consultant for the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly, the lead organizer of the #MuteRKelly campaign in Chicago, and curator of the #SayHerName Rekia Boyd memorial project. In 2022, she cocurated the “Picturing Black Girlhood: Moments of Possibility,” the largest exhibition on Black girls and genderqueer youth, and is currently a research associate at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa’s Center for Gender, Race, and Class. Tillet is nationally recognized for raising public consciousness, changing cultural narratives, and advancing research and policy.
Māhealani Ahia is a Kanaka ‘Ōiwi scholar, activist, songcatcher, and storykeeper. As a PhD candidate in English with a certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, her work connects ancestral Indigenous narratives with current issues of gender, sexuality, and settler colonialism. Her dissertation, “Shapeshifting Biography: The Life and Afterlives of Kihawahine,” inundates genre boundaries in examining the multiple life forms of the female moʻo (reptilian water deity). Māhea is an editor of Hawaiʻi Review, ʻŌiwi: A Native Hawaiian Journal, and the Mauna Kea Syllabus Project.
Michelle Cho is an assistant professor of Korean media and East Asian popular cultures at the University of Toronto. Her published work explores contemporary South Korean genre cinemas, self-reflexivity in Korean television, K-Pop’s politicization on digital platforms, and histories of race and racialization in K-Pop and its fandoms. She is coeditor of two forthcoming volumes: Bangtan Remixed: A Critical BTS Reader and Mediating Gender in Post-Authoritarian South Korea. Her public-facing writing on film, K-pop, fandom, and media convergence can be found at and Los Angeles Review of Books.
Pallavi Guha is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at Towson University. She is the author of Hear #Metoo in India: News, Social Media, and Anti-Rape and Sexual Harassment Activism (Rutgers UP, 2021). Her book has been positively reviewed in Ms. Magazine, Baltimore Sun, and a number of academic publications. Her research focuses on anti-rape and sexual harassment activism in mass media and on social media platforms, gender roles in electoral campaigns, and social media. She has a PhD in Journalism and a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Maryland. Before coming to academia, Dr. Guha was a journalist, working for leading media organizations, including BBC News and The Times of India.
Régine Michelle Jean-Charles is the Dean’s Professor of Culture and Social Justice as well as Director of Africana Studies at Northeastern University. She is also a professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her publications have appeared in numerous books, edited volumes, and peer-reviewed journals. She is the author of Conflict Bodies: The Politics of Rape Representation in the Francophone Imaginary (Ohio State UP, 2014); Martin Luther King and The Trumpet of Conscience Today (Orbis, 2021); and Looking for Other Worlds: Black Feminism and Haitian Fiction (U of Virginia P, 2022). She is currently working on a coauthored interdisciplinary study of sexual violence titled The Rape Culture Syllabus.
Kahala Johnson is a PhD candidate in the Political Science Department of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and the Gender Equity Chair of the graduate student union Academic Labor United. Along with Dr. Kalaniʻōpua Young, they established the Hale Mauna Māhū as a space for māhū and LGBTQIA+ protectors at Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu.
Ever E. Osorio is an interdisciplinary scholar of Latin American culture and society, with broad knowledge of global social movements, gender studies, and feminisms. She will complete her PhD in American Studies at Yale University with a certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in Spring 2024. Born and raised in Mexico, she lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she is part of the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center.


Newsletter Biography Institute

October 2023


Public defense biography of Sam van Houten on 9 November
Coen Brummer wrote a biography of Samuel van Houten, one of the main characters of Dutch liberalism in the second half of the nineteenth century, and known for his Child Protection Act. Only by linking the personal and the political, we are able to understand Van Houten’s development, political philosophy, style and his positions within the evolving political landscape and cultural climate. That is why this study aims at explaining and interpreting his public acknowledgments through his personal characteristics. The doctoral defense will take place on 9 November, 14:30 hrs in the Academy building. The trade edition will appear at Prometheus.

Jelle Horjus finishes biography Jannes Reiling
The biography Wij moeten wat meer durven. Jannes Reiling (1923-2005) will be subjected to a PhD defense on 30 November 12:45 hrs in the Academy building. Afterwards, the book will be available at Noordboek. The theologian Jannes Reiling was the most important church leader of the Union of Baptist Churches in The Netherlands in the twentieth century. His significance lies in the contribution he made to the emancipation of this small Protestant denomination. The emancipation that Reiling envisaged succeeded only partially. In 1987 he was deposed as rector of the Dutch baptist seminary, the institution which he himself had set up thirty years before.

Jacques Pienaar visits Biography Institute
Pienaar is affiliated with the Department of Ecclesiology and Church History, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. Through the perspective of minister Christiaan R. Kotze, Pienaar will write a history of 20th century nationalism in South Africa. How was this movement entwined with the Afrikaner Reformed Churches?

David Veltman will visit the University of New Brunswick, Canada
Invited by Daniel R. Meister, postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Political History, David Veltman will pay a visit to the University of New Brunswick, Canada, to take part in various expert meetings and colloquia.

Jeroen Vullings writes biography of H.J.A. Hofland (1927-2016)
A biography of Hofland shows how the life of this versatile journalist and writer cannot be viewed separately from the journalistic and literary culture of the time, largely during the Cold War, a period that Hofland lived through as a journalist and writer from beginning to end. Jeroen Vullings, working for years as a critic for Vrij Nederland and more recently for EW, will write this biography under supervision of prof.dr. Hans Renders, prof.dr. Doeko Bosscher en prof.dr. Frank van Vree (UvA).

More information can be found on the website
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Dear Colleagues,
I’m pleased to share with you the publication of
Story Revolutions
Collective Narratives from the Enlightenment to the Digital Age
Helga Lenart-Cheng

University of Virginia Press

In the age of social media, big data, and mass movements based on personal testimonies we can no longer ignore the collective dimensions of life writing. The #MeToo movement provided a prime example of how pooling personal stories in large numbers can fuel political movements, fortify a sense of solidarity and community, and bring important issues into mainstream consciousness.
In this timely and important study, Helga Lenart-Cheng provides a historical and critical analysis of collective life writing traditions. Story Revolutions features a rich variety of case studies, from eighteenth-century memoir collections to contemporary Web 2.0 databases, including memoir contests, digital story-maps, crowd-sourced Covid diaries, and AI-assisted life writing. It spans the Enlightenment, the 1930s, and the twenty-first century—three historical periods marked by a convergence of mass movements and new methods of data collection that led to a boom in story activism. Ultimately, this book offers a critical perspective on the concept of community itself, with incisive reflections on what it means to use storytelling to build democracy in the twenty-first century.
“A project of theoretical depth and sophistication, this carefully conceived and rigorously executed study offers a substantial and innovative contribution. The writing is clear and energetic and elucidates an important phenomenon that has not received sufficient attention. By focusing on assemblages and aggregations of life stories, the author illuminates important contemporary cultural, political, and technological trends in the production and consumption of auto/biographical texts.”
– John D. Zuern, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Towards Collective Intimacy
From My Story to Our Story
From Our Story to Our Stories
Collective Intimacy
Relational Knowledge and a Sense of Belonging
Social Media’s Collective Intimacy
A Critique of Collective Intimacy
Complementary Practices
Chapter 2: Early Story Collections: Setting the Stage
Moritz: A Common Mirror in Which Humankind Could Inspect Itself
Herder: A Sense of Belonging and Community for Citizens
The Spectacle of a Public Forum
Chapter 3: Libraries of Human Experience
Historical Background: Oral History and Memoir Contests
Collecting Firsthand Knowledge about Nazi Germany
Bringing the Knowledge Back to the Community: YIVO and MOA
Contemporary Story Libraries Based on Experiential Encounters
Human Libraries: A Critique
Chapter 4: To-Gather in Time
One Day in the Life of Us
Life in a Day, 2010 (and 2020)
A Day in the World, 1935
One Day in China, 1936
Simultaneity and Its Social Functions
Falling Back on a Totalizing Sense of Simultaneity
Time in the Making
Chapter 5: To-Gather in Space
The Rise of Collective Story Mapping
A Cartography of Intimate Narratives
Alternative Epistemologies
Segregated Stories
Transgressive Stories and Maps
Chapter 6: Stories and Statistics
Statistical Studies of Memoirs from the Early Twentieth Century
Historical Examples of Memoirists Quantifying and Generalizing Their Own Experience
The Quantified and Qualified Self
The Quantified and Qualified Us
The Double Face of Aggregation
The Advantages of Story Data and Story Statistics
Postscript: Towards Algorithmic Collectives
Sharing Our Pandemic Experiences
Performing Unity
With-nessing Each Other
Algorithmic Collectives
Helga Lenart-Cheng (PhD, Harvard University) is Professor at Saint Mary’s College of California. She writes about the role of media in democracy, collective and individual memory, digital and analog forms of self-documentation, and phenomenological hermeneutics. Contact:


Dear colleagues, 

We are pleased to share with you the publication of Women in Rock Memoirs: Music, History, and Life-Writing (Oxford University Press, 2023), edited by Cristina Garrigós and Marika Ahonen.
Women in Rock Memoirs vindicates the role of women in rock music. The chapters examine memoirs written by women in rock from 2010 onwards to explore how the artists narrate their life experiences and difficulties they had to overcome, not only as musicians but as women. The book includes memoirs written by both well-known and lesser-known artists and artists from both inside and outside of the Anglo-American sphere.

The essays by scholars from different research areas and countries around the world are divided into three parts according to the overall themes: Memory, Trauma, and Writing; Authenticity, Sexuality, and Sexism; and Aging, Performance, and the Image. They explore the dynamics of memoir as a genre by discussing the similarities and differences between the women in rock and the choices they have made when writing their books. As a whole, they help form a better understanding of today’s possibilities and future challenges for women in rock music.
Table of contents
1. Cristina Garrigós and Marika Ahonen. Introduction: Female Musicians Writing Memoirs
Part 1. Memory, Trauma, and Writing
2. Astrid Joutseno. Childhood Trauma and the Musical In-Between in Memoirs by Astrid Swan and Dory Previn.
3. Cristina Garrigós: The Monster in the House: Gender-Based Violence and Punk in Alice Bag’s Violence Girl: East L.A Rage to Hollywood Stage. A Chicana Punk Story.
4. Ángel Chaparro. Memory and Writing in Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band
5. Marika Ahonen. Memory, Truth, and Narrative Ethics in Christina Rosenvinge’s Debut.
Part 2. Authenticity, Sexuality, and Sexism
6. Karen Fournier. Jayne County, Laura Jane Grace, and the HerStory of Transgender Punks in America.
7. Margaret Henderson. A Portrait of the Artist as a Punk: Authenticity and the Woman Musician in Debbie Harry’s Face It.
8. Wayne Heisler. “Mothers aren’t sexy,” “What is that you’re wearing”, “What’s it like to be in an all-girl band?”: Memoirs as Histories of 1980s Music Industry Sexism
9. Beatriz A. Medeiros. The Art of Performing Authenticity: a study of Amanda Palmer’s memoir
10. Amy McCarthy. The Punk, the Rebel, and the Cowboy: Queering Masculine Spaces in Patti Smith’s memoirs
Part 3. Aging, Performance, and the Image
11. Jacqueline Dickin. Queens of Noise: Rewriting the ‘Rock Chick’ Identity through Neon Angel and Living Like A Runaway
12. Satoko Naito. Humanizing Icon: Collaboration and Control in Grace Jones’s I’ll Never Write My Memoirs.
13. Silvia Hernandez Hellin: Power in the Eye of the Beholder: Authoring Text and Image in the Female Rock Memoir
14. Abigail Gardner. Cosey Fanni Tutti, Age and Place
Marika Ahonen
tohtorikoulutettava /doctoral candidate
Kulttuurihistoria / Department of Cultural History
Turun yliopisto / University of Turku


BSA Auto/Biography Study Group Activities 2023-2024



We have a programme of online seminars running and registration is open for the first two:
•       Thursday 5th October 2023 at 1700-1800: ‘Celebration of student research and creativity activity: An autobiographical journey’ by Amanda Norman (University of Winchester). Register here:

•       Wednesday 1st November 2023 at 1700-1800: From the personal to the global: The ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ protests in Iran by Shabnam Holliday (University of Plymouth). Register here:

If you would like to contribute to a seminar by giving a paper, leading a ‘reading group’ session or in another way on one of the dates below, please contact Anne Chappell (
•       Thursday 11th January 2024 at 1700-1800
•       Wednesday 7th February 2024 at 1700-1800
•       Thursday 7th March 2024 at 1700-1800
•       Wednesday 1st May 2024 at 1700-1800

We are pleased to announce the call for papers for this year’s Auto/Biography Christmas conference entitled ‘Space and Spaces’ on Friday 8th December at Friends House, Euston, London, UK. We are delighted that the keynote will be given by Dr Ellen McHugh. We invite your abstract submissions (250 words) for a 30-minute oral presentation followed by 15-minutes of discussion. We welcome papers from across the broadest range of auto/biographical work, including ‘work-in-progress’ and innovative approaches. Auto/Biography conferences continue to generate a rich, supportive environment for the development of academic work in the field for colleagues at all career stages. Please submit your abstract electronically by Sunday 1st October 2023 at 23:59 here, noting that we are unable to accept abstracts via e-mail: The key dates leading up to the conference are as follows:
•       Abstract submission deadline: Sunday 1st October
•       Abstract notification and conference registration opens week beginning: Monday 16th October
•       Presenter booking deadline: Wednesday 1st November
•       Delegate booking deadline: Monday 13th November
•       Conference: Friday 8th December
All enquiries about the conference to Anne Chappell (

Summer Conference 2024: ‘Disappointments and Dissonances’. Details, call for papers and registration to follow. Keynote: Karin Bacon (Marino Institute of Education, Dublin).

AUTO/BIOGRAPHY MONOGRAPH: CALL FOR PROPOSALS: We have a tradition of publishing Auto/Biography monographs, which can be seen and purchased here: We are keen to receive proposals for our next monograph. If this is something you are interested in finding out more about, please contact Carly Stewart (


Calling any scholars who use Liz Stanley’s work. This edited collection will showcase how different scholars have been inspired or influenced by Liz Stanley’s work and is intended for Routledge’s Literary Studies in the Social Sciences (series editor Maria Tamboukou). We are looking for chapters of around 6000 words discussing your own work in relation to an aspect of Liz’s work. This could be focused on new research, reflecting on previous work, or even pedagogical reflections and all chapters will start with a short letter entitled ‘Dear Liz’, which will be the central title of the book. Chapters can be solo- or co-authored. Please send an abstract (up to 300 words) and a short bio (up to 100 words) via email to: AND by 4th September 2023. Full chapters will be due by end of June 2024. Abstract deadline: 4th September 2023.

We hope the academic year gets off to a positive start and look forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes

Anne Chappell and Carly Stewart
Auto/Biography Study Group Convenors

Email: and

Find the Auto/Biography Study Group:
Find the Auto/Biography Study Group on Twitter: @AutoBiographySG
Join the Auto/Biography Study Group: 
Register with the Auto/Biography Study Group: 
Submit to our open access online journal ‘Auto/Biography Review’: 


European Journal of Life Writing

New article and cluster ‘Refugee Tales’


Open Access

Dear readers of the European Journal of Life Writing,

On behalf of the editorial board, I am very happy to announce that the EJLW has published a new article and the cluster ‘Refugee Tales’.

I would like to take the opportunity of this announcement to say goodbye and to thank you all for your interest in the journal, the articles you have read, submitted or reviewed and for your contribution to the success of the EJLW. After six years it is time for me to concentrate on my own research and therefore, at the IABA-conference in Warsaw last July, I stepped down as journal manager. I’ve been succeeded by Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar.

Best wishes

Petra van Langen


Elayne Smith, ‘Fast and Slow Thinking in Narrative Recovery: Pluralistic Trauma Processing during Covid-19’.

Cluster ‘Refugee Tales’

Sandra Mayer, Sylvia Mieszkowski and Kevin Potter, ‘Introduction: Life Writing through Refugee Tales’.


Judith Kohlenberger, ‘The Refugee (Tale) Paradox: Narratives of Vulnerability and Aspirationality’.


Ayşe Dursun and Birgit Sauer, ‘Narrating Paradox Affects: Unaccompanied Minor Asylum-Seekers in Austria’.

Sylvia Mieszkowski, ‘In_Visibilizing Stress: Refugee Tales as a Counter-Apparatus’.

Jessica Gustafsson, ‘Flyktpodden: Migrant and Minority Voices that matter?’

Sandra Mayer, ‘Decentring the Author: Refugee Tales and Collaborative Life Narrative as Activism’.

Helga Ramsey-Kurz, ‘A Difficult Passage to Navigate: From Asylum Story to Refugee Tale’.

Patience Agbabi, ‘The Refugee’s Tale: The Story of the Story’.

David Herd, ‘Afterword: The Refugee Tales Walking Inquiry into Immigration Detention’.




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EJLW provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge. Articles in this journal are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

ISSN: 2211-243X

Creative Commons

Open Access



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, contact us at 808-956-3774 or, or sign up for our mailing list at

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
Krist Ishikawa Jessup, Researcher, Genealogy Program Coordinator, Tadaima Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages (JAMP) (virtual from Laramie, WY)
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 410
Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST


Cynthia G. Franklin

Narrating Humanity: Life Writing and Movement Politics from Palestine to Mauna Kea

Fordham University Press, 2023


In Narrating Humanity, Cynthia G. Franklin makes a critical intervention into practices of life writing and contemporary crises in the United States about who counts as human. To enable this intervention, she proposes a powerful new analytical language centered on “narrative humanity,” “narrated humanity,” and “grounded narrative humanity” and foregrounds concepts of the human that emerge from movement politics. While stories of “narrative humanity” propagate the status quo, Franklin argues, those of “narrated humanity” and “grounded narrative humanity” are ones that articulate ways of being human necessary for not only surviving but also thriving during a time of accelerating crises brought on by the intersecting effects of racial capitalism, imperialism, heteropatriarchy, and climate change.

Through chapters focused on Hurricane Katrina; Black Lives Matter; the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; and the Native Hawaiian movement to protect Mauna a Wākea, Franklin reveals how life writing can be mobilized to do more than perpetuate dominant forms of dehumanization that underwrite violence. She contends that life narratives can help materialize ways of being human inspired by these contemporary political movements that are based on queer kinship, inter/national solidarity, abolitionist care, and decolonial connectivity among humans, more-than-humans, land, and waters. Engaging writers, artists, and activists who inspire radical forms of relationality, she comes to write side-by-side with them in her own acts of narrated humanity by refusing the boundaries between autobiography, community-based activism, and literary and cultural criticism.
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 the self to both.

—Bill Mullen, author of James Baldwin: Living in Fire

Table of Contents
Preface and Acknowledgments | ix

Introduction: The Human in Crisis | 1


1 Love and Terror: Formulas of Citizenship in Zeitoun and Trouble the Water | 33

2 Criminals and Kinship: Fruitvale Station, Between the World and Me,
and Black Selfhood in the Age of BLM | 68


3 From Movement to Memoir: When They Call You a Terrorist
and the Power of Queer Black Kinship | 109

4 “Nursing Visions of the Unimagined”: BDS and Steven Salaita’s
World-Making Narratives of Fatherhood, Affiliation, and Freedom | 144


5 “E Hū ē” (Rising Like a Mighty Wave): Mauna Kea and the Movement beyond the Human | 187

Postscript: Hope, Joy, and “The Struggle for Ea” | 231

Notes | 237

Works Cited | 255

Index | 283

Cynthia G. Franklin is Professor of English at the University of Hawai‘i. She coedits the journal Biography and 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).


Lifewriting Annual: Biographical and Autobiographical Studies (published online by the Open Library of Humanities at Birkbeck College, University of London) seeks reviews of recent publications, including autobiographies, memoirs, letters, and so on. Word length: 1000-1500 words. Citation style: Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (author/date). Please get in touch with short proposals and questions.

Robert Ward

Assistant Professor of the Practice of English

Room 206, 70 Brown Street

Brown University


a/b: Autobiography Studies 38: 1 (2023) is out now! This special issue on GERMAN BIOFICTIONS is edited by Michael Lackey.

Table of Contents


Lackey, Michael. “German Biofiction from Nietzsche to the Present.”

Lackey, Michael. “The Biographical Novelist as an Agent of Pain: A Conversation with Daniel Kehlmann.”

Lackey, Michael. “Voicing Female Power through Biofiction: A Conversation with Mary Sharratt.”

Lackey, Michael. “Unresolving Characters in Biofiction: A Conversation with Colm Tóibín.”

Rensen, Marleen. “Klaus Mann, Music, and the Art of Transformation in Biofiction.”

Rademacher, Virginia. “Nonpolitical Mann? Faustian Bargains and False Romanticism in Colm Tóibín’s The Magician.”

Lackey, Michael. “Biofiction as Cultural Intervention: The Tragic Failure of Lion Feuchtwanger’s Jud Süß.”


Schmitt, Arnaud. “Captions as Suturing in Hybrid Memoirs.”

Rasch, Astrid. “Anxious Reading: Interrogating Selective Empathy in Trauma Memoirs.”

Smith, Paula Vene. “Refashioning Diary Studies: The Tradition of Black Women’s Diaries.”

Valentová, Kateřina. “Life in Pictures: Auto(Bio)Graphic ‘I’s of Carlos Giménez.”

Dhar, Nandini. “Of Edible Grandmothers, Culinary Cosmopolitanisms, and Casteized Domesticities: The Contradictory Ideologies of Shoba Narayan’s Food Memoir Monsoon Diary.”

Bayer, Gerd. “No Apologies: Jenny Diski’s Apology for the Woman Writing as Fictional Memoir.”

Eide, Marian. “Biography of Killing: Veterans Remember the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Bonnerjee, Samraghni. “The Self-Fashioning of Identity: Incongruity and Self-Fashioning in the Life-Writings of Elsie Knocker.”

Otjen, Nathaniel. “Habituated Knowledges: The Entanglements of Science, Species, and Selfhood.”


Henderson, Desirée. “Rev. of Autotheory as Feminist Practice in Art, Writing, and Criticism.”

Rademacher, Virginia Newhall. “Rev. of Biofiction: An Introduction.”

Jerreat-Poole, Adan. “Rev. The Political Economy of Stigma Stories of the Self: HIV, Memoir, Medicine, and Crip Positionalities.”

Sanger, Victoria. “My Brilliant Friends: Our Lives in Feminism.”

Aksakalova, Olga. “How to Read a Diary: Critical Contexts and Interpretive Strategies for 21st-Century Readers.”

Hogarth, Christopher. “Rev. of Autofiction: A Female Francophone Aesthetic of Exile.”


Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies
No.20,  Spring  2023
Center for Life Writing, SJTU, China



[Text Studies]

My Life in China and America: An Integration of Personal Experience with the History of Modern Chinese Overseas Education……Li Zhen

On Material Body Narrative in Angela Carter’s Biofiction……Cheng Yi

The Possibility of Memory: The Spatial and Chronological Narration of In Memory of Memory……Zhu Yan

[Comparative Biography]

A Cross-Media Practice of Mei Lanfang’s Biography……Luo Xin

[History of Life Writing]

A Study on the Characteristics of Chinese Classical Biography from the Stylistic Attribution of Biography of a Brushpen……Chen Fang

Text Generation and Writing Predicament: Biography of Cai Maode, Vice Right Censor-in-Chief in the Ming Dynasty, with a Posthumous Title of “Zhong Xiang” and the Manifestations of Wei Xi’s Concepts on Essay Writing……Wang Donghe

[Special Section: Review of Beauvoir’s Autobiography]

The Legitimacy of Self Writing: Taking Beauvoir’s Self Writing as an Example……Li Fengling

“I Know Today I Am Right, if Yesterday it Was a Complete Mistake.”: On Simone de Beauvoir’s La force de l’age…… Zhao Pu

[ Studies of Autobiography and Memoir]

On the Autobiographical Nature of Chekhov’s Novella Three Years……Si Ri

Biographic Imagination of Home in Elizabeth Bishop’s Mid- Late Poems……Cui Enhao

Cross-media “Life Writing”: The Autobiographical Motivation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Creation……Li Wenting, Yang Lixin

The Hidden Revolution and the Birth of “Literati”: Symptoms and Subtle Rhetoric in Yao Xueyin’s Autobiography……Shi Junjia

[Diary Studies]

A Re-Examination of the Coup in Beijing in 1924: A Focus on Feng Yuxiang’s Diary……Chen Jingshuan

[Subject Studies]

The Daily Rule and the Establishment of the Nan Shufang System in Records of Emperor Kangxi’s Words and Deeds……Gu Yifan

Research on the Life and Friendship of Luo Yong at Southwest United University……Zhu Tianyi

[Film Biography Studies]

The Presence of Passion and Beauty: On the Narration of the Film Biography Multiflorate Splendour……Wu Lingui

[Image Biography Studies]

Female Autobiography on Canvas: Pan Yuliang in Chinese Visual Modernity……Wang Daqiao, He Qixuan

[Book Reviews]

Look, the Masers’ Minor Performance: A Distinctive Biography of the Masters……Liu Ping

The Functions of Autobiography in Constructing Imagined Community: Taking Lena Englund’s South African Autobiography as Subjective History: Making Concessions to the Past as Example……Zheng Chunguang, Chen Zhuo

[Special Section: Biography Teaching]

The Biography Learning System of Chinese Textbooks Compiled by the Ministry of Education: Composition, Character and Generating Logic……Wu Couchun

[PhD Dissertation Extracts]

Return of the Author: A Study of David Lodge’s Biographical Novels……Cai Zhiquan

A Writer’s Self-writing: A Study of Virginia Woolf’s Diary……He Yike

Call for PhD Dissertation Extracts

Instructions to Contributors

Editor’s Note ……Yang Zhengrun

Thanks to the close cooperation and concerted efforts of our contributors, anonymous reviewers and editors, this issue of Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies has been completed as scheduled in the context of Covid-19 pandemic running rampant across the world. Thank you!

The section of “Text Studies” includes three papers. My Life in China and America is the autobiography in English by Yung Wing, the first Chinese student in America, in 1909 with the Chinese translation published in 1915, detailing the autobiographer’s experience of learning in the U.S. and his contribution to sending Chinese students to study in the U.S. and keeping the earliest materials of overseas education in China. In accordance with Li Zhen’s research on this book, this autobiography demonstrates intellectuals’ aspiration for their ideals and beliefs, hence a modern one in contrast with traditional ones. Some scholars may advocate for A Woman Soldier’s Own Story by Xie Binying (1927) as the origin of modern Chinese biography, but it was published many years after Yung’s work. Therefore, it seems necessary to further explore the origin of modern Chinese biography.
In the context of the exuberance of modern biofictions in the 21st century, Cheng Yi believes that Angela Carter’s early works has led the trend. To the extent that biofictions tend to develop along two paths: textual narrative and material narrative, with the former emphasizing parody and tampering on the level of language and text and the latter focusing on restoration and reconstruction on the level of material reality, Cheng argues that Carter’s works fall into the latter category. In so doing, Cheng has proposed the new concept for biofiction studies.

Life writing enjoys a long history in Russian literature and recent years have witnessed the resurgence of this genre, in which Maria Stepanova’s recent work In Memory of Memory has exerted major influence. The title embodies the objective of her writing, i.e. tracking the history of the five generations of a family, tracing the past of Jews and meditations on the future. Zhu Yan explores Stepanova’s understanding of “memory” and the structure and the narration of this work based on this “memory” by employing “the possibility of memory” as the theme to create a simple and clear framework, which must be helpful for understanding this grand and complex text.

Mei Lanfang is an important figure in China’s history of modern drama and culture and enjoys widespread renown in Chinese society for his achievement and virtues in the art of Beijing Opera. In Luo Xin’s “A Cross-Media Practice of Mei Lanfang’s Biography”, over one hundred biographies of Mei have been sorted up for analysis, comparison and review, hence an interesting research to readers.

In the section of “History of Life Writing”, Chen Fang elaborates on the stylistic attribution of the Biography of a Brushpen, a masterpiece by Han Yu, which is included in the genre of “biography” by the later generations despite the fact that the biographee is a brushpen, so as to argue for the inclusiveness of the concept “biography” in ancient China. Actually this is not confined to the ancient, for contemporary writers have written “biography” for a city, a building, a river, etc. Papers on “urban biography” have been published on our past issues and further exploration on this issue is welcomed.

The Biography of Cai Maode, Vice Right Censor-in-Chief in the Ming Dynasty, with a Posthumous Title of “Zhong Xiang”, an essay written by Wei Xi for Cai Maode, an official in the late Ming Dynasty, is obscure in the history of life writing. Wang Donghe recognizes the major features from small clues in analyzing the text generation mechanism, narration strategies, contradiction and the reasons to account for the “writing predicament” common among Wei Xi and other ancient biographers. Therefore, Wang has conducted a typical analysis of the generation of ancient Chinese biography.

As the representative of both feminists and existentialists, Simone de Beauvoir is one the most important autobiographers in the history of France and her autobiographies record major experience in her life. To the extent that the research on her autobiography is a major academic project, a special section is opened in this issue to feature two papers on this topic. Li Fengling proposes the issue of “the legitimacy of self writing” and identifies two preconditions as indispensable, i.e. the willingness of writing internally and the intriguing life story externally. Due to the discrepancy between the requirement of the “legitimacy” on autobiography and that on memoir, Li analyzes the development of the “legitimacy” in both the autobiography and the memoir by de Beauvoir. Her ideas are innovative to some extent and have room for further exploration.

De Beauvoir reviews her past experience from 1929 to 1945 in her La force de l’age, including her endeavors for independence and literary creations upon college graduation and, after the hardships of WWII, her later change of values as an engaged intellectual. Zhao Pu summarizes the theme of this work as “I know today I am right, if yesterday was a complete mistake” and evaluates the merits and demerits of it. Her ideas on this controversial work are valuable for reference.

Another five papers on autobiography fall into the category of “Autobiography Studies”. The autobiographical nature in literary works are one of the key issues in both biography and autobiography studies. Si Ri , through careful collection and examination of the materials and texts, discovers that Chekhov’s novella Three Years features strong biographical nature in contrast of most of his works and attributes the miserable childhood of Laptev the protagonist as imposed by his father to Chekhov’s personal experience. This paper helps readers achieve a better understanding of Chekhov.

In accordance with the discovery by Li Wenting and Yang Lixin, autobiographical factor is not only an element in Kazuo Ishiguro’s works, but the motivation of his creation. Ishiguro pays homage to his past experience and achieves self salvation by means of novel writing, demonstrated in the interactions of the plot of his novels with the contemporary Japanese films and the intertextuality with his musical background. This paper pushes forward the studies on the autobiographical element in literary works.

Cui Enhao’s paper focuses on the autobiographical element in Elizabeth Bishop’s poems, interprets the unique form and rich images of her poems against the backdrop of the poetess’ experience and living environment, and delineates the beautiful, elusive and eternal home in her mind. This paper is unique for integrating the autobiography studies and poetry appreciation.

Shi Junjia employs modern Western academic terms in the interpretation of Yao Xueyin’s autobiography writting in his late years. He discovers the autobiography is the de facto generation history of Li Zicheng, Yao’s best masterpiece, while the autobiographer’s activities and mentality in youthful years take the form of “subtle rhetoric” in the texts. The birth of Yao Xueyin the “literati” is thus retrieved through Shi’s exploration of the “symptoms” in conjuction with Yao’s early works and the reading of them.

Feng Yuxiang is an influential figure in the history of modern China. Based on Feng Yuxiang’s Diary, Chen Jingshuan focuses on the factors behind Feng’s coup de tat in Beijing in 1924 and the general’s political interactions with all the factions afterwards, from which Feng’s mental activities and characters are reflected to some extent. To the extent that voluminous modern and contemporary diaries have been kept intact in China, further compilation and research efforts are needed.

There are two papers in the section of “Subject Studies”. Professor Luo Yong of Southwest United University is obscure despite his academic achievements, so Zhu Tianyi examines his social activities to analyze Zhu’s character traits and the factors behind. The intellectuals of Southwest United University are a special group and enjoy the historical status and thus the research on Luo Yong is a necessary effort.

Emperor Kangxi is renowned for his eminent political and military achievements, while Gu Yifan’s research on the emperor is extraordinary. Based on the materials found in Records of Emperor Kangxi’s Words and Deeds, Gu explores Kangxi’s establishment of Nan Shufang and his selection and appointment of courtiers to enter the studio. This perspective may seem trivial; it is, however, capable of delineating the monarch’s character and style in a brief and vivid manner.

In the section of “Film Biography”, Wu Lingui conducts a research on Multiflorate Splendour, in which Pai Hsien-yung’s spiritual world is completely revealed through the combination of the director’s depiction of Pai and Pai’s dialog with the self, so as to answer the question “how Pai Hsien-yung became Pai Hsien-yung” and achieve the aesthetic value of integrating “passion” with “beauty”. This film is a breakthrough to the conventional narration of film biography and this review is also distinctive.

In the section of “Image Biography”, “Female Autobiography on Canvas” is a biographical research by Wang Daqiao and He Qixuan on the paintress Pan Yuliang. The object chosen by the two contributors are unique, i.e. the self-portraits and female figure paintings by Pan treated as the materials of her self-presentation. They further explore the subject awareness and the gender awareness of modern females in combination with the reform and integration of Western and Chinese paintings, so as to argue for the “the modernity of perspective” as the biographical value. This research is intriguing for the combination of aesthetic research and biographical research.

Two book reviews are published in this issue. In Liu Ping’s words, Look, the Masers’ Minor Performance is “a unique biography of the masters” and is theoretically analyzed by Liu in vivid and witty language. Popular biography, as an essential branch of biography, is a favorite among readers and features attraction, readability, and plainness, but the aforementioned “popular” is not equal to vulgar. Like popular novels, popular biography boasts a great many masterpieces and even classics and we are looking forward to reading more outstanding popular biography.

South African autobiography is strange to most readers. The book review by Zheng Chunguang and Chen Zhuo shows how Finnish scholar Lena Englund, in her treatise South African Autobiography as Subjective History: Making Concessions to the Past, examines the theme, the value and the functions of this field on the basis of her research on 14 South African autobiographies. From Chinese scholars’ comment on the Nordic scholar’s research on the autobiography of the “rainbow nation”, their respective perspectives and evaluation criteria are demonstrated to highlight the interactions and collisions of the three different cultures.

This issue features a brand-new special section, i.e. “Biography Teaching” for education is one the most important roles of biography, which is encompassed in the primary and the secondary education. This issue may seem trivial, but has caught Wu Couchun’s attention, who has collected voluminous materials from the text books of the primary and the secondary education compiled by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China to analyze and explore the “composition, character and generating logic of the biography learning system”. Wu’s research is valuable for promoting the Chinese education quality in the primary and the secondary education and is recommendable to the education authorities.

Shen Chen
School of Humanities, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai,China,200240


A Reissue by a List Member–Leigh Gilmore, The Limits of Autobiography: Trauma and Testimony. With a new Preface. Cornell UP, 2023.

The Limits of Autobiography, Leigh Gilmore analyzes texts that depict trauma by combining elements of autobiography, fiction, biography, history, and theory in ways that challenge the constraints of autobiography. Astute and compelling readings of works by Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Dorothy Allison, Mikal Gilmore, Jamaica Kincaid, and Jeanette Winterson explore how each poses the questions “How have I lived?” and “How will I live?” in relation to the social and psychic forms within which trauma emerges.

First published in 2001, this new edition of one of the foundational texts in trauma studies includes a new preface by the author that assesses the gravitational pull between life writing and trauma in the twenty-first century, a tension that continues to produce innovative and artful means of confronting kinship, violence, and self-representation.

Here are the notices for the reissue:

This book remains an extraordinarily important contribution to trauma theory. Leigh Gilmore is a brilliant theorist of narrative experimentation, showing how writing about trauma compels interdisciplinary and cross-genre work. She challenges us to rethink many of the more accepted conventions regarding autobiographical writing, insisting on the partial and complex aspects of trauma narrative as well as the role of experimental forms for survival.

Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley

The Limits of Autobiography is as foundational as a book gets. Gilmore theorizes late-twentieth-century first-person narrative aesthetics as a calculus among trauma, representation, and language. Her thinking is lyrical and astute, and still crackles two decades later. What an indispensable fundament for engaging autobiography, memoir, and autotheory.

Kevin E. Quashie, author of Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being

Leigh Gilmore’s brilliant analysis of limit-case narratives offers a blueprint to advance our understanding of survivors’ writings, and courageously validates creativity as a force to tell our truths.

Alicia Partnoy, author of The Little School

And from the original notices–

Leigh Gilmore’s The Limits of Autobiography is a fine addition to the body of work in trauma studies, and is highly recommended for all working in the mental health disciplines. The book is a rich cornucopia of literary and psychological analyses, theoretical sophistication, and interdisciplinary connectedness; these treasures can only be suggested here.

Metapsychology Online Review

Through theoretically nuanced, lucid, and insightful readings, Gilmore demonstrates the ability of narrative to transform trauma, to speak to a certain truth about the relationship between trauma and identity that goes beyond the exigencies of accuracy and objectivity that pertain to a juridical contact. Any reader interested in the myriad interpenetrations of violence, the law, identity, family, and life writing will find much to admire in this impressive study.


Gilmore offers astute and compelling commentaries in relation to the social and psychic forms within which selected autobiographers told their personal stories in literate and unconventional ways. Informative, thought-provoking chapters comprise this unique and highly recommended contribution to the literary study of the autobiography.

The Bookwatch

Leigh Gilmore, Ohio State U
Professor Emeritus of English
Core Faculty, Project Narrative

Recent Books:
The #MeToo Effect: What Happens When We Believe Women (Columbia, 2023)
Witnessing Girlhood: Toward an Intersectional Tradition of Life Writing, with Elizabeth Marshall (Fordham, 2019)
Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives (Columbia, 2017)

Recent Public Writing:
#MeToo Five Years On
On Amber Heard
Why the Harvard Lawsuit is Important


Newsletter Biography Institute

Faculty of Arts, University of Groningen

March 2023


Niels Mathijssen working on biography Poncke Princen
What is known about Poncke Princen in the Netherlands is mainly based on newspaper articles, radio interviews and television programmes. Princen placed himself on the right side of history, by opting for the weaker ones in the Indonesian struggle for independence. In this research, undertaken by Niels Mathijssen, the emphasis will be both on the Dutch and the Indonesian perspective. The research will be supervised by prof. Hans Renders and prof. Martijn Eickhoff.

Workshop biography and microhistory of the Middle-East
Together with prof. Karène Sanchez Summerer, David Veltman recently made an exhibition ‘Arab Orthodox Christians, Nationalism and the ‘Holy Land’’ in the University Library, Groningen. On April 20, colleagues from Middle-Eastern Studies will organize a workshop on biography and microhistory of the Middle-East. The workshop takes place in room 1314.0026 of the Harmonie building. The presentations at the workshop will be introduced and moderated by David Veltman.

Positive reviews on biographical studies in domestic and international press
Gerben Wynia’s biography of the Dutch poet C.O. Jellema, which led to his doctorate last year, received a good review in the issue of De Groene Amsterdammer of 22 February 2023. The Czech magazine History-Theory-Criticism published a positive review of Fear of Theory, which presents a collection of theoretical essays on the topic of biography, and got published in 2022 under Hans Renders’ and David Veltmans editorship.

David Veltman will give a lecture for the Friends of Tresoar
David Veltman was invited by the society Friends of Tresoar (the Frisian documentation centre in Leeuwarden) to give a lecture on 18 April, 19.30 hrs in café De Gouden Leeuw (next to Tresoar). He will talk about the research that is taking place at the Biography Institute. Which developments can be pointed out?

More information can be found on the website
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Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly

Volume 45 Issue 3 2022

Table of Contents


Editors Note

Craig Howes

Existence is Resistance: A Reflection on Beverly “Bev” Ditsie’s Fashion Performativity

Khaya Mchunu and Busisiwe Memela 

Abstract: Through a discussion of the notions of “existence is resistance” and fashion performativity, this essay journeys with Beverly “Bev” Ditsie through her iconic quare fashions from the 1990s to today. Despite the significant roles black women played in the struggle for LBTQ+ rights in South Africa, only a handful of them have garnered significant attention. Against this backdrop, we examine the contributions of Beverly “Bev” Ditsie’s quare fashion to the history of South Africa’s LGBTQ+ rights movement. We employ biographical research and photo elicitation to uncover Ditsie’s identity as a quare, black woman in 1990s South Africa. We situate Ditsie’s quare activism within the history of South Africa’s LGBTQ+ rights movement through a contextual focus on her dress in the documentary Simon & I. We argue that Ditsie’s fashion choices show a confluence of her identities as a black lesbian woman. This study not only enriches local histories in liberation and performance theory, but also presents queer narratives as they may be reflected and reimagined in contemporary fashions (such as Afropunk) in the pursuit of black quare expression.

Memory Books as Family Historiography: How a Rural Ugandan Family Wrote Their Experience of HIV

Machiko Oike

In Uganda, thousands of memory books have been written since the late 1990s by parents, mostly underprivileged widows, living with HIV for their children about their families. This article first addresses the background of memory books and then analyzes three memory books by one rural Ugandan mother in collaboration with her children. This article is based on six field visits I made between 2008 and 2016, mostly to Tororo, Uganda. I was shown over forty memory books, and interviewed writers, their family members, NGO staff, and community group leaders. Through a close textual analysis of the three memory books, I argue that the memory book represents a new form of family historiography that allows less literate people to speak and be heard.

Biographical Writing as Ethnography: The Journey of a Malagasy Worker in Beirut

Sleiman El Hajj
Building on the premise that ethnography can function as a form of biographical inquiry, this study revisits key episodes experienced by Meramo, a Malagasy domestic worker in Lebanon, alongside an interpretive commentary addressing the plight of this significant yet sidelined population, currently among the worst affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The nuances in Meramo’s narrative reveal the untold turpitudes of migrant life in Beirut, as well as the intersection between the narratives of migrant women and Lebanese women in a setting that regulates the existence of both. The article’s retelling of Meramo’s story, based on a number of interviews with the subject, also contributes to the sparse biographical representations of migrant household labor in Lebanon’s creative writing canon.

“But You’re So Touchable”: The Auto/biographical Narratives of Sujatha Gidla and Yashica Dutt

Monika Browarczyk

With Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India (2017) and Coming Out as Dalit: A Memoir (2019), two auto/biographical narratives by modern, educated, immigrant women, Sujatha Gidla and Yashica Dutt emerge as new voices of Dalit writing in English. This article analyzes the narrative strategies employed by Gidla and Dutt as they tell of their individual lives intertwined with accounts of their families and the histories of their underprivileged communities. It argues that the identities performed in the texts meet the “horizon of expectations” of contemporary readers and redirect Dalit discourse.

A Portrait of Desire: On Jacques-Alain Miller’s Life of Lacan and the Anti-biographical Imperative

Will Greenshields

This essay examines Jacques-Alain Miller’s avoidance and refashioning of various conventions of biography in Life of Lacan in his attempt to adequately represent not a “Great Man” but a “man of desire”—the embodiment of a psychoanalytic ethics of desire. In doing so, comparisons are made to other biographies and memoirs such as Élisabeth Roudinesco’s Jacques Lacan, Catherine Millot’s Life with Lacan, and Sibylle Lacan’s A Father: Puzzle. A discussion of Lacan’s own resistance to biography and the mixed regard in which he held the biographies he read is followed by an explanation of the anti-biographical imperative established by Lacan and adopted by Miller as an unrealizable ideal of the psychoanalytic doctrine’s transmission without reference to the person of Lacan. The third section is a reading of Miller’s experiment in psychoanalytic life writing as an effort to represent, without resolving, the enigma of desire that Lacan is said to exemplify.

Slavery and Class in the American South: A Generation of Slave Narrative Testimony, 1840–1865
William L. Andrews
Oxford University Press, 2019, 389 pp. ISBN 9780190908386, $42.95 hardcover.
            Reviewed by Joycelyn K. Moody

Le “Pacte” de Philippe Lejeune ou l’autobiographie en théorie: Édition critique et commentaire
Carole Allamand
Honoré Champion, 2018, 236 pp. ISBN 9782745346834, €27.50 paperback.
            Reviewed by Zoltan Varga

American Women Activists and Autobiography: Rhetorical Lives
Heather Ostman
Routledge, 2022, viii + 183 pp. ISBN 9781032050768, $160.00 hardcover.
            Reviewed by Ana Belén Martínez García


Special Issue: Comic Lives – 37.2

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to This Issue: Comedy and Life Narratives”
Laurie McNeill and John David Zuern

“Generous Laughs: The Comedic Plentitude of Maria Bamford”
Shannon Herbert

“Confronting Apartheid’s Revenants: Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime and/as Traumedy”
Nick Mdika Tembo

“No Joke, This Actually Happened: A Not Unfunny Interview with Danielle Seid”
Danielle Seid

“Okay to Laugh? Trauma, Memoir, and Teaching the Podcast Mum Says My Memoir
Is a Lie”
Kylie Cardell and Kate Douglas

“Getting the Joke: Self -Deprecating Humor in Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee
Jacqui Dickin

“Consequences of Laughter: Reflections on Performing Comedic Self-Deprecation
and Reacting to Deprecation in General”
Su Heng (Michael) Yi

Book Reviews
Rev. of Becoming Virginia Woolf: Her Early Diaries and the Diaries She Read, Virginia Woolf’s Modernist Path: Her Middle Diaries and the Diaries She Read, and Virginia Woolf, the War Without, the War Within: Her Final Diaries and
the Diaries She Read
Rebecca Hogan

Rev. of Writing Life Writing: Narrative, History, Autobiography
Alfred Hornung

Rev. of The Work of Life Writing: Essays and Lectures
Tom Smith

362 Rev. of Witnessing Girlhood: Toward an Intersectional Tradition of Life Writing
Emma Maguire

367 Rev. of Americanas, Autocracy, and Autobiographical Innovation: Overwriting the Dictator
Kimberly A. Nance


Dear Reader,
Due to the imminent departure of our longstanding Journal Manager, the Board of Trustees of the European Journal of Life Writing (EJLW) is inviting applications for this position. Together with the assistant journal manager and the manager of the book reviews, the new journal manager will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the journal.
The job of journal manager includes:

  • Managing the production process, from the submission of articles until publication;
  • Communicating with authors, editors, external reviewers and our publisher (University of Groningen Press);
  • The lay-out of the publications;
  •  Uploading the finalized articles to the website of the EJLW;
  •  Meeting approximately four times a year (live and/or online) with the board of the EJLW in order to discuss the longer-term strategy and policies of the journal.

This is a volunteer job, for which an annual allowance of € 500 is available to cover expenses.
Applications may be sent before 1st May 2023 to Dr. Monica Soeting:, chair of the board of trustees of the EJLW.

Center for Life Writing, SJTU, China
No.19, Autumn 2022
Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies

[Special Section: Interview]
Life Writing Scholars and Life Writing Studies in the Age of Data:
An Interview with Max Saunders……Huang Rong

[Special Section: Illness Narrative Studies]
On the Creative Features of Autobiography of Contemporary Chinese Disabled Writers……Deng Li
The Narration Strategies of the Autobiographical Works by Disabled Contemporary Writers……Xue Haojie
Women, Body and Disease: Mourning a Breast as an Autopathography……Zhao Wen

[Theory Studies]
Examination and Re-reflection on Biography Writing of Contemporary Writers……Fang Wei, Liu Xuande
From Autobiography to Autobiographical Fiction: A Reinterpretation of the Textual Nature of A Dream of Red Mansions……Li Dandan
On Integration as a Biographical Method……Mao Xu, Guo Liping

[Comparative Biography]
Cross-cultural Understanding and Learning Facilitated by the Carrier of Biography: Overseas Dissemination of Wu Zetian’s Images……Lu Jie

[Text Studies]
A Collective Portrait of Anhui Lyricists in the Song Dynasty: A Review of Review on 40 Poets of the Song Dynasty, the Newly-Discovered Posthumous Work by Wan Minhao……Hu Jian
Samuel Johnson’s Art of Choosing Biographical Materials in Life of Shenstone … Sun Yongbin
The Biography in Poetical Form: On Iron Elder Sister, Hu Hao’s Poem of a Huangpu Female     Soldier……Liu Shujing

[Memoir Studies]
The Identity Writing in The Sudden Return, the Family Memoir of Tai Hsiao-hua the Malaysian Chinese Writer……Wang Shuang

[Letter Study]
Textual Research on Shi Pingmei’s Three Lost Letters……Guo Xiaobin

[History of Life Writing]
New Stylistic Changes in Su Zhe’s Autobiography……Sun Jiao
Institutionalized Writing of Ancient Biography: Focusing on the Compilation of “Official     Selection System” and “Lives of Sages” from Han Dynasty to the Six Dynasties…Li He
An Exploration into the “Convention” of Writing Inscription Biography in the Mid-Ming Dynasty: A Focus on the Reasons for Kang Hai’s Dismissal……Xia Pengfei

[Subject Studies]
A Study of the Historical Image of He Zhen and Its Political-Cultural Implications: A Focus on the Lives in the Ming Dynasty Memoir……Liu Xiaolong
On the Communication between Yen Fuh and He Renlan…Geng Liangfeng, Wang Shaoxiang
The Personality and Fate of Lu Xun in His Cooperation with Commercial Book Companies: The Case Study of Beixin Bookstore and Kaiming Bookstore……Zhang Zhiyong
On Mark Twain’s Spiritual Crisis in His Later Years: A Perspective of Biography Study…… Lin Jiazhao
The Sublimity Never Disappearing: The Biographical Writing of Confucian Scholars during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression……Li Xiaoxiao

Call for PhD Dissertation Extracts
Instructions to Contributors
Editor’s Note ……Yang Zhengrun

Call for PhD Dissertation Extracts
An increasing number of life writing related MA theses and Ph.D. dissertations have been witnessed in recent years, many of which are excellent for they expand the  the scope of life writing studies and promote the research. We welcome this trend and have published many of the dissertations and theses, while more are welcome in accordance with to the “Call for Papers”.
For the purpose of further promoting and introducing academic achievements and sharing information, we have decided to set up a new column called “Ph.D. Dissertations” which briefs on the dissertations on life writing studies having passed the oral defense since 2001. These dissertations will be published after our review.
Anyone who would like to submit the dissertation abstract please fill out the form herewith and return it to us via our email address: Please do not exceed our word limit of 500 English words.
Appendix: the Form of Information about the doctoral dissertation
Title of the dissertation:
Name of the author:
Date, University and Supervisor:

Instructions to Contributors

Life writing studies have moved onto the central stage in the academia and gained ever more attention both in and outside China. As the first scholarly journal in the field of China, the biannual journal Modern Life Writing Studies intends to fill up the blank of life writing studies in China, provide a venue for scholars all over the world, attract and promote specialists in the field.
   Aiming to keep abreast of the cutting edge of life writing research, Our journal seeks to, in modern views and perspectives, explore various topics of life writing in China and in the world, with almost 20 sections included, such as Interview, Comparative Biography, Theory Study, History of Life Writing, Text Study, Autobiography Study, Diary Study, Subject Study, Film Biography, Book Reviews, Life Writing Materials, From the Life Writer, etc.
Ever since its appearance in 2013, our journal has been well-received by scholars at home and abroad and fundedby a steady grant from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is exerting increasingly greater influence in academia with a due wide positive response. In 2017, our journal was included in CSSCI (Chinese Social Science Citation Index), and listed in the international academic literature or included in the annual annotated bibliography by world prestigious universities.
Our journal accepts both Chinese and English submissions. All the articles will be subject to anonymous peer review.

