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Release of Biography issue 40.3

We are pleased to announce the release of issue 40.3. Here is what you can find in the issue:

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol. 40, no. 3 • Summer 2017: http://muse.jhu.edu/issue/37471

Editor’s Note

Articles

Andrew Jewell
Why Obscure the Record?: The Psychological Context of Willa Cather’s Ban on Letter Publication

This essay provides an explanation for American author Willa Cather’s confounding decision to ban the publication of her letters, arguing that one must understand the specific personal and psychological contexts of the execution of her final will in 1943. Since the ban on publication has now been lifted by Cather’s executors, the essay uses ample direct evidence from the letters themselves to analyze the concerns that led to Cather’s choice. I argue that Cather’s ban emerged from a time of grief, physical pain, and growing hopelessness about the future while the world was at war.

Jayne Lewis
“Strange Imagination”: Valentine Greatrakes’s Healing Aura and the
Autobiographical Impulse

The controversial Irish Protestant healer Valentine Greatrakes’s 1666 autobiography is an under-appreciated text in the history of anglophone life writing, one that invites us to rethink the early history of a genre that has long been linked to a spatialized, specular, and mimetic model of the self. In contrast to the post-Lockean texts that posit that model, A Brief Account of Mr Valentine Greatrak’s and Divers of the Strange Cures by Him Lately Performed incorporates Greatrakes’s unorthodox method of healing by touch over time into the process of literary self-representation. As it plays between poles of distance and proximity, objectivity and contingency, shadow and substance the resulting textual “perform[ance]” may be historicized in terms of late-seventeenth-century conceptions of what Greatrakes’s implied reader, the pneumatic chemist Robert Boyle, called the “little atmospheres” that surround human bodies—“atmospheres” that anticipate Walter Benjamin’s modern notion of the aura but treat aura as a uniquely communicative aspect of the person. Greatrakes’s shamanistic practice binds his readers to his patients, thereby developing a therapeutic form of transpersonal, transhistorical, transgeneric personal identity uniquely realized in the literary text.

Anna Poletti
Putting Lives on the Record: The Book as Material and Symbol in
Life Writing

This article develops an understanding of the role of life writing in putting marginalized voices on the record by examining the material and symbolic history of the book and its relationship with life writing. Taking two key points in the history of the book as its focus, the article argues that “the record” is a material and symbolic performative site that authorizes a life writer’s claims to knowledge and experience. Through a reading of Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1963 autobiography Les Mots (The Words) the article demonstrates the importance of the book to how life writers and scholars of life writing conceptualize the cultural, political, and social importance of telling stories from life.

Linda Zygutis
On the Lecture Circuit with Gertrude Stein’s Portraits

This essay intervenes in recent scholarship on modernism and celebrity that treats fame as a unidirectional performance by emphasizing the extent to which Gertrude Stein’s celebrity is the product of external artifice: particularly, the invocation of preexisting social types drawn from mass culture and circulated by publishers and promoters eager to market Stein to an audience expecting a very specific model of (feminine) success. Having become a best seller in no small part due to its “gossipy” look into the glamorous world of the Parisian art movement, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas transformed Stein into a bona fide star. But while Stein had actively courted commercial success, her first taste of celebrity came with a discomfiting loss of control. With so many people eager to “know” her, Stein felt her own sense of self slipping away. By pairing critical analysis of Stein’s own thoughts on celebrity with her often-overlooked Lectures in America, I argue that Stein’s lectures, presented as they were to audiences expecting the same “gossipy” depictions they received in the autobiography, are not only a subversion of the expectations associated with fame but a frank depiction of its failures, a self-conscious demonstration of the artifice of celebrity.