Submissions are welcome from both Chinese and international researchers. Simultaneous submissions are not accepted. English papers should be between 4,000 and 7,000 words of text in length (including notes), while English book reviews are about 2,500 words. Full-length articles take up most part of the journal, but short essays with originality and fresh ideas are also welcome.

Submission Guidelines
All written submissions should be formatted according to the eighth edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. All submissions should include a 100-word abstract both in Chinese and English, keywords (less than 5), a 70–word biographical statement, and works cited. Please adhere to the following requirements:
•Double spacing, Times New Roman, 12–point font
•One-inch margins
•Only Microsoft Word doc or docx files will be accepted
•Citations should be provided in parenthetical reference followed by “Works Cited”.
•Endnotes are preferred if there are any.

Submissions should be emailed in Word format to the editor Each contributor will get two complimentary copies once his/her paper is published.

Our journal is based at SJTU Center for Life Writing. We welcome suggestions and proposals, from which we believe our journal will surely benefit.

    From the Editor
Yang Zhengrun
Life writing is always closely relevant to human life. In the era of data, computer, Internet and new media, how does the fast-changing world influence life writing and life writing studies, such as the globalization and the crisis associated with this trend and the widespread Covid-19 epidemic. This is the issue of common concern for some scholars. Professor Max Saunders will answer this question in “Special Section: Interview” of this issue. In accordance with his discovery, the landscape of how people write about or otherwise present themselves had transformed entirely during the five years since the advent of iPhone. Covid-19 epidemic, in particular Omicron variant, has boosted conspiracy theory, which has moved from the fringes of society to the mainstream, exerting a vast influence on both the way of thinking and life writing. Saunders does not elaborate on his views and there may be room for discussion, but is sufficient to inspire our ideas.
 Another function of contemporary life writing is the treatment of mental and physical illness and attracts more attention to put it into practice. The special section of “Illness Narrative Studies” is newly established to follow this trend, including two papers on the autobiography of disabled writers. Deng Li boils down this sub-genre into four features through the comparison with other ones of life writing, while Xue Haojie explores the narrative features of the sub-genre and discovers three narrative strategies. Both papers demonstrate wide horizon to analyze numerous texts and draw conclusions and theoretical depth. The other paper of this section is Zhao Wen’s research on Mourning a Breast, the autopathography by Hong Kong writer Xi Xi. Zhao carefully explores the multiple cultural meanings in the complex text and the human compassion she discovers is the value target of this type of life writing.
The three papers in the section of “Theory Studies” involve wide areas.
The three papers in the previous section undoubtedly fall into the category of literary biography too. Since the birth of the modern biography, literary biography has become one of the best developed sub-genres with the greatest achievements and the focus of the current biographical studies. Fang Wei and Liu Xuande conduct “examination and re-reflection” on biography writing of contemporary writers and their conclusions on the shortcomings, defects and solutions are pertinent. In our opinion, it is difficult to write a literary biography. In one case, the identity of a subject is determined as a “writer” and the biography takes the form of a literary research and features academic elements. This type of literary biography is also called “critical biography” and stresses neither the research on the character or personality of the biographical subject nor the interpretation of his/her works through the biography. In the other case, the biographer prefers the subject’s experience and character to his/her works. For example, no works of Shelley is discussed in the world-renowned biography Ariel by André Maurois. The ideal form of the literary biography is the combination of works, experience and character of the writer for cross reference and interpretation. Of course, it is difficult and demands high on the biographer’s learning and energy, but there are some role models, such as Leon Edel’s Henry James, the Complete Biography. We hope to call attention of biographers and scholars to this issue.
The other research on theoretical study concerns writing techniques and skills. To the extent that the selection and organization of biographical materials is decisive to the generation and reading effect of the biography, Mao Xu focuses on a biographical method of organizing materials, i.e. plucking the traits or deeds off the time-line and then integrating them together under the same heading, or integration as he calls. Given the fact that biographers across the world have accumulated rich experience and skills through practice in the long term, the theoretical elaboration is necessary and welcomed.
Since the creation of A Dream of Red Mansions, it has been controversial as to the nature of this novel. In light of the modern narrative theory and autobiography theory, Li Dandan examines the previous researches and argues that it is an autobiographical fiction. The new generation of Redologists endeavor to integrate Redology into the contemporary academic trend and this is the direction of Redology.
The section of “Comparative Biography” features Lu Jie’s research on foreign biographies of Wu Zetian. Lu’s paper focuses on the identity characteristics of Wu in different texts and the cultural background concerned to reveal that the diversity and complexity result from the exchanges and cross reference of multiple civilizations. It is true, of course, that comparative biography is complex and there is room for further research.
The section of “Text Studies” involve three different texts. Sun Yongbin chooses Life of Shenstone, a typical biography from Samuel Johnson’s Lives of Poets, to explore what materials Johnson collected and how he selected, organized and identified them to form his own evaluation standards. The age of Dr. Johnson has long passed. Nevertheless, as the founding father of modern Western biography, his way of biography writing is still classic and deserves research and reference.
Hu Jian discusses Review on 40 Poets of the Song Dynasty, the newly-discovered posthumous work by Wan Minhao the contemporary lyricist researcher. This review is a collection of short critical biographies, in which Wan “verifies the life stories” of and “discusses the works” of 40 lyric writers from Anhui province. This is an appropriate form of writing biography of minor writers.
Iron Elder Sister is a unique biography in the form of a long biographical poem written by Fu Hao, a cadet of Huangpu Military Academy (Wuhan), for Zhou Tiezhong, a female cadet of Fu’s class. Despite the rough form and inaccuracies of the biographee’s experience, it is the first biographical poem in China published in 1930, six years earlier than that of Xie Bingying’s Autobiography of a Female Soldier. This poem features the depiction of many revolutionaries and the panorama of Chinese society as well as true historical details. Liu Shujing’s exploration of and research on this poem fills the gap in the history of Chinese contemporary biography.
Wang Shuang’s research on The Sudden Return, the family memoir of Tai Hsiao-hua the Malaysian Chinese writer, is included in the section of Memoir Studies. Wang focuses on the issue of identity from multiple perspectives, such as female, political and cultural ones, illustrating the efforts to encompass Chinese Malaysian literature in the international academic research.
In the section of “Letter Study”, Guo Xiaobin explores the three newly-discovered letters of Shi Pingmei. The total length of the three letters is less than 1,000 characters, but Guo vividly depicts the life and the mental world of the intellectual female over one century ago through his careful and meticulous research and understanding of Shi’s materials.
The three papers in the section of “History of Life Writing” put forward new ideas on the history of ancient Chinese life writing. Ancient Chinese autobiography is rare and Su Zhe’s Autobiography is barely mentioned in history of life writing. Sun Jiao, however, argue for both the great historical value of the autobiography and the highlighted image of the self, which contributes to the breakthrough and innovations of autobiography. Li He, through his compilation of voluminous documents and materials, conducts a textual research on the emergence, institutionalization and social and political functions of “lives of sages” before and after Wei and Jin Dynasties, clearly illustrates an important form of ancient Chinese biography. Xia Pengfei focuses on the inscription biography in the mid-Ming Dynasty and uses a great number of examples to argue against the “convention” of inviting senior officials or famous writers to write this type of biography. The three papers serve as good reference for rewriting the history of ancient Chinese life writing.
There are five papers in the section of “Subject Studies” for subject studies is an essential branch of life writing studies and a large portion of the papers we have received fall into this section. It is worth noting that documents and materials, particularly new materials, should be possessed as far as possible and the materials should be interpreted reasonably, particularly from new approaches or perspectives. In addition, the starting point of the research should be well chosen.
In Geng Liangfeng and Wang Shaoxiang’s research on Yen Fuh, they choose the overlooked communication between Yen and his niece as the starting point to demonstrate the reformist thinker’s attitude toward life and the growing-up of a new female in the social transformation.
Lu Xun is a writer and relies on book royalty in his later life, so his relations with publishers is an essential vantage point to observe him. Zhang Zhiyong examines the writer’s relations with Kaiming Bookstore and Beixin Bookstore and the collapse of their cooperation to reveal Lu’s character and attitude toward life from another perspective.
Titled as “The Sublimity Never Disappearing”, Li Xiaoxiao’s paper discovers a group of special figures who have been long ignored with the help of the materials kept in archives. These figures are Confucian scholars who won scholarly honor in the Qing Dynasty, taught at universities and colleges in the Republican period, stayed in Beiping in difficulties during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, and were finally rescued by the Nationalist government. Li explores the living and spiritual status of this group in the occupied area by referring to archives concerned and other documents. This research appears unpopular, but it has special significance for broadening our understanding of Chinese intellectuals and the traditional culture.
Mark Twain’s spiritual crisis in his later years is an old topic. Lin Jiazhao proves that Twain’s concern for religious issues runs through his life and his spiritual crisis in his later years is essentially a strata-like ideological system on the basis of literature and argues for an effective acceptance of the reshaping of thought in the nineteenth century rather than despair. This statement is interesting and deserves attention of Mark Twain researchers.
Liu Xiaolong focuses on He Zhen, an official of the late Yuan and early Ming period. Liu discovers the positive image of He is recorded in the Veritable Records of Ming Dynasty but his other images are obscured and suppressed due to political, historical and cultural factors. Liu’s analysis from multiple perspectives based on voluminous materials is significant regardless of He’s historical status.
Papers on “life writing” are published in our journal. Due to limited space, priority is placed on the research on important life writers, important works or major theoretical issues.

Shen Chen
School of Humanities, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai,China,200240
Publication of new book – Roadhouse Blues: Morrison, the Doors, and the Death Days of the Sixties, by Bob Batchelor, with an Open Access excerpt
“Fascinating, informative, extraordinary, and essential reading for the legions of Jim Morrison fans.” – Midwest Book Review

Shrouded in mystery and the swirling psychedelic sounds of the Sixties, the Doors have captivated listeners across seven decades. Jim Morrison—haunted, beautiful, and ultimately doomed—transformed from rock god to American icon. With each successive generation of fans, the Doors become more popular and transcendent. Yet the band’s full significance is buried beneath layers of mythology and folklore.

In Roadhouse Blues, Bob Batchelor presents an epic tale of one of rock’s (and America’s) most significant periods, as the Age of Aquarius gave way to a new age of mayhem, presidential misdeeds, and murder. Batchelor combines cultural history, musical and lyrical analysis, and a broad stroke of pop-culture mythos to give fresh perspective on a pivotal time.

Candid, authoritative, and utterly absorbing, Roadhouse Blues is a biography of a man, a band, and an era that set the tone for the contemporary world. Beyond the mythology, the hype, and the mystique around Morrison’s untimely death, this book takes readers on a roller-coaster ride, examining the impact the band had on America as the nation veered from decadence to debauchery. “We’re gonna have a real good time!”

Hamilcar Publications
Foreword by Carlos Acevedo
ISBN 9781949590548, paperback
ISBN 9781949590548, eBook
Link to more info:

An excerpt “My Doors Memoir” is available at (Open Access)


Bob Batchelor
Cultural Historian/Biographer
Stan Lee: A Life; Roadhouse Blues: Morrison, the Doors, and the Death Days of the Sixties

We proudly announce the publication of our volume “Imagining Gender in Biographical Fiction”, with an Open Access introduction: 
Imagining Gender in Biographical Fiction

Edited by
Julia Novak and Caitríona Ní Dhúill,
with Eugenie Theuer 

Imagining Gender in Biographical Fiction addresses the current boom in biographical fictions across the globe, examining the ways in which gendered lives of the past become re-imagined as gendered narratives in fiction. It addresses questions of gender in a sustained and systematic manner that is sensitive to cultural and historical differences in both raw material and fictional reworking. It draws on theories of biofiction and historical fiction, life-writing studies, feminist criticism, queer feminist readings, postcolonial studies, feminist art history, and trans studies. Attentive to various approaches to fictionalisation that reclaim, appropriate or re-invent their ‘raw material’, the volume assesses the critical, revisionist and deconstructive potential of biographical fictions while acknowledging the effects of cliché, gender norms and established narratives in many of the texts under investigation. 
Bethan Archer, Ina Bergmann, Laura Cernat, Julia Dabbs, Patricia Duncker, Paul Fagan, Kelly Gardiner, Iseult Gillespie, Alison Gorlier, Christine Müller, Caitríona Ní Dhúill, Julia Novak, Catherine Padmore, Silvia Salino, Ksenia Shmydkaya, Diana Wallace

Palgrave Studies in Life Writing
Palgrave Macmillan, 2022
ISBN 978-3-031-09018-9
ISBN 978-3-031-09019-6 (eBook)

The introduction to this volume is available at
(Open Access)

TheRoutledge Introduction to Auto/biography in Canada, edited by Sonja Boon, Laurie McNeill, Julie Rak, and Candida Rifkind. Routledge, 2023.
The Routledge Introduction to Auto/biography in Canada explores the exciting world of nonfiction writing about the self, designed to give teachers and students the tools they need to study both canonical and lesser-known works. The volume introduces important texts and contexts for interpreting life narratives, demonstrates the conceptual tools necessary to understand what life narratives are and how they work, and offers an historical overview of key moments in Canadian auto/biography. Not sure what life writing in Canada is, or how to study it? This critical introduction covers the tools and approaches you require in order to undertake your own interpretation of life writing texts. You will encounter nonfictional writing about individual lives and experiences—including biography, autobiography, letters, diaries, comics, poetry, plays, and memoirs. The volume includes case studies to provide examples of how to study and research life narratives and toolkits to help you apply what you learn. The Routledge Introduction to Auto/biography in Canada provides instructors and students with the contexts and the critical tools to discover the power of life writing, and the skills to study any kind of nonfiction, from Canada and around the world.

Table of Contents

Beginnings: Auto/biography, Biography, and Life Writing
Studying Auto/Biography: Approaches, Conventions, and Autobiographical Truth
Auto/biographical Genres and Forms

Reading the Nation
Exploration, Travel, and Settlement: Settler-Colonial and Indigenous Accounts
Modern Canada Between WWI and WWII
Indigenous Life Writing Since 1967
Case Study: Maria Campbell, Halfbreed
Race, Nation, and the Limits of Imagined Community
Case Study, Lorena Gale Je me souviens: Memories of an Expatriate Anglophone Montréalaise Québécoise exiled in Canada. Talonbooks, 2001

Telling and Reading Auto/biographical Stories
Experimental and Hybrid Forms
Case Study: Fred Wah, Diamond Grill
Auto/biographical Comics in Canada
Testimony and Witnessing
Disability and Illness Life Writing
Case Study: Dorothy Ellen Palmer, Falling For Myself (2019)
Diasporic Lives, Diasporic Stories
Asian Canadian Life Writing (Eleanor Ty, Wilfrid Laurier University)
Case Study: Jenny Heijun Wills, Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related (Eleanor Ty, Wilfrid Laurier University)
Queer Life Writing in Canada: 2SLGBTQ+ Lives and Stories
Biography and Writers’ Lives
Case Study: Terry Fox and Biography

Case Study: The Rural Diary Archive
Case Study: Paratexts I – Getting Started with Paratext
Case Study: Paratexts II – Peritextual Analysis
Case Study: Listening to Many Voices (A Conversation Between Julie Rak and Karina Vernon)

TOOLKIT 1: Studying Auto/Biography
TOOLKIT 2: Studying Auto/Biographical Comics
TOOLKIT 3: Archives and Archival Research
TOOLKIT 4: Studying Paratexts
TOOLKIT 5: Studying Interviews



Sonja Boon holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from Simon Fraser University. She is currently Professor of Gender Studies at Memorial University. Sonja is the author of four books, including Autoethnography and Feminist Theory at the Water’s Edge: Unsettled Islands (with Lesley Butler and Daze Jefferies, 2018) and What the Oceans Remember: Searching for Belonging and Home (2019). She is the 2020 recipient of the Royal Society of Canada’s Ursula Franklin Award in Gender Studies.

Laurie McNeill holds a PhD in English from the University of British Columbia. She is currently a Professor of Teaching in the Department of English Language and Literatures at UBC and Director of First-Year and Interdisciplinary Programs. She is co-editor (with Kate Douglas) of Teaching Lives: Contemporary Pedagogies of Life Narratives (Routledge, 2020), and Online Lives 2.0, a special issue of the journal Biography, co-edited with John David Zuern (2015), and her most recent articles and chapters have been published in the journals a/b: Autobiography Studies and English Studies in Canada and the collection Inscribed Identities (Routledge, 2019).

Julie Rak holds a PhD in English from McMaster University. She is the Henry Marshall Tory Chair in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada. Julie’s awards include the Killam Annual Professorship (2017-2018) and the Hogan Prize (2017). Her books and collections include False Summit: Gender in Mountaineering Nonfiction (2021), Boom! Manufacturing Memoir for the Popular Market (2013), Negotiated Memory: Doukhobor Autobiographical Discourse (2004), Auto/biography in Canada (2005), and Identity Technologies (2014).

Candida Rifkind holds a PhD in English from York University. She is Professor in the Department of English at the University of Winnipeg. Her books and edited collections include Comrades and Critics: Women, Literature and the Left in 1930s Canada (winner of the 2009 Anne Saddlemeyer Award), Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives (co-edited with Linda Warley, winner of the 2016 Gabrielle Roy Prize), Documenting Trauma in Comics (co-edited with Dominic Davies) and “Migration, Exile, and Diaspora in Graphic Life Narratives,” a special issue of a/b: Autobiography Studies co-edited with Nima Naghibi and Eleanor Ty (2020).



CFP–Archives (Journal)

ARCHIVES, a peer -reviewed journal published by Liverpool University Press on behalf of the British Records Association, invites submissions that inform, explore, and inspire all those who use historical records. ARCHIVES provides accessible and engaging articles that increase understanding of the whereabouts, interpretation and historical significance of archival material of all historical periods. It provides a platform for historians and archivists to share their discoveries and information about the sources they have used for research.  We particularly welcome contributions from those at an early stage of their careers.

Themes that can be addressed include, but are not limited to:

  • Archival trends, theories and practices
  • Archives and the community
  • Archives and diversity
  • Approaches towards using archives and source materials
  • Archives and accessibility
  • Record keeping practices
  • Digital curation

A fuller statement of the editorial policy can be found at

Articles can be submitted at any time. Suggestions for articles and submissions should be sent electronically to the editor at who looks forward to hearing from you.

Dr Ruth Paley

Hon. Editor


c/o British Records Association

70 Cowcross Street



Please join us for the opening of the Oral History Lab @UPRM on Thursday, February 16 with online and in-person events throughout the day beginning at 10 a.m. The full schedule and registration information are available on our website:  

The lab is a collaboration between the English Department, University Library, and Film Certificate program and is made possible by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in the area of Digital Humanities. 

Únete a nosotros para la apertura del Laboratorio de Historia Oral en jueves 16 de febrero en línea y presencial. Eventos durante todo el día a partir de las 10 a.m. El horario completo y la información de registro se pueden encontrar en nuestro sitio web en  

El laboratorio es una colaboración entre el Departamento de Inglés, la Biblioteca Universitaria y el programa de Certificado de Cine y es posible gracias a una generosa subvención del Fondo Nacional para las Humanidades en el área de Humanidades Digitales.

Professor Ricia Anne Chansky, Ph.D. 
University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez 

Director, “Mi María: Puerto Rico after the Hurricane” 
& “Sheltered in Place: Storytelling and Disaster Studies”
NEH Project Director, “Listening to Puerto Rico”
ACLS Project Director, “Speaking into Silences”
Archivo de Respuestas Emergencias de Puerto Rico 

U.S. Fulbright Specialist in American Studies
Humanities Action Lab Senior Climate Justice Fellow 

INCITE Assembling Voices Fellow, Columbia University

Life Writing, Volume 20, Issue 2, June 2023 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:

American ‘Goddess of Mercy’ in the Nanjing Massacre: Minnie Vautrin and the Afterlife of Her Wartime Diary
Pingfan Zhang
Pages: 239-255 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2125852

Life Writing as Micropolitics: Prussian CVs at the Dawn of Bureaucratic Meritocracy
Stephan Strunz
Pages: 257-272 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2086439

Dialogic Reading Spaces in Autofiction: Rachel Cusk’s Kudos | Open Access
Tijana Przulj
Pages: 273-285 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2082264

‘Who does he think he is: Jesus?’ J. M. Coetzee’s Last Confession in Summertime
Sherif H. Ismail
Pages: 287-309 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1998945

Katherine May’s Wintering and the Care of the Self | Open Access
Stella Bolaki
Pages: 311-328 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2064729

Reading and Seeing Women’s Life Writing Through Adrienne Rich in Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?
Janine Utell
Pages: 329-350 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2097581

Crowd Coaxing and Citizen Storytelling in Archives of Crisis
Kerrie M. Davies
Pages: 351-365 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2106611

Reading Objects, Watching YouTube, Writing Biography, and Teaching Life Writing: Student Engagement When Learning Online During Covid-19
Kate Douglas, Kylie Cardell, Marina Deller & Edith Hill
Pages: 367-382 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2030979

Reading, Race, and Remembering Childhood Abuse—Returning to Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) | Open Access
Shelley Trower
Pages: 385-392 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.2012020

Historical Fiction and the Breton Landscape: Writing the Life of Jeanne de Belleville
Ellen O’Brien
Pages: 393-407 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2046211

Emptying the Attic: The Family Archive in Transition
Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir
Pages: 409-420 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2048776

The Tiger Skin on the Bannister (and Other Stories): Internal Dialogues and Parallel Autobiographical Process in a Reading of Wilfred Bion’s The Long Weekend, 1897–1919: Part of a Life
Tim Smith
Pages: 421-434 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2046227

Disability and Life Writing in Post-Independence Ireland
by Elizabeth Grubgeld, Basingstoke and New York, Palgrave Mamillan, 2020, 182 pp. ISBN 9783030372453
Jeremy Colangelo
Pages: 437-440 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.2010516

Pages: I-I | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2118766



“Graphic Medicine,” Biography 44: 2-3, recognized by Council of Editors of Learned Journals

The Center for Biographical Research is thrilled to announce that “Graphic Medicine,” a special issue of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly (volume 44, numbers 2 & 3) guest edited by Erin La Cour and Anna Poletti, has been selected as Honorable Mention (second place) for the Best Special Issue Award in this year’s Council of Editors of Learned Journals contest.

The CELJ judges offered the following assessment of the special issue:

Honorable Mention: “Graphic Medicine,” a special issue of Biography 

The number and quality of submissions for the 2022 CELJ Best Special Issue Award was truly impressive, making adjudication both delightful and difficult. We were inspired by the range of topics and approaches. In making our decision, we considered the clarity of editorial vision, the significance of the contribution, whether or not an issue was conceptually interesting beyond a single field, formal and methodological innovation, and evidence of collaborative engagement across individual contributions to the broader project of the issue.

The award review committee recognizes “Graphic Medicine,” a special issue of Biography on life narratives in the medium of comics, with an honorable mention. The decision to include different genres—both scholarly essays and original autobiographical comics—resulted in a multi-genre issue that compellingly explores the possibilities and concerns raised by living with (and/or alongside) illness and disability. The scope of the articles encompassed a broad but interrelated investigation into the topic, and the editor’s introduction effectively contextualized these articles in relation to the field of interdisciplinary medical humanities while making a persuasive argument about how comics “expose the subjective experiences of health and healthcare systems that may be difficult for both practitioners and patients to understand or explain in either verbal or visual language alone.” We appreciated the wholistic approach taken in developing the issue, with contributions being collectively workshopped as part of the process. Finally, the layout, typesetting, and graphics all contributed to an excellent reading experience. 

Congratulations to the coeditors—Erin La Cour and Anna Poletti—and the contributors to the special issue—Safdar Ahmed, Suzy Becker, Kiene Brillenburg Wurth, Jared Gardner, Crystal Yin Lie, John Miers, Nancy K. Miller, JoAnn Purcell, Susan Squier, and Julia Watson.

Biography has been recognized by CELJ for special issues twice before: in 2017, when it won the Special Issue Award for “Indigenous Conversations about Biography” edited by Alice Te Punga Somerville, Daniel Heath Justice, and Noelani Arista, and in 2012, when it won for “(Post)human Lives” edited by Gillian Whitlock and G. Thomas Couser.

For more information about Biography and the Center for Biographical Research, visit CBR’s new website here:


Released digitally on Project Muse in June 2022, the issue was also published as a book by the University of Hawai‘i Press in August 2022.

In Graphic Medicine, comics artists and scholars of life writing, literature, and comics explore the lived experience of illness and disability through original texts, images, and the dynamic interplay between the two. The essays and autobiographical comics in this collection respond to the medical humanities’ call for different perceptions and representations of illness and disability than those found in conventional medical discourse. The collection expands and troubles our understanding of the relationships between patients and doctors, nurses, social workers, caregivers, and family members, considering such encounters in terms of cultural context, language, gender, class, and ethnicity. By treating illness and disability as an experience of fundamentally changed living, rather than a separate narrative episode organized by treatment, recovery, and a return to “normal life,” Graphic Medicine asks what it means to give and receive care.

Comics by Safdar Ahmed, John Miers, and Suzy Becker, and illustrated essays by Nancy K. Miller and Jared Gardner show how life writing about illness and disability in comics offers new ways of perceiving the temporality of caring and living. Crystal Yin Lie and Julia Watson demonstrate how use of the page through panels, collages, and borderless images can draw the reader, as a “mute witness,” into contact with the body as a site where intergenerational trauma is registered and expressed. Kiene Brillenburg Wurth examines how microscripts productively extend graphic medicine beyond comics to “outsider art.” JoAnn Purcell and Susan Squier display how comics artists respond to and reflect upon their caring relationship with those diagnosed with an intellectual disability. And Erin La Cour interrogates especially difficult representations of relationality and care.

During the past decade, graphic medicine comics have proliferated―an outpouring accelerated recently by the greatest health crisis in a century. Edited by Erin La Cour and Anna Poletti, Graphic Medicine helps us recognize that however unpleasant or complicated it may be, interacting with such stories offers fresh insights, suggests new forms of acceptance, and enhances our abilities to speak to others about the experience of illness and disability.


Dear colleagues,

We are very pleased to announce that Synthesis n° 14: Dissident Self-Narratives: Radical and Queer Life Writing is now online here:
Best wishes,

Aude Haffen (Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, guest editor), Mina Karavanta and Stamatina Dimakopoulou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, editors-in-chief)

Synthesis n° 14: Dissident Self-Narratives: Radical and Queer Life Writing, edited by Aude Haffen   
Table of contents 
Introduction: Dissident Lives, Queer texts, Political Is.
Aude Haffen
Narrating the Self, Making a World: C. L. R. James, Edward Said, and the Errancy of Postcolonial Life-writing
Adam Spanos
Dialectics of Love in the ‘Early’ and ‘Late’ Writings of Roland Barthes
Andy Stafford
Emma Bee Bernstein: fetishism of fashion and vintage self-portraits
Daniele Pomilio
An Autotheory of Intertextual Kinship: Ambivalent Bodies in the Work of Maggie Nelson and Paul B. Preciado
Alex Brostoff
Out of Place, Out of Time: (re)writing the abject body in Ceyenne Doroshow’s Cooking in Heels
Kelsey Davies
“I just don’t want to be so likeable that anyone wants to rape me”: queering the affects of trauma in Myriam Gurba’s Mean
Gabrielle Adjerad 
The Pianist’s Fingers: Fragments of Desire
Eric Daffron 
Editors’ Choices
Thought Voice[ing] Feel[ing]
Stamatina Dimakopoulou
She Voices If: On Blindness by José Saramago
Timothy Mathews
Migration as Self-Narration: Stephanos Stephanides’s Homeless World
Mina Karavanta

Litany in My Slumber / Postcard
Stephanos Stephanides

Aude Haffen
Maîtresse de Conférences
Université Paul Valéry – Montpellier III
Département d’études anglophones
January 2023

Faculty of Arts, University of Groningen (the Netherlands)

Biography InstituteNewsletter

[PDF version] 

Annual Report Biography Institute

The annual report [in Dutch] shows the good results that were achieved by the Biography Institute in 2022. Three PhD theses were successfully defended, the publication of the biography of Theo van Doesburg took place and two new PhD students started their projects.

Praise for biography John A. Farrell

The biography of Robert Kennedy, the subject of John A. Farrell’s PhD defense on 15 September, received many laudatory reviews. Farrell gave an interview to a podcast of; the book was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Economist and again on Moreover, the book as longlisted for the National Book Award.

Humanities Research Centre (UWarwick) organizes colloquium on Biographical Turns

The Humanities Research Centre, led by prof. Alison Cooley (University of Warwick), will organize a colloquium on ‘Biographical Turns across the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences’ on May 17, 2023. In her abstract, Cooley pays tribute  to the concept of a biographical turn, as described in Hans Renders’s, Jonne Harmsma’s and Binne de Haan’s The Biographical Turn. Lives in History.

Biography Institute invited to symposium Letterenhuis, Antwerp

David Veltman will take part in the symposium ‘De bronnen van de biograaf’ [The sources of the biographer] at the Letterenhuis in Antwerp on March 30, 2023. Together with some other biographers, like Elisabeth Leijnse and Manu van der Aa, Veltman will give a presentation and join discussion panels on the use of letters, diaries and other egodocuments in a biographical research.

A selection of the press reviews of Ik sta helemaal alleen. Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931)

More information can be found on the website
   For subscribing to and unsubscribing from this newsletter, please email

Writing Australian History On-Screen: Television and Film Period Dramas “Down Under”, edited by Jo Parnell and Julie Anne Taddeo  
(Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books).

New Book, released 15 January 2023

Writing Australian History On-Screen: Television and Film Period Dramas “Down Under” reveals the depths of Australian history from convict times to the present day. The essays in this book are thematically driven and take a rounded historical-cultural-sociological-psychological approach in analyzing the various selected productions. In their analyses and interpretations of the topic, the contributors interrogate the intricacies in Australian history as represented in Australian filmic period drama, taken from an Australian perspective. Individually, and together as a body of authors, they highlight past issues that, despite the society’s changing attitudes over time, still have relevance for the Australia of today. In speaking to the subject, the contributing writers show a keen awareness that addressing new areas arising from the humanities is key to learning, and hence to developing an understanding of Australian culture, the society, and sense of the ever-unfurling flag of an Australian something that is not yet a national identity.”

The contributors to this work are: Michelle Arrow, Chelsea Barnett, Grace Brooks, Donna Brunero, James Findlay, Dirk Gibb, Andrew Howe, Kathryn M. Keeble, Jessica Myer, Wenche Ommundsen, Jo Parnell, Emmett H. Redding, Julie Anne Taddeo, Leong Yew.  


Dr Jo (Joan-Annette) Parnell. PhD | Honorary Lecturer
School of Humanities, Creative Industries and Social Science (HCISS)
College of Human and Social Futures
University of Newcastle, Australia

Jeremy D. Popkin, Zelda Popkin: The Life and Times of an American Jewish Woman Author (Rowman and Littlefield, pp. xx + 277, ISBN 978-1-5381-6843-1)
Blending family memoir and scholarly biography, Jeremy D. Popkin uses the story of the journalist, novelist, and autobiographer Zelda Popkin (1898-1983) to illuminate the experience of American Jews and American women in the first two-thirds of the twentieth century. Zelda Popkin marched for women’s suffrage in her teens, had a professional career at a time when it was still unusual for middle-class women, wrote detective novels with a woman sleuth, authored one of the earliest American novels with a Holocaust theme, and flew to Israel during the 1948 war and published the first work of fiction about that event in 1951. She lived long enough to write novels recounting the story “of the American Jew from the ghetto to the country club” and to witness the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. Drawing on a rich archive of his grandmother’s correspondence with family members, editors and readers and on her numerous publications, Jeremy Popkin uses the perspectives of life-writing scholarship to tell the story of a woman who helped inspire his own vocation.

“Writing into history Zelda Popkin, journalist, novelist, communal worker and public relations expert, this book shines thanks to her grandson’s scholarly chops and deep love for his subject.”

Pamela Nadell, author of America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today.

Publisher’s web site:

Jeremy D. Popkin, William T. Bryan Chair professor of history at the University of Kentucky, is the author of History, Historians and Autobiography (University of Chicago Press, 2005) and numerous articles on life-writing.  He has also published extensively on the French and Haitian Revolutions.



Charles Reeve, Artists and Their Autobiographies from Today to the Renaissance and Back. Routledge, 2023. 

Reading life-writing that runs from Tracey Emin, Faith Ringgold and Judy Chicago to Marie Bashkirtseff, Benvenuto Cellini and beyond, Artists and Their Autobiographies from Today to the Renaissance and Back investigates the intriguing doubled truths of artists’ autobiographies: truth in life and truth in art; authorial truth/s and the truth of their art as they saw it. Specifically, this book focuses on sincerity—following classic discussions by Reindert Dhondt, Philippe Lejeune and Lionel Trilling—as a truth to self that floats free from facts to link avowal and feeling. How do recent and historical artists’ autobiographies differ—and overlap—in their ways of intertwining sincerity in life and art? How can the doubled sincerity of these writings highlight key issues like serial autobiography, the “as-told-to” narrative and autobiography’s relation to fiction? And what can we make, in this context of a heightened focus on truth and sincerity, of the habitual liar who now claims to tell all? 

Table of Contents 

Introduction:   How to Use this Book

Chapter 1:       Putting the “Lie” in “Line”: Eric Hebborn’s Drawn to Trouble  
Chapter 2:       The Death of Greta Bismarck: autofiction and the authentically insincere 
Chapter 3:       Andy Warhol’s Deaths and the Assembly-line Autobiography 
Chapter 4:       Bitter Whimsy: Saul Steinberg’s Reflections and Shadows 
Chapter 5:       Explicit Metaphor: Judy Chicago’s Self-Refashioning 
Chapter 6:       From Art to Life: Faith Ringgold’s Flights of Imagination 
Chapter 7:        Crossing Borders: Leonora Carrington, Autopathography and the Porous Self 
Chapter 8:        Why Have There Been No Great Women Artist-Autobiographers: Marie Bashkirtseff and the Irony of the Self 
Chapter 9:        Lifewriting, Imperialism, Collage: Mary Delany’s Autobiography and Correspondence 
Chapter 10:     False Starts: Cellini, Hogarth, Diderot…and back again 

Click here to visit the book’s website on

Currently available in hardcover and Kindle formats; paperback available early 2024 


Charles Reeve is Associate Professor of Art History at OCAD University, where he also is Associate Dean of Arts & Science. He is past President of the Universities Art Association of Canada and co-editor of Inappropriate Bodies: Art, Design, and Maternity (Demeter, 2019) with Rachel Epp Buller, with whom he also, in collaboration with Elena Marchevska, produces the podcast “Renewing the World.” 

Here is the information about the latest issue of Biography. We have also included the Editor’s Note, because it provides an overview of the year’s bibliography that might be of interest. 

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly,

volume 45, number 2, 2022

Full issue available on Project Muse:


Editor’s Note

Remembering Miriam Fuchs

Miriam Fuchs, Life Writing, and Life

Craig Howes 

A Voyage Beyond the Text as Self: Remembering Miriam Fuchs Holzman

Cynthia G. Franklin 

Miriam: The Text Is Herself

Ellen G. Friedman 

Miriam: Friend, Mentor, Scholar, and Teacher

Sarita Rai 

Miriam, The Bookies, and I

Joseph H. O’Mealy 

In the Warm Waters of Lanikai: Paddling with Miriam

Leinaala Davis 

A Tribute to Miriam Fuchs: With Love from Her Student

Amy Carlson

Annual Bibliography of Works about Life Writing, 2021

Compiled by Zoë E. Sprott and Caroline Zuckerman 


Edited Collections and Special Issues

Articles and Essays


Editor’s Note

Annual Bibliography of Works About Life Writing, 2021

This year’s installment of Biography’s annotated bibliography bears unmistakable signs of the global pandemic and the accelerating shift in academic publishing toward online publication. One possible sign of COVID disruption is the number of lifewriting dissertations included—twenty-seven, down significantly from the 108 successfully defended in 2020. While this decline could result in part from the tighter focus of our search, the last half of 2020 and the first half of 2021 were undeniably not good times for concentrated writing. Monographs underwent a similar decline—down to thirty-four, from fifty-seven in 2020.

Forty special issues and edited collections appeared in 2021—exactly the same as the previous two years—but the distribution is significant. Twenty-nine of these entries were special issues, and four of the eleven edited collections were book versions of previously published Routledge journal special issues in a/b: Auto/Biography Studies and Life Writing. For the most part, then, journals responded to the COVID storm simply by continuing to appear. The number of articles appearing in these volumes dropped somewhat—from 450 in 2020 to 400 in 2021—but these theme-specific publications are still responsible for over twice as many articles as 163 single essays appearing in the regular or open issues of journal—down as well, from 200. In sum, the number of entries for this year’s annotated bibliography dropped from 800 to 625, with decreases in dissertations and monographs accounting for well over half of the difference.

A relatively small number of publishers are responsible for a very large number of entries. Chief this year, and in many previous years, is Routledge, whose book and journal divisions are responsible for six monographs; seven special issues and five edited collections, accounting for well over 100 essays; and twenty separate articles. Through their special issues, clusters, and open issues, the established lifewriting journals have a predictably large impact on the field. Life Writing alone has been responsible for over sixty of the articles appearing in 2021, with a/b: Auto/Biography Studies fairly close behind at forty-nine. The European Journal of Life Writing accounts for forty, with Shanghai’s Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies issuing twenty-nine, and the Russian-focused publication AvtobiografiЯ adding twenty more. Many of the over twenty essays appearing in Genealogy were in special issues and clusters bringing together disparate fields. And as for ourselves, forty-four essays, international reviews, and tributes appeared in the various gatherings and regular issues of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly.

Finally, while not exclusively devoted to the field, a few other journals are important venues for lifewriting scholarship. The Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics published seventeen articles related to life writing in 2021, with Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies contributing twelve, and Disability Studies, M/C Journal, and Oral History Review eight, seven, and six respectively.

Another striking development has been the appearance of open access periodicals and articles. Although many journals still follow a print template, the reality is that the vast majority of readers examine or download articles through various online platforms—Project Muse, Proquest, Taylor & Francis—accessible through institutional subscriptions. Some journals—most notably the European Journal of Life Writing, but also Disability Studies Quarterly, Genealogy, On_Culture, and M/C Journal—are exclusively online and open access. In those entries where such a journal is not paginated, we are providing DOI designations. We do not, however, provide them for journals with pagination, or for journals exclusively online, but behind paywalls. At least ninety of the entries in this year’s bibliography are freely accessible—a substantial, and ever-growing portion. We should also note that because many educational and granting institutions are requiring that publically funded research must be freely accessible, some articles in journals on paywall platforms are also open access. The DOI has been supplied for some of these instances.

Regarding the content of this year’s bibliography, a few notable trends. The literary, formal, and structural dimensions of lifewriting texts are receiving greater substantial attention. Partially due to the rapid increase of nonfiction courses in creative writing programs, and partially due to the increasing variety of publications and visual media that blend public and personal history together with imaginative narrative, more and more critical and theoretical attention, often with a strongly aesthetic or narratological emphasis, is being devoted to autofiction, biofiction, historical fiction, biopics, and graphic novels and memoirs. Oral history, interviewing methodology, archival considerations, and ethnographic approaches are also coming under increasing critical scrutiny. And finally, life writing is truly becoming an interdisciplinary and international field—a dream and a mission that Biography adopted from the start, and announced on its title page.

* * *

After a well-deserved sabbatical, the International Year in Review will return with the 2022 installment of the Annual Bibliography. We would also like to thank those who contributed to the series of tributes to our coeditor, colleague, and friend, Miriam Fuchs. She is greatly missed.

The #MeToo Effect
What Happens When We Believe Women
Leigh Gilmore

Code for 20% discount is CUP20
The #MeToo movement inspired millions to testify to the widespread experience of sexual violence. More broadly, it shifted the deeply ingrained response to women’s accounts of sexual violence from doubting all of them to believing some of them. What changed?

Leigh Gilmore provides a new account of #MeToo that reveals how storytelling by survivors propelled the call for sexual justice beyond courts and high-profile cases. At a time when the cultural conversation was fixated on appeals to legal and bureaucratic systems, narrative activism—storytelling in the service of social change—elevated survivors as authorities. Their testimony fused credibility and accountability into the #MeToo effect: uniting millions of separate accounts into an existential demand for sexual justice and the right to be heard.

Gilmore reframes #MeToo as a breakthrough moment within a longer history of feminist thought and activism. She analyzes the centrality of autobiographical storytelling in intersectional and antirape activism and traces how literary representations of sexual violence dating from antiquity intertwine with cultural notions of doubt, obligation, and agency. By focusing on the intersectional prehistory of #MeToo, Gilmore sheds light on how survivors have used narrative to frame sexual violence as an urgent problem requiring structural solutions in diverse global contexts. Considering the roles of literature and literary criticism in movements for social change, The #MeToo Effect demonstrates how “reading like a survivor” provides resources for activism.

Columbia University Press:

PUB DATE: April 2023

Life Writing, Volume 20, Issue 1, March 2023 (Special) is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

Family History and Life Writing; Guest Editors: Tanya Evans and Marian Lorrison

This new issue contains the following articles:

Family History and Life Writing
Tanya Evans & Marian Lorrison
Pages: 1-8 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2023.2130024

My Family History: the Past and the Present
Botao Wu
Pages: 9-23 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2120653

Writing the Hearing Line: Telling Family Stories of Deafness
Jessica Kirkness
Pages: 25-44 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2120133

Treading Warily into the Lives of Others
Karen Agutter
Pages: 45-60 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2120102

Interrogating the Ethics and Intentions of Family Life Writing Relating to the Holocaust
Tess Scholfield-Peters
Pages: 61-77 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2120847

Suicide in Nazi Germany: Transformative Family History
Jane Messer
Pages: 79-106 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2119655

On Learning to Love Your Mother-in-law: Remembering La Ménage in Colonial and Postcolonial Algeria
Michelle Hamadache
Pages: 107-124 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2120149

The Objects of Family History: Eliza Bennett’s Straw Wedding Bonnet
Fiona McKergow
Pages: 125-143 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2120172

Writing the Lives of Ordinary People—Opportunities and Challenges
Alison Baxter
Pages: 145-161 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2120143

From the Inside: Indigenous-Settler Reflections on the Family uses of the Thomas Dick ‘Birrpai’ Photographic Collection 1910–1920
John Heath & Ashley Barnwell
Pages: 163-182 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2121152

Pulling out the Most Colourful Threads: Revealing and Weaving Positionality into Collaborative Life Writing
Alana Piper & Samadhi Driscoll
Pages: 183-198 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2120630

The Role of Serendipity and Collaboration in Adding Texture and Family Context to the Career of Australian Educator Renée Erdos (1911–1997)
Paul Kiem
Pages: 199-215 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2120170

Searching for Moon Chow: A Joint Journey |
Yu Tao, Benjamin Smith, Petra Mosmann, Kaylene Poon & Betty Walker
Pages: 217-236 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2120593



The Reviews Editors of Life Writing journal welcome expressions of interest for reviews of the following books:

As identified with each book, please contact either Lis Hanscombe:

or Muireann Leech: 

Alison Light

Inside History: From Popular Fiction to Life-Writing

Contact: Muireann Leech

Alison Light – Inside History: From Popular Fiction to Life-Writing | Edinburgh Scholarship Online | Oxford Academic (

Jocelyn K Moody (Ed)

A History of African American Autobiography

Contact: Muireann Leech

A History of African American Autobiography (

 Arnaud Schmitt

The Photographer as Autobiographer

Contact: Muireann Leech

The Photographer as Autobiographer | SpringerLink

Lily Robert-Foley

Duty to Presence. 

Contact: Lis Hanscombe:

The Duty to Presence (

John Paul Eakin

Writing Life Writing: Narrative, History, Autobiography.

Contact: Lis Hanscombe:

Writing Life Writing: Narrative, History, Autobiography – 1st Edition (

John Barbour  

Journeys of Transformation: No-Self in Western Buddhist Travel Narratives.

Contact: Lis Hanscombe

Journeys transformation searching no self western buddhist travel narratives | Buddhism and Eastern religions | Cambridge University Press

Eugene L. Stelzig 

True lies and Short Takes: Assorted Life Writing Essays

Contact: Lis Hanscombe

True Lies and Short Takes: Assorted Life Writing Essays – 9780761873273 (


Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, volume 45, number 1, 2022

Full issue available on Project Muse:

Editor’s Note

Open-Forum Articles

Screening Clara Schumann: Biomythography, Gender, and the Relational Biopic
Julia Novak

This article examines four biopics about nineteenth-century musicians Clara Schumann and Robert Schumann as gendered manifestations of the “Schumann biomyth.” It traces the development of the figure of Clara in relation to the films’ historical and political contexts, changing genre conventions, and the demands of (inter)national film industries.

Textile Auto/biography: Protest, Testimony, and Solidarity in the Chilean Arpillerista Movement
Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle

Beginning in 1975, arpillera workshops allowed women to work collectively to document the acts of violence committed against their loved ones under Augusto Pinochet’s regime in Chile. Arpilleras, burlap embroidered with patchwork depictions of people and landscapes, are made from garments of the dead and disappeared. This essay focuses on the clandestine nature of this artwork and features images of arpilleras from one of the largest known collections.

Identity Work, Sexuality, and the Reception of Testimony:
On Identification with Anne Frank
Hannah Jakobsen

In a group of online personal essays, readers of Anne Frank’s Diary narrativize their identification with Frank as the turning point in a coming-out story. Pointing to one Diary passage in particular, these reader-essayists describe relating to a sexuality that they perceive in Frank. I first ask how identification functions in life writing, examining its role in the negotiation and articulation of sexual identity in these cases. I then ask how and why—particularly given their focus on sexuality—these reader-essayists identify with the author of a canonical testimony to atrocity.

Autobiographical Convergences: A Cultural Analysis of Books by Swedish Digital Media Influencers
Gabriella Nilsson

Through a close reading of autobiographical books written by Swedish digital media influencers, individuals who live and make a living from their daily online life narratives, this article analyzes how the life narratives are plotted and framed to fit the auto­biographical format. Two interwoven but contradictory narrative themes are found. One is the depiction of digital media as a positively charged, colorful sanctuary, a cyborg world appearing to the authors in a time of need. The other theme is the individual life histories of the authors, who strive to create chronologies and seek causal explanations for the various events and experiences of their lives. While the depiction of digital media appears to be a way to justify their current lifestyle, the life history stands out as a way to counter the fragmentation of digital media.


Research Methodologies for Auto/biography Studies, edited by Kate Douglas and Ashley Barnwell
Reviewed by Desirée Henderson

The Oxford History of Life-Writing: Volume 1, The Middle Ages, by Karen A. Winstead
Reviewed by Derrick Higginbotham

Romanticism and the Letter, edited by Madeleine Callaghan and Anthony Howe
Reviewed by Mary A. Waters

Prison Life Writing: Conversion and the Literary Roots of the U.S. Prison System, by Simon Rolston
Reviewed by D. Quentin Miller

The Territorialities of U.S. Imperialism(s): Conflicting Discourses of Sovereignty, Jurisdiction and Territory in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Legal Texts and Indigenous Life Writing, by Jens Temmen
Reviewed by Katrina Phillips

Americánas, Autocracy, and Autobiographical Innovation: Overwriting the Dictator, by Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle
Reviewed by Renata Lucena Dalmaso

Indian Travel Writing in the Age of Empire, 1830–1940,
by Pramod K. Nayar
Reviewed by Shaswat Panda

Sports Journalism and Women Athletes: Coverage of Coming Out Stories, by William P. Cassidy
Reviewed by Michael Tsai

Templates for Authorship: American Women’s Literary Autobiography of the 1930s, by Windy Counsell Petrie
Reviewed by Pamela L. Caughie

Contemporary Feminist Life-Writing: The New Audacity,
by Jennifer Cooke
Reviewed by Kate Drabinski

Charlotte Salomon and the Theatre of Memory, by Griselda Pollock
Reviewed by Julia Watson

Paige Rasmussen

Managing Editor

The Center for Biographical Research

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly

1960 East-West Road
Biomed B104

Honolulu, HI 96822

Tel: (808) 956-3774


Beyond the Icon: Asian American Graphic Narratives. Edited by Eleanor Ty. Ohio State University Press, 2022. 208 pp.

“This sharply argued, clearly written book displays admirable breadth and scope. In covering an array of comic forms and making a point of including multiple Asian ethnicities, Beyond the Icon puts a full range and diversity of Asian American subjectivity and creativity on display.” —LeiLani Nishime, author of Undercover Asian: Multiracial Asian Americans in Visual Culture

While most US-based comics studies anthologies tend to neglect race, Beyond the Icon brings it to the foreground through an analysis of the vibrant and growing body of graphic narratives by Asian North American creators in the twenty-first century. By demonstrating how the forms and styles of the comics genre help depict Asian Americans as nuanced individuals in ways that words alone may not, Beyond the Icon makes the case for comics as a crucial artistic form in Asian American cultural production—one used to counter misrepresentations and myths, rewrite official history, and de-exoticize the Asian American experience.

An interdisciplinary team of contributors offers exciting new readings of key texts, including Ms. Marvel, George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy, Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do, Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew’s The Shadow Hero, works by Adrian Tomine and Jillian Tamaki, and more, to uncover the ways in which Asian American comics authors employ graphic narratives to provide full and complex depictions of Asian diasporic subjects and intervene in the wider North American consciousness. Beyond the Icon initiates vital conversations between Asian American studies, ethnic studies, and comics.

Monica Chiu, Shilpa Davé, Melinda Luisa de Jesús, Lan Dong, Jin Lee, erin Khuê Ninh, Stella Oh, Jeanette Roan, Eleanor Ty

$32.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5851-4
$32.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-8245-8

Vol. 3 No. 1 (2022): The Journal of Epistolary Studies has just appeared!

Gary Schneider, Editor, Journal of Epistolary Studies

About the Journal

Focus and Scope

The Journal of Epistolary Studies (JES) aims to be the premier publication venue for all scholarship epistolary. The purpose of JES is to publish quality research in all areas of epistolary study, bringing together scholarship on letters and letter writing from across disciplines, cultures, and historical time periods. Social, historical, literary, linguistic, bibliographical, and material approaches to letters and letter writing all will be considered.

Peer Review Process

The peer review process will be conducted double blind.

Submissions are first evaluated by the Editor for general suitability; if suitable, the appropriate member of the Editorial Board is consulted and recommends if the paper should be passed on to peer reviewers or not. If so, at least two peer reviewers will assess the submission.

If the reviews are positive, but the manuscript requires revision, the author is expected to revise and re-submit within the time alloted. Publication decisions by the Editor and Editorial Board are final.

Open Access Policy

This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

The release date for the Lexington Books publication, Writing Australian History On-screen: Television and Film Period Dramas Period Dramas “Down Under,” co-edited by myself (Jo Parnell) with Julie Anne Taddeo, is January 15, 2023.
This work is a world-first textbook on Australian period drama; this book, an edited international collection, takes an in-depth multi-faceted historical-psychological-sociological approach to the subject and views Australian history on-screen purely from the Australian perspective.

The contributors to the work are: Andrew Howe (Professor History, La Sierra U, California); Dirk Gibb (U of Newcastle, Australia); Michelle Arrow (Professor of Modern History Macquarie U); Emmett Redding (renowned Australian filmmaker and puppeteer, and lecturer at RMIT U, Melbourne ); Wenche Ommundsen (Emerita Professor; Research Professor; Professor English Literatures, Wollongong U); Jessica Meyer (Associate Professor, U of Leeds, UK); Grace Brooks (PhD candidate Curtin U, Perth, WA); Julie Anne Taddeo (Research Professor History, Maryland U, USA) and Drs—  Chelsea Barnett (Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Australian Centre for Public Reading,  UTS,  Sydney);  James Findlay (lecturer, Sydney U); Donna Maree Brunero and Leong Yew ( National U, Singapore); Kathryn M. Keeble (Deakin U); Jo Parnell (Honorary Lecturer, U of Newcastle, Australia).

Dr Jo (Joan-Annette) Parnell. PhD | Honorary Lecturer
School of Humanities, Creative Industries,  and Social Science (HCISS)
College of Human and Social Futures
University of Newcastle, Australia.

International author and editor
Reviewer: Auto/ Fiction International; Cambridge Press; Palgrave Macmillan
Reviewer, and editor independent: other works
Member: International Autobiography Association (IABA World)
IABA European Chapter
IABA Asia-Pacific Chapter
British Sociological Association Auto/Biography Study Group
(Recent past member) PCA/ ACA (Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association)
Oral History NSW Inc., Australia
Australian Book Review (ABR)
Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), International.
Blog site:
Latest books:
Representation of the Mother-in-Law in literature, film, drama, and television (Lexington Books USA, 2018).
New and Experimental Approaches to Writing Lives (Macmillan International Higher Education, Red Globe Press, 2019).
The Bride in the Cultural Imagination: Screen, Stage, and Literary Productions (Lexington Books USA, 2020).
Taking Control: critical and creative uses of digital tools and AI in the now, the past, the foreseeable future and beyond (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2023/24).
Writing Australian History on Screen: television and film period dramas “down under” (Lexington Books, USA, releasing 15 January 2023).
Cultural Representations of the Second Wife: Literature, Stage, and Screen (Lexington Books, USA, forthcoming 2023).

The University of Newcastle
University Drive,
Callaghan NSW 2308 Australia

Top 200 University in the world by QS World University Rankings 2021
I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land in which the University resides and pay my respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
I extend this acknowledgement to the Awabakal people of the land in which the Callaghan campus resides and which I work.
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Carl Rollyson, William Faulkner Day by Day. University Press of Mississippi, 2022.

A fascinating and in-depth exploration into the life of one of America’s greatest authors


William Faulkner has been the topic of numerous biographies, papers, and international attention. Yet there are no collected resources providing a comprehensive scope of Faulkner’s life and work before now. William Faulkner Day by Day provides unique insight into the daily life of one of America’s favorite writers. Beyond biography, this book is an effort to recover the diurnal Faulkner, to write in the present tense about past events as if they are happening now. More importantly, this book is concerned with more than the writer’s life. Instead, it examines the whole man—the daily, mundane, profound, life changing, and everything in between.
Spanning from the 1825 birth of Faulkner’s great-grandfather to Faulkner’s death 137 years later to the day, author and biographer Carl Rollyson presents for the first time a complete portrait of Faulkner’s life untethered from any one biographical or critical narrative. Presented as a chronology of events without comment, this book is accompanied by an extensive list of principal personages and is supported by extensive archival research and interviews. Populated by the characters of Faulkner’s life—including family and friends both little known and internationally famous—this book is for Faulkner readers of all kinds with a wide variety of interests in the man and his work.


William Faulkner Day by Day is a welcome addition to Faulkner studies. It is an essential source for Faulkner specialists—and interesting reading for all Faulkner enthusiasts. Faulkner the man as well as the writer is presented in all the various phases of his life. The book is informative, revealing, and, in quite a few rewarding instances, surprising.”

– Robert W. Hamblin, editor of A William Faulkner Encyclopedia 


We are pleased to announce and invite you all to the art exhibition “antes que acabe em nós nosso desejo.” It comprises artworks by 24 artists who are – or have been – members of the Autobiographical Artistic Practices Research Group (NuPAA/UFG/CNPq). The group was created in 2017 by professor Manoela dos Anjos Afonso Rodrigues at the Federal Univerity of Goiás, Brazil, to explore connections between art practice and auto/biography studies.

Photography, video, installation, performance, embroidery, painting, and other languages unfold possibilities for expressing autobiographical and autofiction through art practice. The artists research, experiment, and embody life narrative, life writing, life story, life history, memory, autobiogeography, geopoetics, and dissent in gender structures and coloniality for creating their artworks.

The exhibition opens at 6 pm on November 10, at Vila Cultural Cora Coralina, in Goiânia, Goiás – Brazil. We welcome everyone interested in the poetics and politics of everyday life, intimacy, body, and life experience.

Artists: Ana Flávia Maru, Ana Reis, Badu, White Bicha da Mata, Bruna Mazzotti, Camila Ribeiro, Daniela Marques, Denise Moraes, Don Gomes Alves, Eugenia S., Felipe Santos, Franxica, Ianah Maia, Juliana Oliveira, Kassius Brunno, Laura Papa, Lucelia Maciel, Luiza Domingos, Manoela dos Anjos Afonso Rodrigues, Matheus Pires, Odinaldo Costa, Samuel Siqueira Rufo, Medeiros Semiramis, Thaysa Alarcão.

Artistic Coordination: Ana Reis, Odinaldo Costa, Manoela dos Anjos Afonso Rodrigues

Shared curatorship: Autobiographical Artistic Practices Research Group (NuPAA/UFG/CNPq)
Presentation text: Ana Reis
Expography: Ana Reis, Odinaldo Costa, Badu, Thaysa Alarcão, Laura Papa, Kassius Brunno
Production and exhibition installation: Cleandro Elias Jorge, Gilmar Camilo, Ana Reis, Odinaldo Costa, Badu, Thaysa Alarcão, Laura Papa, Kassius Brunno
Design: Thaysa Alarcão

Entrance is free and open until December 10, Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm.

More information about the research group: / / @nupaa_favufg

Manoela dos Anjos Afonso Rodrigues, Ph.D.

> Professora Adjunta da Faculdade de Artes Visuais – FAV/UFG
> Professora Permanente do Programa de Pós-graduação em Arte e Cultura Visual – PPGACV/FAV/UFG
> Líder fundadora do grupo de pesquisa Núcleo de Práticas Artísticas Autobiográficas – NuPAA/FAV/UFG/CNPq
> Líder do grupo de pesquisa Poéticas Artísticas e Processos de Criação – PPGACV/FAV/UFG/CNPq 
Elise Hugueny-Léger, Projections de soi : identités et images en mouvement dans l’autofiction (Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 2022)  

This book considers autofiction as an intermedial artistic practice. It examines an often-overlooked aspect of autofiction as it has emerged in France, namely its development through moving images – television, video, and film. The polysemic notion of ‘projection’ sheds light on various dialogues between literature and the moving image in processes of self-representation: the construction of authorial figures through media strategies; the use of cinematic language and processes of montage; film adaptations of autofictional works; subtle movements between television screens and literature. 
However, while autofiction is often associated with unashamed self-display, this book argues that moving images allow for processes of disappearance, loss, estrangement, and the quest for origins to be expressed. Through in-depth case studies, Elise Hugueny-Léger argues that the dialogue between the written word and moving images enables writers and filmmakers to depict fractures and doubts which constitute the autofictional ‘I’. 
The corpus encompasses a wide range of key writers of autobiography and autofiction, including Marguerite Duras, Camille Laurens, Georges Perec, Sophie Calle, Emmanuel Carrère, Christine Angot, Annie Ernaux, Amélie Nothomb, and Delphine de Vigan, shedding light on some of their lesser-known works in an accessible way. 

Editor’s presentation : 
Phénomène à la fois littéraire et médiatique, l’autofiction entretient un rapport singulier aux images, et particulièrement aux images en mouvement. Cinéma, télévision, vidéo influencent l’imaginaire des écrivains et leur perception d’eux-mêmes, mais aussi celle de leurs lecteurs. 
Grâce à un usage fin de la polysémie du terme « projection », processus technique, ressource psychique ou métaphore, Élise Hugueny-Léger analyse les réalisations et les parcours d’une dizaine d’auteurs d’autofictions qui font dialoguer l’écriture littéraire et le matériau filmique. À l’ère de la médiatisation accrue des écrivains, certaines problématiques centrales de la pratique autofictionnelle sont ainsi réinterrogées, notamment celles de la quête d’identité et de la représentation de soi. Il apparaît alors que l’étude de l’imbrication entre écrit et écrans permet avant tout d’exprimer la mouvance du sujet et les fissures qui le parcourent. 
De Marguerite Duras à Delphine de Vigan, en passant par Emmanuel Carrère, Annie Ernaux ou encore Christine Angot, Élise Hugueny-Léger présente de manière accessible un corpus de voix singulières, offrant au lecteur un éclairage inédit sur des œuvres souvent peu connues.  

Dr Elise Hugueny-Léger
Senior Lecturer in French

School of Modern Languages
University of St Andrews

Leverhulme International Fellow 2022-23, CY Cergy-Paris Université, UMR Héritages

New publication/ nouvelle publication: Projections de soi: identités et images en mouvement dans l’autofiction (Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 2022)

Dear colleagues.
I hope the following is of interest.

Christopher Hogarth, Afropean Female Selves: Migration and Language in the Life Writing of Fatou Diome and Igiaba Scego


Book Description

Afropean Female Selves: Migration and Language in the Life Writing of Fatou Diome and Igiaba Scego examines the corpus of writing of two contemporary female authors. Both writers are of African descent, live in Europe and write about lives across Europe and Africa in different languages (French and Italian). Their work involves episodes from their lived experience and complicates Western understandings of life writing and autobiography. As Hogarth shows in this study, the works of Diome and Scego encapsulate the new and complex identities of contemporary “Afropeans.” As an identity coined and used frequently by prominent authors and critics across Europe, Africa and North America, the notion of “Afropean” is at the cutting edge of cultural analyses today. Yet each writer occupies unique and different positions within this debated category. While Scego is a “post-migratory subject” in postcolonial Europe, Diome is an African writer who has migrated to Europe in her adult life. This book examines the different trajectories and packaging of these two specific postcolonial writers in the Francophone and Italophone contexts, pointing out how and where each author practices life writing strategies and scrutinizing the trend that emphasizes the life writing, autofictional, or autoethnographic strategies of African diasporic writers. Afropean Female Selves offers a comparative study across two languages of a notion that has so far been explored mainly in English. It explores the contours of this new discursive category and positions it in regard to other notions of Afrodiasporic identity, such as Afropolitan and Afro-European.

Table of Contents


Chapter One: Life Writing and Writing Lives

Chapter Two: Afropean Homes: Representations of Belonging

Chapter Three: Gender and Migration: Opportunities for Afropean Experience

Chapter Four: Language and Afropean Identity

Chapter Five: Writing and Engagement

Conclusion: Afropean Languages and Locales



Christopher Hogarth is a Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of South Australia, Adelaide. He received his PhD in French and Italian from Northwestern University. He has published especially on the intersection of literature from France, Italy and Senegal. He is a prolific editor of eight volumes and issues of journals such as L’Esprit Créateura/b Auto/Biography Studies and French Cultural Studies. He is currently a joint Chief Investigator on an Australian Research Council-funded Discovery Project entitled “Transnational Selves. French Narratives of Migration to Australia.”

Dr. Christopher Hogarth,
Senior Lecturer of Comparative Literary Studies/Researcher in Modern Languages,
UniSA Creative
Co-Chief Investigator: “Transnational Selves: French Narratives of Migration to Australia” (ARC DP190102863)
Book Review Editor: a/b Auto/Biography Studies 
Treasurer, Australian Society for French Studies

University of South Australia,

Magill Campus
Office: B1-05
 ex 24354
Recently published:

New Book: Afropean Female Selves: Migration and Language in the Life Writing of Fatou Diome and Igiaba Scego

Dear IABA List Members

We ordinarily don’t send notice of individual seminars, but this one features such interesting and prominent individuals, and will also be available shortly as a a recording, that we thought you would want to know about this presentation–and about the book and the special issue, both now available.

Thursday, November 3: “Graphic Medicine: Stories Drawn from Illness, Health, and Caregiving

Presentation Format:  Zoom

Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST / 6:00–7:15 pm EDT

Zoom link:

Zoom Meeting ID: 976 3202 0673

Password: 813967

Edited by Anna Poletti and Erin La Cour, Graphic Medicine brings together scholars and comics artists to consider how life narratives in the medium of comics open up new channels of communication between medical staff, patients, their loved ones, and the community. By treating illness and disability as experiences of fundamentally changed living, rather than as separate narrative episodes organized by treatment, recovery, and a return to “normal life,” it asks what it means to give and receive care. In this panel, six Graphic Medicine contributors will share their work and converse about representing lives, illness, and disability in comics form. 

Suzy Becker is a New Yorker cartoonist and the bestselling author/illustrator of eleven titles, including All I Need To Know I Learned From My Cat, with two million copies in print in 45 languages, and the award-winning illustrated memoir I Had Brain Surgery, What’s Your Excuse?

Jared Gardner is Professor of English at The Ohio State University, where he also directs the Humanities Collaboratory and the Popular Culture Studies Program.

Crystal Yin Lie is Assistant Professor of Comparative World Literature at California State University Long Beach, where she teaches and researches in disability studies, health humanities, and comics & graphic narratives. She earned her PhD in English Language & Literature from the University of Michigan Ann-Arbor.

JoAnn Purcell, PhD (Critical Disability Studies, York U) uses comics as a research method to inquire into disability and difference. She is the current and founding Program Coordinator of Illustration at Seneca College.

Susan Squier is Brill Professor Emeritus of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and English at Penn State University. Her most recent publication is PathoGraphics: Narrative, Aesthetics, Contention, Community (Penn State UP, 2020).

Julia Watson is Academy Professor Emerita of Comparative Studies and a Core Member of Project Narrative at The Ohio State University. With Sidonie Smith she has coauthored Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives and Life Writing in the Long Run: A Smith & Watson Autobiography Studies Reader.

Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the School of Communication & Information, the Academy for Creative Media, the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, the Departments of Political Science, Ethnic Studies, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Link to Graphic Medicine on Project Muse:

Link to Graphic Medicine on UH Press:

Link to CBR website:

Link to Brown Bag schedule and Graphic Medicine Poster:

Caroline Zuckerman (she/her/hers)
Editorial Assistant and Reviews Editor
The Center for Biographical Research

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
1960 East-West Road
Biomed B104
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-3774
Find us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram at @CBRHawaii! 
New Book Announcement by Eugene Stelzig

True Lies and Short Takes: Assorted Life Writing Essays.
            Hamilton Books, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield, 220 pages

This gathering of autobiographical essays focuses on different experiences and periods of the author’s life and hybrid identity: a childhood spent in Austria, teenage years in an American school and then a lycèe in France, coming to the U.S. as a young adult and attending college, studying in England for two years, and then settling permanently in the U.S. into an academic career. The word “essay” in the title is meant in its original or French sense, as an attempt or trial. The twenty-four items in this gathering are a kaleidoscopic collection of such attempts at different modes of self-reflexivity. They are arranged not so much in the chronological order of their composition as by way of loosely assembled thematic clusters. “True lies” suggests that by transforming lived experiences into language–by way of memory, imagination, and reflection–and often years and decades later, we inevitably alter them as we write them down. But we also re-experience them, and in so doing shift them into another register. These recollections cover a wide range of experiences: Stelzig’s early years, his absurd encounter with a barber in Salzburg, his mysterious Buddha experience in Hong Kong, his travel misadventure in Spain, his career as an aspiring poet, his commitment to teaching Shakespeare’s plays, his love of dogs and of tennis, and the death of a nineteen-year old Austrian au pair girl. True Lies is divided into three parts. “Austrian Roots” addresses Stelzig’s early years, including his relationship with his Austrian parents. “Adult Branchings” focuses on his American adult life and identity. The final section, “Falling Leaves,” is for the most part a set of reflections on the later stages of life and the sense of mortality and of time running out—the challenge of “being in time” and the question of “what remains.”

Praise for True Lies

A self-described ‘rather private person’, Eugene Stelzig here shares some extraordinary personal experiences. Informed by a long and distinguished career analysing the life writing of others, in these essays he puts aside the expert’s voice, and reflects on what different encounters throughout his life may (or may not) have meant. He brings an unusually multilingual perspective to his life narrative, having grown up partly in Austria, partly in France, and attended both American and French schools there before moving to the U.S. to study literature. The breadth of his cultural understanding and the generosity of his scholarship are evident in every essay.

Maureen Perkins and Mary Besemeres, founding editors of the Routledge journal Life Writing.

  True Lies and Short Takes is a rich collection of autobiographical essays about diverse topics including childhood, schooling, travel, love, reading, ageing, and death. Eugene Stelzig, a recognized scholar of autobiography and Romantic literature, shows in this book his gifts at life writing. One feels in the company of a wise older friend, exploring together not only his own past, but also the ways in which memory and imagination can transform the raw material of experience into “true lies”: the meaning and significance that may come with a long perspective and what Stelzig calls “protracted self-reflexivity.”

John D. Barbour, Professor of Religion and Boldt Distinguished Teaching Chair in the Humanities Emeritus, St. Olaf College.

  It is one thing to have lived in interesting times, and quite another to conjure those times as vividly as Eugene Stelzig does in True Lies and Short Takes. Whether writing of the immigrant’s sense of being “both at home and not at home,” the love of a good dog, or the challenges and rewards of a literary life, Stelzig does so with insight and compassion. Wide ranging and deeply introspective, these essays reward with pleasure too numerous to count.

  Rachel Hall, Professor of Creative Writing, SUNY Geneseo, and author of Heirlooms

Not least among the fascinations of this collection is the renowned life-writing scholar’s use of first-person templates–Montaigne’s reflective essay, the emotional registers of Romantic autobiography, the pellucid prose of incidental personal recollection–to fashion a multi-faceted self-portrait. One facet is the experience of reading itself, a lifelong passion crowned by Shakespeare, which has fueled Stelzig’s devotion to truth-telling and his nuanced understanding of the lie. This is truly a book to savour.

  Richard Freadman FAHA, Emeritus Professor of English, La Trobe University

True Lies offers the pleasure of witnessing and engaging acts of introspection—sometimes rueful, sometimes humorous—as Stelzig revisits the successes and failures of his life as an immigrant, teacher, and poet. He shows that the essay better captures the truth of his experience than the convenient fiction that lives unfold seamlessly in a smooth, chronological stream.

Paul John Eakin, Ruth Ann Hall Professor of English Emeritus, Indiana University, and author of Writing Life Writing  (2020).

Two Books by a List Member

Travel Writing – Letter from America (2019), by Gil Ndi-Shang

Inspired by Alistair Cooke’s masterpiece “Letter from America” (1934-2004) that depicted the transformation of British culture in the United States of America, Ndi-Shang’s text redefines ‘America’, focusing on the melting pot engendered by African, indigenous, European and Asian cultures in Latin America through the case of Peru, the erstwhile epicentre of Spanish empire in Latin America. It is a reflection on the triangular relationship between Africa, Europe and America against the backdrop of slavery and (neo-)colonialism which continue to define intimate experiences, daily interactions, personal trajectories and human relations in a ‘globalized world’. Ndi-Shang probes into the legacies of racial inequalities but also the possibilities of a new ethic of encounter amongst human beings/cultures. The text is based on an intricate interweaving of the humorous with the tragic, the personal with the global, the historical with the current and the real with the creative.


The Radio and Other Stories (2021), by Gil Ndi-Shang

(Autobiographical Fiction)

On moving into a new apartment abroad in his Bavarian hometown, the narrator realises that some of his possessions and elements of his new neighbourhood open a window into a flurry of memories, serving as allegorical threads to his childhood, self-consciousness and discovery of the world. What begins as a personal narrative quickly cedes to a social archaeology, inviting the reader/listener on a homegoing journey in the backdrop of Cameroon’s tottering democratic trajectory. Modulated with poetry and music, The Radio tunes in to diaspora, home, nation, education, existence, religion as well as Mbum popular culture, showcasing creative re-appropriation and re-mixing of global trends and icons in specific communities. 


We are pleased to announce that Graphic Medicine (a special issue of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly and a Biography Monograph) is available as a book through the University of Hawai‘i PressUse the code GMED30 to get 30% off Graphic Medicine through UH Press until Dec. 31, 2022 (standard shipping costs still apply).

Edited by Erin La Cour and Anna Poletti, Graphic Medicine brings together scholars and comics artists to consider how life narratives in the medium of comics open up new channels of communication between medical staff, patients, their loved ones, and the community. These include creating alternative sites for community building among patients and their loved ones with regard to specific conditions and their related treatments, and educating medical practitioners about patient experiences within healthcare systems. By treating illness and disability as experiences of fundamentally changed living, rather than as separate narrative episodes organized by treatment, recovery, and a return to “normal life,” Graphic Medicine asks what it means to give and receive care.

Through autobiographical comics and illustrated essays, Safdar Ahmed, John Miers, Suzy Becker, Nancy K. Miller, and Jared Gardner offer alternative modes of understanding illness and disability, caring relationships, and temporality. Crystal Yin Lie and Julia Watson demonstrate how use of the page through panels, collages, and borderless images can draw the reader, as a “mute witness,” into contact with the body as a site where intergenerational trauma is registered and expressed. Kiene Brillenburg Wurth examines how microscripts productively extend graphic medicine beyond comics to “outsider art.” JoAnn Purcell and Susan M. Squier display how comics artists respond to and reflect upon their caring relationships with those diagnosed with an intellectual disability. And Erin La Cour interrogates especially difficult representations of relationality and care. 

During the past decade, graphic medicine comics have proliferated—an outpouring accelerated recently by the greatest health crisis in a century. Graphic Medicine helps us recognize that however unpleasant or complicated it may be, interacting with such stories offers fresh insights, suggests new forms of acceptance, and enhances our abilities to speak to others about the experience of illness and disability.

Table of Contents

Erin La Cour and Anna Poletti, “Graphic Medicine’s Possible Futures: Reconsidering Poetics and Reading”

John Miers, “Conflict or Compromise?: An Imagined Conversation with John Hicklenton and Lindsay Cooper about Living with Multiple Sclerosis” 

Jared Gardner, “Out of Sync: Chronic Illness, Time, and Comics Memoir”

Nancy K. Miller, “‘Is this recovery?’: Chronicity and Closure in Graphic Illness Memoir” 

Erin La Cour, “Face as Landscape: Refiguring Illness, Disability, and Disorders in David B.’s Epileptic” 

JoAnn Purcell, with Simone Purcell Randmaa. “Disability Daily Drawn: A Comics Collaboration” 

Susan M. Squier, “Reframing ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’: Comics and Intellectual Disability” 

Safdar Ahmed, “Graphic Confessions and the Vulnerability Hangover from Hell”

Julia Watson, “Drawing Is the Best Medicine: Somatic Dis-ease and Graphic Revenge in Miriam Katin’s Letting It Go” 

Suzy Becker, “If That’s What You Want to Call It: An Illustrated Rx-Ray for Graphic Medicine”

Crystal Yin Lie, “Drawn to History: Healing, Dementia, and the Armenian Genocide in the Intertextual Collage of Aliceheimer’s” 

Kiene Brillenburg Wurth, “Outsider Writing: The Healing Art of Robert Walser”


Paige Rasmussen
Managing Editor
The Center for Biographical Research

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
1960 East-West Road
Biomed B104
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-3774
Dear Reader,

We are happy to let you know that it is now possible to submit articles for Volume 12 (2023) of the European Journal of Life Writing. Please send your article to journal manager Dr. Petra van Langen:

Before you submit your article, please make sure to have read and applied the submission guidelines, which can be found here:

NB: As the EJLW is an open access scholarly journal that does not request fees from authors, donations are very welcome. More information about donations may be found at

Thank you very much for your support!
Petra van Langen
EJLW Journal Manager

Project Narrative is pleased to share links to its podcast featuring narrative theorists in conversation with host Jim Phelan, including life writing scholars  
As Told by Herself; Women’s Childhood Autobiography, 1845–1969

Lorna Martens

Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography
William L. Andrews, Series Editor

“This is a comprehensive, insightful literary history of women’s autobiographies of childhood. Thoroughly researched, highly original, and persuasive, As Told by Herself: Women’s Childhood Autobiography, 1845–1969 addresses a significant scholarly gap in very productive and important ways.”

—Kate Douglas, author of Contesting Childhood: Autobiography, Trauma and Memory

125 years of women writing about their girlhoods

As Told by Herself offers the first systematic study of women’s autobiographical writing about childhood. More than 175 works—primarily from English-speaking countries and France, as well as other European countries—are presented here in historical sequence, allowing Lorna Martens to discern and reveal patterns as they emerge and change over time. What do the authors divulge, conceal, and emphasize? How do they understand the experience of growing up as girls? How do they understand themselves as parts of family or social groups, and what role do other individuals play in their recollections? To what extent do they concern themselves with issues of memory, truth, and fictionalization?

Stopping just before second-wave feminism brought an explosion in women’s childhood autobiographical writing, As Told by Herself explores the genre’s roots and development from the mid-nineteenth century, and recovers many works that have been neglected or forgotten. The result illustrates how previous generations of women—in a variety of places and circumstances—understood themselves and their upbringing, and how they thought to present themselves to contemporary and future readers.
Lorna Martens is a professor of German and comparative literature at the University of Virginia and is the author of several books, including The Promise of Memory: Childhood Recollection and Its Objects in Literary Modernism.


“In this rich, empirical study, over one hundred years of women’s autobiographical writing is carefully curated and discussed. Accounting for broad historical as well as cultural shifts, Lorna Martens assembles a wonderfully substantial picture of the diverse ways in which women have self-consciously written about and represented their childhood self.”
—Kylie Cardell, author of Dear World: Contemporary Uses of the Diary 

Table of Contents


1 Beginnings: Women’s Childhood Autobiography Prior to World War I
2 The Interwar Years: Memoirs and Semi-Memoirs
3 The Interwar Years: The Golden Age of Psychological Self-Portraiture
4 Women’s Childhood Autobiography during World War II
5 Women’s Childhood Autobiography from the End of the Second World War through the 1960s

Bibliography of Women’s Childhood Autobiographies to 1969


Hello all,

As Book Reviews editor, I am always looking for subscribers who are willing to review books for our network. At present, we are specifically seeking those with expertise in Biography as a research methodology, particularly in the Social Sciences. We also welcome suggestions of books for review. Our immediate goal is to build a base of reviews of books about biographical theory and method, upon which we can later expand to include biographies from all parts of the globe.

Please respond directly by using the “Write the Editors” link on the main H-Biography page.

Thanks in advance!


NB: We cannot accept unsolicited reviews, nor can we allow reviewers to select the volume they wish to review, though authors are welcome to bring their volumes to our attention, to be put on the list of works for review.

Life Writing, Volume 19, Issue 4, December 2022 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:

‘You’ll Take My Place with the Boys’: Peadar O’Donnell, Storm and Republican Autobiography |
Niall Carson
Pages: 483-498 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1926888

James Joyce’s Dubliners and Nataliia Kobrynska’s Galicians: Concurrences, Mirrorings and Differences
Оksana Halchuk & Alla Shvets
Pages: 499-516 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1945240

Re-reading Immigrant Chinese Self-narratives in English (1980s to 1990s): A West–East Perspective of Philosophy and Literature
Fang Xia
Pages: 517-535 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1883396

Gender, Trauma and Power in China Keitetsi’s La petite fille à la Kalachnikov: Ma vie d’enfant soldat
Marda Messay
Pages: 537-553 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1930501

Two Sides of a Coin: A Grief Memoir and its Readers
R. Allana Bartlett, Katrin Den Elzen, Tracy Moniz & DeNel Rehberg Sedo
Pages: 555-571 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1949673

Narratives of Translators: The Translational Function of Prisoner Writing |
Eleanor March
Pages: 573-591 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1959853

‘A Present for My Daughter’: Gender and Posterity in Victorian Inter-generational Life Writing |
Lois Burke
Pages: 593-612 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1967169

Domestic Listening Across Generations: Irene Oore’s The Listener: In the Shadow of the Holocaust |
Elizabeth Kella
Pages: 613-630 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1992699

(Re)collecting Myself in Arabic and English: Personal Reflections on Literature, Place, and Identity
Ghazouane Arslane
Pages: 633-646 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1986884

Literary Couples and Twentieth-Century Life Writing: Narrative and Intimacy
by Janine Utell, London and New York, Bloomsbury Academic, 2020, 215 pp., ISBN 9781350003453
Hannah Roche
Pages: 649-652 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1886650

Contemporary Feminist Life-Writing: The New Audacity
by Jennifer Cooke, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2020, 226 pp., ISBN: 978-1-108-77969-2
Mariana Thomas
Pages: 653-656 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1899724

The Other Side of Absence: Discovering My Father’s Secrets
by Betty O’Neill, Edgecliff, Australia, Impact Press, 2020, 309 pp., ISBN 978-1-920727-68-0
Roger Porter
Pages: 657-660 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1911039



All are welcome to attend. For more information, please visit the Center for Biographical Research’s website, contact us at 808-956-3774 or, or sign up for our mailing list at
Fall 2022 SCHEDULE
September 21: “History in Crisis, History in Focus—What History does Hawaiʻi need, and Why does it Matter?”

Shannon Cristobal, Director of Hawaiʻi History Day and K-12 Humanities Programs, Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities
Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, Professor of Political Science, Indigenous Politics Program
Amy Perruso, Hawaiʻi State House Representative, District 46, DOE Social Studies and Civics Teacher, former secretary-treasurer, HSTA
Moderated by Davianna Pōmaikaʻi McGregor, Professor of Ethnic Studies and Director, Center for Oral History, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Sponsored by Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Coalition

NB: Time: 6:00–7:30 pm HST

Zoom registration link:
September 23: “Hawaiian History and Culture K-12 and Beyond—Across the Curriculum, Across the Pae ʻĀina”

Whitney Aragaki, Science Teacher, Waiakea High School, State Teacher of the Year 2022
Patricia Espiritu Halagao, Professor and Chair, Curriculum Studies, College of Education, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Cheryl Kaʻuhane Lupenui, President and CEO, Kohala Center, and Founder, The Leader Project
Christopher Pike, Fifth Grade Teacher, Chiefess Kapiʻolani Elementary School
Lyz Soto, Communications Officer, Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities
Moderated by Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio, Dean, Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Sponsored by Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Coalition

NB: Time: 6:00–7:30 pm HST

Zoom registration link:

September 29: “Peeking Behind the Curtains at Catherine the Great: Celebrity in the Eighteenth Century”

Ruth Dawson, Prof. Emerita, Dept. of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, UH Mānoa; Honorary Fellow, Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London

Presentation Format: Hybrid (Biomed B-104 and Zoom)
Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST
Zoom link:
Zoom Meeting ID: 981 6019 5964, Password: 651017
October 6: “The Unimagined Journey: Nova Scotia to Hawai‘i”

Dr. Clem Guthro, University Librarian UH Manoa and Interim Director and Publisher, University of Hawai‘i Press

Presentation Format: Hybrid (Biomed B-104 and Zoom)
Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST
Zoom link:
Zoom Meeting ID: 945 3510 0181, Password: 779100
October 13: “The Representation of Space in Edward Said’s Out of Place

Lili Chen, PhD Student in Institute of World Literature, Peking University, specializing in American Immigrant Autobiography

Presentation Format: Hybrid (Biomed B-104 and Zoom)
Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST
Zoom link:
Zoom Meeting ID: 940 7240 5841, Password: 438940
October 20: “Crafting a Life: Writing the Biography of a 20th-Century Woman Artist Born and Raised in Hawai‘i”

Dr. Sharon Weiner, Department of English, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Presentation Format: Hybrid (Biomed B-104 and Zoom)
Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST
Zoom link:
Zoom Meeting ID: 985 4722 1272, Password: 591805
October 27: “From Masking to Masquerade: Autofictional Forms and Effects in Diachronic Perspective”

Dr. Alexandra Effe, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Oslo

Presentation Format: Hybrid (Biomed B-104 and Zoom)
Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST
Zoom link:
Zoom Meeting ID: 961 7286 9118, Password: 336906
November 3: Graphic Medicine: Stories Drawn from Illness, Health, and Caregiving”

Suzy Becker, Author/Illustrator and New Yorker Cartoonist
Jared Gardner, Professor of English and Director of Popular Culture Studies, The Ohio State University
Crystal Yin Lie, Assistant Professor of Comparative World Literature, Cal State University, Long Beach
JoAnn Purcell, Faculty and Program Coordinator, Illustration, Seneca College
Susan Squier, Brill Professor Emeritus of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and English, Penn State University and Board Member Graphic Medicine Collective 
Julia Watson, Professor Emerita of Comparative Studies, The Ohio State University

Presentation Format: Zoom
Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST
Zoom link:
Zoom Meeting ID: 976 3202 0673, Password: 813967
November 10: “Atoll Depth: The Case of the Funafuti Expedition, 1896–98”

Dr. Carla Manfredi, Assistant Professor, Department of English, The University of Winnipeg

Presentation Format: Hybrid (Biomed B-104 and Zoom)
Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST
Zoom link:
Zoom Meeting ID: 977 9339 5796, Password: 921205
November 17: “In Community with Our Shared Place: A Teacher’s Journey”

Whitney Aragaki (she/they), Hawaiʻi State Teacher of the Year 2022, National Teacher of the Year Finalist 2022

Presentation Format: Zoom
Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST
Zoom link:
Zoom Meeting ID: 987 6966 5844, Password: 774603
November 24: Thanksgiving
December 1: “He Aloha No Kaualilinoe: The Nūpepa Writings of a Kanaka from Mānoa”

J. Hauʻoli Lorenzo-Elarco, Instructor of Hawaiian Language, Honolulu Community College; PhD Student, Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

Presentation Format: Zoom
Time: 12:00–1:15 pm HST
Zoom link:
Zoom Meeting ID: 974 6359 3162, Password: 606520

Paige Rasmussen

Managing Editor

The Center for Biographical Research

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly

1960 East-West Road
Biomed B104

Honolulu, HI 96822

Tel: (808) 956-3774


The Photographer as Autobiographer
Arnaud Schmitt
Palgrave Studies in Life Writing (Palgrave Macmillan)
September 2022 294pp
ISBN: 978-3-031-08855-1
This book explores hybrid memoirs, combining text and images, authored by photographers. It contextualizes this sub-category of life writing from a historical perspective within the overall context of life writing, before taking a structural and cognitive approach to the text/image relationship. While autobiographers use photographs primarily for their illustrative or referential function, photographers have a much more complex interaction with pictures in their autobiographical accounts. This book studies how the visual aspect of a memoir may drastically alter the reader’s response to the work, but also how, in other cases, the visual parts seem disconnected from the text or underused.
   Table of Contents

1-    Introduction (Pages 1-14)

2-    The I of the Photographer: A Historical Perspective (Pages 15-64)

3-    A Structural Approach to Photographers’ Memoirs (Pages 65-142)

4-    A Cognitive Approach to Photographers’ Memoirs (Pages 143-230)

5-    Hold Still (Pages 231-270)

6-    Conclusion (Pages 271-278)

Arnaud Schmitt is a Full Professor at the University of Bordeaux, France. He has published two books and multiple articles on autofiction and autobiography.
  Lynn Z. Bloom  

Bloomsbury Academic Object Lessons series

June 30, 2022  160 pp.  paperback $14.95 Ebook $13.95

 ISBN 9781501367106

Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

Food is hot right now.  Everybody is talking about food, in restaurants, in kitchens, in blogs, over the dinner table.  Recipe spices up the conversation.  Recipe is not a cookbook, but an examination of the social and cultural aspects of recipes.  The public life of a recipe lives in specific instructions on how to prepare the actual food, its GPS directions proceeding the best route from start to finish.  A recipe’s secret life, much more interesting—as secrets always are—is to provide more subtle guidelines, the byways and scenic routes, for nourishing body, spirit, and self-identity; family and friendships; tradition and innovation; culture, creativity, commerce, and competition.

Any recipe worth its salt will stimulate the mind and the imagination as well as the appetite, as we’ll see as Recipe spills secrets from soup to dessert, with emphasis on comfort foods, Thanksgiving, food insufficiency and ta-daa—chocolate!  “I would give up chocolate, says Bloom, but I am not a quitter.”

Table of Contents  [ the food focus of each chapter is in brackets]
Introduction: The Secret Life of Recipes

1. “First, Turn and Face the Stove.” The Recipe as an Instruction Guide  [chicken soup]

2. “You say toma¯to, I say tomahto”: The Recipe as Conversation [salad, crepes]

3. A Taste of Home: The Recipe for Comfort Cooking in Tough Times [mac n cheese]

4. Joys of Cooking-and Eating: The Great American Thanksgiving Celebration Recipe [Thanksgiving dinner]

5. “Please, sir, I want some more.” The Recipe as a Manifestation of Power, Politics Poverty, and Punishment [porridge]

6. Play With Your Food, the Recipe as Jazz [chocolate]

Lagniappe: The Best Blueberry Pie

Author Lynn Z. Bloom is a passionate home cook.  Her first book—of 25– was a biography of Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of Baby and Child Care, America’s major child-rearing manual in the 1940s-70s.  His advice, “If you don’t write clearly, someone could die,” was Dr. Bloom’s mantra as Distinguished Professor and Aetna Chair of Writing at the University of Connecticut, where she taught autobiography, creative nonfiction, composition studies, and women writers courses 1988-2015.  She has directed writing programs at universities north (Butler U), east (UCONN), south (William and Mary) and west (U of New Mexico) and taught writing in locations as diverse as Martha’s Vineyard, Florence Italy, and New Zealand.  She has written extensively on ethics, travel, and food.  Bon appetit!



Reading Group/Workshop: European/Eurasian Autobiographies Outside of the Canon [Vienna]

October 1, 2022 to March 1, 2023

I am interested in organizing an informal reading group / workshop for scholars working on life writing — autobiographies, memoirs, diaries, etc. — from European and Eurasian (broadly defined as Europe, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East, and North Africa) in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Between September 2022 and February 2023 (inclusive), I am going to stay as a visiting fellow of the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna and invite fellow scholars to join me in broadening our familiarity with such texts.

The format of this reading group will be flexible, but I am particularly interested in developing an opportunity for publication with its participants. Teachers and researchers like working with autobiographies: they are amenable to teaching and citation. As a historian of Eurasia set to broaden the scope of European history, I am keen on providing more materials for reading, teaching, and citation that are locked behind language barriers.

If you are in the environs of Vienna for the Fall semester and would like to join, I’d be happy to hear from you by email (orel .  beilinson at Yale . edu). Depending on the emerging group, we might be able to publish a reader of translated and annotated primary sources. Please indicate in your email if you have a specific text in mind that you would like to present in translation or any relevant language skills. Please do not hesitate to write if you wish to participate as a reader of others’ translations. To allow for a meeting every couple of weeks and for subsequent publication, proposed texts should be relatively short — but please express your interest even without a text in mind!

Orel Beilinson
Department of History
Yale University

Contact Email:


Newsletter Biography Institute

University of Groningen, the Netherlands   
August 2022

[PDF version]

Doctoral defense John A. Farrell

On September 15, 12.45 hrs (CET), John A. Farrell will defend his thesis The Fires of Sunset, a Life of Ted Kennedy. In his portrayal of Kennedy, Farrell defends the thesis that biographical research – examining all sides and aspects of a leader’s life – can be a curative in an era of hyper-polarization, when journalism, history and truth are under fire. The ceremony will take place in the Academy Building from the University of Groningen, but can also be attended online. The biography will be published in October by Penguin Random House. For more information, see the press statement.

Biography Nanne Ottema praised widely

The biography of Nanne Ottema, the subject of Antoon Ott’s PhD defense on 7 July, received many laudatory reviews in the Dutch press. For example the Leeuwarder Courant praised Ott for his skills at forging together Ottema’s various fields of interest into one coherent story, without losing ‘focus on his humane character’. The Friesch Dagblad and published extensive interviews with Ott. The ceremony, that took place in the Grote Kerk of Leeuwarden, was attended by more than 250 people.

Registration opened book launch biography Theo van Doesburg

The book launch of Ik sta helemaal alleen. Theo van Doesburg 1883-1931 will take place on Wednesday 28 September, 17.00 hrs (CET). First, biographers Hans Renders and Sjoerd van Faassen will be interviewed by Lien Heyting at Spui 25 in Amsterdam, after which they will present the first copy to Wies van Moorsel. Due to the limited seating, registration is required before 15 September at

Dik Verkuil working on biography Frits Bolkestein

Verkuil, who has published before a biography of Prime Minister Joop den Uyl, is now working on a PhD research on the politician Frits Bolkestein. In this biography, Bolkestein is interpreted in the context of post war student life in Amsterdam. Also the cultural climate and political mores of the sixties, seventies and the following decades will be described. The project is supervised by prof. Gerrit Voerman and prof. Hans Renders.

More information can be found on the website
   For subscribing to and unsubscribing from this newsletter, please email


Nicole Stamant, Memoirs of Race, Color, and Belonging. Routledge, 2022.

Memoirs of Race, Color, and Belonging provides a fresh look at the complex dialogue of race and identity in memoir, examining three generations of biracial African Americans’ experiences in their autobiographies. Exploring writers from James McBride and Shirlee Taylor Haizlip to Barack Obama, Toi Dericotte, Natasha Trethway, Rebecca Walker, and Emily Raboteau, this volume explores the ways in which these memoirists refute terms regarding race and simple understandings of belonging, using their contested embodied positions as sites for narration, quest, and protest. Organized chronologically, this volume will provide readers insight into memoirs from Jim Crow America to the Civil Rights period and finally those considering the post-soul (and post-Loving v. Virginia) generation. Memoirs of Race, Color, and Belonging interrogates these difficult spaces surrounding identity construction, encouraging new conversations surrounding visibility of mixed-race individuals and experiences for future generations. Through archives and personal testimony, this book provides a model for interweaving theoretical and personal accounts of color in American culture to encourage discussions that transgress disciplinary boundaries in today’s dialogue.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Relationality, Identification, and the One-Drop Rule

Hospitality, Inheritance, and Collective Memory


Chapter 1: Haunting and “The new America”: Living with Jim Crow

Passing: Spectral Temporality & Surveillance

“home in language”: Proprioceptive Subjectivity

Chapter 2: Memorials and Filiality in the Civil Rights Era

“The words to tell the story”: Driven to Memorialize

Still Haunted: Postmemory and Place-Memory

Chapter 3: Movement Children: The Post-Soul Generation

“Belonging is my birthright”: Being Post-Soul

The Paradox of Hospitality

Conclusion: Considering Genetic Identity



ISBN 9781032213798



Nicole Stamant, author of Serial Memoir: Archiving American Lives (Palgrave, 2014), is Associate Professor and Chair of English at Agnes Scott College, where she specializes in Life Writing Studies. She earned her PhD in English from Texas A&M University and her articles have appeared in ARIEL, MELUS, a/b: Auto/Biography, South Central Review, and Studies in Comics among others. She has contributed to a number of edited collections; most recently Consumption and the Literary Cookbook (Routledge 2020). In 2018, she received the Agnes Scott Vulcan Materials Company Teaching Excellence Award.

Nicole Stamant, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of English
Buttrick Hall, Room 216
Pronouns: she/her/hers
404.471.6062 (phone)
Derivative Lives: Biofiction, Uncertainty, and Speculative Risk in Contemporary Spanish Narrative (Bloomsbury: August 11, 2022), by Virginia Rademacher

ISBN: 9781501386909
Link to Book Sample


The title of this book, Derivative Lives, alludes to the challenge of finding one’s way within the contemporary market of virtually limitless information and claims to veracity. Amid this profusion of options, it is easy to feel lost in spaces of uncertainty where biographical truth teeters between the real and the imaginative. The title thus also points to the prolific market of biographical novels that openly and intentionally play in the speculative space between the real and the fictional.

Drawing on theories of risk and uncertainty, Derivative Lives considers the surge in biofiction in Spain and globally, relating literary expression to concepts such as circumstantiality, derivatives, speculation, and game studies.

Table of Contents



SECTION I The Circumstantial Case: Chasing Criminals/Tracing Traumatic Histories
1. Making the Circumstantial Case: Reasonable Doubt and Moral Certainty in Javier Cercas’ Soldiers of Salamis
2. Fugitive Biofictions: Antonio Muñoz Molina’s Like a Fading Shadow and Gabriela Ybarra’s The Dinner Guest

SECTION II Speculative Truths and Derivative Fictions
3. Entertaining the What-Ifs in Rosa Montero’s The Madwoman of the House and the Ridiculous Idea of Never Seeing You Again
4. Fraudulent Pasts and Fictional Futures in Javier Cercas’ The Impostor and Adolfo García Ortega’s The Birthday Buyer

SECTION III Critical Play in Biofictional Games
5. Playing for Real: Simulated Games of Identity in Lucía Etxebarria’s Courtney and I and Truth is Nothing but a Moment of Falsehood
Appendices to Chapter 5
6. Literary Afterlives and Paratextual Play: Elvira Navarro’s The Last Days of Adelaida García Morales and Antonio Orejudos’s The Famous Five and Me

Coda: Biofiction’s Antidotes to Post-Truth

Preliminary Reviews
“A brilliant analysis of the Spanish biofictional novel within the wider context of contemporary thought. Virginia Rademacher examines research from both within and beyond the field of literary criticism to show how biofiction as a genre challenges the notion of history as an abstraction or an irretrievable reality by depicting how real people deal with specific historical situations. Rademacher’s command of modern history, intellectual currents, and the Spanish bio-novel is indeed impressive.” ―Bárbara Mujica, author of Frida, Sister Teresa, I Am Venus and Miss del Río

“With case studies drawn from some of contemporary Spain’s most exciting writers, this is an original and compellingly theorized exploration of how biofiction works to understand, vex, exploit, or otherwise experiment with questions of uncertainty, identity, and risk in the supermodern present. Rademacher engages playfully and productively with disciplinary discourses emerging from fields such as law, finance and economics-which similarly contend with competing claims to truth and value-and dives deep into the circumstantial and speculative games that authors play when they write fiction about reality.” ―Samuel Amago, Professor of Spanish, University of Virginia, USA

“Considering the rich field of Spanish biofiction in relation to concepts of uncertainty, speculation, and risk in a post-truth age, Rademacher’s Derivative Lives establishes an exciting interdisciplinary nexus. In the course of this study, Rademacher expands the scope and ambition of biofiction studies.” ―Bethany Layne, Senior Lecturer in English Literature, De Montfort University, UK

Derivative Lives nos ofrece una profunda, amena, necesaria y muy interesante indagación de las borrosas fronteras entre lo real y lo ficticio, en un mundo cada vez más impreciso en donde ni siquiera la propia identidad resulta fiable.