Reviews

Nostalgia and Auto/Biography: Considering the Past in the Present,
by Hilary Dickinson and Michael Erben
Reviewed by Janelle L. Wilson

In Haste with Aloha: Letters and Diaries of Queen Emma 1881–1885,
selected and edited by David W. Forbes
Reviewed by Riánna M. Williams

Self as Nation: Contemporary Hebrew Autobiography, by Tamar S. Hess
Reviewed by Michael Keren

Diaries, by Eva Hesse
Reviewed by Charles Reeve

Love Among the Archives: Writing the Lives of Sir George Scharf,
Victorian Bachelor, by Helena Michie and Robyn Warhol
Reviewed by Amanda Kotch

Postcolonial Life Narratives: Testimonial Transactions,
by Gillian Whitlock
Reviewed by Philip Holden

Contributors

M4BL Gathering

Dear Contributors to our Special Issue on the Movement for Black Lives,
Dear Community Leaders, Community Healers,
Dear Listeners and Writers and Fighters and Gardeners,
and Parents and Friends and Lovers,

Thank you for sharing so much of yourselves with each other and with us.
Thank you for your courage to face death and life.
Thank you for making time for fire and dancing and singing and breathing.
Thank you for saying: “Healing is going for the things that scare us,” (Rhaisa Williams).
Thank you for the resolve with which you meet this gutwrenching moment.
Thank you for taking care of your own bodies.
Thank you for your unapologetic aliveness, in all the colors.
Thank you for traveling far and connecting back.
Thank you for saying hard things to the people you love.
Thank you for the brilliance you embody.
Thank you for the welcoming circles you hold for each other.
Thank you for the boundaries you hold for each other.
Thank you for writing lives and saving lives, and reminding us of that connection.
Thank you for pushing us into intensity, into rigor, into a better world.

It was a blessing to share August 2017 with you.
We can’t wait for all the hard work to be out in print.
–The Center for Biographical Research

–photo of our special issue contributors enjoying the Black August People’s Feast put together by The Pōpolo Project

Release of Biography Issue 40.2

Biography 40.2 is now available on Project Muse.
Here is what you can find in the issue:

Editor’s Note

In Remembrance: Barbara Harlow (1948–2017)
Laura E. Lyons, Barbara Harlow: A Remembrance via Conferences,
Readings, and Questions
S. Shankar, Remembering Barbara Harlow: Resistance and Life Writing

Articles

Sam Ferguson, Why Does Life Writing Talk about Science?: Foucault, Rousseau, and the Early Journal Intime
This article examines the reasons why life writing makes use of discourses from the natural sciences. It focuses on the emergence of autobiography and the journal intime in France at the moment of a fundamental shift toward the modern episteme (identified by Foucault), which is both historical and person-centered.

Kathryn Sederberg, Writing through Crisis: Time, History, Futurity in German Diaries of the Second World War
This article considers how diary writing mediates temporal consciousness, especially during periods of crisis. Through examples of German civilian diaries written at the end of the Second World War, I show how diaries reflect changing notions of history and futurity, producing radically presentist modes of self-representation.

Meliz Ergin, Derrida’s Otobiographies
This essay approaches autobiography studies through a philosophical perspective and explores Derrida’s notion of “otobiography” to elaborate on the twin problem of identity and writing. After examining the autobiographical thread in Derrida’s work and raising questions pertaining to genre and autonomy, the essay focuses on Monolingualism of the Other; or, the Prosthesis of Origin to show how Derrida’s theories of selfhood, language, and writing work themselves out in practice.

Reviews

The Life and Struggles of Our Mother Walatta Petros: A Seventeenth-Century African Biography of an Ethiopian Woman, by Galawdewos, translated and edited by Wendy Laura Belcher and Michael Kleiner   Reviewed by Andrew Crislip

Speaking of the Self: Gender, Performance, and Autobiography in South Asia, edited by Anshu Malhotra and Siobhan Lambert-Hurley
Reviewed by Monika Browarczyk

Women Write Iran: Nostalgia and Human Rights from the Diaspora,
by Nima Naghibi
Reviewed by Sanaz Fotouhi

Navigating Loss in Women’s Contemporary Memoir,
by Amy-Katerini Prodromou
Reviewed by Marta Bladek