Derivative Lives offers us a deep, entertaining, necessary, and very interesting investigation of the blurred borders between reality and fiction, in an increasingly imprecise world where even one’s own identity is not reliable.” ―Rosa Montero, writer, author of El peligro de estar cuerda (2022)

Virginia Newhall Rademacher, PhD
Professor, Hispanic Literature and Cultural Studies
Babson College
Babson Park, MA 02457
WebEx personal room:
Author Page: Derivative Lives(Bloomsbury, 2022)


A Dissertation by a List Member

“The (auto)biographical mediation of media competence,” by Diego Leandro Marín Ossa. Directed by doctors José Manuel Pérez Tornero and Santiago Tejedor Calvo. Published in the repository of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

With this thesis I want to make my contribution to media studies, communication, autobiography and education. In that sense, I think that (auto)biographical mediation of media competence will be useful to teachers and researchers, to place them in the perspective of their students before beginning a research process or a research project or training, in the various scenarios of formal, non-formal and informal education with students, communities and audiences. I would also like to contribute, with my reflections, to the implementation of the Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers, produced by UNESCO in collaboration with researchers from all over the world, so that they have at their disposal another resource that allows them to educate from the perspective of reflective teaching. From the beginning of the research, I set out to discover how to adapt the (auto)biographical audiovisual story as a method and as a methodology to introduce students of media, education, communication and edu-communication in the development of (self-)reflective skills and (self-)expressive skills of the media competence, and explain how the process of autobiographical mediation of the experiences, the memories and the stories of those memories comes about. And also explain the process of reflection and expression that is generated in the production of audiovisual (auto)biographical stories, departing from the life experience that is acquired with the media throughout life. In this sense, the thematic seminar offered me the possibility of adapting the methodological and epistemological principles of (Auto)biographical Research to the production process of (auto)biographical audiovisual story of students in relation to their media experiences, their mediated experiences and their mediatized experiences, as a form of (self-)observation, (self-)learning and (self-)updating of the gaze and views on reality.
Diego Leandro Marín Ossa
Doctor en Ciencias de la Comunicación y Periodismo 
Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, España
Docente Titular e Investigador Asociado 1 de la UTP
Director de Edumedia-3 / #50 en el Ranking Sapiens Research 2021
Member and partnership of the UNESCO MIL Alliance
Chère APA: 30 ans de collecte autobiographique. Association pour l’autobiographie et le patrimoine autobiographique.

Une histoire de traces

En 1992 commence la grande aventure de l’APA (Association pour l’autobiographie et le Patrimoine Autobiographique), fondée par Philippe Lejeune et Chantal Chaveyriat-Dumoulin pour collecter, conserver et valoriser les textes autobiographiques inédits qui lui sont confiés. Trente ans après, plus de quatre mille textes et fonds – récits de vie, journaux, correspondances – sont archivés au siège de l’association, à Ambérieu-en-Bugey. Le but principal de leurs auteurs est de laisser une trace écrite de leur passage dans l’existence. Aujourd’hui ce livre vient à son tour apporter une trace du travail accompli avec ardeur, avec soin, avec persévérance pendant trois décennies par des bénévoles, unis par leurs goûts communs et leurs liens d’amitié. L’APA, structure unique dans notre pays, propose aux chercheurs et aux lecteurs de bonne volonté une source de connaissance incomparable de ce matériau humain.
Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois: Great Barrington Edition     $9.95 – $39.95

This illustrated edition of The Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois is the first to be arranged and dedicated in accordance with Du Bois’s manuscript notes. It begins with these words: “I was born by a golden river and in the shadow of two great hills, five years after the Emancipation Proclamation which began the freeing of American Negro Slaves.”  Du Bois was born in the town where Berkshire Publishing Group is located. His autobiography tells the story of a little boy, the only Black boy in his school, who became the first African American PhD at Harvard, an educator, editor, and activist, and a writer of expressive, lyrical, and accessible prose. In this book, he explains why he chose to become a Communist. While the Communism he praised did not turn out to offer the utopia so many hoped for, the problems he identified are still with us. His reasoning will resonant with modern readers who share his frustration with the continued inequities in our society.

Publisher’s Note

I first thought of publishing a new edition of Du Bois’s autobiography during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, as BLM signs went up around Great Barrington and a crowd of thousands gathered around the town hall he’d known as a boy.
I had been hearing Du Bois’s story for years, at events and over the dinner table, and even published a volume based on his teenage writings about a little church in Great Barrington. I was familiar with the opening line, “I was born by a golden river in the shadow of two great hills.” I thought of it often because my study window looks across the Housatonic Valley to those hills.
But when I picked up a copy of the 1968 US edition, I was startled to find that those lines, so obviously the opening lines of an autobiography, did not appear until Chapter 6. Instead, the book opened with a series of chapters about Du Bois’s travels and communist beliefs at the end of his life. How strange, I thought.
I knew Du Bois had been a prolific writer and that he had been active in the world, occupied with political activities, editing, and organizing. Many of his books, including his groundbreaking 1903 The Souls of Black Folk, were put together in haste, compiled from pieces of journalism. Could this book, too, have been assembled hastily?
It turned out that he had written more than one autobiography, at different points in his ninety-five years, as well as including a great deal of autobiographical material, including a chapter about the death of his baby son, in The Souls of Black Folk. Looking at a more recent edition of the Autobiography, published by Oxford University Press in a series edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., I noticed a footnote in the book’s excellent introduction by Werner Sollors, a Harvard historian.
The odd chapter order was preserved in the edition Sollors wrote the introduction to, but he too wondered about it. He explained in the footnote that Du Bois’s friend Truman Nelson had claimed that the original manuscript, which he had a carbon copy of, did not include those five opening chapters. Sollors wrote, “It would be interesting to compare the Nelson manuscript with the version of the book that is in the Du Bois Papers and that is reprinted here.”
I wrote to Professor Sollors, who encouraged me to see if I could find correspondence between Du Bois and Truman in the archives at Boston University, and that I check the papers at UMass Amherst, which holds the main collection of Du Bois Papers. Sollors agreed that the book would look and feel very different without those opening chapters, and wondered if Herbert Aptheker, the editor of the 1968, published after Du Bois’s death, might have played a role, given that Aptheker had been a dedicated Communist.
Professor Sollors and I corresponded early in 2021. Library special collections were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, a good deal of the Du Bois material at UMass had been scanned and put online. It didn’t take me long to find a typescript of the book, and it turned out to be a scan of a carbon copy marked up by Du Bois, just as Nelson had said.
We do not now know who prepared the typescript or if the chapters were added by Aptheker. What is clear is that Du Bois wanted them moved to the end, and wanted changes to the dedication. The dedication in the typescript included his stepson, David Graham Du Bois, but not his second wife, Shirley Graham. Du Bois added the words “to the Dead,” crossed out his stepson’s name, and added the name of his first wife.
The Autobiography is a fascinating and often horrifying look at the experience of a Black man in America. Literary critic Irving Howe called it “a classic of American narrative, . . . packed with information and opinion about the early years of Negro protest.” But, like many, he found the later chapters, in which Du Bois reflects the official Communist views of the times, to read “as if they came from the very heart of a mimeograph machine.” But these chapters, too, are part of US history. The short essay on Communism is especially worth reading it speaks to issues on our minds today, and puts Du Bois’s communism in context. His reasoning, and emotion, will resonant with modern readers who share his frustration with the continued inequities in our society. While the Communism he praised did not turn out to offer the utopia so many hoped for, the problems he identified are still with us.
And now that the chapters about his early life are in their proper place, we hope readers will note the personal and revelatory tone of the chapter “My Character.” Along with an analysis of his own character, not always favorable, he discusses his sexual experience, including early ignorance, being raped as a young man by an unhappy landlady, and never convincing his wife that sexual relations were “the most beautiful of human experiences.”

Berkshire Publishing Group LLC @berkshirepubgrp
Tel: +1 413 528 0206 | WeChat 微信: karen_christensen | @karenchristenze

MoCom – motion comics as memory work: “Border Crossings”

Dear IABA list,

We have just published another motion comic in the project “MoCom – motion comics as memory work” (that I briefly presented at the last IABA conference in Turku):

The motion comic “Border Crossings” tells two stories: The young Anna wants to escape from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) to her partner in Austria. Reza flees from Iran into the divided Germany. Will they be able to find a new life between the borders of a divided Europe?

The 5 project participants (young people between 15-25 years) collected memories from contemporary eyewitnesses and developed the narrative. The artists Azam Aghalouy and Hassan Tavakoli translated these into pictures. Together with the motion comic we published pedagogical material in a reader, which can be used for historical-political educational work.

Please find the video and more information about the project on this website:

Best wishes,
Sarah Fichtner

Hello, IABA List Members
My name is Ozana Cucu-Oancea, I’m a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology of the Romanian Academy in Bucharest, and also an IABA listserv member. Also, in 2017 I attended IABA Europe Life writing, Europe and New Media, King’s College London (7-9 June 2017, London, U.K.) with the paper “Researching socio-cultural identities through solicited diaries” (section Diaries 2). 
Now I would like to inform IABA members about the publication of my paper “Exploring the social power of Christmas: a prospective qualitative study of assigning meaning to Christmas along the life course”, which draws on longitudinal qualitative data collected through solicited diaries, kept by 14 young Romanian adults, around Christmas time, along four-panel waves (2004, 2010, 2016, 2020). 
Here is the link to my paper published for now as a fast-track offprint in Longitudinal and Life Course Studies:  

I hope you enjoy it!

Kind regards,
Ozana Cucu-Oancea
PhD. Ozana Cucu-Oancea
Senior Researcher
Institute of Sociology
Romanian Academy
Casa Academiei
Calea 13 Septembrie 13, etaj 4
Bucuresti, sector 5, 050711
tel/fax +40 021 318 24 48


Announcing the Center for Biographical Research Newsletter–University of Hawaii–Manoa

Dear Colleagues,
We are pleased to announce that the first issue of the Center for Biographical Research newsletter is now available for those interested in Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, the Biography Monographs series, the Brown Bag Biography seminars, which in the future will be presented in a hybrid—in-person and online—form, and the ongoing work of the Center at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, including workshops, affiliated graduate program opportunities, and visitor residencies.
Our plan at present is to publish two issues a year, although the second one will appear this August, to announce the fall schedule for the weekly Brown Bag series.
Below you will find a link to the newsletter on the Center website, and you can also choose to subscribe. And as a subscriber to IABA-L, you will also receive notice when a new installment appears.
Read the newsletter here:
Subscribe here:


Newsletter Biography Institute

University of Groningen, the Netherlands

June 2022

[PDF version]

Doctoral defense Antoon Ott
On July 7, 15.00 hrs (CET), Antoon Ott will defend his thesis Verzameldrift. Biografie van Nanne Ottema (1874-1955) in the Grote Kerk, Leeuwarden. Ottema was active in Frisian cultural life as a governor, collection keeper, notary, commentator and speaker. He brought together a world famous collection of ceramics, and was the founder of Princessehof, the Dutch national museum of ceramics in Leeuwarden. The research was supervised by prof. Hans Renders and prof. Goffe Jensma.

Book launch biography Theo van Doesburg
The book launch of Ik sta helemaal alleen, the monumental biography of Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931) by Sjoerd van Faassen and Hans Renders will take place on September 29. After years of archival research, this biography will provide a new and enriching insight on Van Doesburgs life and work as a visual artist, critic, magazine editor, architect and poet. The biography will be presented to the public at the Kunstmuseum in The Hague.

Harmsma, Meister and Veltman will speak at IABA-Worldconference

During the 12th conference of the International Auto/Biography Association, the Biography Institute will be represented by three scholars. Jonne Harmsma, Daniel Meister and David Veltman will serve a panel under the title of ‘Biography: Method or Methods?’. On June 16, 13.30 hrs (EET) they will present their papers at the Center for Storytelling, Experientiality and Memory of the University of Turku, Finland.

Public defense John A. Farrell
The biography Ted Kennedy. A Life will be submitted as PhD thesis by the American biographer John A. Farrell on September 15, 12.45 hrs (CET). After the death of his brother JFK, Edward M. Kennedy (1932-2009) became one of the most influential politicians in the US. For this research, Farrell was given access to major new sources, including Kennedy’s diary. His involvement in the car accident at the seaside resort Chappaquiddick will thus be brought into a new light. The research took place under supervision of prof. Hans Renders and prof. Doeko Bosscher.

More information can be found on the website   
For subscribing to and unsubscribing from this newsletter, please email



Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the publication of my book, Building That Bright Future: Soviet Karelia in the Life Writing of Finnish North Americans (University of Toronto Press, 2022). You can order the book directly from UTP ( ) or from your favourite bookstore. I would be pleased to hear your thoughts and to discuss the work with you.


Building That Bright Future: Soviet Karelia in the Life Writing of Finnish North Americans (University of Toronto Press, 2022)

Samira Saramo


In the early 1930s, approximately 6,500 Finns from Canada and the United States moved to Soviet Karelia, on the border of Finland, to build a Finnish workers’ society. They were recruited by the Soviet leadership for their North American mechanical and lumber expertise, their familiarity with the socialist cause, and their Finnish language and ethnicity. By 1936, however, Finnish culture and language came under attack and ethnic Finns became the region’s primary targets in the Stalinist Great Terror.

Building That Bright Future relies on the personal letters and memoirs of these Finnish migrants to build a history of everyday life during a transitional period for both North American socialism and Soviet policy. Highlighting the voices of men, women, and children, the book follows the migrants from North America to the Soviet Union, providing vivid descriptions of daily life. Samira Saramo brings readers into personal contact with Finnish North Americans and their complex and intimate negotiations of self and belonging.

Through letters and memoirs, Building That Bright Future explores the multiple strategies these migrants used to make sense of their rapidly shifting positions in the Soviet hierarchy and the relationships that rooted them to multiple places and times.

Early Praise for the Book:

    “This excellent work of transnational history reveals how ethnic identities and socialist ideals were framed and reframed in the everyday experiences of people who followed their dreams of utopia. Samira Saramo skillfully utilizes a rich body of life writing by Finnish North American migrants to Soviet Karelia to illuminate the intimacies of daily life – at home, at work, at play – in the midst of momentous political events.”

    -Marlene Epp, Professor of History and Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Waterloo

    “Samira Saramo’s book is a touching account of the aspirations, dreams, intransigence, joys, and also successes of 6,500 Finns from Canada and the United States who moved to Soviet Karelia in the 1930s. She gives agency to migrants by bringing their different experiences and motives to the discussion, including a whole chapter devoted to children’s experiences and feelings through letters, memoirs, and life-story interviews. It is a beautiful and unique feature of this book as previous research has omitted children, almost without exception, from the picture.”

    -Markku Kangaspuro, Professor, Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki

    “A moving story of hope, daily life, community, terror, and tragedy as narrated by the Finnish North American letter and memoir writers who sought and struggled to make sense of life in Soviet Karelia. Building That Bright Future is an interdisciplinary history that both enlightens and makes you weep.”

    -Franca Iacovetta, Professor Emerita of History, University of Toronto


Dr. Samira Saramo

Kone Foundation Senior Researcher

Migration Institute of Finland

Docent of Cultural History, University of Turku


Twitter: @samira_saramo



Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, volume 44, number 4, 2021

Full issue available on Project Muse:

Editor’s Note 

Open-Forum Articles

“Interpreting Celebrity Biography: Robeson, Trump, and the Stubborn Call of Virtue Ethics”

Bruce Peabody and John Schiemann

How should we regard the characters and accomplishments of celebrities? We examine this question by drawing upon virtue ethics in political philosophy as a set of analytical tools and a framework for thinking about life writing about celebrities. We apply our virtue ethics framework, informed especially by Aristotle’s views about human excellence and honor and Alasdair MacIntyre’s concept of narrative unity and self-reflection, to the life stories of the well-known humanist, activist, and performer Paul Robeson and the celebrity president Donald Trump. Our analysis helps account for both the nature of discontent with celebrity culture and why we admire a subclass of celebrities who display particular attributes. It also demonstrates life writing’s relevance to and inseparability from central concepts in virtue ethics.

“Fakir Mohan Senapati’s Atmacharita: Episodic Autobiography, History, and Interiority”

Umasankar Patra

In this essay, I revisit the original autobiography of Fakir Mohan Senapati (1848–1918), serialized as Atmacharita in 1918. Navigating its complex textual history, I argue that Atmacharita, the first Odia autobiography, is a unique experiment in Indian lifewriting practice. Senapati produces an episodic autobiography written in the idiom of a memoir that sets up a triad of fiction, autobiography, and history, engendering a discourse of ordinariness.

“Isidor Sadger’s Images as the Other: Psychoanalysis between Life Writing and Literary Experimentalism”

Agnieszka Sobolewska

This article examines the biographical and psychoanalytic works of Freud’s biographer Isidor Sadger (1867–1942), placing these works within the broader context of the role of lifewriting genres in the history of psychoanalysis. Sadger is presented as a key figure in the development of one psychographic genre in the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society (1902–1938). Although one of the most prolific authors within Freud’s circle, Sadger’s works remain largely forgotten. The author analyzes Sadger’s unknown psychographic and biographic works, and reveals his largely overlooked theories of literature and the psychology of creators. A close reading of his biography, Recollecting Freud (Sigmund Freud, persönliche Erinnerungen), sheds new light on the relationship between life writing, literary experimentalism, and early psychoanalysis.

“Transgenerational Memories of the Lager in Herta Müller’s Autofiction”

Szidonia Haragos

In this article, I look at contemporary German-Romanian author Herta Müller’s use of autofiction from the point of view of minority memory discourse, expanding on the general critical reception of Müller’s prose as the articulation of the traumas of Communist totalitarianism in Romania, and also directing attention to the multigenerational mnemonic structures of ethnic German history interrupting Müller’s narratives. I trace a trajectory of Müller’s interest in the officially repressed ethnic minority past and her exploration of the post-WWII deportations of ethnic Germans to labor camps in Ukraine and their forced relocation by the Romanian Communist regime to the Bărăgan Steppe, in the south of Romania. My analysis focuses on the recursive imagery of the lager (forced labor camp), of the young female inmate, and of the figure of the SS-father as the workings of postmemory. Through intermittent, direct, and oblique references, Müller articulates her own inherited past—in particular, her mother’s five-year internment in the USSR. Ultimately, I situate Müller’s autofiction within the broader post­communist memorialization, signaling the absence of minority stories from the increasingly homogenized corpus of national remembering in East-Central Europe.

“‘When I Accept All Changes’: Crafting, Expanding, and Exhausting the Auto/Biographical in Sayed Kashua’s Track Changes

Hiyem Cheurfa

This article examines the interface of forms of auto/biographical writing and literary criticism, and how postcolonial life writers draw attention to the exhaustion of the formal and structural conditions of the genre as conventionally established and understood. Looking at Palestinian author Sayed Kashua’s Track Changes (2020), I investigate how life writers draw attention to issues involved in writing and reading auto/biography, such as form, truth-telling, and referentiality, and I interrogate the labor involved in life writing and the subjective and shifting role of the auto/biographer in crafting, expanding, and exhausting the genre in a way that reflects political and cultural identities of postcolonial subjects.


How to Read a Diary: Critical Contexts and Interpretive Strategies for 21st-Century Readers, by Desirée Henderson

Reviewed by Kathryn Carter

Different Lives: Global Perspectives on Biography in Public Cultures and Societies, edited by Hans Renders and David Veltman

Reviewed by Caitríona Ní Dhúill

The ABC of Modern Biography, by Nigel Hamilton and Hans Renders

Reviewed by Caitríona Ní Dhúill

Writing Life Writing: Narrative, History, Autobiography, by Paul John Eakin

Reviewed by Sergio da Silva Barcellos

Power Couples in Antiquity: Transversal Perspectives, edited by Anne Bielman Sánchez

Reviewed by Daniel Harris-McCoy

Disability and Life Writing in Post-Independence Ireland, by Elizabeth Grubgeld

Reviewed by Muireann Leech

Modernism and Physical Illness: Sick Books, by Peter Fifield

Reviewed by Chloe R. Green

Edith Cavell and Her Legend, by Christine E. Hallett

Reviewed by Katie Pickles

The Author’s Effects: On Writer’s House Museums, by Nicola J. Watson

Reviewed by Alison Booth

Auto/Biography across the Americas: Transnational Themes in Life Writing, edited by Ricia Anne Chansky

Reviewed by Theresa A. Kulbaga

Life-Writing from the Margins in Zimbabwe: Versions and Subversions of Crisis, by Oliver Nyambi

Reviewed by Astrid Rasch

Remembering Migration: Oral Histories and Heritage in Australia, edited by Kate Darian-Smith and Paula Hamilton

Reviewed by Mary Tomsic

Beijing from Below: Stories of Marginal Lives at the Capital’s Center, by Harriet Evans

Reviewed by Marjorie Dryburgh

Documenting Trauma in Comics: Traumatic Pasts, Embodied Histories, and Graphic Reportage, edited by Dominic Davies and Candida Rifkind

Reviewed by Janine Utell

Facebook Society: Losing Ourselves in Sharing Ourselves, by Roberto Simanowski, translated by Susan H. Gillespie

Reviewed by Emma Maguire

Journeys of Transformation: Searching for No-Self in Western Buddhist Travel Narratives.

John D. Barbour

Western Buddhist travel narratives are autobiographical accounts of a journey to a Buddhist culture. Dozens of such narratives have since the 1970s describe treks in Tibet, periods of residence in a Zen monastery, pilgrimages to Buddhist sites and teachers, and other Asian odysseys. The best known of these works is Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard; further reflections emerge from thirty writers including John Blofeld, Jan Van de Wetering, Thomas Merton, Oliver Statler, Robert Thurman, Gretel Ehrlich, and Bill Porter. The Buddhist concept of ‘no-self’ helps these authors interpret certain pivotal experiences of ‘unselfing’ and is also a catalyst that provokes and enables such events. The writers’ spiritual memoirs describe how their journeys brought about a new understanding of Buddhist enlightenment and so transformed their lives. Showing how travel can elicit self-transformation, this book is a compelling exploration of the journeys and religious changes of both individuals and Buddhism itself.

Introduction: A literary genre and some questions about self-transformation
Chapter One: The origins of the genre: John Blofeld and Lama Govinda
Chapter Two: Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard and Nine-Headed Dragon River
Chapter Three: In a Zen monastery: Ambiguous failure and enlightenment
Chapter Four: Thomas Merton and Christian and Jewish pilgrims in Buddhist Asia
Chapter Five: Walking the Dharmaon Shikoku and in India
Chapter Six. Trekking and tracking the self in Tibet
Chapter Seven: Life-changing travels in the Tibetan diaspora
Chapter Eight: Encounters with Theravada Buddhism
Chapter Nine: Searching for Buddhism after Mao
Conclusion: Theories of no-self, stories about unselfing, and transformation

Cambridge University Press
June 2022
$39.99 hardcover
$24.49 Kindle
342 pages
ISBN 9781009098830

‘John Barbour’s construction of the genre of the modern Western Buddhist travel narrative (that also functions as spiritual autobiography) is brilliant in drawing a circle around empirical facts and making their identity obvious in hindsight. The truth of this literary phenomenon is made unarguable, and the analytical focus on Westerners struggling between their native and Buddhist senses of personhood portrays how a foreign religion is becoming Western in the experiences and examples of actual lives. This book is a big step forward in the study of modern Western Buddhism.’
– Francisca Cho, Professor of Buddhist Studies, Georgetown University

‘Focusing almost exclusively on narratives written in English since WWII, John D. Barbour does an excellent job of comparing the written record of more than thirty writers who visited Asia with the express purpose of deepening an understanding of Buddhist existential matters through hiking, pilgrimage, and other forms of travel. The writers in question are grouped according to thematic relationships, and the flow through and around different parts of Asia is entirely successful. The book will be of great interest to literary scholars interested in religion as well as to religion scholars interested in narrative and individual struggles with central concepts. The research is of a very high quality and the book is also wonderfully readable. The prose style is always clear, and the flow is just right. Taken as a whole, John Barbour’s book is an extraordinarily rich exploration of Buddhist-oriented travel writing. There is no other book like it.’
John Whalen-Bridge, Associate Professor of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore

Graphic Medicine, a special issue edited by Erin La Cour and Anna Poletti

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol. 44, nos. 2 & 3, 2021

The entire issue can be accessed on Project Muse here:

Graphic Medicine is also a book forthcoming from the University of Hawai‘i Press in July 2022:

In Graphic Medicine, comics artists and scholars of life writing, literature, and comics explore the lived experience of illness and disability through original texts, images, and the dynamic interplay between the two. The essays and autobiographical comics in this collection respond to the medical humanities’ call for different perceptions and representations of illness and disability than those found in conventional medical discourse.The collection expands and troubles our understanding of the relationships between patients and doctors, nurses, social workers, caregivers, and family members, considering such encounters in terms of cultural context, language, gender, class, and ethnicity. By treating illness and disability as an experience of fundamentally changed living, rather than a separate narrative episode organized by treatment, recovery, and a return to “normal life,” Graphic Medicine asks what it means to give and receive care.

Comics by Safdar Ahmed, John Miers, and Suzy Becker, and illustrated essays by Nancy K. Miller and Jared Gardner show how life writing about illness and disability in comics offers new ways of perceiving the temporality of caring and living. Crystal Yin Lie and Julia Watson demonstrate how use of the page through panels, collages, and borderless images can draw the reader, as a “mute witness,” into contact with the body as a site where intergenerational trauma is registered and expressed. Kiene Brillenburg Wurth examines how microscripts productively extend graphic medicine beyond comics to “outsider art.” JoAnn Purcell and Susan Squier display how comics artists respond to and reflect upon their caring relationship with those diagnosed with an intellectual disability. And Erin La Cour interrogates especially difficult representations of relationality and care.

During the past decade, graphic medicine comics have proliferated—an outpouring accelerated recently by the greatest health crisis in a century. Edited by Erin La Cour and Anna Poletti, Graphic Medicine helps us recognize that however unpleasant or complicated it may be, interacting with such stories offers fresh insights, suggests new forms of acceptance, and enhances our abilities to speak to others about the experience of illness and disability.

·  Erin La Cour, Editor, is assistant professor of English literature and visual culture at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
·  Anna Poletti, Editor is associate professor of English language at Utrecht University.


Table of Contents

Graphic Medicine’s Possible Futures: Reconsidering Poetics and Reading
Erin La Cour and Anna Poletti

Conflict or Compromise?: An Imagined Conversation with John Hicklenton and Lindsay Cooper about Living with Multiple Sclerosis
John Miers

Out of Sync: Chronic Illness, Time, and Comics Memoir
Jared Gardner

“Is this recovery?”: Chronicity and Closure in Graphic Illness Memoir
Nancy K. Miller

Face as Landscape: Refiguring Illness, Disability, and Disorders in David B.’s Epileptic
Erin La Cour

Disability Daily Drawn: A Comics Collaboration
JoAnn Purcell with Simone Purcell Randmaa

Reframing “Nothing About Us Without Us”: Comics and Intellectual Disability
Susan M. Squier

Graphic Confessions and the Vulnerability Hangover from Hell
Safdar Ahmed

Drawing Is the Best Medicine: Somatic Dis-ease and Graphic Revenge in Miriam Katin’s Letting It Go
Julia Watson

If That’s What You Want to Call It: An Illustrated Rx-ay for Graphic Medicine
Suzy Becker

Drawn to History: Healing, Dementia, and the Armenian Genocide in the Intertextual Collage of Aliceheimer’s
Crystal Yin Lie

Outsider Writing: The Healing Art of Robert Walser
Kiene Brillenburg Wurth 

Dear colleagues

I’m delighted to share that Searching for Lee Wen: A Life in 135 Parts published by Epigram Books Singapore is open for pre-orders. I was Lee Wen’s friend from 2012 and his biographer from 2016. In this sense, I was a “latecomer”— I only knew him in the last seven years of his life. But I listened and did my best to record his life as an artist and his life as a man. Open and trusting, he was willing to share. Not always likeable, he was real, navigating the nuances of complex relationships in life and art. This book, the outcome of these interview sessions, is not just the re-telling of his life as he told it to me, but also the lessons I got out of it.

Best regards


About the book

Searching for Lee Wen is a compelling portrait of the elusive artist who was central to performance art in Singapore. Chan Li Shan writes of her encounters with Lee Wen—spontaneous, relentlessly honest and sometimes provocative—creating an experience much like his performances. The search for the artist leads Chan to discover what art and friendship mean.

“I congratulate Chan Li Shan for having written this beautiful biography of Lee Wen, who died too soon from Parkinson’s disease. At the age of 30, Lee Wen gave up a secure and stable career in a bank to study art. He would devote the rest of his life to the practice of art in its many forms: drawing, painting, poetry, songs, installation and performance. George Bernard Shaw once said that the world consists of two kinds of people: reasonable people and unreasonable people. The reasonable people are those who conform to the world. The unreasonable people are those who seek to change the world. Lee Wen was an ‘unreasonable’ man and artist. Lee Wen once described himself as a soldier of culture. He fought many battles for culture and art. His victories were not unnoticed. He was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 2005. We will never forget him as the Yellow Man and The Sun Boy.”
—Professor Tommy Koh, Founding Chairman National Arts Council

“We like to pretend that biographies are ‘objective’. That the truth they bear is untainted by bias or partiality or opinion. That they are pristine. Nothing is further from the truth. Biographies are fiercely subjective and born of one person’s obsession with someone else’s life. The obsessiveness is not only for the storyline or narrative, but the telling of it. And the telling of the life story of an artist like Lee Wen—significant, protean, impulsive, explosive, brutally honest—demands an obsessive storyteller. Li Shan dives headlong into the minutiae of Lee Wen’s life, disregarding guardrails of convention and is sometimes eccentrically selective. She is desperately seeking line and colour, and motif and sfumato; yearning for composition that is him. The result is bricolage, cracked, disrupted, dismembered. But beyond the veil of the tale, as the clouds of dissonance disperse, something of a shape emerges; distinct and hewn by instinct, intimacy and understanding. A Lee Wen shape.”
—T. Sasitharan, Director Intercultural Theatre Institute

“Flickering with exacting yet poignant insights while balancing anecdote, lyricism, curated imagery, laudatory response and verbatim record, this biography delicately deconstructs linearity without compromising on a heartfelt and multifaceted picture of a performance art icon.”
—Cyril Wong, Poet and Fictionist

“In Searching for Lee Wen, Chan Li Shan offers readers a biography of a fascinating and important performance artist; a memoir of her own experience as his biographer, collaborator, and friend; and an innovative, nuanced, often moving mosaic of interview excerpts, testimonials from friends and admirers, timelines linking Singapore’s history to Lee Wen’s own, striking photographs, and meditations on the act of representing a life. The result is a memorable book, in which both Lee Wen and Chan Li Shan are ‘interfused, liminally, between being a sign, a signal and a person, enigmatically within, yet beyond each’—truly ‘an elusive joy to watch.’”
—Craig Howes, Director, Center for Biographical Research; Professor of English University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

Chan Li Shan is the author of A Philosopher’s Madness, a memoir of mental illness (Ethos Books: 2012) and a children’s biography picture book entitled Yellow Man (Epigram Books: 2021). She is a PhD student at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and editorial fellow with Mānoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing, under the auspices of the University of Hawai’i Press. Please email her at 



The Poetics of the Hypercycle in Mircea Cărtărescu’s Solenoid
Andrei Terian
Pages: 323-340 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1747351

Traces in the Archive: Re-imagining Sofia Kovalevskaya
Maria Tamboukou
Pages: 341-356 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1771672

Assessing the Neoliberal Künstlerroman. ‘Creative’ Self-Realisation and the Art World in Michael Cunningham’s by Nightfall
Carlos Garrido Castellano
Pages: 357-371 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1779635

The Tree of Love: Life Writing and ‘Seasons of Self’ by Former Child Soldiers in Colombia
Mathew Charles & Karen Fowler-Watt
Pages: 373-393 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1805652

Edmund White’s Post Gay Autobiographies
Nicholas F. Radel
Pages: 395-406 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1805670

Ethical Performance of Autobiography in Vicky Foster’s Bathwater on Stage, on Air, and in Print
Michael Gratzke
Pages: 407-421 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1810406

‘Walking the Indian Streets’: Analysing Ved Mehta’s Memoirs of Return
Durba Mukherjee & Sayan Chattopadhyay
Pages: 423-440 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1855089

Testimony and its Mediations in Life Writing
Roger Woods
Pages: 441-454 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1873718


Life and Art: A Research and Practice Journey
Verity Laughton
Pages: 457-471 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1885595


Stories of the Self: Life Writing After the Book
by Anna Poletti, New York, New York University Press, 2020, 248 pp., ISBN: 978-1479836666
Catherine Brist
Pages: 475-476 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1881705

Letter to My Father: A Memoir
by G. Thomas Couser, Lanham, Hamilton Books, 2017, xvi + 205 pp., (pbk) ISBN 978-0-7618-6958-0
D. L. LeMahieu
Pages: 477-479 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1918891

Dear colleagues,

I am writing a follow up message to announce that Routledge has released a paperback edition of my book, Writing Life Writing: Narrative, History, Autobiography, with a Foreword by Craig Howes.

Below please find a description of the book and a link to Routledge.

–John Eakin

Why do we endlessly tell the stories of our lives? And why do others pay attention when we do? The essays collected here address these questions, focusing on three different but interrelated dimensions of life writing. The first section, “Narrative,” argues that narrative is not only a literary form but also a social and cultural practice, and finally a mode of cognition and an expression of our most basic physiology. The next section, “Life Writing: Historical Forms,” makes the case for the historical value of the subjectivity recorded in ego-documents. The essays in the final section, “Autobiography Now,” identify primary motives for engaging in self-narration in an age characterized by digital media and quantum cosmology.
“Writing Life Writing: Narrative, History, Autobiography shows how autobiographical narrative works as an essential aspect of humanity. In fresh, exciting ways, it melds literature with psychology, neurobiology, ethics and cultural anthropology, to argue that telling stories about our- selves is psychically and even biologically motivated. Eakin guides us through the fact-fiction tease of the form, its relevance to historians and its future in an age of social media. Eakin’s own experiment with writing autobiographically, which closes this beautifully written collection, will intrigue those who wonder what it is to find a vocation in writing about life writing, distilling with it a life time of thinking about this ever-interesting form and practice.”
—Margaretta Jolly, Professor of Cultural Studies, University of Sussex
“What a pleasure–and convenience–to have these trenchant and timely essays of the last two decades gathered in one accessible volume! John Eakin is a distinguished American critic of autobiography studies with international reach and resonance, as well as an elegant, witty, and insightful writer. His work has long blazed a trail in theorizing the relationship of the autobiographical to diverse fields: the narrative identity system, where his probing interventions inform debates on it as cultural practice, cognitive process, and embodied representation; the history of autobiography as an evolving mode of representing subjectivity in dialogue with, but distinct from, related literary genres; and the stakes of life writing in emergent digital media and as a model of quantum cosmology. In two additional personal essays on his biological and intellectual fathers, Eakin traces how a lifelong engagement with the discipline has motivated and shaped his own processes of memory and reflection. These essays reward rereading and will enrich current debates.”
Julia Watson, Professor Emerita of Comparative Studies, The Ohio State University, Co-author with Sidonie Smith of Reading Autobiography: A Guide to Interpreting Life Narrative and Life Writing in the Long Run: A Smith & Watson Autobiography Studies Reader
“Written with his characteristic lucidity, this selection of key pieces is a reminder, if we needed one, of why Eakin has been so indispensable to the study of life writing for so long: seeing autobiography as not only a textual product but a fundamental human activity, Eakin can appreciate it all its forms and dimensions. Understanding self-narrative as pre-textual, rooted in somatic homeostasis, Eakin is well equipped to surf the waves of change in the way humans produce it in post-print media. Tracing his critical trajectory, this book reveals a mind probing beyond the traditional boundaries of disciplines to illuminate his subject in new and fruitful ways.”
— G Thomas Couser, Professor of English Emeritus, Hofstra University

Paul John Eakin is Ruth N. Halls Professor Emeritus of English at Indiana University. He is the author of Fictions in Autobiography: Studies in the Art of Self-Invention (1985); Touching the World: Reference in Autobiography (1992); How Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves (1999); and Living Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in Narrative (2008). He is the editor of On Autobiography, by Philippe Lejeune (1989); American Autobiography: Retrospect and Prospect (1991); and The Ethics of Life Writing (2004).

And here is the link to Routledge.  


Head Above Water: Reflections on Illness by Shahd Alshammari

Those who survive know that there is a story to tell.

Head Above Water takes us into a space of intimate conversations on illness and society’s stigmatization of disabled bodies. We are invited in to ask the big questions about life, loss, and the place of the other. The narrative builds a bridge that reminds us of our common humanity and weaves the threads that tie us all together. Through conversations about women’s identities, bodies, and our journeys through life, we arrive at a politics of love, survival, and hope.

Author: Shahd Alshammari has Multiple Sclerosis. After gaining her PhD in the UK, Alshammari became an Assistant Professor of Literature in Kuwait. Her research interests focus on women with mental illness in literature. Alshammari is especially interested in the concept of hybridity, having been born to a Bedouin father and a Palestinian mother. She is also interested in Disability Studies and the correlation of disability studies with identity in the Arab world, having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 18.

  • Provides a greater understanding of the Arab world and illness in the Middle
  • Author lives with Multiple Sclerosis and has experienced living with disability
  • The book deals with relationships and discrimination in the context of
  • Deals with topical issues like women’s bodies, women’s health issues, identities, family, friendships, cultural taboos; misogyny; Middle Eastern
  • Emphasizes the importance of human connection and each of our personal


“Shahd’s…sensuous prose explores the manipulation of memory, the question of time, and gender politics…intricacies of love, …body, motherhood, the pervasive power of language, the power of women’s education, and synergy between Professor and student. It is a brave book.

Jokha Alharthi, Author of Celestial Bodies, winner of the International Man Booker Prize

“An important piece of life writing – Shahd Alshammari’s memoir breaks new ground in representing the lives of disabled Arab women.”

Dr. Roxanne Douglas, University of Warwick

Shahd Alshammari’s memoir of life with MS is one of the first distinctly 21st century illness narratives. She situates chronic illness at the intersection of issues that include gender, exile, medical experimentation, and the politics of the Middle East. Her memoir becomes truly a dialogue, as her story fills with the voices of other women and men she has known, and how illness disrupted their lives. Reading her, I thought continually of Yeats’s famous line, “a terrible beauty is born.” In this book, illness is that terrible beauty, always affecting but never determining the author’s life.

Arthur W. Frank, of At the Will of the Body and The Wounded Storyteller

Shahd Alshammari’s Head above Water is a welcome addition to the growing body of illness narratives. She conveys eloquently and candidly the randomness of her multiple sclerosis,communicating what it’s like to live in her body—Arab, female, disabled—and how her illness has shaped her education and her life as an academic. Her prose is at once lively and deadly serious, vividly somatic and deeply thoughtful, highly engaging. Her book succeeds at a difficult endeavor: narrating chronic illness without imposing a false narrative arc on that experience.

G.T. Couser, author of Recovering Bodies: Illness, Disability, and Life Writing
Get a Copy
Hardback/ Paperback
978-1-911107-39-2 /978-1911107-40-8
30 May 2022
£24.99 / £10.99

EBook / Audiobook
978-1-911107-41-5/ 978-1-911107-42-2
30 May 2022
£9.99 / £24.99

Market General/Trade
Subject: Memoir, Disability, Medical Humanities

All Worldwide Rights, Excluding Arabic Rights Are Available.

@neemtreepress @neemtreepress

#MultipleSclerosis #womensbodies #health #nonfiction #memoir #coping #healing #survival #family #friendship #MiddleEasternCulture #disability

List member Christopher Chevalier launched a free digital version of ‘Understanding “Solo”: a biography of Solomon Mamaloni’ on April 10 2022.

Solomon Mamaloni was an outstanding and controversial  Solomon Islands politician from 1970 until his death in January 2000. Becoming the country’s first chief minister in 1974 at the age of 31, he led Solomon Islands to self-government in January 1976 and subsequently served as prime minister three times— from 1981 to 1983, 1989 to 1993, and 1994 to 1997. He was a product of complex traditional societies, changing rapidly as the islands moved from colonial rule to independence, situated in an even more complex and rapidly changing post-war global environment. By taking into account these historical and structural forces, this biography seeks to arrive at a fuller understanding of Solomon Mamaloni—his childhood, schooling, political career and legacy.

To read the book, please go to :
It is also available via ResearchGate and, where other work by Christopher is also available, including his 2021 PhD, ‘Content and Context: Connecting Oral History and Social History in Solomon Islands’.

If you have any difficulties in downloading the biography or would like to make any comments, please contact Christopher at

 Please forward this link to friends, colleagues, students, and listservs for Pacific biography and Pacific political history. 

kind regards, 

Christopher Chevalier
List member Helen Epstein is launching GETTING THROUGH IT: My Year of Cancer during Covid at the Manhattan 92 Y Health Series May 3. It joins an ever-growing category of medical life-writing.
To read more about the book, please go to
For the launch, click here:
 Please forwardthis link to friends, colleagues, students, and listservs for memoir and narrative medicine. 
Helen lives in Massachusetts and is a regular guest at writing workshops, classes and conferences over Zoom. Please  email her at
Her website, which features her trilogy of Holocaust-related memoirs and seven other books is 

My new book, Blue Portugal and Other Essays, is forthcoming from the University of Alberta Press.

Here’s the cover description:

Using the richness of braided essays, Theresa Kishkan thinks deeply about the natural world, mourns and celebrates the aging body, gently contests recorded history, and considers art and visual phenomena. Gathering personal genealogies, medical histories, and early land surveys together with insights from music, colour theory, horticulture, and textile production, Kishkan weaves a pattern of richly textured threads, welcoming readers to share her intellectual and emotional preoccupations. With an intimate awareness of place and time, a deep sensitivity to family, and a poetic delight in travel, local food and wine, and dogs, Blue Portugal & Other Essays offers up a sense of wonder at the interconnectedness of all things.

Theresa Kishkan lives on the Sechelt Peninsula in British Columbia. She has published more than a dozen books, including poetry, fiction, and collections of essays.

Link to publisher’s page:

Blog post, taken from the Preface, here:

Thank you!

"A path of rocks, some of them split open with a young woman’s strength, has long since returned to earth, hidden under decades of grass and moss, perhaps faintly detected by bare toes on a summer morning. And the trail from childhood to lives in the beautiful damaged world—knitted back together by salal, bramble, shaded by cedars, faint voices of those children heard when the light is right, the heart ready to hear them."
from Blue Portugal & Other Essays, University of Alberta Press, forthcoming, 2022.


New articles, cluster and book review


On behalf of the editorial board of the European Journal of Life Writing, I am very happy to announce that the EJLW has published 4 new articles, the cluster ‘Autobiography and Narrative Resilience’ and a new book review.


Aneta Ostaszewska, ‘”I found what I had lost: myself”. Writing as a form of self-care in times of crisis.

Matthew Sutton, ‘The Burden of Racial Innocence: British-Invasion Rock Memoirs and the U.S. South’.

James Masterson, ‘America in Performance of 20th Century Identity and Individualism in Chrissie Hynde’s Reckless’.

Anita Raghunath, ‘I’m So Bored with the USA: Reflecting America in British Punk Memoirs of the 70s’.

Cluster: Autobiography and Narrative Resilience

Souhir Zekri Masson, ‘Autobiography and the Autobiographical Mode as narrative Resistances An Interdisciplinary Perspective’.

Rebecca Raitses: ‘A Harki History Lesson: Dalila Kerchouche’s Filiation Narrative Mon père, ce harki’.

Flora Roussel: ‘Story Telling: Writing the Body to Recall Life in Kanehara Hitomi’s Autofiction and Charlotte Roche’s Wrecked’.

Hadas Zahavi: ‘Toward a literary genre of “neither peace nor war”’.

Deborah de Muijnck, ‘Narrative, Memory and PTSD: A Case Study of Autobiographical Narration after Trauma’.

Michel-Guy Gouverneur, ‘Auster In? Auster Out: Life Writing as a Game? A novelist turns into an editor for the purposes of a unique experiment’.

Souhir Zekri Masson: ‘Autobiography through Anecdotes in Joe Pieri’s Isle Of The Displaced’.

Book review

T.G. Ashplant, ‘Reviews of publications by Steven King, Florence Boos, and Rachel Woodward’s and K. Neil Jenkings’.

Dear IABA List Members,

We would like to let you know that the deadline for the call for entries into Biography’s annual annotated bibliography has been extended to Monday, May 15. Please see below for information on submission guidelines.

Biography’s annual annotated bibliography of critical and theoretical works on life writing is the most extensive reference of its kind, and before finalizing it, we want to make sure it is as timely, inclusive, and extensive as possible.

So if last year (from January to December 2021) you published, edited, or co-edited a book, wrote an article for a journal or an essay for an edited collection, or completed your doctoral dissertation, we would appreciate having that information, so that we can incorporate it into the list. (There is of course a very good chance that we have already included it, but this will make sure your work is noted.)

We would request the following information:

·      Full bibliographic information for each text, formatted according to MLA 9 style
·      A one-sentence annotation per text

We are especially committed to noting publications in languages other than English. If you could provide an annotation in English, however, that would be helpful.

We would appreciate getting the information by Monday, May 15. Please send your information to Zoë Sprott (

Thanks in advance. This bibliography usually has between 1,400 and 1,500 entries, and represents the most extensive annual critical survey of the field. We want to make sure your work appears within it.

Zoë E. Sprott (she/her/hers)
Editorial Assistant and Reviews Editor
The Center for Biographical Research
Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
1960 East-West Road
Biomed B104
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-3774

Call for English Language Submissions
Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies
Shanghai Jiao Tong Center for Life Writing


Life writing studies have moved onto the central stage in academia and gained ever more attention both in and outside China. As the first scholarly journal in the field of China, the biannual journal Modern Life Writing Studies intends to fill up the blank of life writing studies in China, provide a venue for scholars all over the world, attract and promote specialists in the field.

Aiming to keep abreast of the cutting edge of life writing research, our journal seeks, through modern views and perspectives, to explore various topics of life writing in China and in the world. Its almost-twenty sections include The Interview, Comparative Biography, Theory Study, History of Life Writing, Textual Study, Autobiography Studies, Diary Studies, Subject Studies, Film Biographies, Book Reviews, Life Writing Materials, and From the Life Writer.

Ever since its appearance in 2013, our journal has been well-received by scholars at home and abroad. Funded by a steady grant from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. it is exerting increasingly greater influence in academia with a wide positive response. In 2017, our journal was included in CSSCI (Chinese Social Science Citation Index), and it is also regularly cited in international academic literature and the annual annotated bibliographies published by prestigious journals and universities.

Our journal accepts both Chinese and English submissions. All the articles will be subject to anonymous peer review.


  Submissions are welcome from both Chinese and international researchers. Simultaneous submissions are not accepted. English papers should be between 4,000 and 7,000 words of text in length (including notes), while English book reviews should be about 2,500 words. Full-length articles take up most of the journal, but short essays with originality and fresh ideas are also welcome.

Submission Guidelines
All written submissions should be formatted according to the eighth edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. All submissions should include a 100-word abstract  keywords (less than 5), a 70–word biographical statement, and works cited. Please adhere to the following requirements:
•   Double spacing, Times New Roman, 12–point font
•   One-inch margins
•   Only Microsoft Word doc or docx files will be accepted
•  Citations should be provided in parenthetical reference followed by “Works Cited.”
•  Endnotes are preferred if there are any.

Submissions should be emailed in Word format to the editor Each contributor will get two complimentary copies once his/her paper is published.

Our journal is based at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. We welcome suggestions and proposals, from which we believe our journal will surely benefit.

Our new book on Russian biography was just released by Lexington Press, a division of Rowman and Littlefield:
Literary Biographies in The Lives of Remarkable People Series in Russia. Biography for the Masses
The legendary Russian biography series, The Lives of Remarkable People, has played a significant role in Russian culture from its inception in 1890 until today. The longest running biography series in world literature, it spans three centuries and widely divergent political and cultural epochs: Imperial, Soviet, and Post-Soviet Russia. The authors argue that the treatment of biographical figures in the series is a case study for continuities and changes in Russian national identity over time. Biography in Russia and elsewhere remains a most influential literary genre and the distinctive approach and branding of the series has made it the economic engine of its publisher, Molodaia gvardiia. The centrality of biographies of major literary figures in the series reflects their heightened importance in Russian culture. The contributors examine the ways that biographies of Russia’s foremost writers shaped the literary canon while mirroring the political and social realities of both the subjects’ and their biographers’ times. Starting with Alexander Pushkin and ending with Joseph Brodsky, the authors analyze the interplay of research and imagination in biographical narrative, the changing perceptions of what constitutes literary greatness, and the subversive possibilities of biography during eras of political censorship.
Special 30% Discount Offer! Use code LXFANDF30 when ordering through our website: or call toll-free: 800-462-6420
For more information and reviews see:
Please note the publication of the special issue on ‘Self-writing in context’ of the Journal of the African Literature Association 

It encompasses an introduction, 5 articles and 2 book reviews:

  • Inge Brinkman, ‘Pearls and oysters: an introduction’  
  • Brian Willan, ‘Revisiting Sol Plaatje’s Mafeking Diary’; 
  • Marciana Nafula Were, ‘Genealogies as an interpretive paradigm for engaging African women writers’ historical consciousness’; 
  • Dirk Klopper & Elizabeth Sekwiha-Gwajima, ‘A life elsewhere: figurations of the journey in Wilma Stockenström’s The Expedition to the Baobab Tree’; 
  • Esther Gathoni Wanjau, ‘The shifting identity in Slave: The True Story of a Girl’s Lost Childhood and Her Fight for Survival by Mende Nazer’; 
  • Inge Brinkman, ‘Confinement and beyond: space, mobility, and connections in two Mau Mau detention memoirs’. 
  • And 2 book reviews: 
  • Anna Katila, From Surviving to Living: Voice, Trauma and Witness in Rwandan Women’s Writing, by Catherine Gilbert. 
  • Catherine Gilbert, ‘Not My Time to Die: A Testimony, by Yolande Mukagasana with Patrick May. Translated by Zoe Norridge’.
  • Met vriendelijke groet / With kind regards, 
    Inge Brinkman
    Ghent University
Síobhra Aiken, Spiritual Wounds: Trauma, Testimony and the Irish Civil War (Irish Academic Press, 2022).

Spiritual Wounds challenges the widespread belief that the contentious events of the Irish Civil War (1922–23) were covered in a total blanket of silence. The book uncovers an archive of published testimonies by pro- and anti-treaty men and women, written in both English and Irish. Most of the testimonies discussed were produced in the 1920s and 1930s, and nearly all have been overlooked in historical study to date.

However, testimonies of contentious events seldom appear in conventional form. The act of introducing private, often painful, experience into the public realm, especially when it challenged official memory-making (and especially forgetting), demanded the cautious deployment of self-protective narrative strategies. As a result, civil war testimony is often found in places where historians do not traditionally look: in accounts and stories that blur narrative genres, in seemingly artless fictionalised life writing, in autobiographically based fiction and drama, buried under the artifice of poetry, or hidden in Gothic and romance modes.

This wealth of published testimony reveals that the silence of the Irish Civil War was not necessarily a result of revolutionaries’ inability to speak, but rather reflects the unwillingness of official memory makers to listen to the stories of civil war veterans.

Introduction: The Unspeakable Irish Civil War?
1. ‘Ridding Ourselves of the Past’: Therapeutic Testimony
2. From Rest to Writing Cures: Testifying to Women’s Pain
3. Hidden in Plain Sight: Witnesses to Sexual Violence
4. ‘A Dispossessed People’: Spiritual Exiles and Exiled Emigrants
5. ‘I Killed at Least a Dozen Fellow Irishmen’: Perpetrator Testimony
Afterword: Acts of Reparation 

Síobhra Aiken is a lecturer in Queen’s University Belfast. A former Fulbright Scholar, her publications include The Men Will Talk to Me: Ernie O’Malley’s Interviews with the Northern Divisions (Merrion Press, 2018) and An Chuid Eile Díom Féin: Aistí le Máirtín Ó Direáin (Cló Iar-Chonnacht, 2018). Spiritual Wounds is based on her doctoral research at NUI Galway, which was awarded the American Conference for Irish Studies Adele Dalsimer Prize for Distinguished Dissertation 2021. 
by Heather Ostman

Book Description

American Women Activists and Autobiography examines the feminist rhetorics that emerge in six very different activists’ autobiographies, as they simultaneously tell the stories of unconventional women’s lives and manifest the authors’ arguments for social and political change, as well as provide blueprints for creating tectonic shifts in American society.

Exploring self-narratives by six diverse women at the forefront of radical social change since 1900—Jane Addams,  Emma Goldman, Dorothy Day, Angela Davis, Mary Crow Dog, and Betty Friedan—the author offers a breadth of perspectives to current dialogues on motherhood, essentialism, race, class, and feminism, and highlights the shifts in situated feminist rhetorics through the course of the last one hundred years.

This book is a timely instructional resource for all scholars and graduate students in rhetorical studies, composition, American literature, women’s studies, feminist rhetorics, and social justice.

Table of Contents

Introduction: American Women Activists and Autobiography: Rhetorical Lives

Chapter 1: The Progressive Cassandra: Rhetoric in Jane Addam’s Twenty Years at Hull-House

Chapter 2:Anarchism and the Rhetoric of Womanhood: Emma Goldman’s Living My Life

Chapter 3: Dorothy Day and the Rhetoric of Paradox

Chapter 4: Angela Davis: An Autobiography and the Rhetoric of Race Consciousness

Chapter 5: Rhetorical Sovereignty and the Gendered Body in Mary Crow Dog’s Lakota Woman

Chapter 6: Betty Friedan’s Life So Far and New Activist Paradigms


Heather Ostman is a professor of English at SUNY Westchester Community College in Valhalla, NY, where she also serves as Director of the Humanities Institute and as the Humanities Curriculum Chair. She is the author or editor of nine books, several of which are focused on the work of Kate Chopin. She also serves as the president of the Kate Chopin International Society., 
Life Writing, Volume 19, Issue 2, June 2022 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:

Editorial Note
Editorial Note
Maureen Perkins
Pages: 157-157 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2035521

‘Dear Diary, Dear Body’: Reading Embodied and Narrated Selves
Babs Boter, Ernestine Hoegen, Meritxell Simon-Martin & Leonieke Vermeer
Pages: 159-167 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2022.2015271

Narrative Agency at the Interface of Embodiment and Emotions: The North-American Epistolary Diary of Barbara Bodichon
Meritxell Simon-Martin
Pages: 169-189 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1984188

Body Work: Diarising Self-Display and Risk |
Babs Boter
Pages: 191-213 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1965513

From Diaries to Data Doubles. Self-Tracking in Dutch Diaries (1780–1940) |
Leonieke Vermeer
Pages: 215-240 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1971057

Narrating the Imprisoned Body in Life Writing from the Kamioka POW Camp
Ernestine Hoegen
Pages: 241-258 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1967141

‘In Our Daily Struggles’: Diaries as a Tool for Teacher Well-being
Lucy Kelly, Grace Huxford & Catherine Kelly
Pages: 261-276 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1763232

Glossing the Diary: Women Writing for Posterity, the Case of Elizabeth Edgeworth (1781–1800)
Amy Prendergast
Pages: 277-294 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1803537

From Landscape to Country: Writing Settler Belonging in Post-Mabo Australia
Martina Horáková
Pages: 295-314 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1781584


How to Read a Diary: Critical Contexts and Interpretive Strategies for 21st-Century Readers
by Desirée Henderson, New York, Routledge, 2019, 194 pp., ISBN: 978-1-315-19805-7
Alvaro Gonzalez-Montero
Pages: 317-319 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1855730

The European Journal of Life Writing

Volume XI, first creative article and book reviews

On behalf of the editorial board of the European Journal of Life Writing, I am very happy to announce that the EJLW has published the first creative article and book reviews of its eleventh volume.

Mirja Maria Thiel, ‘Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man (2016-2018)’.

Catherine Brist, ‘Babs Boter, Marleen Rensen, and Giles Scott-Smith (eds.), Unhinging the National Framework: Perspectives on Transnational Life Writing‘.

Malin Lidström Brock, ‘Jennifer Cooke, Contemporary Feminist Life-Writing: The New Audacity‘.

Kathy Davis, ‘Leigh Gilmore and Elizabeth Marshall, Wittnessing Girlhood. Toward an Intersectional Tradition of Life Writing‘.

The European Journal of Life Writing
In recognition of Black History Month, Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly is pleased to offer two free-to-access special issues through the end of February: 
  • Volume 41, Number 4, a special issue on “M4BL and the Critical Matter of Black Lives,” with guest editors Brittney Cooper and Treva B. Lindsey:
  • Volume 36, Number 3, a special issue on Malcolm X entitled, “He the One We All Knew,” with guest editor Njoroge Njoroge:
Additionally, UH Press has made a number of individual articles free to access through the end of February, including: 
  • “Black Biography in the Service of a Revolution: Martin D. Delany in Afro-American Historiography” by Tunde Adeleke, published in volume 17, number 3:
  • African American Pioneers in Anthropology (review)” by B.C. Harrison, published in volume 23, number 2:
  • “Biography and the Political Unconscious: Ellison, Toomer, Jameson, and the Politics of Symptomatic Reading” by Barbara Foley, published in volume 36, number 4:
  • “Digression, Slavery, and Failing to Return in the Narrative of the Sufferings of Lewis Clarke” by Michael A. Chaney, published in volume 39, number 4:
  • “Obituarizing Black Maleness, Obituarizing Prince” by Steven W. Thrasher, published in volume 41, number 1:
  • “Call My Name: Using Biographical Storytelling to Reconceptualize the History of African Americans at Clemson University” by Rhondda Robinson Thomas, published in volume 42, number 3:
To see what other journals, articles, and reviews are free to access through UH Press in recognition of Black History Month, visit:

There are several other issues of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly that are currently free to access, including: 

  • Volume 41, Number 1, which includes a cluster entitled, “On Prince: A Labor of Love, Loss, and Freedom,” with guest editor Andreana Clay:
  • Volume 37, Number 2, a special issue on “Life in Occupied Palestine,” with guest editors Cynthia G. Franklin, Morgan Cooper, and Ibrahim G. Aoudé:
  • Volume 30, Number 4, an open-forum issue featuring essays from Lee Zimmerman and Rocío G. Davis, the Annual Bibliography of Works About Life Writing, 2006-2007, and a number of book reviews:
Tuesday 8 March
9-10.30 CET
Online book presentation
Performing Borders, Identities and Texts
(New York: Berghahn, 2022)
Edited by Nelson González Ortega and Ana Belén Martínez García
Editors will present the volume and be joined by contributors who will discuss the main findings of each chapter.
ISBN  978-1-80073-380-0
The 21st century has witnessed some of the largest human migrations in history. Europe in particular has seen a major influx of refugees, redefining notions of borders and national identity. This interdisciplinary volume brings together leading international scholars of migration from perspectives as varied as literature, linguistics, area and cultural studies, media and communication, visual arts, and film studies. Together, they offer innovative interpretations of migrants and contemporary migration to Europe, enriching today’s political and media landscape, and engaging with the ongoing debate on forced mobility and rights of both extra-European migrants and European citizens.
Mark Celinscak, Kingdom of Night: Witnesses to the Holocaust (University of Toronto Press, 2022).

In April 1945, when the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was surrendered and handed over to the British Army, Canadian forces arrived on scene to provide support, to bear witness, and to document the crimes. They were overwhelmed, understaffed, and left without adequate supplies, equipment, and medicine. Their encounters at the camp were haunting, transformative experiences that forever changed their lives.

In Kingdom of Night, Mark Celinscak reveals the engagement of Canadian troops and other personnel at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The book brings together a series of gripping, often deeply moving accounts that demonstrate the critical relief work carried out by Canadians who have been largely overlooked for more than seventy-five years. It outlines in both stark and moving detail what a cross-section of Canadians both said and did during the liberation efforts at one of the most notorious sites in Hitler’s camp system.

In addition, biographical overviews are presented for each Canadian featured in the book, not only highlighting some of their life-saving and humanitarian work, but also revealing what ultimately became of their lives after the war. Kingdom of Night depicts the gruelling efforts by those who assisted the victims of one of the greatest crimes in history.

Mark Celinscak is the Louis and Frances Blumkin Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Executive Director of the Sam and Frances Fried Holocaust and Genocide Academy at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.


THURSDAYS, 12:00 NOON–1:15 PM Hawaiian Standard Time 

All are welcome to attend. For more information, or detailed updates about each of the events right before they happen, please visit the Center for Biographical Research’s website, contact us at 808-956-3774 or, or sign up for our mailing list at


February 3: “The Making of Reel Wahine of Hawai‘i
Vera Zambonelli and Shirley Thompson, series co-producers and directors
Meleanna Meyer, visual artist and filmmaker, season III cast member
Joy Chong-Stannard, live television and documentary director, season III cast member

Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the Academy for Creative Media, Hui ʻĀina Pilipili: Native Hawaiian Initiative, the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, the School of Communications, the Center for Oral History, the Departments of Ethnic Studies, Political Science, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and the University of Hawai‘i West Oʻahu Academy for Creative Media
Zoom Meeting ID: 936 7791 2215
Password: 184444

February 10: “Constructing the Ghoul Boys: Queerying Ethics and Identity in Buzzfeed Unsolved and Its Real-Person Fiction (RPF)”
Zoë E. Sprott, MA Candidate, English; Reviews Editor and Editorial Assistant at the Center for Biographical Research, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the Academy for Creative Media, the School of Communications, and the Departments of Political Science and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Zoom Meeting ID: 920 0132 6880
Password: 589979

February 17: “Hawaiʻiloa and the End of the Kanaka Diaspora”
Michael David Kaulana Ing, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Indiana University

Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Hui ʻĀina Pilipili: Native Hawaiian Initiative, the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, and the Departments of Religion, Ethnic Studies, and Political Science
Zoom Meeting ID: 967 2316 5685
Password: 493614

February 24: “Memorializing Dr. Haunani-Kay Trask”
M. Healani Sonoda-Pale, Kanaka Maoli and Citizen of Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi

Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Hui ʻĀina Pilipili: Native Hawaiian Initiative, the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, Political Science, History, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Zoom Meeting ID: 953 4618 1006
Password: 421123

March 3: “Inclusion: How Hawaii Protected Japanese Americans from Mass Internment, Transformed Itself, and Changed America”
Tom Coffman, Political Journalist, Author, Filmmaker

Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Hui ʻĀina Pilipili: Native Hawaiian Initiative, the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, and the Departments of History, Ethnic Studies, and Political Science
Zoom Meeting ID: 969 7952 5765
Password: 697708

March 10: “Sharing Stories of Pain on Social Media”
L. Ayu Saraswati, Associate Professor, Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the Academy for Creative Media, and the School of Communications, and the Departments of Political Science and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Zoom Meeting ID: 942 1123 1535
Password: 700655

March 24: “Indigenizing the Writing Center”
Georganne Nordstrom, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa; Vice President, International Writing Center Association
Kalilinoe Detwiler, MA Candidate, English; Center Coordinator, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Writing Center
Kayla Watabu, MA Candidate, English; Research/Workshop Coordinator, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Writing Center

Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Hui ʻĀina Pilipili: Native Hawaiian Initiative, the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, the School of Communications, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, Political Science, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Zoom Meeting ID: 954 9657 0215
Password: 975259

March 31:Sweat and Salt Water: Generating a Testament to the Legacy of Teresia Kieuea Teaiwa”
Dr. April K. Henderson, Director of Va’aomanū Pasifika—Programmes in Pacific Studies and Samoan Studies, Te Herenga Waka/Victoria University of Wellington
Terence Wesley-Smith, Professor (retired), Center for Pacific Islands Studies, UHM
Katerina Teaiwa, Professor of Pacific Studies and Deputy Director – Higher Degree Research Training in the School of Culture, History and Language, and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Australian National University

Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Hui ʻĀina Pilipili: Native Hawaiian Initiative, the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, Political Science, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Zoom Meeting ID: 964 6893 6495
Password: 765773

April 7: “‘Trouble Enough’: Enslaved Women’s Testimony as an Ethics of Care”
Elizabeth Colwill, Associate Professor, Department of American Studies, and Affiliate Faculty for the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, and the Departments of History, Ethnic Studies, Political Science, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Zoom Meeting ID: 919 2757 7192
Password: 208236

April 14: “From Research to Curriculum: Grassroots Strategies for Getting Your Life Stories into Classrooms”
Ron Williams Jr., PhD, Archivist at the Hawaiʻi State Archives, and Owner of Ka ʻElele Research and Writing and For Goodness Sake, a community education non-profit

Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Hui ʻĀina Pilipili: Native Hawaiian Initiative, the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies and Political Science
Zoom Meeting ID: 991 1226 0590
Password: 345501

April 21: “Talking Story: A Panel on the Bamboo Ridge Oral History Project”
Eric Chock and Darrell Lum, founding editors
Juliet Kono, current editor-in-chief
Jean Toyama, past guest editor, lead on the Bamboo Ridge preservation project
Moderated by Donald Carriera Ching and Ken Tokuno

Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Hui ʻĀina Pilipili: Native Hawaiian Initiative, the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, the School of Communications, the Center for Oral History, and the Department of Ethnic Studies
Zoom Meeting ID: 981 9620 8507
Password: 980287


Life Writing, Volume 19, Issue 1, March 2022 (Special) is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

Autofiction, Emotions, and Humour; Guest Editors: Alexandra Effe and Arnaud Schmitt

This new issue contains the following articles:


Autofiction, Emotions, and Humour: A Playfully Serious Affective Mode
Alexandra Effe & Arnaud Schmitt
Pages: 1-11 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.2010594


Avatars as the Raison d’Être of Autofiction
Arnaud Schmitt
Pages: 15-26 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1753486

The Bronx in Short Trousers: Jerome Charyn’s Mischievous Childhood Recollections in The Dark Lady from Belorusse
Sophie Vallas
Pages: 27-43 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1907890

The Ridiculous Legend of El Gran Vázquez: Self-deprecation and Picaresque in the Autofictional Comics by Vázquez
Alfredo Guzmán Tinajero
Pages: 45-61 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.2010626

A Trickster’s Tale: Autofictional Humour in Günter Grass’s Beim Häuten der Zwiebel
Christian Baier
Pages: 63-80 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1896330

Gender Tensions, Taboos and Textual Acts in Melina Rorke’s Autofiction
Lizelle Smit
Pages: 81-97 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1826643

Resistance and Desire: Autofictional Satire and Intersubjectivity in Samuel Shem’s The House of God
Jeffrey M. Brown
Pages: 99-113 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.2010525

Autofiction and Testimony in Vigdis Hjorth’s Will and Testament
Gretchen Shirm
Pages: 115-126 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1890538

Uncovering the Unwritten: A Paratextual Analysis of Autofiction
Allira Hanczakowski
Pages: 127-144 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1801132

Archival Autofiction in Post-Dictatorship Argentina | Open Access
Anna Forné
Pages: 145-156 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1642174



Newsletter Biography Institute

January 2022 (PDF version)

Book launch Fear of Theory
On February 10, 14.30 hrs (CET) Hans Renders and David Veltman will present to Richard Holmes the first copy of Fear of Theory. Towards a new Theoretical Justification of Biography. The presentation will be the end of a debate between all contributors to the volume, in which they reflect upon the role of biographical research in modern historiography. The Canadian researcher Daniel Meister will introduce the volume to the broader public. Everyone who would like to attend the online book launch can register here.

Public defense Gerben Wynia
Gerben Wynia will defend his biography of C.O. Jellema on March 10, 12.45 hrs in the aula of the Academy building. C.O. Jellema (1936-2003) was a poet of volumes like Droomtijd (1999) and Stemtest (2003) and he taught German literature at the University of Groningen. His work was translated into the English, German and French language and was awarded with some major prizes. Supervisors of this research were prof. Gillis Dorleijn and prof. Hans Renders.

Biography Felix de Boeck praised widely
The biography of Felix de Boeck, the subject of David Veltman’s PhD defense on 5 July 2021, received laudatory reviews in the Dutch and Belgian press. For example Rik Sauwen praised the book in his article in Openbaar Kunstbezit Vlaanderen. A complete list of the reviews in newspapers and online can be found here.

Annual Report Biography Institute
The annual report 2021 of the Biography Institute is available in Dutch.

Panel Biography Institute present on worldconference IABA
Jonne Harmsma, Daniel Meister and David Veltman will speak at the IABA worldconference in Turku, Finland. This conference will take place between 14 and 17 June, and has Life-Writing: Imagining the Past, Present and Future as its theme.

More information can be found on the website
   For subscribing to and unsubscribing from this newsletter, please email


Gene Stelzig’s Walking Through the Four Seasons: An Impromptu Poetry Journal [129 pp.] was published in December by Poets’ Choice [].This third collection of his poetry is an experiment in which Stelzig took up the challenge of writing poems every few days about his walks in the countryside of Western New York in order to comprehend and complete the full circle or cycle of an entire year. What these poems seek to trace is the geography of a reflective mind in touch with the natural world and itself.


Text and Image in Women’s Life Writing. Picturing the Female Self  Palgrave Studies in Life Writing book series) is now out – e-book and hard copy!
Editors : Valérie Baisnée-Keay, Corinne Bigot, Nicoleta Alexoae-Zagni, Stephanie Genty, Claire Bazin
This book examines the relationship between words and images in various life-writing works produced by nineteenth to twenty-first century American and British women. It addresses the politics of images in women’s life writing, contending that the presence or absence of images is often strategic. Including a range of different forms of life writing, chapters draw on traditional (auto)biographies, travel narratives, memoirs, diaries, autofiction, cancer narratives, graphic memoirs, artistic installations, quilts and online performances, as life writing moves from page to screen and other media. The book explores a wide range of women who have crossed the boundary between text and image: painters who have become writers, novelists who have become painters, writers who hesitate between images and words, models who seize the camera, and artists who use the frame as a page.
Hi Colleagues,

I have the following request from a colleague not in the field:

I want to think about how to write a memoir about something you can’t remember, and how such a memoir can be a form of resistance. So my prime case study (this will be a conference paper) is Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller (2019) who was the young woman sexually assaulted in 2015 by Brock Turner while she was passed out on the Stanford University campus.

There must be literature in your field about memoir without recall, or reconstituting the self after a self-shattering experience (some of this in feminist philosophy)? Can you recommend anything that’s good that might help?

I appeal to you to ask about titles you can recommend for my colleague. Thank you in advance!

Take care, Julie Rak
University of Alberta, Canada

Julie Rak 
Henry Marshall Tory Chair and Professor
Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta
Humanities Centre 3-5, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E6, Canada
ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Amiskwacîwâskahikan), Treaty 6/Region 4 Métis Nation
Pronouns: she/her

Note: My working hours are 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, Mountain Standard Time, Monday to Friday. If you email me beyond those hours and times, I will respond to you when my working hours resume.

Essays in Life Writing, edited by Kylie Cardell, is out now in Routledge’s Life Writing book series. 

This book showcases the essay as a unique, innovative form for contemporary life narrative scholarship.

A broad range of interdisciplinary, creative, and often highly personal perspectives are presented in in scholarly essays by Sleiman el Hajj, Karen Lamb, Katerina Bryant, Katherine E Collins, Sarah Pye, Matt Bucher and Grace Chipperfield, Hannah Matthews, Chris Campanioni, Tamarin Norwood, Jane Hughes, Linus Hagström, Eugene Stelzig, and Margot Francis.

Originally published as a special issue of the journal Life Writing, the anthology Essays in Life Writing positions the essay as a unique nexus of creative and critical practice, available to academics publishing peer-reviewed scholarly work from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, and a form of scholarship that is contributing in exciting and vigorous ways to the development of new knowledge in Life Narrative as a field.


The Oxford History of Life-Writing Volume VII: Postwar to Contemporary, 1945-2020
by Patrick Hayes

Considering a diverse range of texts from across the English-speaking world, this volume explores the history of life-writing in relation to wider debates about the sociology and philosophy of modern identity, and the changing marketplace of publishing and bookselling. Yet in doing so it seeks above all to credit the extraordinary literary inventiveness which the pursuit of self-knowledge inspired in this period.

Major subjects addressed include: the aftermath of World War II, including responses to the Holocaust; the impact of psychoanalysis on biography; autofiction, autrebiography, and changing ideas about authentic self-knowledge; coming out memoirs and the transformation of sexual identity; feminist exemplary writing and lyric poetry; multilingualism and intercultural life-writing; the memoir boom and the decline of intimacy; testimony narrative and memory culture; posthumanism in theory and practice; literary biography as an alternative to literary theory; literary celebrity and its consequences for literature; social media and digital life-writing.

Link to the page on Google Books, and on OUP.

About the author:

Also available in the same series:
Vol.1, The Middle Ages, by Karen Winstead
Vol. 2, Early Modern, by Alan Stewart

Simon Rolston, Prison Life Writing: Conversion and the Literary Roots of the U.S. Prison System

Prison Life Writing is the first full-length study of one of the most controversial genres in American literature. By exploring the complicated relationship between life writing and institutional power, this book reveals the overlooked aesthetic innovations of incarcerated people and the surprising literary roots of the U. S. prison system.

Simon Rolston observes that the autobiographical work of incarcerated people is based on a conversion narrative, a story arc that underpins the concept of prison rehabilitation and that sometimes serves the interests of the prison system, rather than those on the inside. Yet many imprisoned people rework the conversion narrative the way they repurpose other objects in prison. Like a radio motor retooled into a tattoo gun, the conversion narrative has been redefined by some authors for subversive purposes, including questioning the ostensible emancipatory role of prison writing, critiquing white supremacy, and broadly reimagining autobiographical discourse.

An interdisciplinary work that brings life writing scholarship into conversation with prison studies and law and literature studies, Prison Life Writing theorizes how life writing works in prison, explains literature’s complicated entanglements with institutional power, and demonstrates the political and aesthetic innovations of one of America’s most fascinating literary genres.


Fear of Theory. Towards a New Theoretical Justification of Biography now published

In the preparation of this volume, Hans Renders and David Veltman (Biography Institute, University of Groningen) asked several biographers and researchers to reconstruct the theory behind their books. How does the backside of a biography look like, the side one cannot see? How does the invisible hand look like? Some biographies are exclusively inventorying, others are based on a theoretical notion, a research method, for example by comparing human lives to find out how respresentative a person is, by using the microhistorical method or by using psychology? Which disciplines do we use?

Preceded by a foreword by Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, the current President of Iceland, this volume consists of seventeen essays by Nigel Hamilton, Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon, Emma McEwin, Melanie Nolan, Kerstin Maria Pahl, Eric Palmen, Hans Renders, Carl Rollyson, David T. Roth, István M. Szijártó, Jeffrey Tyssens and David Veltman. Fear of Theory, the third installment in the Biography Studies series, is now published at Brill. More information can be found here.

European Journal of Life Writing

New cluster and book review


We are very happy to announce that the EJLW has published the new cluster ‘Beyond Boundaries’ edited by Helma van Lierop-Debrauwer, Jane Mcveigh and Monica Soeting, and a book review.


Beyond Boundaries

Helma van Lierop-Debrauwer, Jane Mcveigh, Monica Soeting, ‘Beyond Boundaries. Authorship and Readership in Life Writing: Introduction’.

Marjolein Breems, ‘Tattoos Tell Stories: Children’s Literature Tattoos as a Form of Life Narrative’.

Hannah Fleming, ‘Virtual Reality Life Writing and Young Adult Media Practice’.

Lena Hoffmann, ‘Life Writing through Texts and Images – Picture books by Celebrities’.

Vanessa Joosen, ‘Writing when Young: Bart Moeyaert as a Young Adult Author’.

Anne Klomberg, ‘Stranger spaces: Embodiment, space and language in the collaborative life writing novel The Fortune Finder’.

Helma van Lierop-Debrauwer, ‘Voice and Silence in Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming’.

Anna Poletti, ‘Youth Life Writing, Networked Media, Climate Change: The Challenge of Testimony to the Future’.

Marleen Rensen, ‘New Female Role Models from Around the World: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls’.

Beyond Boundaries. Creative Section

Jessica Sanfilippo-Schulz, ‘A Victorious Roman Holiday: Life Writing and Loving Beyond Boundaries’.

Book review

Alexandra Effe, ‘Yvonne Delhey, Rolf Parr and Kerstin Wilhelms (eds.), Autofiktion als Utopie // Autofiction as Utopia’.


Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol.44, no. 1, 2021

International Year in Review & Annual Bibliography

The entire issue can be accessed on Project Muse here:

Remembering Lauren Berlant

More Flailing in Public

Anna Poletti

National Fantasies about the Self

Rebecca Wanzo

An excerpt from Riva Lehrer’s Golem Girl: A Memoir

International Year in Review

From Individual to Collective Memories: The Year in Aruba

Rose Mary Allen and Jeroen Heuvel

Burning Shame, Decolonizing (His)tory, and Writing Illness
and Disability: The Year in Australia

Kylie Cardell

Viennese Modernism and No End: The Year in Austria

Wilhelm Hemecker and David Österle

COVID-19 Emergency Diaries: The Year in Brazil

Sergio da Silva Barcellos

Lives Interrupted: The Year in Canada

Alana Bell

“Diaries in the Lockdown City”: The Year in China

Chen Shen

To Belong—or Not to Belong: The Year in Denmark

Marianne Høyen

“Is the World Still There?”: Estonian Lockdown Diaries:
The Year in Estonia

Leena Kurvet-Käosaar and Maarja Hollo

Stories of Secrets, Wounds, and Healing: The Year in Finland

Kirsi Tuohela

“Ways of Worldmaking”: The Year in France

Joanny Moulin

Complicit Filmmakers, Self-Made Women, and the Weltgeist
on Horseback: The Year in Germany

Tobias Heinrich

Parallel Pathways: The Year in Hungary

Ágnes Major and Zoltán Z. Varga

Eyes Wide Open with Paper in Hand: The Year in Italy

Ilaria Serra

Prison Narratives: The Year in South Korea

Heui-Yung Park

Illness Writing and Revolution, Converging Narratives:
The Year in Lebanon

Sleiman El Hajj

“A Place on the Banknote”: The Year in Malawi

Nick Mdika Tembo

Periodismo, crimen, misoginia: El año en México

Gerardo Necoechea Gracia

A Profusion of Perspectives: The Year in Netherlands

Hans Renders and David Veltman

Pandemic Diaries: The Year in Poland

Paweł Rodak

Fighting Against Traditions of Silence: The Year in Portugal

Cláudia Maria Ferreira Faria

Documenting Lives: The Year in Romania

Ioana Luca

Narratives of a Pandemic: The Year in Spain

Ana Belén Martínez García

Imagining Gender+ Justice amid the Pandemic:
The Year in Turkey

Hülya Adak

Necrography: The Year in the United Kingdom

Tom Overton

Pandemic Reading: The Year in the United States

Leigh Gilmore

Annual Bibliography of Works about Life Writing, 2020

Compiled by Zoë E. Sprott


Edited Collections and Special Issues

Articles and Essays




Alfred Hornung

Al Capone: Der amerikanische Traum und das organisierte Verbrechen [The American Dream and Organized Crime] (Darmstadt: wbgTheiss, 2021), 320 pp.

In this biography of Al Capone, I focus on the promises of the American Dream for Southern Italian immigrants and the propensity for drifting into the arms of criminal organizations. The discrimination against visibly different foreigners and their separation from mainstream American society in districts like Little Italy resulted in ethnic fights, e.g. between Irish White Handers and Italian Black Handers, and culminated in calling Al Capone “Black” and initially rejecting him in the Irish family of his future wife. Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, constituted the perfect platform for illegal activities in the 1920s. The manufacturing or sale of alcohol became the profitable business of ethnic groups who used the revenue to set up sites for gambling and prostitution. This challenge to the legal and political system and violent forms of interethnic rivalry resulted in beer wars and capital crimes. The consumers of Al Capone’s services ignored his alleged criminal record and valued his self-styled role as a benefactor of the poor. In this combination of capitalistic measures and charity he explicitly emulated the position of the powerful captains of industry or “robber barons,” repeatedly attributed to him, most prominently when Time Magazine featured him as the “John D. Rockefeller of the Underworld.” Ethnic discrimination continued into the legal proceedings against Capone for tax evasion and seemed to substantiate the public perception of Italians as criminals. In most media representations of Al Capone’s life, his financial success rather than his syphilis-ridden existence in prison and the miserable final days in his Miami Beach home became the dominant topic, transforming the image of the criminal into that of a daring hero. My analysis of the Capone Organization in Chicago in relation to the simultaneously established Trump Organization in the construction business in New York is based on the frequent references of President Donald Trump to Al Capone and the comparison of their business deals as well as their establishment of a system of ‘alternate truths’ and their interference with elections. The reasons for the unabated public interest in Al Capone as a subject of study and media representation can be linked to these current concerns. Thus, the Harvard Business School recently conducted a case study on Al Capone’s Organization, a Chicago bar association re-enacted Al Capone’s trial, complementing the long list of films, serialized formats and publications turning him into a product of the culture industry. The ethnic profiling in earlier productions has receded in favor of entertaining consumption. However, the analysis of Al Capone’s migration background also reflects the treatment of (im)migrants in past and present, their discrimination and separation hindering their legal participation in public life and instead contributing to their potential involvement in criminal activities.

Alfred Hornung is Research Professor of American Studies and director of the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. He is a founding member of IABA and of IABA-Europe and on the editorial board of Life Writing in Europe, Journal of Life Writing, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies. His latest life writing publications are: the Chinese translation of Ecology and Life Writing (2016); Jack London: Abenteuer des Lebens (2016); “North American Autobiography,” Handbook Autobiography/Autofiction, ed. Martina Wagner-Egelhaaf, 3 vols., (2019), vol. 2, 1205-1259; “Ecocriticism and Life Narrative,” Research Methodologies for Auto/biography Studies, ed. Kate Douglas and Ashley Barnwell, (2019) 236-243.The Routledge Companion to Transnational American Studies (2019 with Nina Morgan, Takayuki Tatsumi); “Chuangzao Kuayue Guojie De Ziwo” [Life Writing Knowledge and Narrative Medicine: Creating the Transnational Self], Journal of the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2020): 81-90. 

Dear Colleagues,

Last week I announced on this site the Canadian launching of ” Choosing the Island” on October 15, and this week on November 12 I will launch the book here in Finland.

I would like to offer you your personal  complimentary copy of my book: “Choosing the Island ‘through the warp and woof of time’ Women who made twentieth century Prince Edward Island Canada their home” in the hope that you will read it and consider recommending it to your institution or library for purchase. 

The book is an interdicilpinary study of five women of various backgrounds who migrated to Prince Edward Island from Europe (Scotland, England, Poland) and elsewhere in Canada during the twentieth-century. Their performances in the area of the arts, as teachers, entrepreneurs, social activitists, letter writers, poets, and  family women, establish a point of departure for studying women, notorious or otherwise, and their identification and contirbution to their new place.

Thank you in advance for not sharing my book beyond this community but rather ask others to contact me for a copy.

Best wishes!

Mary McDonald-Rissanen

Lähetetty Windowsin Sähköpostiista 

Dear Colleagues:
I am pleased to announce the publication of my book–Lives Beyond Borders: U.S. Immigrant Women’s Life Writing, Nationality, and Social Justice–with SUNY Press this week. If you work in higher education or at a library and you are so inclined, it would be much appreciated if you suggested your institution purchase a copy:
For any questions or requests, please email me directly at
Many thanks for taking a look.
All my best,
Ina C. Seethaler, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)
Associate Professor/Director of Women’s and Gender Studies
HTC Honors College
Coastal Carolina University
Kearns 104B
PO Box 261954, Conway, SC 29528



Critical Essays


These are critical essays on biography. Not theory, not history: criticism, based on textual analyses, by a method rather less often applied to biographies than to works of other genres. The studies are devoted to the works of five contemporary British biographers — Ruth Scurr, Peter Ackroyd, Hermione Lee, Claire Tomalin and Ian Kershaw — selected for their resistances to criticism. This meditation on biography, seeking to break up the husk of its apparent straightforwardness, comes up with the conviction that, since life itself is already writing, it ought to be pursued on philosophical ground.

Ce livre regroupe des essais critiques sur la biographie. Ni théorie, ni histoire : critique, basée sur des analyses textuelles, selon une méthode moins souvent appliquée à la biographie qu’à d’autres genres. Ces études sont consacrées aux oeuvres de cinq biographes britanniques contemporains – Ruth Scurr, Peter Ackroyd, Hermione Lee, Claire Tomalin et Ian Kershaw – choisis pour leurs résistances à la critique. Cette méditation sur la biographie, cherchant à briser l’écale de son apparente simplicité, débouche sur la conviction que, puisque la vie elle-même est déjà une écriture, elle doit être poursuivie sur le terrain philosophique.

Joanny Moulin, Membre senior de l’Institut Universitaire de France, Professeur des Universités à l’Institut d’Histoire de la Philosophie d’Aix-Marseille Université, fondateur de la Biography Society, est également l’auteur de plusieurs biographies dans le domaine anglophone.


Choosing the Island “through the warp and woof of time” Women who made twentieth century Prince Edward Island their home explores, analyzes, and records the lives of five immigrant women – Elsie Sark, Elaine Harrison, Joan Colborne, Janina Zielinski, and Erica Rutherford – and their rapport with their Island through their auto/biographical endeavours. Although work has been done on Elaine Harrison and Erica Rutherford, and to some extent on Elsie Sark, there has been little on Joan Colborne and even less, if any at all, on Janina Zielinski. The inspiration for this book has arisen from my previous studies of the diaries of L.M. Montgomery (“Veils and Gaps: Women’s Life Writing in Early 20th Century Prince Edward Island,” unpublished licentiate thesis) and those of less prominent Island women (In the Interval of the Wave: Prince Edward Island Women’s Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Life Writing, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014). My research, conference papers, and publications have resulted in a strong desire to look deeper into the lives and writing of women immigrants and their impact on the Island. Furthermore, the sense of affinity with them, being an emigrant from PEI to Europe, gave me the motivation to explore, through these five women, how they felt and fared in a new place. Their diaries, poetry, paintings, letters, autobiographies, and biographies have provided a point of departure for studying their lives and their action on numerous fronts, for example: the arts, their community engagement, gardening, teaching, all of which reveal how they became part of the Island fabric.


Island born Mary McDonald-Rissanen grew up in Summerside, studied in Kinkora and Charlottetown before moving to Finland. Since the 1970s Mary has lectured and researched language and literature at the University of Tampere (Finland) where she earned her doctorate in Comparative Literature with her dissertation entitled Sandstone Diaries – Prince Edward Island Women’s Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Life Writing. Mary lives in Finland and summers in Darnley, PEI.

ISBN 978-952-94-5113-5

Publisher: Timsak Ltd., Vantaa, Finland



Life Writing, Volume 18, Issue 4, December 2021 (Special) is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

Self/Culture/Writing: Autoethnography in the 21st Century – Part 2; Guest Editor: Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle

This new issue contains the following articles:


Autoethnography and Beyond: Genealogy, Memory, Media, Witness
Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle
Pages: 475-482 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1982161

Where the Centres Line Up: Finding Myself in the Fabric of the Highlands
Laura J. Beard
Pages: 485-496 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1927489

Writing Ourselves into Time: Stories of Indo-Trinidadian Women
Prabha Jerrybandan
Pages: 497-511 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1930496

Strangers in a Strange Land: Jewish Memories of Istanbul in the Memoirs of Roni Margulies
Esra Almas
Pages: 513-525 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1928811

The Language of Food: Semiotics in Diana Abu-Jaber’s Gastrographies
Leila Moayeri Pazargadi
Pages: 527-543 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1926892

Hip Hop, La Crónica and Epiphany in Mexico City: Performative Research, Methodological Identities and Affective Analysis
Ruben Enrique Campos III
Pages: 545-561 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1928094

Arriving on YouTube: Vlogs, Automedia and Autoethnography
Ümit Kennedy
Pages: 563-578 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1927485

Embodied Dread in Covid-19 Images and Narratives
Sabina M. Perrino
Pages: 579-592 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1926615

Embracing the ‘Good-enough’—Teaching, Learning, Living During the COVID-19 Lockdown
Irene Strasser
Pages: 593-609 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1928810

Open Your Hand: Teaching as a Jew, Teaching as an American
by Ilana M. Blumberg, New Brunswick and London, Rutgers University Press, 2019, 195 pp., ISBN 978-1-9788-0081-6
Susan S. Lanser
Pages: 613-616 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1686339

This Place You Know
by Christina Houen, Port Adelaide, Ginninderra Press, 2019, 242 pp., ISBN 9781760417437
Gay Lynch
Pages: 617-621 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1720822

In Search of the Woman Who Sailed the World
by Danielle Clode, Sydney, Australia, Picador, 2020, 384 pp., ISBN 13: 978-176084959
Katerina Bryant
Pages: 623-625 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1812022

Ficciones de verdad. Archivo y narrativas de vida
[In English: True Fictions from Spain. Life-Writing and the Archive], by Patricia López-Gay, Madrid/Frankfurt, Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2020, 244 pp., ISBN: 9783968690513
Anna Forné
Pages: 627-630 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1864252

Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies
No.16, Spring 2021
Center for Life Writing, SJTU, China

Editor’s Note

[Special Section: Interview]

Fenimore Cooper’s Biography, Life and Works: An Interview with Prof. Wayne Franklin
……Ma Yueling

[Theory Studies]

On “Phasic Biography”: Taking the Series of “The Corridor and The Back” as an Example……Shi Jianguo

[Text Studies]

Misplaced Compassion:On Emperor Huizong by Patricia Buckley Ebery……Liu Tao
The New Milestone in the Research History of The Scholars: A Book Review of The Biographies of Famous Cultural Figures of Past Dynasties in Jiangsu: Wu Jingzi……Hu Peng
A Critical Reading of Wang Yuanhua’s Biographies……Wang Yulin
The “Sick Man” Churchill: Medical Ethics and Body Politics in Biography……Zhou
Isolated Life and Identity Dilemma: John Jung’s Writing of Early Chinese Americans’ Life in American South……He Xiuming

[Autobiography Studies]

“Who Knows My True Face in Those Years”: Western Researches on Self -Portrait……Liang Qingbiao
The Return of Presence: The Emergence of Autobiographical Literary Criticism and Its Possibility in the New Era of English & American Literature Study……Zhang Huifang
Autotopography and the Construction of Cultural Memory: Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul: Memories and the City……Zhu Yan
Autobiographical Literature, Media Memory and Literary Style cross the Boundary——Centered on the Autobiography of Qinwen……Huang Yucong  Chen Shuyun
A Halfway Man: Patrick White’s View of Gender……Zhang Wenru

 [History of Life Writing]

Between Fiction and Truth and inside or outside Power: The Research on Deqing’s Taming Style……Wang Yanming
Samuel Johnson’s Selection Criteria for Biographees……Sun Yongbin

 [Subject Studies]

The “Real Record” Writing of Wang Yangming’s Image of Treacherous Courtier……Xie Yidan
Writer or Thinker: A Study of Joseph Conrad’s Biographies……Zhu Hongxiang
The Case of Love Triangle in the History of European Studies and its Cultural and Historical Significance: The “Two Wangs’ Controversy” Centering around Wu Ruoying……Ye Jun
Identity Construction in Chiang Yee’s Travel Writings……Fan Chen

 [Film Biography]

The Truth Description of Semiotics on Anti-biopic: A Semiotic Observation of Bob Dylan’s Bio-pic I’m not there……An Liya

 [PhD Dissertation Extracts]

“Life-Writing”: On Virginia Woolf’s Memory Writing……Jiao Hongle
Biography Publishing and Social Change: A Study on Biography
Publishing since 1949……Wang Hongbo
A Study of Biographies of Modern Chinese Play-Wrights……Song Na
The Descriptive Catalogue and Textual Research of “The Biographies of the Sages”
in Ancient China……Li He

Call for PhD Dissertation Extracts……

Instructions to Contributors

From the Editors

From the Editor

With the popularity of the concept life writing, the life writing in broad sense has evolved into a large cultural group and developed into new categories and sub-categories. In the meantime, new areas, concepts, objects and approaches have emerged in the life writing studies, as demonstrated in several innovative articles of this issue.
Shi Jianguo proposes the concept of “phasic biography,” which focuses on a certain stage of the subject’s life, in contrast with the standard one of encompassing the whole life. This form has a long history and its number is increasing. Maybe Shi is the first scholar conducting research on this area of research.
Liang Qingbiao discusses the Western researches on self-portrait. Despite the fact that the self-portrait is a well-established artistic form, the origin of the specialized research on this genre is only traced back to 20 to 30 years ago. On the basis of the paper on image biography published in our journal, Liang further argues that the self-portrait is a form of autobiography and the history of self-portrait thus falls into the category of the history of autobiography. In addition, Liang analyzes the different cultural connotations of Chinese and the Western self-portraits and the classic self-portraits provided in his paper are invaluable materials to help further interpretation. 
Zhu Yan sheds light on a new autobiographical concept, i.e. autotopography, which refers to the autobiographical works centering around a certain region and follows the relations between the subject and the place. Zhu Yan selects Istanbul: Memories and the City by Nobel Prize laureate Pamuk to explore the cultural memories in it. The concept of the autotopography broadens the field of autobiography studies.
Zhang Huifang concisely and comprehensively describes autobiographical literary criticism, a new genre that combines autobiography with literature criticism, including the origin, status quo and potentials. As a form of literature criticism, this field will achieve promising development.
An Liya discusses the anti-biopic, a new film pattern in the post-structural category which challenges the conventional narration in the film biography produced in Hollywood and contends that it simplifies the complex human life and conflicts. Bob Dylan’s film biography I’m not there is a typical one, in which 6 actors/actresses of different colors and sexes play the role of the biographee who seems irrelevant to Bob Dylan himself. An Liya puts this film in the perspective of Semiotics and believes that it constructs a text of abstract symbols with close connections to the object. Is anti-biopic a new approach of developing film arts? We need to patiently wait for the test of time.
The history of life writing is unignorable when a close eye is put on the new topics of life writing studies. Two papers are published in the section of History of Life Writing. Scholars attention is attracted to the monk biography in recent years and Deqing’s Taming in the late Ming Dynasty is unique. Wang Yanming explores this form in a modern academic approach and examines the narrative orientation and the narrative strategies from details, so as to analyze the cultural implications and broaden the scope of monk biography studies.
The origin of British and the Western modern biography is traced back to Dr. Johnson’s Lives of the Poets. Through the examination of the biographees depicted by Johnson, Sun Yongbin discovers that they are ordinary people and share a common ground with the biographer, for this type of biographees are suitable for him and enables him to make a success. Sun further finds evidence in the classic eighteenth-century biographies for the biographer’s identification with the biographee.
In the four papers of “Subject Studies,” two concern Chinese cultural figures with detailed textual research. As an important thought in China’s history of philosophy, Wang Yangming is portrayed as a well-esteemed and eminent minister and scholar with great achievements. In Ming Shilu, however, he is described as a treacherous courtier committing slaughter of innocent civilians. Xie Yidan conducts textual criticism of a great variety of historical documents and makes a reasonable explanation of this historical myth from the perspectives of politics, court struggle and Neo-Confucianism trend.   
As the participant of the May-fourth Movement and one of the leaders of Young China Society, Wang Guangqi studied in Germany and became a famous music theorist. The influence of the Western liberal thinking on China’s social, political and cultural history as a whole is explored through Ye Jun’s examination of Wang’s love affair and the change of life in the aftermath of this event. This issue is important and complex and further research is needed.
Biographee’s identity is one of the core issues in the life writing studies with the most prominent distinctive feature of the discipline. Two papers concern this issues in the section of “Subject Studies.”
As a frontier branch of autobiography, travel writing features uncertain and incomplete indication of the subject’s identity and is thus more difficult to research. Fan Chen examines Chiang Yee’s identity in travel writings and peruses Chiang’s texts in combination with such paratext as poems and paintings to analyze the content, techniques, styles and the changes concerned. In so doing, Fan reveals Chiang’s persistent construction of his cultural identity and challenge of the stereotype of and prejudice against China in the West in over 40 years of his travel writing, so as to forge his cosmopolitan identity with Chinese culture at its core. This paper is an innovative and successful effort from the perspectives of both the identity studies and travel writing studies.
Zhu Hongxiang focuses on Conrad’s identity. Through the interpretation of Conrad’s autobiographies and biographies, Zhu analyzes Conrad’s ideas and the origins concerned against the milieu of the history and Conrad’s life stories to argue that he is mostly a thinker rather than a writer. What matters is the objective and methodology of identity studies and we invite your attention to this issue.
This issue features several specialized researches on biographical/autobiographical works. Biographies of Chinese figures by U.S. biographers tend to arouse attention of Chinese readers. Patricia Buckley Ebery’s Emperor Huizong is a new one, which undermines the emperor’s conventional image in Chinese’s mind. Liu Tao expresses sharp criticism of this biography because of the biographer’s full of compassion for Huizong without understanding, detailed historical materials with misinterpretation, and subjective shaping with misrepresentation. The representation of Huizong moves from the extreme of political discourse to the extreme of cultural discourse and results in the misplaced compassion. Liu’s argument is open to discussion, but the difference between Chinese and American scholars in the academic approaches and values orientation that he proposes is noteworthy.
Wang Yuanhua is an important contemporary humanist and intellectual. With a collection of Wang Yuanhua’s biographies and biographical materials, Wang Yulin conducts his criticism of the texts and on this basis, develops his research on the biographee, including the analysis of Wang Yuanhua’s origin of academic thought, Wang’s relations with the contemporary mainstream ideology and in particular his outlook of literature and aesthetics featuring expressing ideals in emotions. In so doing, Wang Yulin provides a sample of breaking the boundary between book review and paper and thus follows the academic trend.
As a writer, Xu Qinwen has close connections with Lu Xun and his Autobiography of Qinwen arouses much attention for it originates from a murder case. Huang Yucong and Chen Shuyun examine the writing of this autobiography and focus on the relations of the autobiography with newspaper media and public opinion. With reference to the theory of communication, the author discusses the problems of autobiographical truth and style boundaries. Although this autobiography is long past, the questions raised in this article are of practical significance.
He Xiuming’s research focuses on the group of Chinese Americans in the two memoirs by Chinese American historian John Jung. The isolated life and the identity dilemma are usual perspectives in the research of overseas Chinese biography. He notices that the living conditions of Chinese Americans’ life in American South are different from those in the bicoastal areas of America and titles this paper as “Isolated Life and Identity Dilemma,” in particular to describe the plight of the second generation of Chinese Americans. This effort demonstrates the refined identity studies. 
British Prime Minister Churchill is also a famous autobiographer and a great many biographies have been written for him to forge the image of a “giant.” Zhou Jili, however, focuses on Churchill’s image of a “sick man” in the biographies and explores the influence of his illness on his political career and the international politics. Zhou explains the milieu of these debunking biographies and mentions the medical ethics, which are both valuable for further discussion.
Australian writer Patrick White called himself a “halfway man” in his autobiography written in his late years to break the socially constructed barrier between males and females and restore the true nature of humankind. Why did White make this claim in Australian culture where masculinity and “bush man” are promoted? What is the significance of his view of gender? What is inspiration of his view to the trend of cultural development? Zhang Wenru’s paper gives the answer to these questions and her analysis of them are noteworthy.
Professor Chen Meilin is an expert of Wu Jingzi studies. Hu Peng’s criticism of Chen’s new biography, Biographies of Famous Cultural Figures of Past Dynasties in Jiangsu: Wu Jingzi, reveals the innovation and rigor of a veteran scholar. We should model on his respectable spirit of academic research.
In the section of Interview, Ma Yueling conducts an interview with professor Wayne Franklin, who is an American literature historian and famous for his biography of Fenimore Cooper. Although this interview focuses on this biography, the universal issues are involved for the benefit of readers as well, such as the selection and verification of biographical materials and the understanding of the biographee.
To diversify our journal and promote academic exchanges, we establish a new section “PhD Dissertation Extract” to publish the summary of PhD in the field of life writing studies since 2000. Your contributions are welcomed.