The Comics of Joe Sacco: Journalism in a Visual World, edited by Daniel Worden
Reviewed by Mihaela Precup

After Identity: Mennonite Writing in North America, by Robert Zacharias
Reviewed by Jesse Hutchison

The Rise of the Memoir, by Alex Zwerdling
Reviewed by Marianne Hirsch

Fall 2017 Biography Brown Bag Series

We are pleased to announce our Thursday Brown Bag series lineup for Fall 2017. Bring your lunch, bring a friend, and join us every week. Our speakers share about their fascinating and heartfelt projects that deepen and stretch the field of life writing.

BROWN BAG BIOGRAPHY
DISCUSSIONS OF LIFE WRITING BY & FOR TOWN & GOWN
THURSDAYS, 12:00 NOON–1:15 P.M.
Center for Biographical Research • BioMed B106 • 1960 East-West Road
956-3774 • biograph@hawaii.eduwww.facebook.com/CBRHawaii
Unless otherwise noted, all events will be held in our new Brown Bag gathering space: Kuykendall 409A

FALL 2017 BROWN BAG BIOGRAPHY SERIES

Sept 14 “ʻElua Maka Kila: How Joseph Kānepuʻu and Joseph Poepoe Contributed to the Life of ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi”
Noenoe Silva, Indigenous Politics, University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa
Co-sponsored by the Indigenous Politics Program
*Please Note: This session will be held in Kuykendall 410
Book Launch event! Books for sale by the UH Bookstore.

Sept 21 “Hanohano ka laulima ma ka hakumele : honoring the community through hakumele
Daven Chang, Hawaiʻinuiākea and Dept of Anthropology, University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa

***Friday Sept 22, 2017, 3 pm, Tokioka Room (Moore 309) “Women’s Voices, Women Speak: Okinawa, Hawai‘i, and Demilitarization,” a presentation by Ellen-Rae Cachola, Kim Compoc, Kasha Ho, and Aiko Yamashiro. An event of the Center for Okinawan Studies, co-sponsored by the Center for Biographical Research

Sept 28 “Mehameha wale nō ʻo Puʻuloa, i ka hele a Kaʻahupāhau: Lonely was Puʻuloa when Kaʻahupāhau went away”
Kyle Kajihiro, Dept. of Geography, Dept of Ethnic Studies, University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa
Co-sponsored by the Dept. of Ethnic Studies

Oct 5 “Pinay: Culture Bearers of the Filipino Diaspora”
Virgie Chattergy, College of Education, University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa

Oct 12 “Little House in the Bush: Afterlives of Vailima”
Carla Manfredi, Dept of English, University of Winnipeg

Oct 19 “Destiny: The Secret Operations of the Yodogō Exiles”
Patricia Steinhoff, Dept of Sociology, University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa

Oct 26 “Pacific Ghost Stories: John Kneubuhl and Oral History”
Otto Heim, School of English, University of Hong Kong

***Wednesday, November 1, 2017, 6:30 pm, public lecture by Steven Salaita, author of Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine. An event of the UH Students and Faculty for Justice in Palestine, co-sponsored by the Center for Biographical Research.

Nov 2 “Ida May Pope, Partnered with the Queen to become a Pioneer for Hawai‘i’s Daughters”
Sandra Bonura, School of Education, Azusa Pacific University

***Friday, November 3, 2017, 2:30 pm, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, roundtable discussion with Palestinian and Kānaka Maoli scholar/organizers, more details TBA. An event of the UH Students and Faculty for Justice in Palestine, co-sponsored by the Center for Biographical Research.

Nov 9 “Hawaiian Ancestry: Positioning Indigeneity in the Naʻi Aupuni Biographies”
Lauren Nishimura, Dept of English, University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa

Nov 16 “American Tutelage Gone Awry: Antonio Taguba, Filipino Americanism, and the Critique of Torture”
Kim Compoc, Dept of English and Dept of Ethnic Studies, University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa
Co-sponsored by the Dept. of Ethnic Studies

Nov 30 “The Animal That Therefore I Am Not: The Politics of Animal (Auto)Biography from Black Beauty to Cat Internet Videos.”
Anna Feuerstein, Dept of English, University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa

Goodbye Henke Hall

Sixteen years ago, the Center for Biographical Research moved to Henke Hall when our previous home, a cottage on the grounds of the East-West Center, was demonished. Last week, Henke Hall suffered the same fate (see video link).

Henke was always about to be taken down, so we came to believe that it would last forever. To our surprise, It did not.

We are now housed in the Biomedical Building, a gigantic, poured concrete building with central air conditioning that probably wouldn’t come down if they tried.

So we’re happy in our new home—photos to come!—but we still bid farewell to the rickety, beaten-up clutch of rooms that made so much of the Center’s work possible.

–Craig Howes, Center for Biographical Research

Biography 40.1 Caste and Life Narratives

Our latest special issue, on Caste and Life Narratives, guest edited by S. Shankar and Charu Gupta, is an unprecedented conversation between life writing, and Dalit Studies and Critical Caste Studies.

This special issue is dedicated to Rohith Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar who committed suicide in January 2016, and whose suicide letter is reprinted in the introduction to this issue. As Shankar and Gupta write: “how does one not read such a life narrative? Wasnʻt Vemula precisely trying to get us to attend seriously to the issues that brought him to his difficult decision? Not reading seems equally a dishonoring of Vemula’s life, activist spirit, and anquished cry from the heart” (13).

Mahalo nui to all our authors and editors for their dedication to bring this issue to us, and reminding us of the ongoing struggle to care for lives that are seen as unworthy, invisible, less valuable than the rest.

Available online at Project Muse (https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/36728) or hard copies through UH Press: (http://www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/p-8514-biography.aspx?journal=1)

Volume 40, Number 1, Winter 2017
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Editors’ Introduction
“‘My Birth is My Fatal Accident’: Introduction to Caste and Life Narratives,” pp. 1-15
S. Shankar, Charu Gupta

LITERARY LIVES
“Speaking Self, Writing Caste: Recovering the Life of Santram BA,” pp. 16-43
Charu Gupta
“The Dalit Personal Narrative in Hindi: Reflections on a Long Literary Lineage,” pp. 44-63
Tapan Basu
“Tamil Dalit Literature: Aesthetics, Politics, and Life Narratives,” pp. 64-76
Parthasarathi Muthukkaruppan
“Bending Biography: The Creative Intrusions of ‘Real Lives’ in Dalit Fiction,” pp. 77-92
Laura Brueck

LIVES IN VISUAL AND PERFORMANCE CULTURES
“Periyar as a Biopic: Star Persona, Historical Events, and Politics,” pp. 93-115
Swarnavel Eswaran
“Affective Returns: Biopics as Life Narratives,” pp. 116-139
Bindu Menon
“Caste Life Narratives, Visual Representation, And Protected Ignorance,” pp. 140-169
Y. S. Alone
“Mangala Bansode and the Social Life of Tamasha: Caste, Sexuality, and Discrimination in Modern Maharashtra,” pp. 170-198
Shailaja Paik

LAW, SOCIETY, AND NARRATIVES OF THE SELF
“Brahmanical Activism As Eco-Casteism: Reading The Life Narratives Of Bindeshwar Pathak, Sulabh International, And ‘Liberated’ Dalits,” pp. 199-221
Mukul Sharma
“Invisibility of ‘Other’ Dalits and Silence in the Law,” pp. 222-243
Sumit Baudh

OUT OF INDIA
“Stories Of Dalit Diaspora: Migration, Life Narratives, And Caste in the Us,” pp. 244-264
Shweta Majumdar and Anjana Narayan
“Caste in Japan: The Burakumin,” pp. 265-287
June A. Gordon

Select Bibliography, pp. 289-292