                                January, 2021

Instructions to Contributors

Life writing studies have moved onto the central stage in the academia and gained ever more attention both in and outside China. As the first scholarly journal in the field of China, the biannual journal Modern Life Writing Studies intends to fill up the blank of life writing studies in China, provide a venue for scholars all over the world, attract and promote specialists in the field.
   Aiming to keep abreast of the cutting edge of life writing research, Our journal seeks to, in modern views and perspectives, explore various topics of life writing in China and in the world, with almost 20 sections included, such as Interview, Comparative Biography, Theory Study, History of Life Writing, Text Study, Autobiography Study, Diary Study, Subject Study, Film Biography, Book Reviews, Life Writing Materials, From the Life Writer, etc.
Ever since its appearance in 2013, our journal has been well-received by scholars at home and abroad and fundedby a steady grant from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is exerting increasingly greater influence in academia with a due wide positive response. In 2017, our journal was included in CSSCI (Chinese Social Science Citation Index), and listed in the international academic literature or included in the annual annotated bibliography by world prestigious universities.
Our journal accepts both Chinese and English submissions. All the articles will be subject to anonymous peer review.

  Submissions are welcome from both Chinese and international researchers. Simultaneous submissions are not accepted. English papers should be between 4,000 and 7,000 words of text in length (including notes), while English book reviews are about 2,500 words. Full-length articles take up most part of the journal, but short essays with originality and fresh ideas are also welcome.

Submission Guidelines
All written submissions should be formatted according to the eighth edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. All submissions should include a 100-word abstract both in Chinese and English, keywords (less than 5), a 70–word biographical statement, and works cited. Please adhere to the following requirements:
•   Double spacing, Times New Roman, 12–point font
•   One-inch margins
•   Only Microsoft Word doc or docx files will be accepted
•  Citations should be provided in parenthetical reference followed by “Works Cited”.
•  Endnotes are preferred if there are any.

Submissions should be emailed in Word format to the editor Each contributor will get two complimentary copies once his/her paper is published.

Our journal is based at SJTU Center for Life Writing. We welcome suggestions and proposals, from which we believe our journal will surely benefit.

Shen Chen
School of Humanities, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai,China,200240


Love Affair in the Garden of Milton: Loss, Poetry, and the Meaning of Unbelief, by Susannah B. Mintz
Love Affair in the Garden of Milton interweaves the private story of a marriage coming apart with readings of John Milton’s poetry and prose. Connected essays chart the chaos of loss and the discovery of how a writer can inhabit our emotional as well as our intellectual selves. Inflected by the principles of mindfulness, Susannah B. Mintz’s memoir explores how we reconstruct ourselves and find our way back to meaning in the aftermath of trauma.
Formally inventive and engaging dynamic philosophical ideas, Love Affair in the Garden of Milton raises questions of forgiveness, desire, identity, grief, and the counterintuitive relevance of literary tradition. This lyric memoir offers readers a sense of partnership, with the author and Milton as companionable guides through the wilds of love and loss.

Praise for the book:
In Love Affair in the Garden of Milton, Mintz seamlessly maps Milton’s great epic onto the small, craggy contours of private grief. A marriage dissolving, a pet missing, an atheist longing for meaning: all of these struggles find their unique telling through the studious (but never distant) love Mintz exhibits for the great English poet, who is also the focus of her academic life. Add to that her insights into (and at times frustrations with) practicing Buddhism and mindfulness, and you have one of the more nuanced displays of a complex intelligence, at once playful and joyous to read, but dead serious, too. This book exemplifies the rigor, energy, and ranginess that I have come to crave from the best literary nonfiction.
–Chad Davidson, Director, School of the Arts, University of West Georgia, author of Unearth and Analyze Anything

In this moving memoir, appeals to the work of John Milton, especially Paradise Lost, become uncanny conduits for managing marital discord. Like an embedded reporter, the bard sings from the front lines of uncoupling and unbelief. Mintz teaches us to read as if our lives were at stake. And they are.
–Ralph James Savarese, Grinnell College, author of See It Feelingly: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers, and the Schooling of a No-Good English Professor

Susannah B. Mintz is a Professor of English at Skidmore College. Author of the memoir Love Affair in the Garden of Milton: Poetry, Loss, and the Meaning of Unbelief (LSU Press, 2021), she has published extensively as a writer of creative nonfiction, with essays in Nashville Review, Clackamas, American Literary Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, Epiphany, Ninth Letter, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She was the winner of the 2014 South Loop National Essay Prize; a finalist for the 2010 William Allen nonfiction prize, the Epiphany chapbook contest in 2015, and the 2019 Cagibi essay prize; and a semi-finalist for the 2019 River Teeth nonfiction prize. Her work has received notable mention from Best American Essays 2010 and the Pushcart Prize Anthology 2018. A short memoir called “Match Dot Comedy” appeared as a Kindle Single in 2013. A specialist in disability studies and scholar of autobiography, she is also the author of four monographs, including Unruly Bodies: Life Writing by Women with Disabilities (2007), Hurt and Pain: Literature and the Suffering Body (2014), and The Disabled Detective: Sleuthing Disability in Contemporary Crime Fiction (Bloomsbury 2019), and co-editor of three critical volumes on disability and life writing.


How I Lost My Mother: A story of life, care, and dying
By Leslie Swartz

How I Lost My Mother is a deeply felt account of the relationship between a mother and son, and an exploration of what care for the dying means in contemporary society. The book is emotionally complex – funny, sad and angry – but above all, heartfelt and honest. It speaks boldly of challenges faced by all of us, challenges which are often not spoken about and hidden, but which deserve urgent attention. This is first and foremost a work of the heart, a reflection on what relationships mean and should mean. There is much in the book about relationships of care and exploitation in southern Africa, and about white Jewish identity in an African context. But despite the specific and absorbing references to places and contexts, the book offers a broader, more universal view. All parents of adult children, and all adults who have parents alive, or have lost their parents, will find much in this book to make them laugh, cry, think and feel.

Praise for the book:

  • How I Lost My Mother A story of life, care and dying Leslie Swartz This is an extraordinary memoir: refreshingly candid and self-critical, humorous and wise. It offers a compassionate account of a difficult mother-son relationship and delves deeply into the ethics of care. In his mother’s last years, Leslie hired and worked with her carers to help him look after his mother and in this memoir he documents and honours their work. The book makes an original contribution both to the genre of family memoirs and caring for the dying. — G. Thomas Couser, Professor Emeritus of English and founding director of the Disability Studies Program, Hofstra University, and author of, most recently, a memoir, Letter to My Father
  • With humour and tenderness Leslie Swartz writes about his late mother, Elsie, telling her life story and describing her with as much loving objectivity as one can have towards a parent. His intimate narrative shows how love is all about ‘losing’ a loved one in multiple ways over and over again. In this compelling memoir he also demonstrates how the important work of caring is too often invisible and goes unrecognised. — Colleen Higgs, author of my mother, my madness
  • It is precisely because the writing of this book is so deeply personal that it will resonate universally. This is a story of one man but so too is it the story of us all. It is brave, truthful and full of heart. — Rahla Xenopoulos, author of A Memoir of Love and Madness, Bubbles, Tribe and The Season of Glass

About the Author: Leslie Swartz is a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa best known for his work on disability studies, disability rights, and mental health issues. His memoir Able-Bodied: Scenes from a curious life (2010), received critical acclaim.

Leslie Swartz
Professor: Department of Psychology | Departement Sielkunde | Isebe LeSayikholoji
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Room 1023 Krotoa Building
Stellenbosch University
Private Bag X1 Matieland 7602, South Africa
e: | t: +27 21 808 3450 | f: +27 21 808 3584 | mobile: +27 82 459 3559


Oral Forms of Nigerian Autobiography and Life Stories by Adetayo Alabi. Routledge, 2021.

Oral Forms of Nigerian Autobiography and Life Stories discusses the oral life stories and poems that Africans, particularly the Yoruba people, have told about the self and community over hundreds of years.

Disproving the Eurocentric argument that Africans didn’t produce stories about themselves, the author showcases a vibrant literary tradition of oral autobiographies in Africa and the diaspora. The oral auto/biographies studied in this book show that stories and poems about individuals and their communities have always existed in various African societies and they were used to record, teach, and document history, culture, tradition, identity, and resistance. Genres covered in the book include the panegyric, witches’ and wizards’ narratives, the epithalamium tradition, the hunter’s chant, and Udje of the Urhobo.

Providing an important showcase for oral narrative traditions this book will be of interest to students, scholars, and researchers in African and Africana studies, literature and auto/biographical studies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Place of Orí (Head) and Some Foundational Texts on Oríkì

3. Oríkì Praise Tradition in Yoruba Music

4. Niyi Osundare, Oríkì, and the Oral Auto/biographical Form

5. “I of the Valiant Stock”: Yoruba Bridal Chant and the Auto/biographical Genre

6. “I am the hunter who kills elephants and baboons”: The Auto/biographical Component of the Hunters’ Chant

7. When Witches and Wizards Are Narrators: Oral Auto/biography, Magical Realism, and Memory

8. The Auto/biographical Images of Africa in Udje and Tanure Ojaide’s Poetry

9. On Seeing Africa for the First Time: Orality, Panegyric, Memory, and the Diaspora in Isidore Okpewho’s Call Me By My Rightful Name

10. It Was Oríkì for You: Contemporary Reincarnations of Oral Life Story Genre in the Academy


Adetayo Alabi teaches African and other world literatures and cultures at the University of Mississippi, USA


Oral Forms of Nigerian Autobiography and Life Stories is a brave and noble effort to identify and affirm the presence and role of an oral and aural way of being and knowing comprising a rich and nuanced ethical epistemology among the Yoruba and Urhobo people of Nigeria. Professor Adetayo Alabi’s heroic struggle against the unwarranted domination of one epistemology over another – intellectual and spiritual colonization – is inspiring in itself.

Rowland Abiodun, John C. Newton Professor of Art History and Black Studies, Amherst College, MA, USA. 

Oral Forms of Nigerian Autobiography and Life Stories foregrounds the oral creative process in Nigerian texts about the self and the community.  This innovative approach extends and challenges autobiographical genres and theories by situating orality as critical to their definitions and formations.  Alabi here simultaneously advances and extends our knowledge of orality, autobiography and African literature in a work that also contributes to the larger current academic decolonization processes, important in literature as in the larger intellectual schema.

Carole Boyce Davies, Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters and Professor of Africana Studies and Literatures in English, Cornell University, USA.


The Political Economy of Stigma: HIV, Memoir, Medicine, and Crip Positionalities
Ally Day
Ohio State UP, 2021

“In this groundbreaking book, Day builds on and extends key conversations about audience reception and reaction to memoir, motivations for reading and writing disabled lives, and the operation and maintenance of intersectional disability stigma. It is a must-read for scholars interested in life writing, textual circulation, disability studies, and humanistic approaches to medicine.” —Stephanie L. Kerschbaum, author of Toward a New Rhetoric of Difference

“This new theorization of stigma in relation to political economy is an important contribution to disability and crip studies, to literary studies, and to health humanities. Its innovative methods and its new concepts of ‘diagnostic’ and ‘differential reading’ are sure to stimulate discussion in these fields.” —Olivia Banner, author of Communicative Biocapitalism: The Voice of the Patient in Digital Health and the Health Humanities

In The Political Economy of Stigma, Ally Day offers a compelling critique of neoliberal medical practices in the US by coupling an analysis of HIV memoir with a critical examination of narrative medicine practice. Using insights from feminist disability studies and crip theory, Day argues that stories of illness and disability—such as HIV memoirs—operate within a political economy of stigma, which she defines as the formal and informal circulation of personal illness and disability narratives that benefits some while hindering others. On the one hand, this system decreases access to appropriate medical care for those with chronic conditions by producing narratives of personal illness that frame one’s relationship to structural inequality as a result of personal failure. On the other hand, the political economy of stigma rewards those who procure such narratives and circulate them for public consumption.
The political economy of stigma is theorized from three primary research sites: a reading group with women living with HIV, a reading group with AIDS service workers, and participant observation research and critical close reading of practices in narrative medicine. Ultimately, it is the women living with HIV who provide an alternative way to understand disability and illness narratives, a practice of differential reading that can challenge stigmatizing tropes and reconceptualize the creation, reception, and circulation of patient memoir.

Ally Day is Associate Professor at the University of Toledo.


Announcing H-Biography

by Jesse Draper – Interim Executive Director

H-Net proudly welcomes H-Biography to its family of nearly 200 networks, now available on the H-Net Commons. Read on and follow the links below for more information about this exciting new network!


H-Biography is an interdisciplinary and international network devoted to biography as an object and a method of scholarly research. H-Biography considers Biography Studies as a unique field, distinct from the related approaches of autobiography, life writing, and literary theory. As such, while the network will occasionally publicize biographies of individuals that represent exemplary theory, methods, scholarship, or writing style, its primary purpose is to allow for the discussion and dissemination of information relating to Biography Studies more broadly.

H-Biography Editorial Staff

Daniel R. Meister, Queens University – Network Editor

David Veltman, Biography Institute, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen – Network Editor

H-Biography Advisory Board

Hans Renders, Professor of History and Theory of Biography, Director Biography Institute, University of Groningen (Netherlands)

Billy Tooma, Documentary Filmmaker & Assistant Professor of English, Essex County College (US)

Barbara J. Messamore, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Fraser Valley (Canada)

Maryam Thirriard, Assistant Professor of English, Aix-Marseille Université (France)

Melanie Nolan, Professor of History, Australian National University; Director, National Centre of Biography; General Editor, Australian Dictionary of Biography (Australia)

All H-Biography content is freely accessible at:

You can contact the editors of H-Biography here:

A free account and subscription are required in order to receive discussion posts by email for all of our networks.  For assistance with creating accounts and managing subscriptions on the H-Net Commons:

For instructions to create an account in the Commons go to:

For instructions on subscribing to H-Biography go to:
For tutorials and assistance in using the H-Net Commons, visit H-Net’s Help Desk:

H-Biography is owned by H-Net, Humanities and Social Sciences Online. H-Net is a nonprofit, tax-exempt international network of scholars in the humanities and social sciences that creates and coordinates electronic networks, using a variety of media, and with a common objective of advancing humanities and social science teaching and research. H-Net was created to provide a positive, supportive, equalitarian public environment for the friendly exchange of ideas and scholarly resources.  It is hosted by the Department of History at Michigan State University.

For more information about H-Net, point your web browser to:


Life Writing, Volume 18, Issue 3, September 2021 (Special) is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

Self/Culture/Writing: Autoethnography in the 21st Century; Guest Editor: Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle

This new issue contains the following articles:

Autoethnography and Beyond: Colonialism, Immigration, Embodiment, and Belonging
Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle
Pages: 307-314 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1964920

Manthia Diawara’s Autoethnographic Forays in Memoir and Film from ‘Counter’ to ‘Strong’ to ‘Beyond’ | Open Access
Julia Watson
Pages: 317-335 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1930899

‘The Synergy Between You’: Mothers, Nannies, and Collaborative Caregiving in Contemporary Matroethnographies
Elizabeth Podnieks
Pages: 337-354 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1926880

Becoming a Settler Descendant: Critical Engagements with Inherited Family Narratives of Indigeneity, Agriculture and Land in a (Post)Colonial Context | Open Access
Cameo Dalley
Pages: 355-370 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1927493

Materialising the Decolonising Autobiography
Emily R.M. Lind
Pages: 371-383 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1930495

Spectator Curator: An Autoethnographic Tour of a Latinx in Canada
Luciana Erregue
Pages: 385-399 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1930093

On Being Impossible: Thoughts on Ethnicity, Embodiment and Kinship
May Friedman
Pages: 401-415 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1926870

Bitter/Love: A Mixed-Race Body Archive
Sonja Boon
Pages: 417-428 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1927483

Details Optional: An Account of Academic Promotion Relative to Opportunity
Agnes Bosanquet
Pages: 429-442 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1927492

Journalling in the Currents of Yin and Yang: Adrift in the Chinese Academic Job Market
Lingjuan Fan
Pages: 443-455 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1928812

Book Reviews Memories From the Frontline
by Jerry Palmer, Palgrave, London, 2018, 339 pp., ISBN978-3-319-78050-4
Sarah MacDonald
Pages: 459-462 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1616525

Growing up with God and Empire: A Postcolonial Analysis of Missionary Kid Memoirs
by Stephanie Vandrick, Bristol, Blue Ridge Summit, 2019, pp.141., ISBN-13:978-1-78892-232-6(hbk), ISBN-13:978-1-78892-231-9(pbk)
Andrea Simon-Maeda
Pages: 463-466 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1660040

Notes on the Flesh
by Shahd Alshammari, Malta, Faraxa Publishing, 2017, 113 pp., ISBN 978-99957-48-67-8
P. Boopathi
Pages: 467-470 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1658264

Anaïs Nin: A Myth of Her Own
by Clara Oropeza, Abingdon, Routledge, 2019, 130 pp., ISBN 9781138057395
Wayne E. Arnold
Pages: 471-474 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1669264


We are happy to announce that the European Journal of Life Writing has recently published a new cluster and a new book review:


Women’s Lives on Screen

Eugenie Theuer, ‘Mattering’ Women’s Lives on Screen: An Introduction.

Belén Vidal, New Women’s Biopics: Performance and the Queering of Herstor/ies.

Bethany Layne, ‘Full cause of weeping’: Affective Failure in The Queen (2006) and The Crown (2019).

Paulina Korzeniewska-Nowakowska, American Poverty and Social Rejection in Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya.

Timo Frühwirth e.a., ‘For better or for worse, there is history, there is the book and then there’s the movie’: Foregrounding and Marginalizing African American Women in the Film Hidden Figures (2016).

Kate Sutherland, Giving Voice to a Portrait: The Intersection of Gender, Race, and Law in Belle.

Kanchanakesi Warnapala, The Reluctant Wife: Ginnen Upan Seethala and Gendering Revolution.

Sylvie Pomiès-Maréchal, The Enduring Influence of Female Special Operations Executive Agent Biopics on Cultural Memory and Representations in France and Great Britain.

Marija Antic, Beyond the Voice of Egypt: Reclaiming Women’s Histories and Female Authorship in Shirin Neshat’s Looking for Oum Kulthum (2017).

Jaap Kooijman, What’s Whitney Got to Do with It: Black Female Triumph and Tragedy in the 2015 Lifetime Biopic Whitney.

Christina Schönberger-Stepien, Making Her Case: Dramatisation, Feminism, and the Law in the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biopic On the Basis of Sex.

Women’s Lives on Screen. Creative Section

Maria Hinterkörner, ‘The Great Scene That Never Happened’ – A Screenwriter’s Techniques of Blending Fact and Fiction in Creating a Compelling Character Arc in Biopics.

Book review

Christine Fischer, Anne Smith, Ina Lohr (1903-1983). Transcending the Boundaries of Early Music.

Dr. Petra van Langen
European Journal of Life Writing
Journal Manager

The European Journal of Life Writing is an open access e-journal, but editing and type setting do cost money.
Your financial support can help us to publish a wide array of valuable articles about life writing:

Newsletter Biography Institute

September 2021

[PDF version]

Colloquium and presentation biography Felix de Boeck
On September 23, David Veltman will present the first copy of his biography of Felix de Boeck to former governor Lodewijk de Witte. The presentation will be the start of a colloquium in the FeliXart Museum (Drogenbos, Belgium), devoted to the theme of ‘Uncomfortable histories in a contemporary context’. Six speakers were invited to tell something about their treatment of black pages in Belgian cultural history, including Virginie Devillez and Matthijs de Ridder.

Persian translation The ABC of Modern Biography
Sahar Vahdati Hosseinian recently published a Persian translation of The ABC of Modern Biography, the book that was written by Nigel Hamilton and Hans Renders in 2018. In trenchant, witty entries Hamilton and Renders explore the pitfalls and prospects of biography as a genre, in 26 letters of the alphabet: the ‘E’ is for ‘Ethics’ and ‘I’ is for ‘Identity’. Now people from Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan can read what’s in the ‘F’ is for ‘Facts’.

Daniel R. Meister and David Veltman start H-Biography
Biographies are written around the world, but an international platform for biographical research did not exist until today. Therefore, Daniel R. Meister (PhD Queens University, Canada) and David Veltman (RuG) started H-Biography, an interdisciplinary network that considers Biography Studies as a unique field, distinct from the related approaches of autobiography, life writing, and literary theory. Its primary purpose is to allow for the discussion and dissemination of information relating to Biography Studies more broadly. The editors welcome contributions in the form of reviews or essays.

Cover Fear of Theory ready
Hans Renders and David Veltman have compiled an edited volume under the title of Fear of Theory. Towards a New Theoretical Justification of Biography. Recently, the publication was announced by Brill. The volume consists of eighteen contributions by researchers from Australia, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Iceland, the Netherlands and the US.

Biographical research Groen van Prinsterer
Gertjan Schutte recently began his biographical research into the life of the nineteenth century Dutch politician Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer. The research focuses on the interface between the professional and the personal life of Groen. Schutte is working at the Theological University of the Reformed Churches at Kampen, the Netherlands. His promotors are prof. George Harinck (TU Kampen) and prof. Hans Renders (RuG).

More information can be found on the website
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A Book from A List Member–Mi María: Surviving the Storm, Voices from Puerto Rico

Launching on the four-year anniversary of Hurricane María, Mi María: Surviving the Storm, Voices from Puerto Rico is a new oral history book that shares seventeen first-person testimonies from Puerto Ricans that explore how government neglect impacts recovery, how communities come together in the wake of disaster, and how precarity and inequity are exacerbated on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

In this collection, readers will learn about ZAIRA, who survived the hurricane by floating on a patched air mattress for sixteen hours; NEYSHA, who gave birth prematurely in a clinic without electricity, running water, or a working phone; LOREL, who fed hundreds of people despite not receiving aid from the supply ships that docked minutes away from her neighborhood of La Perla in San Juan; CARLOS, a coffee farmer whose harvest and home were destroyed for the second time in his life; and many other survivors who used all that they had to help their communities through the hurricane and its long aftermath.

This book is part of an on-going public humanities project at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez that brings together hundreds of students, faculty members, and community partners to record, transcribe, translate, edit, and disseminate the stories of Puerto Rico. The volume is made possible by a partnership with Voice of Witness and Haymarket Books with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Modern Language Association.

For more information, contact Annaick Miller, Communications and Outreach Manager at Voice of Witness ( or follow this link to the book page at Haymarket Books:

You can also register for the free online bilingual book launch on September 16 at 5pm EST here:


Professor Ricia Anne Chansky, Ph.D.

University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

Director, Mi María: Puerto Rico after the Hurricane

Archivo de Respuestas Emergencias de Puerto Rico

Humanities Action Lab Faculty Fellow

Series Editor, Routledge Auto/Biography Studies

Editor, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies


Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 4, 2020

A Forum on Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains, Open-Forum Articles, and Reviews

The entire issue can be accessed on Project Muse here:

A Forum on Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains

Introduction: A Forum on Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison
Anna Poletti

This introduction to a forum of essays on Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison situates the book as a work of life writing and political theory, arguing it is a landmark moment in the evolution of life writing as a cultural, social, political, and epistemological practice. It introduces the essays that make up the forum, and situates Boochani’s text as a direct challenge to the genre of refugee memoir and its privatizing modes of reading.

Enduring Indigeneity and Solidarity in Response to Australia’s Carceral Colonialism
Crystal McKinnon

This essay engages with Behrouz Boochani’s critical documentation of the Manus Island prison as part of Australian society. The current practices of detention and torture of refugees and asylum seekers need to be understood as part of the system that has been founded upon the violent theft of Indigenous lands, and one that continues to perpetrate ongoing colonial violence against Indigenous people. Considering the experiences of Indigenous people and asylum seekers together reveals the logics of Australian colonialism, which operate through, and are sustained by, white supremacy. In spite of these conditions, Indigeneity endures settler colonialism. One way that people exist, persist, and resist (Kauanui) is through building solidarity and undertaking actions that are grounded in, and center, Indigenous sovereignty.

No Friend but the Mountains: How Should I Read This?
Gillian Whitlock

This essay turns to the paratexts of No Friend but the Mountains, and the question of how this book should be read in these margins of the text. Focusing on both peritexts and epitexts—Richard Flanagan’s “Foreword,” Omid Tofighian’s “Translator’s Tale” and “Reflections,” and a review of the novel by J. M. Coetzee, “Australia’s Shame”—it examines the ethical challenge to Australian readers at this threshold of interpretation, and asks what responses we might make as beneficiaries and implicated subjects, and as Southern readers.

From Mountains to Oceans: The Prison Narratives of Behrouz Boochani
Özlem Belçim Galip

The political autobiography No Friend but the Mountains revolves around the lived experiences of Behrouz Boochani, first as a Kurdish undocumented refugee, through his boat journey to Australia, and then as a detainee in an Australian offshore immigration detention center on Manus Island (Papua New Guinea). By considering diverse literary techniques and forms of expression and the dichotomy between poetic language and realistic mode, this essay analyzes Boochani’s reflections on the systematic violence and abuse in the prison and immigration system, and the “coloniality of power” in general from the perspective of a Kurd whose preoccupation with his cultural/national “identity” and “homeland” is greatly influenced by the traumatic experiences of war and conflicts that led him to flee Kurdistan. It also examines the influence of Kurdish oral and written literary traditions on his narration.

Kyriarchy, Nomopoly, and Patriarchal White Sovereignty
Maria Giannacopoulos

Behrouz Boochani’s political prison writings authored from Manus Prison from 2013 to 2019, especially his notion of kyriarchal power, strike at the heart of colonial Australia and its ongoing imperial ordering. The vast body of intellectual work Boochani produced during his imprisonment makes a powerful and embodied contribution to an already established and influential body of work produced in the last two decades that has articulated the patriarchal and imperializing function of Australian sovereignty, while drawing crucial links between Indigenous dispossession and refugee imprisonment. Australia’s history as a colonial state is indissociably bound to incarceration as a practice that is critical to the exercising of illegitimate and colonial sovereignty. This violence is traceable to the foundational and ongoing function of the colonial nomopoly.

Translation as Freedom, Experimentation, and Sharing: Omid Tofighian on Translating No Friend but the Mountains
Omid Tofighian interviewed by Stephanie Bennett

After the publication of No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison and the book being awarded the 2019 Victorian Prize for Literature, Behrouz Boochani and translator and collaborator Omid Tofighian (Farsi-English) were invited to speak at many festivals together, in addition to seminars, workshops, and other venues. A small number of events focused on translation, and in June 2019 Tofighian participated in two sessions at the Emerging Writers’ Festival in Melbourne, Australia. Stephanie Bennett, then the senior editor of RMIT’s magazine The Gazette, interviewed Tofighian.

“This place really needs a lot of intellectual work”: Behrouz Boochani’s Innovation in Life Writing as a Transnational Intellectual Practice
Anna Poletti

This essay examines the absence of mobile phone technology from the narrative of No Friend but the Mountains in order to reflect on the centrality of mobile digital technology for the intellectual work the book undertakes. Examining a key scene from No Friend but the Mountains where telecommunications technology is represented as a limited resource within Manus Prison, it draws on media theory and life writing theory to argue that the affordances of mobile digital technologies enabled the emergence of a new, collaborative form of life writing that both affirms the value of an individual life, while also making powerful claims regarding the collective suffering and dehumanization at the heart of Australia’s mandatory detention policy.

Open-Forum Articles

Autofiction, Autobiografiction, Autofabrication, and Heteronymity: Differentiating Versions of the Autobiographical
Max Saunders

Descriptions of “autofiction” have been unhelpfully imprecise. This article uses Stephen Reynolds’s 1906 essay “Autobiografiction” to argue that we need both terms for a fuller picture of the various ways writers can combine autobiography and fiction. The logic of the analysis is shown to require the other two concepts to complete the proposed new taxonomy.

“This book belongs to”: Trauma, (Bio)Degradation, and the Law in Visual and Narrative Diaries
Jessica Gildersleeve and Beata Batorowicz

Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2002), Nan Goldin’s photo diary The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1986), and Tracey Emin’s intimate art installations My Bed (1998) and Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995 (1995) complicate the genres of life writing and confessional art. These artistic narratives both degrade and are responsible to “truth” as a means of bearing witness to trauma.


Metabiography: Reflecting on Biography, by Caitríona Ní Dhúill
Reviewed by Pamela Graham

Handbook of Autobiography/Autofiction, edited by Martina Wagner-Egelhaaf
Reviewed by Wilhelm Hemecker and Nicolas Paulus

Memory and Autobiography: Explorations at the Limits, by Leonor Arfuch, translated by Christina MacSweeney
Reviewed by Ksenija Bilbija

Autofiction in English, edited by Hywel Dix
Reviewed by Aude Haffen

Biography in Theory: Key Texts with Commentaries, edited by Wilhelm Hemecker and Edward Saunders
Reviewed by Joanny Moulin

Witnessing Girlhood: Toward an Intersectional Tradition of Life Writing, by Leigh Gilmore and Elizabeth Marshall
Reviewed by Catherine Brist

My Brilliant Friends: Our Lives in Feminism, by Nancy K. Miller
Reviewed by Mary Beth Rose

Women Activating Agency in Academia: Metaphors, Manifestos and Memoir and Lived Experiences of Women in Academia: Metaphors, Manifestos and Memoir, edited by Alison L. Black and Susanne Garvis
Reviewed by Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle

Autoethnography and Feminist Theory at the Water’s Edge: Unsettled Islands, by Sonja Boon, Lesley Butler, and Daze Jefferies
Reviewed by Astrida Neimanis

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, by Jenn Shapland
Reviewed by Carlos Dews

The Comics of Julie Doucet and Gabrielle Bell: A Place Inside Yourself, edited by Tahneer Oksman and Seamus O’Malley
Reviewed by Martha Kuhlman

The Graphic Lives of Fathers: Memory, Representation, and Fatherhood in North American Autobiographical Comics, by Mihaela Precup
Reviewed by Carolyn Kyler

Histories of the Self: Personal Narratives and Historical Practice, by Penny Summerfield
Reviewed by Naiara Ardanaz-Iñarga

Lives of the Dead Poets: Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, by Karen Swann
Reviewed by Tadakazu Suzuki

Literary Impostors: Canadian Autofiction of the Early Twentieth Century, by Rosmarin Heidenreich
Reviewed by Marjorie Worthington

Istanbul – Kushta – Constantinople: Narratives of Identity in the Ottoman Capital, 1830–1930, edited by Christoph Herzog and Richard Wittmann
Reviewed by A. Ebru Akcasu

Ecologies of Witnessing: Language, Place, and Holocaust Testimony, by Hannah Pollin-Galay
Reviewed by Ellen G. Friedman

Anaesthetics of Existence: Essays on Experience at the Edge, by Cressida J. Heyes
Reviewed by Helga Lenart-Cheng

Biography and History in Film, edited by Thomas S. Freeman and David L. Smith
Reviewed by Ian Scott


The European Journal of Life Writing has recently published two new articles, two new clusters and a new book review:


Nancy M. Arenberg, ‘Breaking the Silence: A Testimonial of Resistance to Jewish Invisibility in Simone Veil’s Une jeunesse au temps de la Shoah’.

Eveline Kilian, Migrating Objects and Wanderers between Worlds: Cosmopolitan Selves in Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes’.


Remembering Late Socialism

Agnieszka Mrozik and Anja Tippner, ‘Remembering Late Socialism in Autobiographical Novels and Autofictions from Central and Eastern Europe: Introduction’.

Agnieszka Mrozik, ‘Growing Up as a Girl in Late Socialist Poland: The Personal, the Political and Class in Feminist Quasi-Autobiographical Novels by Izabela Filipiak and Joanna Bator’.

Anja Tippner, ‘”How it all turned out alright”: Autofiction as Memory Form in Irena Dousková’s Novels about Childhood and Youth in Post-1968 Czechoslovakia’.

Doris Mironescu and Andreea Mironescu, ‘Maximalist Autofiction, Surrealism and Late Socialism in Mircea Cãrtãrescu’s Solenoid’.

Ksenia Robbe, ‘Reanimating/Resisting Late Soviet Monstrosity: Generational Self-Reflection and Lessons of Responsibility in Alexei Ivanov’s Pischeblok [The Food Unit]’.

The Self in Verse

Johannes Görbert, Marie Lindskov Hansen and Jeffrey Charles Wolf, ‘The Self in Verse. Exploring Autobiographical Poetry. Editorial’.

Jutta Müller-Tamm, ‘The Mask in Verse. Imaginary Poets and Their Autobiographical Poetry (Jan Wagner, Die Eulenhasser in den Hallenhäusern)’.

Carmen Bonasera, ‘Bodies and self-disclosure in American female confessional poetry’.

Martin Kindermann, ‘Beyond the Threshold – Autobiography, Dialogic Interaction, and Conversion in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s and W. Abdullah Quilliam’s Poetry’.

Stefan Kjerkegaard, ‘A Lyrical ‘I’ Beyond Fiction. Yahya Hassan and Autobiographical Poetry in Denmark After Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle’.

Book review

Martyn Lyons, ‘Philippe Artières, Un Séminariste assassin: L’affaire Bladier, 1905’.

Dr. Petra van Langen
European Journal of Life Writing
Journal Manager

The European Journal of Life Writing is an open access e-journal, but editing and type setting do cost money.
Your financial support can help us to publish a wide array of valuable articles about life writing:



Call for contributions – Palgrave Studies in Mediating Kinship, Representation and Difference

This book series brings together analyses of familial and kin relationships with emerging and new technologies which allow for the creation, maintenance and expansion of family. We use the term “family” as a working truth with a wide range of meanings in an attempt to address the feelings of family belonging across all aspects of social location: ability, age, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, gender identity, body size, social class and beyond. This book series aims to explore phenomena located at the intersection of technologies including those which allow for family creation, migration, communication, reunion and the family as a site of difference. The individual volumes in this series will offer insightful analyses of these phenomena in media, social media, literature, popular culture and corporeal settings.

Possible book topics include:

• the use of technology and migration and family composition and disjunction; the ways that technologies may both push and pull kin together/apart

• the range of technology use across literal and figurative space including intersections of geography, race, age, poverty, gender and beyond

• the impact of technological absence: the ways that technologies may be taken for granted in particular environments (privileged nations; privileged subject positions) and may be denied or inaccessible in other spaces or places

• technologies of family creation and maintenance: the use of alternate reproductive technologies; the use of communication technologies to share information

• discussions of race and racialization in the context of kinship relationships and intersected with connections to technologies; hypervisibility of racism including police brutality; activist circles as forms of kinship

• queer family creation and representation through technology; making queer family visible through traditional, popular and social media; alternate family connections including non-normative parenting arrangements (more than two parents, multiple different shades of parenting); “new” family through donor sibling relationships

• technologies of class mobility, including the impact of smartphone technology on mediating/curtailing aspects of the digital divide; shifting family relationships through generational moves in class status

• fat family: the ways that narratives of obesity have had impacts on the creation and representation of family (for example: obese women who are denied reproductive technologies or access to international adoption); the ways these rhetorics have shifted differently in different jurisdictions; representation of fat family; intersection of fat and working class identities in popular culture

• trans families: both in terms of gender identity but also in terms of other families that “confound”— families that do not “match” one another, or that otherwise transgress normative models

• technologies of disability: the use of technology to enhance or bolster independence, the ways that disabled people are seen as incapable of parenting; on the other hand, the technologies which come into play around parenting children with disability, both prenatally and once children are born; representation of disability and family (fetishization and the perceived martyrdom of parents)

Please send inquiries to AND

Prof. Dr. Silvia Schultermandl (she/her)

Chair of American Studies

WWU Münster

Johannisstrasse 12-20

48143 Münster




New Directions in Life Narrative explores the concept of life narrative across the mediums of written work, oral narratives, photography, documentary film, visual art, performance and social media. The series will nurture theoretical, methodological and interpretive innovation in life writing research, supporting projects that apply new combinations of philosophy, critical theory, and methodology to the study of life narrative, providing new ways of reading diverse and always evolving forms – an important aspect of the series given the ever-changing landscape and parameters of study in this area. It will advance interdisciplinary approaches to life narrative, combining the insights of life writing scholarship with those of cognate fields such as art history, history, anthropology, comparative literary studies, law, sociolinguistics, media studies, medicine, philosophy, psychology and sociology. The series will have an international scope that mirrors its community, offering a forum for the study of works in translations not previously studied as well as publishing studies of non-Anglophone works.

Series Editors:

Kate Douglas is a Professor in English at Flinders University, Australia. She is the author of Contesting Childhood: Autobiography, Trauma and Memory (2010) and the co-author of Life Narratives and Youth Culture: Representation, Agency and Participation (2016; with Anna Poletti). Her edited collections include (with Ashley Barnwell) Research Methodologies for Auto/Biography Studies (2019). Kate is the Head of the Steering committee for the International Auto/Biography Association’s Asia-Pacific chapter.

Anna Poletti is Associate Professor at Utrecht University, Netherlands, and co-editor of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly. They are the author of Stories of the Self: Life Writing after the Book (2020), Life Narratives and Youth Culture: Representation, Agency and Participation (2016; with Kate Douglas), and Intimate Ephemera: Reading Young Lives in Australian Zine Culture (2008). With Julie Rak, they co-edited Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online (2014).

John David Zuern is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, USA and a co-editor of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly. His work on life writing and digital literature has appeared in Comparative Literature and (with Laurie McNeill) in the volume Research Methodologies for Auto/Biography Studies (2019).

Editorial Board :

• Dr Ebony Coletu (Penn State University, USA)
• Dr Ana Belén Martínez García (University of Navarra, Spain)
• Associate Professor Claire Lynch (Brunel University, UK)
• Professor Pramod K Nayar (The University of Hyderabad, India)
• Dr Nick Tembo (The University of Malawi)
• Professor Jianling Liu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China)
• Professor Gerardo Necoechea (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico)
• Dr Laurie McNeill (University of British Columbia, Canada)

Do you have a monograph proposal that would fit this exciting new series?

Submissions can be sent to: Lucy Brown Commissioning Editor, Literary Studies and Creative Writing Bloomsbury Publishing:
We welcome proposals from scholars who are interested in developing English translations of their scholarship.

dr. Anna Poletti
Associate Professor in English
Co-editor, Biography: an interdisciplinary quarterly
Co-editor, New Directions in Life Narrative series (Bloomsbury Academic)
Department of Languages, Literature and Communication, Utrecht University Trans 10 3512 JK Utrecht, The Netherlands

A special issue of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, now available online for free

“We Are Maunakea: Aloha ʻĀina Narratives of Protest, Protection, and Place”

Aloha pumehana. Guest editors Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla and the editorial team of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly are proud to present a special issue on the lifewriting strategies of the kiaʻi (protectors) who gathered at Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu in the summer of 2019 to defend Maunakea against desecration by the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

This special issue features first-hand accounts, academic reflections, creative works, photography, and interviews with kiaʻi from the 2019 front lines and members of the media team.

“We Are Maunakea: Aloha ʻĀina Narratives of Protest, Protection, and Place” is now available on Project Muse.

The entire issue can be accessed for free at this link:


Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly volume 43, number 3, 2020

We Are Maunakea: Aloha ʻĀina Narratives of Protest, Protection, and Place

Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla, guest editors

In the summer of 2019, kiaʻi (protectors) gathered at Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu to defend Maunakea, a sacred mountain, against desecration by the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Thousands gathered at Ala Hulu Kupuna, or Mauna Kea Access Road. Daily protocols were led by cultural practitioners and long-time protectors of Maunakea, intergenerational Native Hawaiian leadership was developed and empowered on Hawaiian terms, a community kitchen was organized, Puʻuhuluhulu University was established as an actual Hawaiian place of learning, and a collective commitment to ʻāina and kapu aloha rooted all who arrived and all who continue to stay in this movement.

The 2019 stand was also an unprecedented opportunity to witness the battle of narratives, as mainstream media and highly paid public relations firms were outmaneuvered by Kanaka- and ally-authored life writing.

This special issue features first-hand accounts, academic reflections, creative works, photography, and interviews with kiaʻi from the 2019 front lines and members of the media team.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Mana from the Mauna
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

On the Cattle Guard
Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua

“It Could’ve Been You, It Could’ve Been You, It Could’ve Been
So Many of Us”: Interview with Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

Mele and ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi on the Mauna
Kainani Kahaunaele

At the Feet of a Mauna
Noʻeau Peralto

Statement on Maunakea from Hui Mālama i ke Ala ʻŪlili
Noʻeau Peralto and Board Members of huiMAU

“Create Abundance Right Here”: Interview with
Haley Kailiehu and Noʻeau Peralto
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

Ea: Lessons in Breath, Life, and Sovereignty from Mauna Kea
Emalani Case

Stories from the Mauna, Ku‘u One Hānau
Kawena Kapahua

Aloha Wale Mauna Kea, Aloha Wale Kuʻu Poʻe Hoapili Kiaʻi
ma ke Anuanu
Marie Alohalani Brown

Mākua: A Creation Story
leilani portillo

Kaʻala: A Creation Story

“It Is Okay to Spit Fire on Our Oppressors”: Interview with
leilani portillo and Punahele
Noʻu Revilla

“We’re Asking You to Remember Why We’re Here”: Interview with Joy Enomoto
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

Mālama Mauna: An Ethics of Care Culture and Kuleana
Māhealani Ahia

Makakū Mauna: Photos from the Mountain

“Filling in Puka”: Interview with Ryan “Gonzo” Gonzalez
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

“I Wanted to Show the Joy”: Interview with Marie Eriel Hobro
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

“You’re Here Now”: Interview with Mikey Inouye
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

“It May Have Been through My Hands, But That’s All the Work
of the Mauna, Not Me”: Interview with Kanaiʻa Nakamura
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

“We Were Being Who We Are, And That Was the Story”:
Interview with Kēhaunani Abad
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

Selected Sources for Further Research

Paige Rasmussen
Managing Editor
The Center for Biographical Research
Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
1960 East-West Road, Biomed B104
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-3774

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Please consider donating to the European Journal of Life Writing

Dear IABA List Subscriber,

This year we are celebrating the tenth birthday of the European Journal of Life Writing, which was founded at the Free University in Amsterdam in 2011. We are very happy and proud to let you know that the Journal has gone from strength to strength, with a record number of 53 peer reviewed published articles in 2020, including book reviews and creative work on the subject of life writing.

The European Journal of Life Writing, which is published by the University of Groningen Press, is an open access, peer reviewed journal, featuring articles on all aspects of life writing within a broad European context. The Journal is produced on a voluntary basis by the Journal Manager, the Editors and the External Reviewers. Authors are not asked for Article Processing Charges (APC’s), and readers can read and download all articles for free.

In this budget-friendly way, the EJLW has developed into a flourishing open access, peer reviewed journal, that is indexed in most of the important bibliographies and directories.

However, as the number of publications continues to grow, the work of the journal manager and of the review editors is increasing as well. This makes it impossible for them to maintain their work on a solely unpaid, voluntary basis. Apart from this, money is required for yearly editors’ meetings, and for expenses like obtaining copy rights of illustrations.

We therefore urgently need financial help to continue publishing one of the most popular open access scholarly journals on life writing, offering a platform to students and scholars, independent or university based.

Please consider donating to support our work.

For European scholars, your donation – any amount helps, but may we suggest a minimum of € 50 – can be transferred to: Stichting European Journal of Life Writing, Rooseveltlaan 207 III, 1079 AS Amsterdam, the Netherlands. IBAN: NL61 RABO 0328 1078 59; BIC: RABONL2U.

We know from past experience that those not in Europe who wish to contribute find the process daunting, and the money transfer fees prohibitive. What we would suggest is that you find a European friend who can donate for you, with reimbursement worked out between you, or to plan on contributing when next in Europe–ideally in June 2022, at the IABA International conference in Turku, Finland, or perhaps at the next IABA Europe conference, planned for 2023 in Poland.

Whatever the arrangements, thank you very much for your great help and support!

Dr. Petra van Langen

Journal Manager


Revista Nós – Cultura, Estética e Linguagens – Volume 6 / Número 1. Dossiê: Imagens Auto/Biográficas na História e na Prática Artística

A Revista Nós, em mais uma edição, colocou-se em desafio ao articular duas áreas de conhecimento – a história e as artes – em torno de um tema: a auto/biografia. A chamada para o dossiê Imagens Auto/Biográficas na História e na Prática Artística convocou pesquisadoras e pesquisadores para pensar o tema a partir de seus próprios eixos de investigação. O objetivo foi fomentar discussões pertinentes à exploração do campo das histórias de vida que impacta de maneira transdisciplinar as humanidades.

Publicado: 2021-05-27

Newsletter Biography Institute

May 2021

[PDF version]

David Veltman defends his thesis

The public defense of the PhD-thesis ‘Sterven in het bed waarin ik geboren ben’. Een biografie van Felix de Boeck (1898-1995) will take place on July 5th. The artist and farmer De Boeck had an important influence on Belgian twentieth century cultural history. Due to the corona measures, the ceremony will take place online. Veltman was the first to use a large number of letters that were sent to De Boeck during his life. In his research, Veltman tried to relate the ‘unique’ mentality of De Boeck to that of his contemporaries. A video was uploaded to Youtube in which Veltman tells about his biography of Felix de Boeck (English captions available). After the defense, the book will be available in the bookshops.

Biography Institute hosts research seminar Biography & History

The MA-course Biography & History will be given by members of the Biography Institute during the first semester of the next academic year. For more information about enrollment (also for contract students) and the content of the seminar, see the flyer and the section Courses on the website of the Biography Institute.

PhD-defense Hans van der Jagt on June 24

Hans van der Jagt will defend on June 24, 13.45 hrs. his PhD thesis at the Free University, Amsterdam. Guests and other interested people can attend the ceremony live. Van der Jagt conducted his research under supervision of prof. George Harinck (Free University) and prof. Hans Renders. The thesis is about the moral of Dutch imperialism in the Dutch East Indies, Surinam and the Caribbean Islands during the governance of minister and governor-general A.W.F. Idenburg (1861-1935). The study analyses changing colonial relationships and geopolitical developments.

Boris van Haastrecht hired as PhD student biography P.J. Oud

A suitable candidate has been found to conduct PhD research into the life of P.J. Oud, former mayor of Rotterdam and famous member of the Dutch liberal party. Boris van Haastrecht will conduct his research under supervision of prof. Gerrit Voerman of the Documentation Centre Dutch Political Parties and prof. Hans Renders of the Biography Institute.

More information can be found on the website
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Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies
No.15, Autumn 2020
Center for Life Writing, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
Editor’ note

[Special Section: Interview]

Biography, Biofiction and Postmodernist Biofiction:
An Interview with David Lodge……Chen Wenyu

[Comparative Biography]

Transcending Historical and Biographical Truth: Shakespeare’s Revelation to Contemporary Chinese Writers……Wang Ning
Poetic Heart and Sincere Love Entangled in the Conventions: Comparison of the Love Letters Written by Xu Zhimo and Zhu Xiang……Liu Ping
The “Traitor” of Impressionism: Cezanne in the Multi-prism……Shi Qiqi

[Theory Studies]

Debate On “Granite And Rainbow”: A Dialogue Between Andre Maurois And Virginia Woolf on Biographical Art……Ye Jian
Cross Verification and Intercommunication between Literature and History:On Qian Zhongshu’s Criticism of Chen Yinke’s Historical Research……Zhao Lingling
On the Public Persona of Political Biographee: With Parallel Lives as an Example……Mao Xu

[Text Studies]

Profiles in Backlight: The Group Portraits of Literary Writers in Taisho Period Depicted in Akutagawa’s A Collection of Short Lives……Chen Lingling

[Autobiography Studies]

The Challenge of Contemporary French Autobiographical Theory: The Imaginary Autobiography of Patrick Modiano……Tang Yuqing
The Virtue Narration in The 40 Years of Stage Life……Cao Lei
Berlin Childhood: Fragmentary Writing of Autobiography and the Theme of Salvation……Li Yongqing, Hao Xujiang

[Memoir Studies]

Public Memory, Memoir, and the Shoah: Narrating Inherited Trauma…… Daphne Desser

[Image Biography]

Visual Memory: An Outline of Western Autographics……Xu Meng
An Absolute Album: Photography in Marguerite Duras’s L’Amant……Jin Wenxin

[History of Life Writing]

The Main Features of the Biographical Appraisals of the Monks in the Six Dynasties ……Yang Chaolei
From a Layman to a Sage and the Return to Secularity: The Autobiographical Writing of Jianyue Duti the Monk……Wu Yuecong

[Subject Studies]

Shaping of Biographical Subject’s Image and Examination of Biographical Doubts: The Research on Lu Yao’s Biographies ……Wang Renbao
1900 in Eruption: Toward Anti-ecoimperialism Theory of Mark Twain’s Last Decade……Lin Jiazhao()

[Life Writing Materials]

Historical Reality behind Biography and Literature Illustration: Two Years in the Forbidden City Confirmed by an illustration from Liao Zhai Tu Shuo……Wang Xiaona

[Film Biography]

A Literature Review on Biopic……Fu Yingjie

Instructions to Contributors

From the Editor

Instructions to Contributors

Life writing studies have moved onto the central stage in the academia and gained ever more attention both in and outside China. As the first scholarly journal in the field of China, the biannual journal Modern Life Writing Studies intends to fill up the blank of life writing studies in China, provide a venue for scholars all over the world, attract and promote specialists in the field.
Aiming to keep abreast of the cutting edge of life writing research, Our journal seeks to, in modern views and perspectives, explore various topics of life writing in China and in the world, with almost 20 sections included, such as Interview, Comparative Biography, Theory Study, History of Life Writing, Text Study, Autobiography Study, Diary Study, Subject Study, Film Biography, Book Reviews, Life Writing Materials, From the Life Writer, etc.
Ever since its appearance in 2013, our journal has been well-received by scholars at home and abroad and fundedby a steady grant from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is exerting increasingly greater influence in academia with a due wide positive response. In 2017, our journal was included in CSSCI (Chinese Social Science Citation Index), and listed in the international academic literature or included in the annual annotated bibliography by world prestigious universities.
Our journal accepts both Chinese and English submissions. All the articles will be subject to anonymous peer review.

Submissions are welcome from both Chinese and international researchers. Simultaneous submissions are not accepted. English papers should be between 4,000 and 7,000 words of text in length (including notes), while English book reviews are about 2,500 words. Full-length articles take up most part of the journal, but short essays with originality and fresh ideas are also welcome.

Submission Guidelines
All written submissions should be formatted according to the eighth edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. All submissions should include a 100-word abstract both in Chinese and English, keywords (less than 5), a 70–word biographical statement, and works cited. Please adhere to the following requirements:
•   Double spacing, Times New Roman, 12–point font
•   One-inch margins
•   Only Microsoft Word doc or docx files will be accepted
•  Citations should be provided in parenthetical reference followed by “Works Cited”.
•  Endnotes are preferred if there are any.

Submissions should be emailed in Word format to the editor Each contributor will get two complimentary copies once his/her paper is published.

Our journal is based at SJTU Center for Life Writing. We welcome suggestions and proposals, from which we believe our journal will surely benefit.

From the Editor
This issue features an unusual context when the world is haunted by Covid-19 and the Coronavirus death toll reached over 800,000. To the extent that life writing functions as the monument of human life, as the authors and researchers of life writing, we hereby express our deepest sympathy on the passing of the victims and come to be aware of our duties.
Chen Wenyu’s discussion of David Lodge’s biographical fiction was published in Issue No. 12 of our journal and the section of interview includes her interview with the novelist. The questions in the interview are concise and carefully designed. As the forerunner of biographical fiction, Lodge’s replies are clear and authoritative. This is a valuable interview on biographical fiction.
The section “Comparative Biography” encompasses a variety of topics. “Shakespeare und kein Ende!” is what Goethe commented on Shakespeare in literary works and dramas and applies to life writing as well. Our journal has published many papers on Shakespeare’s life writing, while Wang Ning’s “Transcending Historical and Biographical Truth” is his advice to Chinese life biographers on the basis of Shakespeare’s historical writing. In light of New Historicism, Wang argues that literary biographies should transcend biographical truth by comparing biographical texts widely. In the context of a forthcoming reform in China’s biographies, his advice is timely but many theoretical and practical issues need further discussion.
Liu Ping bases her research on her comparison of the love letters written by Xu Zhimo and Zhu Xiang. They are both representatives of modern Chinese poets in the last century and both express their love, iconoclasm and the conflict between ideal and reality in their poetic letters. Through the perusal of the texts, Liu attributes the different styles of the love letters to circumstances and characteristics and identifies what they share in common–poetic heart and sincere love entangled in the conventions
Shi Qiqi compares the different images of Cezanne the French Post-Impressionist painter in his three biographies, and then analyzes the complicated relations of this artist to other genres and his artistic ideals. The three biographies involved are of different types, hence increasing the difficulty of comparison. Nevertheless, her effort enriches the understanding of Cezanne.
The section of “Theory Study” concerns several famous figures, e.g. Maurois and Woolf, who have both contributed immensely to the discipline of life writing and share the life-writing concepts in common and are thus deemed as the representatives of the New Biography in Europe in the last century. Despite the fact that enormous researches have been made on them by the academic community, Ye Jian’s paper, “Debate On ‘Granite and Rainbow’” makes an innovative effort to discuss and analyze their theoretical difference to make a better understanding of them.
Zhao Lingling’s “Cross Verification and Intercommunication between Literature and History” starts the exploration of the relations between literature and history from Qian Zhongshu’s critique of Chen Yinke and argues that history and biography should be understood in the context of the space and time of the writer through the “sympathetic understanding.” Zhao’s argument is widely accepted in the academic community, but she enjoys wide horizon and her wide range of quotations are enlightening.
Life writing study develops in light of new concepts and approaches, such as the application of the concept “identity” in this century as a boost to the life writing study. Mao Xu borrows “public persona,” a popular concept in the modern popular culture, which means “highlighting and stressing the flat character by attaching a label to him/her.” Mao analyzes the “public persona” of the three Roman statesmen and President Reagan as depicted by Plutarch and Morris respectively. Whether this concept is conducive to deepening the understanding of the biographee is open to your discussion.
The section of “Text Study” includes a discussion of a Japanese biography. Howes’s essay on biobits published on our previous issue appeals to our readers’ interests. Chen Lingling argues that Akutagawa’s A Collection of Short Lives written in the previous century falls into the category of “biobits” and characterizes the biography collection as “profiles in backlight.” Her examination on the aesthetic level is a good attempt at short biography study.
Tang Yuqing’s essay published in the section of Autobiography Study deserves consideration. Philippe Lejeune’s concept of the autobiographical pact laid the foundation of modern autobiographical theories and exerted influence globally over half a century ago. Controversies over this concept, however, have occurred as well. Modiano the winner of Nobel Prize for literature is among the challengers and names his fiction as “imaginary autobiography” as an attempt to argue for the possibility of escaping from the traditional categories of autobiography and fiction. Tang’s critique shows us the current evolution of French autobiographical theories and acquaints us with many thought-provoking issues.
The 40 Years of Stage Life by Mei Lanfang has been published for many years and faded in people’s memory. Cao Lei, however, places this autobiography into the specific historical period, determines its status and analyzes the “virtue narration”, proving that more research is needed on Chinese life writing in 1950s and 1960s.
Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood is his memory fragments in his late years of his childhood in the form of a collection of beautiful prose, so it is popular among readers. Li Yongqing and Hao Xujiang’s essay focuses on the signification of the fragmented form and the theme of salvation. Whether the abstract philosophical interpretation is conducive to better understanding a philosopher is an interesting question.
Increasing interests have been shown to the healing power of life writing, as is evident in the essays published on our journal on this topic. Daphne Desser’s “Public Memory, Memoir, and the Shoah: Narrating Family and Inherited Trauma” elaborates on this topic too. To escape from Nazi’s holocaust, her Jewish family were exiled from Netherlands to the UK and Canada. Through her examination of her family history and the memoirs of two second-generation Holocaust survivors, she proves that these first-person accounts of inherited trauma represent rhetorical acts of resistance and demonstrate the persuasive and healing power of breaking the silence.
The combination of images and literature and the emergence of the image biography are important cultural phenomena currently. Autographics popular in some Western countries are particularly eye-catching. Xu Meng’s “Visual Memory” briefly reviews the history, representative works and status quo of study of autographics. L’Amant, the novel by French writer Marguerite Duras, made a great impact upon the adaption into a movie. Jin Wenxin filled the gap by exploring the photography in it, which is neglected by Chinese academic community to a great extent, to analyze the new narrative pattern and the value of the “textual-image biography.” Both essays were selected by our reviewers in anonymous review and written by M. A. candidates. We are glad with their achievements for modern life writing as an emerging discipline and young scholars’ participation is urgently needed.
Two essays are published in the section of History of Life Writing and both focus on monk biography. “Biographical appraisal” was a prominent feature of the society and the literature in the Six Dynasties and exerted an influence on monk biography, in which the biographical subject’s personality and manners were depicted and appraised briefly. Yang Chaolei is proficient with reading monk biographical texts, examining the content and characteristics of the biographical appraisals and revealing the significance of eminent monks’ acquaintance with celebrities and contribution to the Sinicization of Buddhism. In addition, the biographical appraisal is a notable historical and cultural phenomenon, just like the “epiphany” of Zen School of Buddhism, but deviates from the mainstream of biographical development, i.e. characterization by detailed speeches and acts.
Wu Yuecong’s research on A Casual Talk of a Dream, the autobiography by monk Jianyue Duti in the Ming Dynasty. As an autobiography, this is unusual among monk auto/biography. Wu examines the life stories, religious practice and mental development of this eminent monk and summarizes the monk’s life-long career and review of the past in his late years into “from a layman to a sage” and “the return to secularity.” This an accurate comment on the main characters and historical value of the autobiography.
Two important authors are involved in the section of Subject Study. One is Lu Yao, a figure of interest to both the life-writing community and readers and a dozen of biographies have been written for him. Wang Renbao discovers differences, contradictions and omissions through the close reading of these works. These issues concern the complexity of Lu’s personality and the understanding of his works and call attention of Lu’s biographers and researchers, so they should not be ignored or understated.
Lin Jiazhao analyzes the social activities Mark Twain participated in his last decade and the resulting intellectual change. After his productive peak, this decade is the continual of Twain’s past in lifestyle and thinking, so the knowledge of these issues will enable us to further understand his representative works.
The section of Life Writing Materials features Wang Xiaona’s interesting effort. In Liao Zhai Tu Shuo, Empress Dowager Cixi’s favorite picture book, an illustration depicts Jesus as a convicted ghost in hell, kneeling down for salvation from Kuan Yin (Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara). This is further supported by Cixi’s different attitudes to Kuan Yin and Christianity in Princess Derling’s biographical account, heralding the tumults in China’s history from a particular perspective.
The essays previously published in the section of Film Biography are mostly about specific films, but Fu Yingjie’s is a literature review in English of film biography study and broadens our horizon and provides materials for further study. In our view, the conventional approaches to film do not apply to the study of the film biography, which is a cultural symbol of the era. Instead, the study of the film biography should be combined with the popular cultural study to break up the generic boundary.

August, 2020

Shen Chen
School of Humanities, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai,China,200240


Life Writing, Volume 18, Issue 2, June 2021 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:

Articles The Air that I Breathe: Surviving the Loss of the Communication Senses Through Narrative Writing
Annmaree Watharow
Pages: 171-180 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1570582

‘To Unearth the Layers of Forgetting’: Reading Boy, Lost as a Postmemoir
Cheryl O’Byrne
Pages: 181-193 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1608492

‘Mother Weight Carried across Borders’: Migrant Materiality and the Maternal in Meena Alexander’s Fault Lines: A Memoir (2003)
Szidonia Haragos
Pages: 195-208 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1641880

Disclosing the Self: 1956 Hungarian Student Refugees Creating Autobiographies for University Scholarships in the USA
Vera Sheridan
Pages: 209-224 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1644210

Youth Matters: Shedding Light on Displacement in Syrian Girls’ Memoirs
Alberta Natasia Adji
Pages: 225-241 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1658505

The Milner Method: Marion Milner and Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical cures
Emilia Halton-Hernandez
Pages: 243-260 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1717912

The Dialogical Self: Elements of Life Writing in the Works of Hannah Arendt
Samantha C. Grayck
Pages: 261-279 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1723183

Reviews Exile and Expatriation in Modern American and Palestinian Writing
by Ahmad R. Qabaha, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, 250+XIII pp., US $ 63,06 (EBook), ISBN: 978-3-319-91415-2, US $ 80, 24 (Paperback), ISBN 978-3-319-91414-5
Bilal Tawfiq Hamamra
Pages: 283-284 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1514238

Memoir of a Berber: Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones in Jahjouka and the Beat Generation in Morocco
by Hassan Ouakrim, Meadville, Fulton Books, 2017, 120 pp. (paperback), ISBN 978-1-63338-145-2
Oudadene Hassane
Pages: 285-288 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1590759

by Meera Atkinson, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, Australia 2018, 288 pp., ISBN: 9780702259890
Christina Houen
Pages: 289-290 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1559780

Life Writing in the Long Run: A Smith & Watson Autobiography Studies Reader
by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Ann Arbor, MI, Michigan Publishing, 2016, 784 pp., ISBN 9781607854098, DOI
Helga Schwalm
Pages: 291-293 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1594019

Modernist Lives: Biography and Autobiography at Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press
by Claire Battershill, London, Bloomsbury Academic, 2018, xiii+231 pp., ISBN 9781350043848.
Janine Utell
Pages: 295-298 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1608494

Virginia Woolf: The War Without, the War Within: Her Final Diaries and the Diaries She Read
by Barbara Lounsberry, Gainesville, University Press of Florida, 2018, 397 pp., ISBN9780813056937
Ella Ophir
Pages: 299-302 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1609876

Autobiography. A Very Short Introduction
by Laura Marcus, Oxford, Oxford UP, 2018, 145 pp. £7.99. ISBN 978-0-19-966924-0
Arnaud Schmitt
Pages: 303-305 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1644269


European Journal of Life Writing

Volume X, first cluster and articles


On behalf of the editorial board of the European Journal of Life Writing, we are very happy to announce that the EJLW has published the first cluster and articles of its tenth volume.

Maricel Oró-Piqueras, ‘The Pain and Irony of Death in Julian Barnes’s Memoirs Nothing to Be Frightened Of and Levels of Life’.

Amy Prendergast, ‘A Winter in Bath, 1796–97: Life Writing and the Irish Adolescent Self’.

Cluster Mass Observation (1937-2017) and Life Writing

T.G. Ashplant, ‘Mass Observation (1937-2017) and Life Writing: an Introduction’.

T.G. Ashplant, ‘”Subjective Cameras”: Authorship, Form, and Interpretation of Mass Observation Life Writings’.

Dorothy Sheridan, ‘Woven Tapestries: Dialogues and Dilemmas in Editing a Diary’.

Patricia and Robert Malcolmson, ‘MO Diaries and Their Editors’.

James Hinton, ‘Seven Late Twentieth-Century Lives: the Mass Observation Project and Life Writing’.


Good morning, Colleagues. My biography of Black feminist literary scholar Nellie Y. McKay was recently published by University of North Carolina Press. Links below. I hope you’ll consider adding it to your summer reading list!

Warmly, shanna

Shanna G. Benjamin

My book, Half in Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Nellie Y. McKay
<>, is available for pre-order!

Read my interview

with the AAIHS to learn more about the book and why I wrote it.

Visit my Linktree <> for videos of past events and notice of upcoming talks.

Here’s how you pronounce my name

Iʻm delighted to announce the publication of my new book

Biographical Television Drama.

by Hannah Andrews

This is the first book-length exploration of the relationship between biography and television. Using a range of case studies from across British TV history, it explores how television as an aesthetic and institutional form tells biographical stories. It looks at the relationships between fact and fiction, public and private, cultural and ethical values, and the role of television drama in forging biographical legacy.

Programmes discussed include Elgar (1963), The Brontës of Haworth (1973), The Alan Clark Diaries (2004), The Curse of Steptoe (2008), Babs (2017), Gentleman Jack (2019) and, of course, The Crown (2016 -).

“Biographical Television Drama breaks new ground as, to my knowledge, the first book-length exploration of the terms in which television engages in biographical storytelling. Backed by robust research in biography studies and British television history, Hannah Andrews deftly unravels the complexities behind the accessibility of biographical television drama. Her book tackles key questions head-on, notably rhetorics and style, narrative and performance and, innovatively, ethics, while also shedding light on the interconnections with other biographical screen forms through a rich corpus. This is an essential critical study that vindicates television drama’s unique place in the histories and practices of screen biography.” (Belén Vidal, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London and co-editor of The Biopic in Contemporary Film Culture)

Palgrave Macmillan, 231 pages.
Ebook: US$89.99
Hardcover: US$119.99.

Please consider it for your libraries and bookshelves!

Many thanks,



The Work of Life Writing; Essays and Lectures

G. Thomas Couser

Routledge Auto/Biography Studies

Life writing, in its various forms, does work that other forms of expression do not; it bears on the world in a way distinct from imaginative genres like fiction, drama, and poetry; it acts in and on history in significant ways. Memoirs of illness and disability often seek to depathologize the conditions that they recount. Memoirs of parents by their children extend or alter relations forged initially face to face in the home. At a time when memoir and other forms of life writing are being produced and consumed in unprecedented numbers, this book reminds readers that memoir is not mainly a “literary” genre or mere entertainment. Similarly, letters are not merely epiphenomena of our “real lives.” Correspondence does not just serve to communicate; it enacts and sustains human relationships. Memoir matters, and there’s life in letters. All life writing arises of our daily lives and has distinctive impacts on them and the culture in which we live.

“The Work of Life Writing collects several of the most important essays of G. Thomas Couser’s exemplary career at the forefront of life writing scholarship. Reminding us that life writing deserves our attention for its social significance as much as its artistic strength, these dozen pieces treat the many varieties of life writing as unique literary forms that enact relationships and identities, especially under-represented ones. It was Couser who reminded us that memoir is our most democratic of genres, and who brought the study of life writing to bear on disability and illness representation―one of the most important shifts in literary disability study in the past twenty years. This is a book for students and scholars alike, and will appeal to anyone compelled by the important cultural work of auto/biographical texts.”
Susannah B. Mintz, Professor of English, Skidmore College

“G. Thomas Couser is a central figure in the field of life writing. His lively and accessible prose enters into conversation with scholarship in a variety of fields, including disability studies, narrative medicine, pedagogy (literary studies, creative writing), cultural studies, and sociology. Readers will appreciate having some of his harder-to-find pieces, along with some of his best-known essays, collected in one volume. This book demonstrates the ways in which memoir and autobiography, even those forms that are unlikely to garner critical acclaim, should be taken seriously as forces with the potential to shape our everyday lives. I appreciate the personal touches in his writing―his work feels urgent because, as a reader, I have the opportunity to learn about the life experiences that inspired it.”
Megan Brown, Professor of English, Drake University

206 pages, 23 illustrations
Hardcover $160
Kindle $36.99
Paperback, forthcoming 2022


Dear IABA Colleagues,

You are warmly invited to this virtual launch April 28 11:0 am Mountain
Time. Looking forward to seeing you!

Take care, Julie


False Summit: Gender in Mountaineering Nonfiction/, by Julie Rak

Join Julie and some eminent colleagues to launch /False Summit!

April 28, 2021 11:00 AM Mountain Time
On Zoom

*Special Guest Presenters*

Katie Ives, Editor of /The Alpinist, /USA
Peter Hansen, Worcester Polytech Institute, UK
PearlAnn Reichwein, University of Alberta, Canada

Host: Jonathan Cohn, University of Alberta, Canada

Thanks to: Glass Bookshop and McGill-Queens University Press

False Summit

Julie Rak
Professor and Henry Marshall Tory Chair
Department of English and Film Studies
University of Alberta
Humanities Centre 3-5
Edmonton, AB T6G 2E6, Canada
ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Amiskwacîwâskahikan), Treaty 6/Region 4 Métis Nation


Newly published by the Auto/Biography Study Group,
These Barbed Wire Barriers, Antonio Gramsci and the Schucht Sisters
by Jenifer Nicholson.
ISBN 978-0-9564261-6-1.
Copies may be ordered from the British Sociological Association

Antonio Gramsci’s political life and thought has been, and continues to be, the focus of research and interpretation. Although Gramsci himself said that all the strands of his life were inextricably mixed, much less attention has been paid to his relationships. The women in his life remain shadowy, both in terms of their view of  of their relationship with Gramsci, and in terms of their individual stories.Their lives have been of little interest to historians and political theorists and they appear only briefly in accounts of Gramsci’s life.
This study focuses on three of the Schucht sisters, Eugenia, Giulia and Tatiana Schucht who each, in turn, had a loving relationship with Antonio  Gramsci.
Using mainly Italian texts, archival material held in the Fondazione Gramsci in Rome, and the family histories written by Antonio Gramsci jr., the study explores the  relationships between Gramsci and each of the three women and also gives form and substance to the personalities and the stories behind the faces of the three women whom Gramsci loved.  All three were well educated professional women. Eugenia had worked with Krupskaya on the reform of schools and teacher education which undoubtedly  interested Gramsci greatly, Giulia  too worked for the party.  Both were members of the  communist party at a time when membership had to be earned, and was an accolade. Both had supported the 1917 revolution in Russia and were trained to bear arms.           Despite Eugenia’s hostility for years after her rejection by Gramsci, he nevertheless remembered her  political experience and commitment with  respect. Tatiana, who had remained in Rome had completed medical training apart from the final examinations which she did not sit; she already had a science degree. She had devoted her life to teaching and caring  for sick children when she met Gramsci.
   The author also explores and analyses the complex relationships between the sisters;  how Eugenia dominated Giulia from childhood on, and the conflictual relationship between Eugenia and Tatiana. The correspondence between Tatiana and the family in Russia helps to clarify some of the reasons for the difficulties in the central relationship between Antonio Gramsci and Giulia Schucht, who was not only his wife but his ideal of a political partner.
   Giulia has been unkindly treated by history. When she met Gramsci she was a talented concert violinist and composer, fitting music round her increasing workload for the Party. She was energetic, hard-working, totally committed to the emerging soviet state, and fun. Far from being the passive, fragile beauty swept off her feet by Gramsci, draft letters show that she was extremely attracted to him.  Unfortunately, many of Giulia’s letters to Antonio are missing, nevertheless the woman who emerges from the letters and drafts in the archive is very different from the weak, uncaring impression of her given in the well known accounts of Gramsci’s life. She was in difficult circumstances. She had two very young children and Eugenia wished to usurp her position with the elder boy, Delio,  while ignoring Giuliano the younger one.   In addition Giulia was the major wage earner for the Schucht family. Since she was employed by the state security service in Stalin’s Soviet Union, and Gramsci was a political prisoner in Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, their correspondence was always scrutinised and occasionally blocked. Both were afraid to make the other’s situation worse, politically; both were paralysed by loss and censorship and found it difficult to write, but it took a long time before Gramsci realised that Giulia’s circumstances were as difficult as his own.
    Tatiana became his chief supporter through the prison years until his death. The study explores the relationship Gramsci-Tatiana  which was complicated by their feelings for each other until Gramsci clarified his position. The correspondence was warm, but occasionally strained; he could be demanding, critical and insulting as well as affectionate and deeply grateful for her devotion. She was endlessly tolerant of his explosions of rage and frustration. She was his sounding board as well as his most faithful friend. Her letters discussed films and books as well as his medical conditions. She was concerned by his and Giulia’s lack of correspondence and the subsequent misunderstandings between them. Finally she persuaded him to keep writing to Giulia. Tatiana’s letters kept him alive and functioning.
   Gramsci had asked her to be the channel of communication between himself and Giulia. This arrangement added delays to  the correspondence and perhaps another layer of inhibition to Gramsci’s letter-writing. She also acted as gatekeeper between Gramsci and Giulia, withholding information one from another which she thought might be upsetting. Inadvertently she made the situation worse.The lack of information and frankness, coupled to what Gramsci termed the “bizantine” tangle of unexpressed thoughts, emotions and habits in the Schucht household in Russia between Giulia, Apollon her father and the implacably hostile Eugenia, created the emotional ‘barbed wire barriers” which kept Giulia and Antonio from reaching out to each other. They were never to meet again, but towards the end of his life they did, at least, begin to say what they really meant to each other.
   Richard Holmes wrote that the single subject of biography is “…a chimera, almost as much as the Noble Savage of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, living in splendid a-social isolation” . Without consideration of affect in Gramsci’s life, without the stories and the letters of these three women, there are nuances and dimensions to his writing which readers will miss.
Biographical Note.
Jenifer Nicholson has been researching and writing about Antonio Gramsci for many years since her Masters and her Doctoral thesis on his political thought .
she has published articles  on Gramsci in La Gramsciana, the Auto/Biography Journal , and the Auto/Biography Yearbook, and most recently in The Palgrave Handbook of Auto/Biography. She is currently working on a book about Gramsci and all the women in his life.

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 2, 2020

Open-Forum Articles and Reviews

Open-Forum Articles

Relating Otherwise: Forging Critical Solidarities Across the Kashmiri Pandit-Muslim Divide
Mona Bhan, Deepti Misri, and Ather Zia    

In this paper we reflect on a history of the textured relationships that Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits shared prior to 1989, a date widely framed in Kashmiri popular history and memory as the moment when communitarian relationships in the Kashmir Valley underwent a radical shift. Grounding our exploration in nine life narratives appended to this article by scholars, artists, poets, and writers, mostly Kashmiri, we seek to retrieve a textured understanding of the past, and envision alternative futures for inclusive community building. We complicate the romanticized discourse of Kashmiriyat—the ethos of shared cultural understanding in which cross-community relations between Pandits and Muslims are often cast—and instead propose that intersubjective understanding across the two communities can only emerge from the building of critical solidarities that engage histories of caste, class, gender, and militarization in Kashmir.

Relating Otherwise: Curated Narratives     

These are the accompanying life narratives for “Relating Otherwise: Forging Critical Solidarities Across the Kashmiri Pandit-Muslim Divide.” The nine authors—Zahir-ud-Din, Soniya Amin, Parvaiz Bukhari, Amit Bamzai, Sagar Kaul, Sagrika Kissu, Bhavneet Kaur, Huzaifa Pandit, and Fozia Qazi—reflect on the relationships that Kashmiris shared across religious communities prior to 1989.

(Un)veiled Women, Modernity, and Civilizing Missions: Selma Ekrem’s Legacy and the Suffrage Movement
Zeynep Aydogdu    

In Unveiled: The Autobiography of a Turkish Girl (1930), Selma Ekrem shapes her self-representation as a Turkish immigrant and “outstanding feminist” by appropriating the conventions of suffrage autobiography to appeal to her white middle-class suffragette audience. While drawing on long-standing Orientalist stereotypes of the harem and the veil, she also incorporates tenets of Turkish nationalist ideology to fashion a complex self-portrait that challenges a view of Turkish women as hapless victims of the veil and despotism.

A Self-Portrait of the Armenian Artist as Homo Sacer: The Biopolitical Limits of Hagop Mintzuri’s Life Writing
Maral Aktokmakyan           

This essay is an attempt to rethink the (im)possibility of Ottoman-Armenian writer Hagop Mintzuri’s autobiography after his life was biopoliticized in the nation-forming period of Turkey. Focusing on his memoir that gives an account for his stay in Istanbul before and after the Armenian Genocide in 1915, this essay probes the biopolitical limits operating not just on this particular self-narrative but also on the genre of autobiography.

Working Out Socialism: Labor and Politics in Socialist Autobiography in Twentieth-Century Poland
Wiktor Marzec        

This essay examines socialist workers’ autobiographies as inscriptions of the self unfolding from illicit political militancy in tsarist times to the establishment of actually existing socialism in twentieth-century Poland. The autobiographies written in state socialism pin together the workers’ strivings for a better life with their intellectual pursuits and their negotiation of the relationship between work and politics. While this essay is informed by an analysis of more than 100 biographical narratives of workers engaging in mass politics during the 1905 Revolution, it closely examines four typologically interesting cases. Most of these socialist autobiographies are loaded “time-vehicles,” written as gestures to legitimize the existing state socialism. However, they are embedded in earlier experiences such as proletarian autodidacticism, learning via socialist printings, and prewar socialist memory. At the same time, such life writing bears witness to real and imagined continuities between past socialist militancy and actually existing socialism. The politics of writing is necessary to understand socialist autobiography, and the prior life course of the writing workers is equally crucial to understanding state socialism.

What’s in an I?: Dissonant and Consonant Self-Narration in Autobiographical Discourse
Zuzana Fonioková                    

Combining narratological analysis with autobiography studies, this article looks at examples of focalization strategies in several autobiographical works. It adopts Dorrit Cohn’s distinction between consonant and dissonant self-narration (identification or distance between the narrating-I and the experiencing-I) to explore how authors engage creatively with different positions of the autobiographical “I,” and how this engagement contributes to their texts’ aesthetic qualities. Starting from a brief exposition of the role of the narrating-I and the experiencing-I in autobiographical narratives, the article discusses the juxtaposition of the two selves’ perspectives in Sylvia Fraser’s My Father’s House, which is achieved by means of a dexterous combination of consonant and dissonant self-narration. Examples of dissonant self-narration from Günter Grass’s Peeling the Onion and Christopher Isherwood’s Christopher and His Kind and of consonant self-narration from Mary Karr’s memoir trilogy (The Liars’ Club, Cherry, and Lit) then demonstrate how self-dissonance may help convey a work’s meta-autobiographical message, while self-consonance seems to contribute to readers’ immersion in the narrative.

Biography in Contemporary France
Joanny Moulin                          

This article provides a survey of biography in France today, limiting its scope to biography considered as a distinct genre relative to other forms of life writing such as autobiography, memoir, or diary. It seeks to explain biography’s contrasted reception in France, where it is in fact very popular, though still apparently held in relatively mediocre esteem in academia, if not in the Académie. The study examines the historical and ideological reasons for the resistance that biography has long been met with in some academic walks. By contrast, it also demonstrates the vivacity of biography in France, with a presentation of the best-known French biographers and the main publishers, book series, and prizes devoted to the genre.

Queering the Family, Reclaiming the Father: Proustian Evocations in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home
Olga Michael       

Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic includes a number of intertextual references to Marcel Proust and his multi-volume novel Remembrance of Things Past. In this essay, I investigate the usefulness of these references in the narrative of Alison’s problematic relationship with her father, and I propose that they enable the structuring of queer gender and sexuality performances, which allow Alison to reclaim and reunite with her distant and ultimately lost father. As such, I point to the potential value of intertextual readings in identifying positive accounts of queer lives in the field of autographics.


Women’s Life Writing and the Practice of Reading: She Reads to Write Herself, edited by Valérie Baisnée-Keay, Corrine Bigot, Nicoleta Alexoae-Zagni, and Claire Bazin
Reviewed by Patsy Schweickart      

Shared Selves: Latinx Memoir and Ethical Alternatives to Humanism,
by Suzanne Bost
Reviewed by Gillian Whitlock     

Ancient Biography: Identity through Lives, by Francis Cairns and Trevor Luke
Reviewed by Øivind Andersen      

Women’s Life Writing and Early Modern Ireland, edited by
Julie A. Eckerle and Naomi McAreavey
Reviewed by Sarah Covington       

Diaries Real and Fictional in Twentieth-Century French Writing,
by Sam Ferguson
Reviewed by Karen Ferreira-Meyers        

Secret Police Files from the Eastern Bloc: Between Surveillance
and Life Writing
, edited by Valentina Glajar, Alison Lewis, and
Corina L. Petrescu
Reviewed by Cristina Plamadeala      

The Qualified Self: Social Media and the Accounting of Everyday Life,
by Lee Humphreys
Reviewed by Hywel Dix    

Through the Looking Glass: Writers’ Memoirs at the Turn
of the 21st Century
, by Robert Kusek
Reviewed by Dagmara Drewniak         

Conversations with Biographical Novelists: Truthful Fictions
across the Globe
, edited by Michael Lackey
Reviewed by Laura Cernat  

Elusive Lives: Gender, Autobiography, and the Self in Muslim
South Asia
, by Siobhan Lambert-Hurley
Reviewed by Leila Moayeri Pazargadi    

Girls, Autobiography, Media: Gender and Self-Mediation
in Digital Economies
, by Emma Maguire
Reviewed by Lucy E. Bailey                    

Autobiography: A Very Short Introduction, by Laura Marcus
Reviewed by Margaretta Jolly          

Antonia White and Manic-Depressive Illness, by Patricia Moran
Reviewed by Lizzie Hutton            

The Wounded Self: Writing Illness in Twenty-First-Century
German Literature
, by Nina Schmidt
Reviewed by Franziska Gygax            

Picturing Identity: Contemporary American Autobiography in
Image and Text
, by Hertha D. Sweet Wong
Reviewed by Manoela dos Anjos Afonso Rodrigues                        For more information about subscriptions and submissions
Life Writing, Volume 18, Issue 1, March 2021 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

Essays in Life Writing

This new issue contains the following articles:

Introduction Essays in Life Writing
Kylie Cardell
Pages: 1-6 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1878570

Essays Writing (from) the Rubble: Reflections on the August 4, 2020 Explosion in Beirut, Lebanon
Sleiman El Hajj
Pages: 7-23 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1830736

Will the Real Subject Please Stand Up? Autobiographical Voices in Biography
Karen Lamb
Pages: 25-30 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1672615

Speculative Biography and Countering Archival Absences of Women Clowns in the Circus
Katerina Bryant
Pages: 31-44 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1866777

‘A Man of Violent and Ungovernable Temper’: Can Fiction Fill Silences in the Archives?
Katherine E Collins
Pages: 45-51 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1564215

Killing the Silent Witness: The Benefits of an Authorial Stance as Interpreter in Future-focused Natural Biography
Sarah Pye
Pages: 53-65 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1795979

How to be a Fan in the Age of Problematic Faves
Matt Bucher & Grace Chipperfield
Pages: 67-78 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1864090

Letter Writing and Space for Women’s Self-expression in Janet Frame’s Owls Do Cry and Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table
Hannah Matthews
Pages: 79-94 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1831134

In Parallel With My Actual Diary: On Re-writing an Exile
Chris Campanioni
Pages: 95-111 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1766752

Metaphor and Neonatal Death: How Stories Can Help When a Baby Dies at Birth
Tamarin Norwood
Pages: 113-124 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1871705

Three Wheels on My Wagon: An Account of an Attempt to Use Life Writing to Access Shared Family Narratives After Bereavement
Jane Hughes
Pages: 125-133 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1794124

Becoming a Traitor | Open Access
Linus Hagström
Pages: 135-143 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1644986

My Obscure Career as an Aspiring Poet
Eugene Stelzig
Pages: 145-154 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1558711

Archive of the (Mostly) Unspoken: A Queer Project of Caring for the Dead
Margot Francis
Pages: 155-168 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1775482

Dear Colleagues
I would like to bring to your attention a book that I published in September 2020, titled Performative Selves, Performative Poses. Getrude Stein, Norman Mailer and Philip Roth as Autobiographers.
The book combines literary studies and narratology with cultural studies, the sociology of literature, the philosophy of time, psychology, theories of the genius, and celebrity studies, in a critical approach governed by performativity theory. The methodology used is adapted from the model of cultural analysis practiced by Mieke Bal and formulated by her in Double Exposures: The Practice of Cultural Analysis (1966). Cultural analysis is interdisciplinary and inter-temporal, developed by cultivating ”critical intimacy” with texts. My corpus includes, in chronological order, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1932) and Everybody’s Autobiography (1937) by Gertrude Stein, Advertisements for Myself (1959) by Norman Mailer, and The Facts: A Novelist’s Autobiography (1988), Operation Shylock: A Confession (1993), and Patrimony: A True Story (1991) by Philip Roth.
 The introduction gives an overview of the canonization of autobiography as a genre and a field of academic interest, and discusses autobiographical topoi such as the problematic nature of life-writing, memory, time, intentionality, autobiography as a speech act, and the reading contract between authors and readers. It also formulates a definition of autobiography as a cultural phenomenon of performatively writing a life, contextualizing an individual’s development as a relational self, and meeting the readers’ need to consume stories packaged and promoted as real.
The key element in this definition is performativity. Chapter one retraces this notion’s trajectory from J. L. Austin to Judith Butler, with additions from Derrida’s critical apparatus, and analyzes the autobiographical pact from the perspective of performativity theory. Chapter two deals with the social, relational and performative autobiographical self, and investigates Stein’s, Mailer’s and Roth’s ludic ”poses”. Chapter three discusses various aspects of life-writing: memory, narrative conventions and ownership over a life-story. The final chapter analyzes how the three writers mentioned above engaged their status as celebrities – a status created or consolidated by the publication of their autobiographies.
The conclusions suggest that in its diversity, American autobiography often distances itself from the conventions of the genre and by generic ”deviation” underscores the vitality of this performative cultural phenomenon which, currently, has an intrinsic political potential by enabling marginalized voices to make themselves heard.

Further information can be found here: Should anyone be interested in the book, I can provide an electronic copy.

Enjoy the week and good luck with all your projects!

Sorina Chiper
Associate Professor
Alexandru Ioan Cuza University.



Several new articles have been published in Volume IX of the European Journal of Life Writing and can be freely accessed at

In the cluster ‘Beyond Endings. Past Tenses and Future Imaginaries’:

In the creative Matters section:

Book Reviews:

The first articles of Volume X will be published in March 2021.

Dr. Petra van Langen
Dr. Monica Soeting
European Journal of Life Writing
Journal Manager

The European Journal of Life Writing is an open access e-journal, but editing and type setting do cost money.
Your financial support can help us to publish a wide array of valuable articles about life writing:

Newly Published by Duke University Press
Empire’s Mistress, Starring Isabel Rosario Cooper
by Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez
For more information, and to order the book directly from Duke University Press at a 30% discount please visit and enter the coupon code E21GNZLZ during checkout.
In Empire’s Mistress Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez follows the life of Filipina vaudeville and film actress Isabel Rosario Cooper, who was the mistress of General Douglas MacArthur. If mentioned at all, their relationship exists only as a salacious footnote in MacArthur’s biography—a failed love affair between a venerated war hero and a young woman of Filipino and American heritage. Following Cooper from the Philippines to Washington, D.C. to Hollywood, where she died penniless, Gonzalez frames her not as a tragic heroine, but as someone caught within the violent histories of U.S. imperialism. In this way, Gonzalez uses Cooper’s life as a means to explore the contours of empire as experienced on the scale of personal relationships. Along the way, Gonzalez fills in the archival gaps of Cooper’s life with speculative fictional interludes that both unsettle the authority of “official” archives and dislodge the established one-dimensional characterizations of her. By presenting Cooper as a complex historical subject who lived at the crossroads of American colonialism in the Philippines, Gonzalez demonstrates how intimacy and love are woven into the infrastructure of empire.

“Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez crafts a gorgeous and meticulous portrait of one of the most intriguing women of the twentieth century, Isabel Rosario Cooper. Woven out of ghosts of texts and archival fractures and gaps, Empire’s Mistress is a replete mystery tale, a feminist biography, a Hollywood story, an intimate study of Philippine-U.S. relations, and a masterful work of postcolonial noir. Above all, Empire’s Mistress is a haunting, by which afterlives of empire address our contemporary dilemmas about how to articulate, frame, and center unspoken lives to tell history accurately. A deeply satisfying work of exhumation, Empire’s Mistress makes complex history live, and I’m grateful for Gonzalez’s unflinching, refractive, and always revelatory gaze on that history.” — Gina Apostol, author of Insurrecto
“Imaginatively tracing the life of Isabel Rosario Cooper in and through the elisions and silences of the archives, Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez makes a significant contribution to rethinking the process of archival research when it involves marginalized subjects whose existence appears sporadically in the historical accounts of others. A compelling read.” — Vicente L. Rafael, author of Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language amid Wars of Translation

“Imaginatively tracing the life of Isabel Rosario Cooper in and through the elisions and silences of the archives, Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez makes a significant contribution to rethinking the process of archival research when it involves marginalized subjects whose existence appears sporadically in the historical accounts of others. A compelling read.” — Vicente L. Rafael, author of Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language amid Wars of Translation
Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez
Professor, Department of American Studies
Director, Honors Program
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Series co-editor: Detours: A Decolonial Guide series



Forthcoming Book Series: Narratives and Mental Health–Brill


Series editors: Jarmila Mildorf, University of Paderborn, Germany, Elisabeth Punzi, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Christoph Singer, University of Innsbruck, Austria, and Cornelia Wächter, University of Bochum, Germany

Narratives and Mental Health offers a forum for dialogue between the arts, humanities and other disciplines interested in mental health and well-being.

Narrative is a central tool for meaning-making. Yet, its relevance has long been side-lined in the mental health sector including psychiatry, clinical psychology, medicine and social work.

To explore the intersection of narratives and mental health, the peer-reviewed book series takes an interdisciplinary approach and accommodates studies which investigate, for one, the uses and usefulness, but also the possible limitations of narrative in mental health care settings. The series is also very interested in studies that examine mental health issues in the representation, conceptualization, medialization and dissemination of mental health-narratives in areas as varied as literature and life-writing, the arts and film, journalism and (oral) history, digital and graphic storytelling, and many more.

Monographs and themed volumes are invited that include perspectives from comparative literary studies, history, narratology, psychology and philosophy, amongst others.

Authors are cordially invited to submit proposals and/or full manuscripts to the publisher at BRILL, Masja Horn.

ISSN: 2667-0518

Editorial board

  • Ann Burack-Weiss, Columbia University, USA
  • Rita Charon, Columbia University, USA
  • Daniel McCann, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany
  • China Mills, City University of London, UK
  • Cecilia Petterson, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Geoffrey Reaume, York University, Canada
  • Katrin Röder, University of Potsdam, Germany
  • Linda Steele, University of Technology Sidney, Australia
  • Sara Strauss, University of Paderborn, Germany

Advisory board

  • Daniel D. Hutto, University of Wollongong, Australia
  • Daniel Ketteler, Berlin School of Medicine, Germany
  • Matthew Ratcliffe, The University of York, UK
  • Brian Schiff, The American University of Paris, France


Contemporary Feminist Life-Writing: The New Audacity is the first volume to identify and analyse the ‘new audacity’ of recent feminist writings from life. Characterised by boldness in both style and content, willingness to explore difficult and disturbing experiences, the refusal of victimhood, and a lack of respect for traditional genre boundaries, new audacity writing takes risks with its author’s and others’ reputations, and even, on occasion, with the law. The book offers an examination and critical assessment of new audacity in works by Katherine Angel, Alison Bechdel, Marie Calloway, Virginie Despentes, Tracey Emin, Sheila Heti, Juliet Jacques, Chris Krauss, Jana Leo, Maggie Nelson, Vanessa Place, Paul Preciado, and Kate Zambreno. It analyses how they write about women’s self-authorship, trans experiences, struggles with mental health, sexual violence and rape, and the desire for sexual submission. It engages with recent feminist and gender scholarship, providing discussions of vulnerability, victimhood, authenticity, trauma, and affect.

Jennifer Cooke is Senior Lecturer in English at Loughborough University. She’s author of Contemporary Feminist Life-Writing: The New Audacity (CUP, 2020) and editor of The New Feminist Literary Studies (CUP, 2020), Scenes of Intimacy: Reading, Writing and Theorizing Contemporary Literature (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), and a special issue of Textual Practice on challenging intimacies and psychoanalysis (September 2013). Her first monograph was Legacies of Plague in Literature, Theory and Film (Palgrave, 2009). Her research interests lie in theories of intimacy; the affective turn and theories of the emotions; queer and feminist theories; and contemporary literature. She chaired the Gendered Lives Research Group from 2015-2020.

Dr Jennifer Cooke (she/her)

Head of English
Senior Lecturer in English
School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Loughborough University, UK
@JenniferACooke | Webpage | Contemporary Feminist Life-Writing: The New Audacity

Newsletter Biography Institute

January 2021

[PDF version]

Annual Report available online
The annual report 2020 of the Biography Institute is available in Dutch and in English.

Cover biography Felix de Boeck ready
David Veltman recently finished his PhD-research on Felix de Boeck. The cover of his biography was already put on the website of Verloren Publishers. The artist and farmer Felix de Boeck was a solitary figure. On his farm in Drogenbos, near Brussels, he avoided the bustle of the big city. His long beard, simple clothing and inseparable pipe suggested an individual unreceptive to passing fads, and the artist confirmed this impression, continuing to work in his own idiosyncratic way. After the war, he showed interest to an alternative Catholic tradition in Flemish art.

Hans Renders continues his monthly talk on biography
Each third Sunday of the month, Hans Renders will continue to give his talk on biography at the radio program Met het oog op morgen, NPO Radio 1. Earlier installments of his monthly feature can be found here.

Jelte Olthof and Maarten Zwiers present their volume Profiles in Power
Donald Trump’s years in the White House once again demonstrate the central role of personality in presidential campaigns and policy-making. Besides the highly personalistic nature of Trump’s politics, critics claimed he simultaneously personified a broader current in U.S. political culture: a spokesman for the hyper-capitalist class that has little regard for minorities, women, the environment, or middle- and lower-class white voters, but which feeds on the fears and anxieties that live amongst these latter two groups. From different perspectives, the exploits of the Trump White House thus show the importance of studying the role of individual agency in politics. The book presentation will be on Zoom on Monday 8th February 2021 at 14.00 (CET). To attend the presentation, please email us.

More information can be found on the website
For subscribing to and unsubscribing from this newsletter, please email

Natalie Edwards, Multilingual Life Writing by French and Francophone Women: Translingual Selves, part of the Routledge Auto/Biography Studies series edited by Ricia Chansky.

This volume examines the ways in which multilingual women authors incorporate several languages into their life writing. It compares the work of six contemporary authors who write predominantly in French. It analyses the narrative strategies they develop to incorporate more than one language into their life writing: French and English, French and Creole, or French and German, for example. The book demonstrates how women writers transform languages to invent new linguistic formations and how they create new formulations of subjectivity within their self-narrative. It intervenes in current debates over global literature, national literatures and translingual and transnational writing, which constitute major areas of research in literary and cultural studies. It also contributes to debates in linguistics through its theoretical framework of translanguaging. It argues that multilingual authors create new paradigms for life writing and that they question our understanding of categories such as “French literature.”

“In this eagerly awaited study of translingual selves, Natalie Edwards nuances and deepens our knowledge of contemporary women’s life writing in French. By exploring the work of authors who have, in various ways, migrated to the French language, she illuminates at the same time dimensions of cross-lingual writing that have previously attracted little attention. As such, Edwards contributes to the long overdue ‘transnationalization’ of French studies. In the writers she reads, we discover a multilingual poetics that challenges the ideological monolingualism often unwittingly perpetuated by many French literary texts. In the process, and by engaging with concepts such as translanguaging, the book forges highly suggestive links between Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics. This is essential literary analysis for any scholars and students serious about wanting to understand new and often experimental forms of language use in twenty-first-century literature in French.” Charles Forsdick, James Barrow Professor of French, University of Liverpool, UK

“This volume illustrates what multivocality means for authors who with dexterity engage their multilingual repertoires and how this offers readers opportunities for reading through and between layers of literary expression. A delicately articulated text that invites conversation among authors who reveal multilingual and decolonial repertoires of resistance and linguists who attempt to understand the implications of ‘southern’ and decolonial thinking. Natalie Edwards entices readers along a path that transverses contemporary debates that are central to a 21st century understanding of humanity.” Kathleen Heugh, University of South Australia

Professor Natalie Edwards, SFHEA
Department of French Studies
Director of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Arts
The University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005
President, Australian Society for French Studies

ARC DP 2019-2021: Transnational Selves: French Narratives of Migration to Australia

New OPEN ACCESS article on Multilingual Australian Literature

CRICOS Provider Number 00123M

This Way Back, by Joanna Elftheriou, West Virginia Press, 2020

“Winning and contemplative.” —Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Going back to her ancestral homeland, a Greek American girl discovers she is a lesbian in love with God, so her questions about home and belonging will not be easily answered.

This Way Back dramatizes a childhood split between Queens, New York, and Cyprus, an island nation with a long colonial history and a culture to which Joanna Eleftheriou could never quite adjust. The book avows a Greek-Cypriot-American lesbian’s existence by documenting its scenes: reenacting an 1829 mass suicide by jumping off a school stage onto gym mats at St. Nicholas, harvesting carobs on ancestral land, purchasing UNESCO-protected lace, marching in the island’s first gay pride parade, visiting Cyprus’s occupied north against a dying father’s wish, and pruning geraniums, cypress trees, and jasmine after her father grew too weak to lift the shears. While the author’s life binds the essays in This Way Back into what reads like a memoir, the book questions memoir’s conventional boundaries between the individual and her community, and between political and personal loss, the human and the environment, and the living and the dead.

Contributing Editor, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies
Language & Culture Instructor, Writing Workshops in Greece
As Routledge are currently offering a discount, I thought it might be a good idea to send out a note to the IABA list now:

Life Writing and Celebrity
Exploring Intersections

Edited By Sandra Mayer & Julia Novak

This book examines the relationship between life writing and celebrity in English-language and comparative literary and cultural contexts, focusing on historical as well as contemporary auto/biographical subjects.

With contributions on the 18th-century actress Peg Woffington, Charles Dickens, Mary Pickford, Sergei Eisenstein, W.H. Auden, Marilyn Monroe, and Michael Jackson, amongst others, the book encompasses a wide range of disciplines and approaches. It explores the representation of famous lives in genres as varied as TV documentary, biopic, biofiction, journalism, (authorized) biography, and painting. The contributors address broad themes including authenticity, self-fashioning, identity politics, and ethics; and reflect on the ways in which these affect the reading and writing of celebrity lives.

This volume is the first to bring together life writing and celebrity studies—two vibrant and innovative areas of research which are closely connected through their shared concerns with authenticity and intimacy, public and private selves, myth-making and revelation. As such it will be of interest to a wide range of scholars from across the humanities. This book was originally published as a special issue of Life Writing.

Liebe Grüße
Dr. Julia Lajta-Novak
Department of English and American Studies
University of Vienna
Campus Altes AKH Hof 8.3, Spitalgasse 2
1090 Vienna, Austria
+43(0)699 81761689

The Bride in the Cultural Imagination:

Screen, Stage, and Literary Productions

Jo Parnell, Editor


  • This essay collection examines the cultural and personal world of girls and women at a time when their lives, their person, their realities, and their status are about to change forever. Together, the chapters cleverly create an in-depth study of the subject, and look at several cultural forms to offer a different approach to the popularly-held views of the bride. The critical essays in this edited collection are thematically driven and include global perspectives of the portrayals of the bride in the films, stage productions and pop-culture narratives from Nigeria; Kenya; Uganda; Tanzania; Spain; Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome; Tajikistan; India; Egypt; and the South-Eastern Indian Ocean Islands. This multinational approach provides insight into the intricacies, customs, practices, and life-styles surrounding the bride in various Eastern and Western cultures.


  • Jo Parnell is Conjoint Research Fellow to the Faculty of Education and Arts, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Kevin Hall

Introduction by Jo Parnell and Josephine May

1.Plautus, Catullus and Public Depictions of the Bride in Rome
Jane Bellemore
2.In Grey and Pink: The Image of the Bride through the Spanish Post-War Novela Rosa
Rosana Murias
3.Sex and the Bride: Citra Mudgal’s Hindi Short Story Dulhin as a Mirror of Changing Family Relations in Contemporary India
Alessandra Consolaro
4.Here Comes the (Bollywood) Bride: Gender, Power, Family, and Patriarchy in
Millennial India
Andrew Howe
5.Ideological and Cultural Manifestations in Bridal Narrative and the Image of the Bride in Modern Egyptian Visual Culture
Azza Harras
6.The Image of a Bride in Tajik Cinema
Sharofat Arabova
7.The “Economics” of Bride Price in Nigerian Women’s Literature
Shalini Nadaswaran
8.The Bride’s Agency: East Africa Novelistic and Dramatic Imaginaries
Wafula Yenjela
9.Advertising the Bride in South-Eastern Indian Ocean Islands
Zoly Rakotoniera and Gladys Abdoul

  • Dr. Jo Parnell’s collection of scholarly essays on Bride is a fascinating read. The topic is riveting and the collection is beautifully put together. The poignant figure of the bride parades before us in a series of different global cultures, past and present, each of them blending tradition and (occasionally) innovation, fantasy and reality, and empowerment and subjugation. There are common threads and striking differences. Amazing that no-one has thought of doing this before, but we can rejoice that someone has now carried it off!
    — Hugh Craig, Emeritus Professor, FAHA, University of Newcastle

This is absolutely the best kind of essay collection: original, insightful, scholarly and beautifully written. An important work on a largely underexplored topic, this globally focused view of the bride in literature and on the stage and screen is essential and enthralling reading. Ambitious in its scope, which ranges across time and place, this carefully curated volume can be read straight through or dipped into for its deep insights into this ubiquitous but surprisingly overlooked figure. Essential reading!
— Donna Lee Brien, Central Queensland University

This edited collection is the perfect companion to Dr. Parnell’s 2018 publication on representations of the mother-in-law, restoring the voices of women often overlooked by academic scholarship. The sweeping scope of the essays takes us across multiple disciplines, chronologies, and continents to examine the bride (both child and adult) in literature, stage, film, and even advertising videos. From Ancient Roman to Franco’s Spain to 2019 Mauritius and Madagascar, the bride emerges as a figure on the border of tradition and modernity, shaped by and at odds with globalization and local patriarchal cultures, negotiating her oppression and personal freedom.
— Julie Taddeo, University of Maryland

Lexington Books
Pages: 206 • Trim: 6 x 9
978-1-7936-1613-5 • Hardback • November 2020
978-1-7936-1614-2 • eBook • November 2020
Subjects: Social Science / Popular Culture, Social Science / Gender Studies, Social Science / Women’s Studies



Perspectives on Transnational Life Writing

Edited by Babs Boter, Marleen Rensen & Giles Scott-Smith

Forthcoming 4 December 2020

Paperback ISBN: 9789088909740 | Hardback ISBN: 9789088909757 | Imprint: Sidestone Press Academics | Format: 182x257mm | ca. 220 pp. | CLUES no. 5 | Series: CLUES | Language: English | 16 illus. (bw) | 7 illus. (fc) |

Keywords: life writing; (auto)biography; postcolonial studies; gender studies; transnationalism/globalization; travel writing; cultural history; social networks

This book focuses on the 20th century lives of men and women whose life-work and life experiences transgressed and surpassed the national boundaries that existed or emerged in the 20th century. The chapters explore how these life-stories add innovative transnational perspectives to the entangled histories of the world wars, decolonization, the Cold War and post-colonialism.
The subjects vary from artists, intellectuals, and politicians to ordinary citizens, each with their own unique set of experiences, interactions and interpretations. They trace the building of socio-cultural and professional networks, the casual encounters of everyday life, and the travel, translation, and preserving of life stories in different media. In these multiple ways the book makes a strong case for reclaiming lost personal narratives that have been passed over by more orthodox nation-state focused approaches.
These explorations make use of social and historical categories such as class, gender, religion and race in a transnational context, arguing that the transnational characteristics of these categories overflow the nation-state frame. In this way they can be used to ‘unhinge’ the primarily national context of history-writing.
By drawing on personal records and other primary sources, the chapters in this book release many layers of subjectivity otherwise lost, enabling a richer understanding of how individuals move through, interact with and are affected by the major events of their time.

Babs Boter and Marleen Rensen
Archival traces
Mieke Bouman (1907-1966) and the Jungschläger/Schmidt trials
Ernestine Hoegen
Colonialism, class, and collaboration: A wartime encounter on Java
Eveline Buchheim
“The Voortrekkers, on their way to Pretoria, 1952”: Doing Race in Life Writing from South Africa to the Netherlands
Barbara Henkes
Sleepwalking to a poem: A theory of Adrienne Rich’s translations from the Dutch
Diederik Oostdijk
W.E.B. Du Bois at Ons Suriname: Amsterdam transnational networks and Dutch anti-colonial activism in the late 1950s
Lonneke Geerlings
Following the letters: Emile de Laveleye’s transnational correspondence network
Thomas D’haeninck
Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery in the Dutch Empire, 1902-1995
Marijke Huisman
The production and contestation of biography: New approaches from South Africa
Ciraj Rassool
Ordinary lives: teaching history with life narratives in transnational perspective
Nancy Mykoff
Starring Morgenland! The life and work of Jan Johannes Theodorus Boon (1911-1974)
Edy Seriese
“She is English, isn’t she?”: transnationality as part of Cissy van Marxveldt’s self-presentation
Monica Soeting
“A caveman in a canal house”: The rejection of transnationalist biography in Hafid Bouazza’s A Bear in Fur Coat
Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar
Afterword: Reflections from a diplomatic historian
Giles Scott-Smith

Dr. Babs Boter
Lecturer and researcher in Literatures in English
Faculty of Arts

T +31 (0)20 59 82814 | | WORKING DAYS: mon – wed, fri |
ADDRESS: de Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands |

Writing the Empire: The McIlwraiths, 1853-1948, by Eva-Marie Kröller. University of Toronto Press 2021.

For full information

Crossing time and oceans, this fascinating history of the McIlwraiths tracks the family’s imperial identities across the generations to tell a story of anthropology and empire. 

Writing the Empire is a collective biography of the McIlwraiths, a family of politicians, entrepreneurs, businesspeople, scientists, and scholars. Known for their contributions to literature, politics, and anthropology, the McIlwraiths originated in Ayrshire, Scotland and spread across the British Empire, specifically North America and Australia, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards.
Focusing on imperial networking, Writing the Empire reflects on the McIlwraiths’ life-writing through three generations, contained in correspondence, diaries, memoirs, and estate papers, along with published works by members of the family. By moving from generation to generation, but also from one stage of a person’s life to the next, the author investigates some of the ways in which various McIlwraiths, both men and women, articulated their identity as subjects of the British Empire over time. Kröller identifies parallel and competing forms of communication that involved major public figures beyond the family’s immediate circle, and explores the challenges issued by Indigenous people to imperial ideologies. Drawing from private papers and public archives, Writing the Empire is an illuminating biography that will appeal to readers interested in the links between life-writing and imperial history.

Eva-Marie Kröller is a professor emerita in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia.

Transnational Perspectives on Artists’ Lives Edited by Marleen Rensen and Christopher Wiley Palgrave Studies in Life Writing 2020

For complete table of contents–

  • Applies transnationality to artists’ biography and life writing and examines a range of subjects from the late nineteenth century to the present
  • Explores the lives and works of artists who straddle different nations and cultures in biographies and biofictions, the study and writing of artists’ lives, and historical artists writing about one another
  • Comprises a wide international coverage from England, France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Hungary, Russia, North America, South Africa and New Zealand, with experts from a diverse wide range of arts subjects including literature, music and the visual art

This book demonstrates the significance of transnationality for studying and writing the lives of artists. While painters, musicians and writers have long been cast as symbols of their associated nations, recent research is increasingly drawing attention to those aspects of their lives and works that resist or challenge the national framework. The volume showcases different ways of treating transnationality in life writing by and about artists, investigating how the transnational can offer intriguing new insights on artists who straddle different nations and cultures. It further explores ways of adopting transnational perspectives in artists’ biographies in order to deal with experiences of cultural otherness or international influences, and analyses cross-cultural representations of artists in biography and biofiction. Gathering together insights from biographers and scholars with expertise in literature, music and the visual arts, Transnational Perspectives on Artists’ Lives opens up rich avenues for researching transnationality in the cultural domain at large.

‘This impressively varied and highly accessible book is characterized by an open and inclusive attitude towards the subjects it covers. Its innovative transnationalist perspective facilitates interaction between fields that really ought to communicate more. Refreshingly, it takes “fictional” life writing seriously as contributing to the shaping of the afterlives of artists. There may not be one way of “doing” biography, but, surely, this is the best way of doing biography research.’
— Dr Dennis Kersten, Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, Radboud University, The Netherlands

Marleen Rensen is Senior Lecturer in Modern European Literature at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters, and co-edited and introduced the special collection Life Writing and European Identities (2019) and the volume Unhinging the National Framework: Perspectives on Transnational Life Writing (2020).

Christopher Wiley is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Surrey, UK. He is the author of many journal articles and book chapters, and the co-editor of volumes including Researching and Writing on Contemporary Art and Artists (2020), Writing About Contemporary Musicians (2020) and The Routledge Companion to Autoethnography and Self-Reflexivity in Music Studies (2021).

Américanas, Autocracy, and Autobiographical Innovation: Overwriting the Dictator by Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle

is now published with Routledge Press. It is the latest title in their Auto/Biography Studies Series.

Book Description

Overwriting the Dictator is literary study of life writing and dictatorship in Americas. Its focus is women who have attempted to rewrite, or overwrite, discourses of womanhood and nationalism in the dictatorships of their nations of origin. The project covers five 20th century autocratic governments: the totalitarianism of Rafael Trujillo’s regime in the Dominican Republic, the dynasty of the Somoza family in Nicaragua, the charismatic, yet polemical impact of Juan and Eva Perón on the proletariat of Argentina, the controversial rule of Fidel Castro following Cuba’s 1959 revolution, and Augusto Pinochet’s coup d’état that transformed Chile into a police state. Each chapter traces emerging patterns of experimentation with autobiographical form and determines how specific autocratic methods of control suppress certain methods of self-representation and enable others. The book foregrounds ways in which women’s self-representation produces a counter-narrative that critiques and undermines dictatorial power with the depiction of women as self-aware, resisting subjects engaged in repositioning their gendered narratives of national identity.

Dr. Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle

Department of English
The College of New Jersey

Genre Studies Delegate, Modern Language Association


Book Reviews Editor, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies

[Pronouns: she/her/hers]

Dear colleagues,
Celebrity Memoir: from Ghostwriting to Gender Politics by Hannah Yelin is now out and may be of interest to some of you. Perhaps especially those teaching and researching on the topics of gender, celebrity culture, the politics of production, 21st century women’s writing, porn, reality TV, YouTubers, pop stardom, or life narratives in their various forms.
It is currently £12 in ebook format (usually £64) til 1st Dec with the discount code CYBER20PAL.
Celebrity Memoir: from Ghostwriting to Gender Politics
In this timely analysis of the economics of access that surround contemporary female celebrity, Hannah Yelin reveals a culture that requires women to be constantly ‘baring all’ in physical exposure and psychic confessions. As famous women tell their story, in their ‘own words’, constellations of ghostwriters, intermediaries and market forces undermine assertions of authorship and access to the ‘real’ woman behind the public image. Yelin’s account of the presence of the ghostwriter offers a fascinating microcosm of the wider celebrity machine, with insights pertinent to all celebrity mediation. Yelin surveys life-writing genres including fiction, photo-diary, comic-strip, and art anthology, as well as more ‘traditional’ autobiographical forms; covering a wide range of media platforms and celebrity contexts including reality TV, YouTube, pop stardom, and porn/glamour modelling. Despite this diversity, Yelin reveals seemingly inescapable conventions, as well as spaces for resistance. Celebrity Memoir: from Ghostwriting to Gender Politics offers new insights on the curtailment of women’s voices, with ramifications for literary studies of memoir, feminist media studies, celebrity studies, and work on the politics of production in the creative industries.


Narrative research with children:  New book published by Palgrave

Narrating Childhood with Children and Young People: Diverse Contexts, Methods and Stories of Everyday Life 

Edited by
Dr Lisa Moran, Department of Social Sciences, Edge Hill University, UK

Dr Kathy Reilly, School of Geography, Archaeology and Irish Studies, NUI Galway

Dr Bernadine Brady, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway
This new volume draws together scholarly contributions from diverse, yet interlinking disciplinary fields, with the aim of critically examining the value of narrative inquiry in understanding the everyday lives of children and young people in diverse spaces and places, including the home, recreational spaces, communities, and educational spaces. Incorporating insights from sociology, geography, education, child and youth studies, social care, and social work, the collection emphasises how narrative research approaches present storytelling as a universally recognizable, valuable, and effective methodological approach with children and young people. The chapters point to the diversity of spaces and places encountered by children and young people, considers how young people ‘tell tales’ about their lives and highlights the multidimensionality of narrative research in capturing their everyday lived experiences.


Life Writing, Volume 17, Issue 4, December 2020 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

Animating Interior Worlds

This new issue contains the following articles:

Interior Matter: Photography, Spaces, Selves
Jane Simon
Pages: 441-452 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1770473

The Implied Rummager: Reading Intimate Interiors in Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules | Open Access
Anna Poletti
Pages: 455-467 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1768874

Media’s Domestication as Intimate Geography
Justine Lloyd
Pages: 469-481 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769305

Imperial Debris in Janet Frame’s To the Is-Land (1982)
Emma Parker
Pages: 483-491 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769304

Circuits of Children’s Testimony: Reading Syrian Children’s Drawings of Home
Kylie Cardell & Kate Douglas
Pages: 493-502 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769257

The Problem of Story: Criminal Evidence, Affect, and Sense-making
Kate Rossmanith
Pages: 503-511 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1768821

Objects and Death: A Tentative Taxonomy
Nicole Matthews
Pages: 515-522 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769307

Reading the Police File: Interiority and the Forensic Artefact
Peter Doyle
Pages: 523-538 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1770044

Light-Writing and Photography’s Bodies of Memory
Tara McLennan
Pages: 539-560 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769310

Treading Water, Hoarding Swims
Jo Croft
Pages: 561-572 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1770155

Speaking Objects: A (Suit)case Study
Rachel Robertson
Pages: 573-579 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769845

Small Pleasures: Tracings of the Endotic in Everyday Spaces, Acts and Bodies
Beth Yahp
Pages: 581-589 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1770154

The Ceramic Zoo: Writing with Animal Representations
Vanessa Berry
Pages: 591-598 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769857

Genre and Women’s Life Writing in Early Modern England
edited by Michelle M. Dowd and Julie A. Eckerle, London, Routledge, 2016, 212 + xii pp., ISBN 13 978 1 138 26492 2
Jill Burton
Pages: 601-604 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1478172

A History of English Autobiography
by Adam Smyth, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016, 437 pp., ISBN: 978-1-107-7841-3
Trev Broughton
Pages: 605-608 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1504597

Women Writers of the Beat Era: Autobiography and Intertextuality
by Mary Paniccia Carden, Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2018, 248 pp., ISBN 9780813941219
Meg Jensen
Pages: 609-611 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1548875

The Good Bohemian: The Letters of Ida John
edited by Rebecca John and Michael Holroyd, New York, Bloomsbury, 2017, 336 pp., £25 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-40887-362-5
Charles Reeve
Pages: 613-616 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1565599

Representations of Forgetting in Life Writing and Fiction
Memory Studies Series, by Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, xii + 188 pp. ISBN 978-1-137-59863-9
Kathleen Venema
Pages: 617-620 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1565598

Literary Autobiography and Arab National Struggles
by Tahia Abdel Nasser, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2017, 224 pp., ISBN: 9781474420228
Sophia Brown
Pages: 621-624 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1491781


 Dear Colleagues,

Northwestern University Press has published my new book, Geographies of Flight: Phillis Wheatley to Octavia Butler, available here:   .

You’ll receive a 25% discount when using this code at checkout: NUP2020.

With thanks and best wishes,

Bill Decker


Geographies of Flight: Phillis Wheatley to Octavia Butler 


African American writing commonly represents New World topography as a set of entrapments, contesting the open horizons, westward expansion, and individual freedom characteristic of the white, Eurocentric literary tradition. Geographies of Flight: Phillis Wheatley to Octavia Butler provides the first comprehensive treatment of the ways in which African American authors across three centuries have confronted the predicament of inhabiting space under conditions of bondage and structural oppression. William Merrill Decker examines how, in testifying to those conditions, fourteen black authors have sought to transform a national cartography that, well into the twenty-first century, reflects white supremacist assumptions. These writers question the spatial dimensions of a mythic American liberty and develop countergeographies in which descendants of the African diaspora lay claim to the America they have materially and culturally created.

Tracking the testimonial voice in a range of literary genres, Geographies of Flight explores themes of placement and mobility in the work of Phillis Wheatley, Olaudah Equiano, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W. E. B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Octavia Butler.

“Decker’s Geographies of Flight is an intellectual, philosophical, political, social, cultural, and activist tour de force. A radical and revolutionary blueprint representing a call to scholarly arms in today’s world in which the ‘formidable structures of oppression’ are continuing to exert a dehumanizing stranglehold over US society, his pioneering methodology asks and answers the vitally important question to which we must all be held accountable: ‘How do we hear the descendant voices of those who write from spaces shaped by the African diaspora?’” —Celeste-Marie Bernier, author of Characters of Blood: Black Heroism in the Transatlantic Imagination

“Ambitious in scope, William Merrill Decker’s Geographies of Flight: Phillis Wheatley to Octavia Butler asks us to reconsider the complex geographies of testimonial personhood in the development of the African American literary tradition over the longue durée. It offers insightful, detailed readings of the most significant autobiographical nonfiction and fiction in the canon.” —Edlie Wong, author of Racial Reconstruction: Black Inclusion, Chinese Exclusion, and the Fictions of Citizenship

WILLIAM MERRILL DECKER is a professor of English and American Studies at Oklahoma State University. His previous books include The Literary Vocation of Henry Adams, Epistolary Practices: Letter Writing in America before Telecommunications, and Kodak Elegy: A Cold War Childhood.

I am thrilled to announce to publication of my new book, available now!
Joanne Jacobson
Professor Emerita of English
Yeshiva University
New York, NY

Every Last Breath
A Memoir of Two Illnesses

Joanne Jacobson

When Joanne Jacobson’s writing about her mother’s respiratory illness was interrupted by her own diagnosis with a rare blood disorder, she found her perspective profoundly altered. Every Last Breath follows these two chronic illnesses as they grow unexpectedly intertwined. Rejecting a fixed, retro­spective point of view and the forward-moving trajectory of conventional memoir, Jacobson brings the reader to the emotionally raw present—where potentially fatal illness and “end of life” both remain, emphatically, life. As chronic illness blurs the distinction between illness and wellness, she discovers how a lifetime of relapse and remission can invite transformation. Written at the fluid, unsettling boundary between prose and poetry, these essays offer a narrative diagnosis of ongoing revision.

Joanne Jacobson is the author of Authority and Alliance in the Letters of Henry Adams (1992) and Hunger Artist: A Suburban Childhood (2007). Her critical and memoir essays have appeared in such publications as Bellevue Literary Review, New England Review, Fourth Genre, and The Nation and her work has been sup­ported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.


“In this brilliant memoir, so gorgeously written, so richly intelligent, and so achingly heartfelt, Jacobson tells the stories of two illnesses, a mother’s and a daughter’s, one of breath and one of blood. Jacobson plunges all the way down (to borrow from Emily Dickinson) to ‘Where the Meanings are.’ With its lyrical compression and unguarded honestly, Every Last Breath is a knock-out.”
–Richard McCann, author of Mother of Sorrows

“Every Last Breath is a book in which every last word illuminates the mutable, mortal body we singly inhabit and commonly share. It speaks deeply to the human experience of incremental time and ongoing, subtle, threshold-crossing change. It is impossible to overstate the beauty and intelligence that imbues Joanne Jacobson’s mediation on the ecstatic and perishable conditions of our lives.”
–William Merrill Decker, author of Kodak Elegy: A Cold War Childhood

“Beautiful and yet often fierce in its prose, Every Last Breath draws me into Jacobson’s story—an interlocking narrative of her mother’s independent and determined last years, and of her own sudden confrontation with a rare life-threatening blood disorder. These powerful essays can stand alone, but together they are a humbling reminder that aging and illness can make even the ordinary unknowable.”
–Marsha Hurst, lecturer in Narrative Medicine, Columbia University


114 pp., 5 x 7 | ISBN 978-1-64769-001-4 | Paper $17.95


To Order:
phone: 800-621-2736
fax: 800-621-8476

Dear colleagues,
Mémoires, traces, empreintes (Memory, Traces, Imprints) is out, published by Orbis Tertius and edited by Elisabeth Bouzonviller, Floriane Reviron-Piégay et Emmanuelle Souvignet.

Mémoires, traces, empreintes is an interdisciplinary volume, with contributions from specialists of the English- and Spanish- speaking world. It explores the political, historical, ethical and aesthetic representations of memory from an epistemological standpoint with chapters devoted to contemporary American illness memoirs, to Elizabethan drama, contemporary architecture, Spanish poetry and photography, and 20th- and 21st-century English, American and Spanish fiction. The paradoxical relationship between memory and the traces or imprints it leaves on monuments, in texts, photographs or in the  body and the mind is analysed through its literary, historical and artistic manifestations essentially.


Mémoires, traces, empreintes
E. Bouzonviller, F. Reviron-Piégay, E. Souvignet (editors)
Orbis Tertius

Septembre 2020
ISBN: 978-2-36783-153-4

Table of Contents

·        Introduction

• Mémoire et traumatismes/ Memory and Trauma

– Nancy K. MILLER « Indelible Memories, Legible Bodies: The Case of Graphic Illness Memoir »
– Sélima LEJRI « “Pew-Fellow with Others’ Moan”: Mourning Rituals on Shakespeare’s Heterotopic Catholic Stage »
– Alicia ALTED « La conflictiva relación entre Historia y Memoria en la sociedad española desde la Transición »
– Marek PAWLICKI « Analysing Postmemory: The Notions of Imprint and Trace in Eva Hoffman’s After Such Knowledge and Iris Murdoch’s Message to the Planet »

• Commémoration: la mémoire monumentale/ Commemoration: monumental memory

– Sophie L. RIEMENSCHNEIDER « Conquering the Void: The Necessity of Constructing Absence in the 9/11 Memorial »
– John MATTESON « Text as Tomb, Tomb as Text: Emerson, Melville, Bassani and the Fallacies of Commemoration »
– Christine OROBITG « Trace, empreinte et mémoire sous Philippe IV : l’Anfiteatro de Felipe IV el Grande (1631) »

• La Mémoire incarnée : entre mémoire individuelle et collective/ Incarnated Memory: from Individual to Collective Memory

– Stéphane SITAYEB « Mémoires et spécularité dans Ulysse de Joyce : le reflet, l’écho et l’effluve »
– Jacques SOUBEYROUX « La mémoire et la trace. Autobiographie et fiction dans Como la sombra que se va d’Antonio Muñoz Molina »
– Gilles DEL VECCHIO « Le paysage marin remémoré dans les trois premiers recueils de poésies de Rafael Alberti »
– Anouk CHIROL TO « Les autoportraits d’Alberto García-Alix »

• Mémoire, création et imagination/ Memory, Creation and Imagination

– Corinne BIGOT « Embodied Memories and Memory Dishes: the Diasporic Culinary Memoir as an alternative Locus of Memory. A reading  of Laura Schenone’s Lost Ravioli Recipe of Hoboken and Austin Clarke’s Pig Tails ‘n’ Breadfruit  »
– Virginia SHERMAN « From Memory to Impression, Recipe to Embodiment, in the Auto-Ethnographic Cookbooks of Claudia Roden »
– Grégory COSTE « Sur les traces du présent : la mémoire révoquée dans Víspera del Gozo (1926) de Pedro Salinas »
– Julie FINTZEL « La Guerre d’Espagne n’a pas eu lieu. L’entrée de Max Aub dans l’“Irreal Academia” ou la mémoire de la Seconde République par la réécriture de l’Histoire »

Floriane Reviron-Piegay
MCF Département d’Etudes Anglophones
Faculté Arts, Lettre, Langues
Campus Tréfilerie
33 RUE du 11 Novembre
04 77 42 13 05



The Other Side of Absence: Discovering my Father’s Secrets 
The personal recovery of a WW II Polish resistance fighter’s story and the long tail of war.
Dear colleagues,

Some of you may remember a paper I gave at the inaugural IABA conference in Adelaide, Australia in 2015 and may also have read my journal article in Life Writing, I Can’t Call Australia Home in 2017. I am pleased to inform you that a version my doctoral submission, completed in 2018, has now been published through Ventura Press, Sydney, Australia. Here follow three comments:

What happens when the past you didn’t even know existed catches up with you and resets your life on an entirely new course? O’Neill’s family memoir examines the devastating, intergenerational impact of trauma and secrets on children and other family members. Spanning several countries and two continents, it takes us from one revelation to another, building towards the riveting discovery of her father’s war-time identity. In drawing her chilling portrayal of the damaged man, O’Neill is capable of making a leap of empathy and understanding as she embraces her newly found legacy. The Other Side of Absence is a spellbinding read, an original contribution to migration history in Australia, and in particular the Polish diaspora during the Cold War period.

Eva C. Karpinski, author of Borrowed Tongues: Life Writing, Migration, and Translation, York University

A fascinating account of a quest for a vanished father that takes the author to Poland, wartime Europe and postwar Britain. Was he a scoundrel or a victim? Evidence comes in on both sides in a moving narrative that is also a page-turner as we wait eagerly for the author’s next discovery.

Sheila Fitzpatrick, author of Mischka’s War’ University of Sydney.

I have rarely been so gripped by a family history as I have by this one. This is an extraordinary tale of what damage war and post-war trauma can wreak on multigenerational members of the same family moving from Poland to Australia and back again. No wonder Betty threw herself into family history research to try and answer the myriad questions left hanging by her father. We are left with a clear understanding of how important history is to individual identity and redemption.

Tanya Evans, Director of the Centre for Applied History, Macquarie University, author of Fractured Families: Life on the Margins in Colonial New South Wales

The Other Side of Absence can be ordered through The Book Depository and Amazon and for those in Australia, directly through my website or in all good bookshops.

Dr Betty O’Neill
Lecturer, Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation
Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation
University of Technology, Sydney

New articles added to Vol. IX of the the European Journal of Life Writing

Dear Reader,

Four new articles have been added to Volume IX of the European Journal of Life Writing:

Gábor Csikós: “Remaining an Ousider: An Eighteen-Century Diary of a
Hungarian Nobleman”

Rachel Robertson: “Buttons: Life Writing from a Small Collection”

*       Chantal Zabus: review of Souhir Zakri Masson’s Mapping
Metabiographical Heartlands in Marina Warnerʻs Fiction

*       Helen van Duijn: review of Helen Southworthʻs Fresca. A Life in
Making. A Biographerʻs Quest for a Forgotten Bloomsbury Polymath


European Journal of Life Writing

The European Journal of Life Writing is an open access e-journal, but
editing and type setting do cost money.

Your financial support can help us to publish a wide array of valuable
articles about life writing:  <>

Dear Colleagues,
I have recently published a biography of a Chinese playwright and novelist, under the title Shih-I Hsiung, A Glorious Showman, by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
The following is a synopsis of the book. Any comments will be most welcome.
Thank you!
Da Zheng
In 1933, Shih-I Hsiung (1902–1991), a student from China, met with Allardyce Nicoll, a Shakespearean scholar at the University of London, to discuss his PhD study in English drama. After learning about Hsiung’s interest and background, Nicoll suggested that he should consider studying Chinese drama for his dissertation and writing a play of a Chinese subject. Hsiung took the advice to heart and set out to write Lady Precious Stream, a play based on a classical Beijing opera. In six weeks, the writing was completed; six months later, the manuscript was accepted for publication by Methuen; and not long after, Little Theater in London agreed to produce the play, which ran for 900 successive shows. The phenomenal success turned Hsiung into stardom all at once: he became the first Chinese to write and direct a West End play in England; in 1936, the play had its Broadway premiere and subsequent performances in Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, and other U.S. cities; and it has been produced and staged in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia ever since. Following the success of Lady Precious Stream, Hsiung translated into English the Chinese classic The Romance of the Western Chamber; in addition, he wrote a number of plays, novels, and essays, in both English and Chinese, as well as the biography The Life of Chiang Kai-shekShih-I Hsiung: A Glorious Showman unfolds the transnational and transcultural life experience of an extraordinary showman: a literary master, a theater man, and a social actor bold and impassioned on socio-cultural stages. Hsiung introduced English and American literature to readers in China through his translation works in the 1920s and early 1930s. After his arrival in England, he began writing in English for audiences not familiar with the Chinese culture. His works were known for their originality, humor, and a deep sense of cultural and historical engagement. Later in his life when he was residing in Hong Kong, he was devoted to education and was also active in Chinese literary and theater circles.
Da Zheng, Ph.D.

Professor of English
73 Tremont Street, Room 8046
Suffolk University
Boston, MA 02108


Dear All:

It is now possible to pre-order my first book about autobiographical fictions in the blues, Fictional Blues: Narrative Self-Invention from Bessie Smith to Jack White. Here’s the book blurb:

The familiar story of Delta blues musician Robert Johnson, who sold his soul to the devil at a Mississippi crossroads in exchange for guitar virtuosity, and the violent stereotypes evoked by legendary blues “bad men” like Stagger Lee undergird the persistent racial myths surrounding “authentic” blues expression. Fictional Blues unpacks the figure of the American blues performer, moving from early singers such as Ma Rainey and Big Mama Thornton to contemporary musicians such as Amy Winehouse, Rhiannon Giddens, and Jack White to reveal that blues makers have long used their songs, performances, interviews, and writings to invent personas that resist racial, social, economic, and gendered oppression.

Using examples of fictional and real-life blues artists culled from popular music and literary works from writers such as Walter Mosley, Alice Walker, and Sherman Alexie, Kimberly Mack demonstrates that the stories blues musicians construct about their lives (however factually slippery) are inextricably linked to the “primary story” of the narrative blues tradition, in which autobiography fuels musicians’ reclamation of power and agency.

Fictional Blues will be published by the University of Massachusetts Press in December 2020 as part of their African American Intellectual History series edited by Christopher Cameron (former president of the AAIHS). I have a code that I can share that offers a 30% discount and free shipping when ordering:


For all you teachers out there, I would sincerely appreciate it if you would see if your library might want to order it and/or if you would consider adopting it for your spring 2021 classes.

And if any of you can think of someone else who might be interested in this interdisciplinary book that engages popular music, literature, visual culture, and cultural history, feel free to share this message.

Thank you in advance!

Best regards,

Kimberly Mack
Assistant Professor of African American Literature and Culture
Department of English Language and Literature
The University of Toledo

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 1, 2020
International Year in Review

The International Year in Review is a collection of short, site-specific essays on the year’s most influential publications in life writing. This year’s collection includes entries from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Curaçao, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Spain, the UAE, the UK, and the US.

Life Writing When the World is Burning: The Year in Australia

Kylie Cardell

Books on Women, the Chancellor, and a Nobel Laureate: The Year in Austria

Wilhelm Hemecker and David Österle

Eakin and Santiago—Contributions to Life Writing Scholarship: The Year in Brazil

Sergio da Silva Barcellos

Fictions, Fantasies, and Thought Experiments: The Year in Canada

Alana Bell

Writing Cultural Celebrities: The Year in China

Chen Shen

El caminante Alfredo Molano: El año en Colombia

Gabriel Jaime Murillo-Arango

A Critical Biography of Former Prime Minister Miguel Pourier: The Year in Curaçao

Rose Mary Allen and Jeroen Heuvel

Changing Social Conditions—Changing Auto/Biography: The Year in Denmark

Marianne Høyen

Life Writing in Relational Modes: The Year in Estonia

Leena Kurvet-Käosaar and Maarja Hollo

Life Writing Genres on the Move: The Year in Finland

Maarit Leskelä-Kärki

“The Absolute Genre”: The Year in France

Joanny Moulin

De/Constructing Friedrich Hölderlin: The Year in Germany

Tobias Heinrich

Disappearing Worlds in Life Writing: The Year in Iceland

Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir

Bollywood Stars and Cancer Memoirs: The Year in India

Pramod K. Nayar

Scar Issues: The Year in Ireland

Liam Harte

Villains Between History and Literature: The Year in Italy

Ilaria Serra

Retelling the History of the Sengoku Period and the Era Name System: The Year in Japan

Lu Chen

Embodied Subjects of Victimization: The Year in Korea

Heui-Yung Park

Voices Against Disavowal, Obscurantism, and Exclusion: The Year in Lebanon

Sleiman El Hajj

Mujeres comunistas: El año en México

Gerardo Necoechea Gracia

The Land of Letter-Lovers: The Year in the Netherlands

Monica Soeting

Mass-Listening and the Diaspora: The Year in Puerto Rico

Ricia Anne Chansky

Pain, Resilience, and the Agency Memoir: The Year in South Africa

Nick Mdika Tembo

Giving Voice to Silenced Others: The Year in Spain

Ana Belén Martínez García

Biography of a Tolerant Nation: The Year in the United Arab Emirates

Szidonia Haragos

“The strange and often alien world of the past”: The Year in the United Kingdom

Tom Overton

More Than Angry: The Year in the United States

Leigh Gilmore

Annual Bibliography of Works about Life Writing, 2018–2019

Compiled by Janet J. Graham

The most comprehensive annotated survey of critical and theoretical work about life writing.

Paige Rasmussen
Managing Editor
The Center for Biographical Research

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
1960 East-West Road
Biomed B104
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-3774
Dear colleagues,

List members may be interested in my latest book, What’s France got to do with it? Contemporary memoirs of Australians in France, released by ANU Press and available for free download at

While only one book-length memoir recounting the sojourn of an Australian in France was published in the 1990s, well over 40 have been published since 2000, overwhelmingly written by women. Although we might expect a focus on travel, intercultural adjustment and communication in these texts, this is the case only in a minority of accounts. More frequently, France serves as a backdrop to a project of self-renovation in which transplantation to another country is incidental, hence the question ‘What’s France got to do with it?’

The book delves into what France represents in the various narratives, its role in the self-transformation, and the reasons for the seemingly insatiable demand among readers and publishers for these stories. It asks why these memoirs have gained such traction among Australian women at the dawn of the twenty-first century and what is at stake in the fascination with France.

Best regards

Juliana de Nooy

Dr Juliana de Nooy
Senior Lecturer in French
School of Languages and Cultures
The University of Queensland
St Lucia Qld 4072 Australia
T +61 7 3365 2278  F +61 3365 6799
CRICOS code: 00025B




Research in Life Writing and Education

The field of life writing is innovative and ever evolving. The purpose of this book series is to create a robust space for scholars to examine the intersections of life writing, education, and research in varied forms. Volumes in the series will reflect a wide range of methodologies, interdisciplinary approaches, topics, and theories in exploring life writing in education—from classic teacher biographies to innovative narrative, oral history, and arts-based approaches that continue to unfold in the field. We encourage scholars to consider both informal and formal educational spaces; life writing exemplars as teaching tools; innovative life writing methodologies in educational work; and varied lives with lessons to teach, whether student activists, educational leaders, or unknown and rarely celebrated instructors.

Call for Chapters 

1) Race and Life Writing

2) Methodological Innovations in Life Writing and Education

Call for Volumes in the Series

The series editors invite volumes focused on topics related to life writing, education, and research. Potential volumes could be single-authored, co-authored, or edited collections of multiple chapters following a common theme in life writing and education writ large. All volumes should include attention to methodological theorizing, innovations or processing. Topics might include:

1) Notable leaders’ or educators’ biographies in a particular space (e.g., high schools, prisons, homeschooling, foster care systems, after school programs, social media contexts), intellectual or educational tradition (e.g. peace studies, spiritual traditions, poststructuralism, Montessorian education), or movement (e.g. progressive era, environmental movement, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo Movement).

2) Methodological innovations in carrying out, reflecting on, and representing life writing research and education;

3) Theoretical innovations in approaching life writing research and education;

4) Research into transformations in lives and education;

5) Intersectional analyses of educational lives in their sociocultural contexts (race, class, gender, nation, dis/ability, sexualities, age, generation);

6) Research into teaching with biography and other forms of life writing;

7) Research into students and school workers’ roles in and contributions to an educational effort of note, whether a historic high school, community program, or outreach effort.

We advise that authors first submit an outline and proposal for consideration in the book series. We welcome a description of the volume mission and focus, possible chapter/section contents, methodological contribution, and how the volume aligns with the series focus on life writing and education. Please also include a description of how the book extends the field of scholarship it enters and the potential audiences for the text.

The proposal and manuscript should include author/editor contact information, institutional affiliation, professional title, and a brief biographical note about the authors/editors. Please follow the formatting requirements for the 7th edition of the APA Manual (the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association) for the materials. Submit in word documents only to the series editors, as listed below.

Lucy E. Bailey, Ph.D.
Oklahoma State University
Social Foundations & Qualitative Inquiry
Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies

KaaVonia Hinton, Ph.D.
Old Dominion University
Department of Teaching and Learning

“Autobiography, biography and autoethnography: life writing envelops them all. This series brings to bear the head work, field work, and text work across the theory and methodology that makes life writing in education come alive” Patti Lather, The Ohio State University

“Many people tell stories, but not all are storytellers. Many academics write biographies, but not all are biographers. Now, for the first time, the biography strand of the Research in Life Writing and Education Book Series provides a publishing venue for educational biographers, versed in biographical theory, whose research has been guided and tempered by the perennial issues of biographical inquiry.” Craig Kridel, University of South Carolina

“Life writing, with its deep, far-reaching roots, resonates profoundly in our present moment. This important new series connects it broadly with education while critically exploring new modalities, perspectives, and interpretations. It is a gift to those of us seeking to make sense of lives in education” Jackie Blount, Professor, The Ohio State University

Lucy E. Bailey, Ph.D.
Social Foundations and Qualitative Inquiry
Director of Gender and Women’s Studies
Oklahoma State University
215 Willard Hall
Stillwater, OK 74074
Bradley Smith, Susan, A Splendid Adventure: Australian Suffrage Theatre on the World Stage, Peter Lang, Oxford, 2020
Australia led the world in the achievement of woman’s suffrage and the nation’s cultural history reflects this ambitious and progressive atmosphere. The impressive achievements of suffrage feminists in Australian theatre, however, are an untold story, as is their contribution to the development of international women’s theatre of the time. A Splendid Adventure brings these experiences and experiments to light through a group biography exploring the theatrical careers of Katharine Susannah Prichard, Stella Miles Franklin, and Inez Isabel Bensusan. Chosen because of their expatriate involvement in the women’s movement, their international profile as enfranchised Australian women, and their exceptional contribution to both the development of Australian drama and international feminist theatre, these women embody the energies and passions of Australian suffrage playwrights. The biographies of these major figures are accompanied by the dramatic stories of the New Women playwrights, the theatrical endeavours of women university students, and a consideration of international feminist theatre on tour in Australia, including the work of migrant suffragette Adela Pankhurst. The volume also includes the full text of a play by each playwright. Australian suffrage playwrights emerge from this study as exceptional feminists, expatriates, and theatre workers, whose «splendid adventures» have considerable implications for international women’s theatre, feminist dramatic criticism, and Australian theatre historiography.
‘The most original and substantial contribution that this book makes to women’s and theatre studies is in excavating the international dimension of the suffrage theatre movements. This whole area has been neglected, particularly within Anglo-American studies. The contribution to international feminist studies – not just theatre studies – will be considerable.’
(Professor Vivien Gardner, University of Manchester)

Dr Susan Bradley Smith

Associate Professor | Creative Writing
School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry
Faculty of Humanities
Tel | +61 8 9266 7217
Email |


Publication announcement

Remembering Our Grandfathers’ Exile:  US Imprisonment of Hawaiʻi’s Japanese in World War II

A personal recovery of a family and collective ethnic history

Dear Colleagues:

A few of you on this list may remember the collective life history project that I began well over a decade ago and shared with you at a seminar in Honolulu.  I am pleased to inform you that this ever-expanding and evolving project has been published and is described below:

Remembering Our Grandfathers’ Exile is a composite chronicling of the Hawai‘i Japanese immigrant experience in mainland exile and internment during World War II, from pre-war climate to arrest to exile to return. Told through the eyes of a granddaughter and researcher born during that war, it is also a research narrative that reveals parallels between pre-WWII conditions and twenty-first century anti-immigrant attitudes and heightened racism in the U.S. The book introduces Okawa’s grandfather, Reverend Tamasaku Watanabe, a Protestant minister, and other Japanese resident aliens imprisoned after the Pearl Harbor attack—all legal immigrants excluded by law from citizenship—in a collective biographical narrative that depicts their suffering, challenges, and survival as highly literate men faced with captivity in the little-known prison camps run by the U.S. Justice and War Departments.

Okawa interweaves documents, personal and official, and internees’ firsthand accounts, letters, and poetry to create a narrative that not only conveys their experience but, equally important, exemplifies their literacy as ironic and deliberate acts of resistance to oppressive conditions. Her research revealed that the Hawai‘i immigrants who had sons in military service were eventually distinguished from the main group; the narrative relates visits of some of those sons to their imprisoned fathers in New Mexico and elsewhere, as well as the deaths of sons killed in action in Europe and the Pacific. Documents demonstrate the high degree of literacy and advocacy among the internees, as well as the inherent injustice of the government’s policies. Okawa’s project later expanded to include New Mexico residents having memories of the Santa Fe Internment Camp—witnesses who provide rare views of the wartime reality.

This can be ordered directly from the University of Hawai‘i Press via its website:

Gail Y. Okawa (
Professor Emerita of English, Youngstown State University, Ohio;

Visiting scholar, Center for Biographical Research, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa


New Forms of Self-Narration
Young Women, Life Writing and Human Rights 
Ana Belén Martínez García
Develops the idea of life writing as a form of self-construction, whereby victims may reframe their story as that of an empowered survivor
Examines strategic narrative devices typical of testimonial accounts both online and offline
Unpacks the global phenomenon of young women’s testimonial projects
This book is a timely study of young women’s life writing as a form of human rights activism. It focuses on six young women who suffered human rights violations when they were girls and have gone on to become activists through life writing: Malala Yousafzai, Hyeonseo Lee, Yeonmi Park, Bana Alabed, Nujeen Mustafa, and Nadia Murad. Their ongoing life-writing projects diverge to some extent, but all share several notable features: they claim a testimonial collective voice, they deploy rights discourse, they excite humanitarian emotions, they link up their context-bound plight with bigger social justice causes, and they use English as their vehicle of self-expression and self-construction. This strategic use of English is of vital importance, as it has brought them together as icons in the public sphere within the last six years. New Forms of Self-Narration is the first ever attempt to explore all these activists’ life-writing texts side by side, encompassing both the written and the audiovisual material, online and offline, and taking all texts as belonging to a unique, single, though multifaceted, project.
Ana Belén Martínez García researches human rights life writing by young women activists at the University of Navarra, Spain. She is a member of the International Auto/Biography Association, the IABA-SNS (Students and New Scholars) Network, AEDEAN (Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies), and ISSN (International Society for the Study of Narrative).
You can purchase the book at the Palgrave Studies in Life Writing series website:

The editors of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies are delighted to share that the Autumn 2020 issue (35.3), has now been published digitally: Print copies will be mailed within the next month.

This is a special issue on “The Textualities of the Auto/biogrAfrical,” edited by Sally Ann Murray, Fiona Moolla, and Mathilda Slabbert.


Introduction: “The Textualities of the AutobiogrAfrical” Sally Ann Murray, University of Stellenbosch, Fiona Moolla, University of the Western Cape, and Mathilda Slabbert, University of Stellenbosch

Essay: “Loss and Trauma in Ugandan Girls’ Ex-Child ‘Soldier’ Autobiographical Narratives: The Case of Grace Akallo and China Keitetsi” Florence Ebila, Makerere University, Kampala
Cluster: Life Narratives of African Political Womanhood

“African Political Womanhood in Autobiography: Possible Interpretive Paradigms” Marciana Nafula Were, Stellenbosch University and Tom Mboya University College

“Taboos and their Subversion: Reconceptualizing the Proper African Woman in OluìreÌòmiì Oòbaìsanjoìò’s Autobiography, Bitter-Sweet: My Experience with Obasanjo” Folasade Hunsu, Oòbaìfemi Ìò AwoìlowÌòo ÌòUniversity

“The Burden of Representation in the Life Stories of Wambui Waiyaki Otieno and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela”
Grace A. Musila, University of the Witwatersrand
The (Critical-Creative) Process

“Bending Bodies, Signing Words: Re-Shaping a Father and a Feminist Practice” Nadia Sanger, Stellenbosch University

“One Moment, Three Bullets, a Lifetime” Gillian Rennie, Rhodes University


“Complicating Apartheid Resistance Histories by means of South African Autobiographies” Annie Gagiano, Emerita, Stellenbosch University
Cluster: South Africa

“Rewriting the Colonial Gaze? Black Middle-Class Constructions of Africa in Sihle Khumalo’s Travel Writing” Isaac Ndlovu, University of Venda

“Privacy, Authorship, and Ownership: On Reading André Brink and Ingrid Jonker’s Letters in Flame in the Snow” Louise Viljoen, University of Stellenbosch

“The Matriarchive as Life Knowledge in Es’kia Mphahlele’s African Humanism” Uhuru Portia Phalafala, Stellenbosch University
Cluster: Queering African Lives

“African Queer Autobiographics: Drama, Disclosure, and Pedagogy” Taiwo Tunji Osinubi, University of Western Ontario

“‘I am Berated as a Communist because I Sometimes Wear a Red Tie’: Not Forgetting the Awkward Afrikaner, Dr Petronella ‘Nell’ van Heerden” Christi van der Westhuizen, Nelson Mandela University

Book Reviews

Rev. of Girls, Autobiography, Media: Gender and Self-Mediation in Digital Economies. EMMA MAGUIRE Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. Ina C. Seethaler, Coastal Carolina University

Rev. of Witnessing Girlhood: Toward an Intersectional Tradition of Life Writing. LEIGH GILMORE and ELIZABETH MARSHALL Fordham University Press, 2019. Roxanne Harde, University of Alberta

Rev. of Autofiction in English HYWEL DIX, ED. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. Alison Gibbons, Sheffield Hallam University
Notes on Contributors

Professor Ricia Anne Chansky, Ph.D.
University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez
Research Affiliate, York University CERLAC
Fulbright Specialist in US Studies – Literature
Director, Mi Maria Project    

This is a link to my article Writing for Life.  My creative and essay writing comes out of life writing.  NEW ONLINE issue of “THE SOUL OF THE AMERICAN ACTOR” (22nd Year): Writing for Life by Marjorie Kanter and the general link at, reaching over 25,000 readers across America and the world. Enjoy!


Publication announcement
Life Writing after the Book
Anna Poletti

The importance of personal storytelling in contemporary culture and politics

In an age where our experiences are processed and filtered through a wide variety of mediums, both digital and physical, how do we tell our own story? How do we “get a life,” make sense of who we are and the way we live, and communicate that to others? Stories of the Self takes the literary study of autobiography and opens it up to a broad and fascinating range of material practices beyond the book, investigating the manifold ways people are documenting themselves in contemporary culture. Anna Poletti explores Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, a collection of six hundred cardboard boxes filled with text objects from the artist’s everyday life; the mid-aughts crowdsourced digital archive PostSecret; queer zine culture and its practices of remixing and collaging; and the bureaucratic processes surrounding surveillance dossiers.

Stories of the Self argues that while there is a strong emphasis on the importance of personal storytelling in contemporary culture and politics, mediation is just as important in establishing the credibility and legibility of life writing. Poletti argues that the very media used for writing our lives intrinsically shapes how we are seen to matter.

Anna Poletti is Associate Professor of English Literature and Culture at Utrecht University and co-author of Life Narratives and Youth Culture: Representation, Agency and Participation.
“What kind of digital life did you have in the middle of 2013? Had you taken a selfie yet? Did you have a blog? From the beginning, this dazzling book has you hooked. Anna Poletti returns to a field of autobiography studies she pioneered—intimate ephemera—and gets personal. We must think about our use of media and materiality to make sense of our lives, she insists, to encounter the lives of others and the agency of matter, both human and nonhuman. In a series of case studies various and sometimes rogue scholarly practices focus on the agency of diverse things: rummaging in the cardboard boxes in the Warhol archives; reading the camera as an actor in documentary scenes; tracking the remediation of surveillance dossiers; mapping the entrepreneurial coaxing of crowdsourced autobiographies. In the process, we engage with a rigorous interrogation of recent theorising in the humanities and social sciences on material culture and materiality, queer theory, posthumanism, media studies and communication by one of the most original and innovative critics in autobiography studies now.”

—Emeritus Professor Gillian Whitlock, The University of Queensland

“A corrective to traditional approaches that privilege the book as the ideal medium for life stories, Anna Poletti not only asks which lives come to matter, but also how they are lived through matter, how matter matters. Stories of the Self provides readers a genealogy of the material production of the self, and especially non-normative and queer selves. From Andy Warhol’s ephemera to the anonymous crowdsourcing of PostSecret, Poletti offers reparative alternatives to life writing as we’ve come to know it.”

—Katherine Sender, author of The Makeover: Reality Television and Reflexive Audiences

You can purchase the book with a 30% discount at the NYU Press website using the following discount code: Poletti30

dr. Anna Poletti
Associate Professor in English
Co-editor, Biography: an interdisciplinary quarterly
Department of Languages, Literature and Communication, Utrecht University Trans 10 3512 JK Utrecht, The Netherlands


Life Writing, Volume 17, Issue 3, September 2020 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

The Selfless Ego Part II

This new issue contains the following articles: