HONOLULU, HI, June 10, 2021 – 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 at this link:
Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly explores the theoretical, generic, historical, cultural, and practical dimensions of life writing. For further information, consult the website of the Center for Biographical Research at blog.hawaii.edu/cbrhawaii.
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”
“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”
“Writing Cultural Celebrities: The Year in China”
“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”
“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”
“’The Absolute Genre’: The Year in France”
“De/Constructing Friedrich Hölderlin: The Year in Germany”
“Disappearing Worlds in Life Writing: The Year in Iceland”
“Bollywood Stars and Cancer Memoirs: The Year in India”
Pramod K. Nayar
“Scar Issues: The Year in Ireland”
“Villains Between History and Literature: The Year in Italy”
“Retelling the History of the Sengoku Period and the Era Name System: The Year in Japan”
“Embodied Subjects of Victimization: The Year in Korea”
“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”
“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”
“‘The strange and often alien world of the past’: The Year in the United Kingdom”
“More Than Angry: The Year in the United States”
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.
We are pleased to announce that the most recent issue of Biography is now available on Project Muse. Biography 42.4, “Academic Freedom, Academic Lives,” is a cluster guest edited by Bill V. Mullen and Julie Rak and includes essays from Amanda Gailey, Malaka Shwaikh and Rebecca Ruth Gould, Elżbieta Klimek-Dominiak, and Theresa Smalec.
Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol. 42, no. 4, 2019
“Academic Freedom, Academic Lives: An Introduction”
Bill V. Mullen and Julie Rak
Academic freedom is currently highly public and highly contested terrain. What academic freedom actually means has become an urgent question, as alt-right activists have turned the tenets of academic freedom to their own ends, whether on college and university campuses, or through the actions of right-wing governments as they move to suppress dissent. We want to reclaim the concept of academic freedom for the left and for academic activism, not through a debate about the concept as an abstraction, but in connection to what we see as the radical potential of academic lives. Thinking of academic lives as interpretation and critique is a way to disrupt the current alt-right control of public discourse about freedom of speech.
“Hypatia Redux: Three Stories of Silencing Academic Women”
Three stories of academic women reveal how political factions in different political settings—Church apologists in the Age of Enlightenment, Red Scare demagogues in the Cold War, and white nationalists in the Trump era—have used gender deviance as justification for marking boundaries around who gets to speak and teach. The murder of Hypatia of Alexandria attracted renewed attention in the eighteenth century when ideologues focused on her sexual morality to challenge or affirm the authority of the Church. Luella Mundel, an art professor in West Virginia, was fired and publicly castigated as a vulgar communist sympathizer by conservative politicians during the second Red Scare. Courtney Lawton, a lecturer and PhD student in English at the University of Nebraska, was removed from the classroom and targeted by hate swarms and politicians after she participated in a campus protest in 2017. The cases explore how free speech and academic freedom work as embodied power rather than universally available rights.
“The Palestine Exception to Academic Freedom: Intertwined Stories from the Frontlines of UK-Based Palestine Activism”
Malaka Shwaikh and Rebecca Ruth Gould
This autobiographical co-authored essay explores how hate speech wounds within the logic of the Palestine exception, whereby Israel-critical speech is subjected to censorship and silencing that does not affect other controversial speech. Three months after the UK government’s “adoption” of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism in 2016, we were subjected to a series of attacks in the media, in the public sphere, and in our workplaces in connection with our Palestine-related activism and criticisms of Israeli policies from years earlier. The crackdown on academic freedom that has overtaken UK universities since 2017 has been widely condemned, but rarely has this story been told from the vantage point of those who were targeted and censored. We document here in detail how the Palestine exception to free speech and academic freedom has damaged academic freedom within the UK and silenced Palestinian voices.
“Blank Pages for Nida Sajid”
“Gender Studies and Women’s Equality as Orwellian ‘Thoughtcrimes’?: The Threat of Self-Censorship and Polish Academic Autobiographical Resistance”
Given the significant increase of recent threats by the far right against Polish gender studies scholars, this article focuses on the life narratives of Polish academics who have been intimidated because of their research. It argues that the danger of substituting self-censorship for free inquiry can be partially prevented by acts of academic autobiographical resistance. It has developed not in book-length memoirs, but in various life narratives, such as acts of self-presentation through extended biographical interviews, personal essays, open letters of protest, online accounts of witnessing, and the visual arts. Such an approach involving common autobiographical acts in multiple media best enacts both intellectual and affective forms of academic resistance to widespread misrepresentations of gender studies.
“Coercive Intimacy: Reflections on Public and Private Backlash Against #MeToo”
In this paper, I use the term “coercive intimacy” to analyze seemingly consensual exchanges and/or relationships that nonetheless originate in contexts where there is a fundamental power imbalance. In other words, someone with more power (economic, cultural, or sociopolitical) has the ability to give something desirable to someone with significantly less power. In reflecting on the overt and subtle abuses of power that underlie the exchange of “intimacy” for other kinds of commodities and means of advancement, I also examine the forms of backlash I faced for reviewing an art show that represented a woman’s experiences of sexual misconduct in academia.
“Self-Publication, Self-Promotion, and the Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave”
This article sketches the early history of self-publication by African American authors and focuses on the life and work of the formerly enslaved William Grimes, who published two editions of his Life in the antebellum period. A savvy self-promoter, Grimes appropriated the ballad “Old Grimes is Dead” and marketed himself as “Old Grimes” to garner customers for his barbering and clothes cleaning business and sell copies of his book. These efforts helped Grimes realize a measure of success as a businessman and author, but the unintended consequences resulting from his self-promotion and marketing strategies highlight some of the challenges attending entrepreneurial self-publication by African American writers.
“Listening to the Grandmother Tongue: Writers on Other-Languaged Grandparents and Transcultural Identity”
This article considers Patricia Hampl’s A Romantic Education (1981) and John Hughes’s The Idea of Home (2004) as third-generation “language migrant” memoirs. The texts evoke a dual sense of strangeness and familiarity in childhood experiences with migrant grandparents who spoke another language. Although cultural transmission appears more tenuous here than in second-generation migrant narratives, these two memoirs suggest that the transcultural remains defining of third-generation migrant lives.
Biographical Misrepresentations of British Women Writers: A Hall of Mirrors and the Long Nineteenth Century, edited by Brenda Ayres
Reviewed by Meritxell Simon-Martin
Medical Humanities in American Studies: Life Writing, Narrative Medicine, and the Power of Autobiography, by Mita Banerjee
Reviewed by Sam Allen Wright
Undocumented Migrants in the United States: Life Narratives and Self-Representations, by Ina Batzke
Reviewed by Ina C. Seethaler
Modernist Lives: Biography and Autobiography at Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press, by Claire Battershill
Reviewed by Miriam Fuchs
Homes and Haunts: Touring Writers’ Shrines and Countries, by Alison Booth
Reviewed by Lee Jackson
Modernity and Autobiography in Nineteenth-Century America: Literary Representations of Communication and Transportation Technologies, by James E. Dobson
Reviewed by Susan Shelangoskie
Writers’ Biographies and Family Histories in 20th- and 21st-Century Literature, edited by Aude Haffen and Lucie Guiheneuf
Reviewed by Robert Kusek
British Autobiography in the 20th and 21st Centuries, edited by Sarah Herbe and Gabriele Linke
Reviewed by Monica Soeting
Narratology beyond the Human: Storytelling and Animal Life, by David Herman
Reviewed by Cynthia Huff
Discursive Intersexions: Daring Bodies between Myth, Medicine, and Memoir, by Michaela Koch
Reviewed by Megan Walker
German Women’s Life Writing and the Holocaust: Complicity and Gender in the Second World War, by Elisabeth Krimmer
Reviewed by Christine Nugent
Portraits from Life: Modernist Novelists and Autobiography, by Jerome Boyd Maunsell
Reviewed by Dennis Kersten
Women’s Narratives and the Postmemory of Displacement in Central and Eastern Europe, edited by Simona Mitroiu
Reviewed by Tomas Balkelis
Witnessing Torture: Perspectives of Torture Survivors and Human Rights Workers, edited by Alexandra S. Moore and Elizabeth Swanson
Reviewed by Annie Pohlman
Memories of Lincoln and the Splintering of American Political Thought, by Shawn J. Parry-Giles and David S. Kaufer
Reviewed by Elizabeth Rodrigues
Food and Masculinity in Contemporary Autobiographies: Cast-Iron Man, by Nieves Pascual Soler
Reviewed by Alice L. McLean
Literature and the Rise of the Interview, by Rebecca Roach
Reviewed by Jeffrey J. Williams
The Biographical Turn: Lives in History, edited by Hans Renders, Binne de Haan, and Jonne Harmsma
Reviewed by Carol DeBoer-Langworthy
The Power of the Steel-Tipped Pen: Reconstructing Native Hawaiian Intellectual History, by Noenoe K. Silva
Congratulations to the co-winners of this year’s Biography Prize–Aiko Yamashiro and Amy Carlson!
Aiko was awarded the prize for her dissertation, “Nā Hua Ea & Building Decolonial Community (writing poetry with ‘āina and each other).” The judges found her work to provide the kind of community history that too often goes unattended. They were impressed by how, in doing so, she lovingly honors the work of poet/organizers who play such an important part in making Hawai’i a place of vitality where decolonial love can flourish.
Amy was awarded the prize for her dissertation, “Reading Mediated Identities: Auto/Biographical Agency in the Material Book, Museum Space, Social Media Platforms, and Archives.” The judges found her work to be beautifully written, persuasive, important, and contributory in how it brings together life writing and archival/library studies, and extremely well conceptualized. They found it an absolute pleasure to read and can imagine how useful it will be for students of Cultural Studies in Asia/Pacific.
Wounded Cities: Topographies of Self and Nation in Fay Afaf Kanafani’s Nadia, Captive of Hope
Hager Ben Driss
This essay presses the boundaries of autobiography to the field of urban studies. Fay Afaf Kanafani’s Nadia, Captive of Hope: Memoir of an Arab Woman (1999) engages in the poetics and politics of the city. Kanafani’s story of her multiple displacements and dislocations is positioned in the flow of urban experiences. The text offers a montage of self and nation, and blurs the lines between the private and the public. This essay explores the archaeological, as well as the cartographic qualities of Kanafani’s work. While it reads the memoir as a metaphorical practice of autogeography, it draws on anthropological geography to investigate two major images related to urban spaces: the divided city and the gendered city.
Playing a Life in Nina Freeman’s Automedia Game, Cibele
This essay establishes a framework for studying automedia games—games that have an automedia narrative/disclosure—through an analysis of Nina Freeman’s Cibele. Using this framework, I argue that Cibele challenges the misogyny of a gamer culture that has a “vision of digital culture [as] . . . disembodied and immaterial” (Losh), and instead presents the play of video games as embodied, material, affective, and relational.
Reading, Writing, and Resistance in Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
In her 1982 biomythography Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Audre Lorde explores how literacy can be a hegemonic tool of oppression, as well as how it can be transformed into an implement that furthers her development as a Black lesbian artist. Drawing on both the lessons of the American educational system and the linguistic legacy of African Diasporic women, Lorde creates her own discursive world, one that is marked by hybridity, multiplicity, playful subversion, and communal creation. She redefines literacy as a dialogic and recursive process of consuming and creating narratives within a woman-centered community.
“Bad” Biography Exposed!: A Critical Analysis of American Super-Pop
Biography has long played an important role within American life, and yet mass-market biographies remain underexamined. Theorizing so-called “popular biography” within twentieth-century American popular nonfiction and celebrity journalism, this article analyzes the genre’s conventions and its centrality to celebrity discourse.
The Shadow in the Garden: A Biographer’s Tale, by James Atlas
Reviewed by Carl Rollyson
Experiments in Life-Writing: Intersections of Auto/Biography and Fiction, edited by Lucia Boldrini and Julia Novak
Reviewed by Alexandra Effe
American Autobiography after 9/11, by Megan Brown
Reviewed by Elisabeth Hedrick-Moser
Letter to My Father: A Memoir, by G. Thomas Couser
Reviewed by Emily Hipchen
The Selfie Generation: How Our Self Images Are Changing Our Notions of Privacy, Sex, Consent, and Culture, by Alicia Eler
Reviewed by Teresa Bruś
Invented Lives, Imagined Communities: The Biopic and American National Identity, edited by William H. Epstein and R. Barton Palmer
Reviewed by Eric M. Thau
An Artisan Intellectual: James Carter and the Rise of Modern Britain, 1792–1853, by Christopher Ferguson
Reviewed by Anna Clark
Autobiographical Writing in Latin America: Folds of the Self, by Sergio R. Franco
Reviewed by Francisco Brignole
Getting Personal: Teaching Personal Writing in the Digital Age, edited by Laura Gray-Rosendale
Reviewed by Madeleine Sorapure
The Art of Confession: The Performance of Self from Robert Lowell to Reality TV, by Christopher Grobe
Reviewed by Lynda Goldstein
A History of Irish Autobiography, edited by Liam Harte
Reviewed by Taura Napier
Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum, by Kathryn Hughes
Reviewed by Alison Booth
Doña Teresa Confronts the Spanish Inquisition: A Seventeenth-Century New Mexican Drama, by Frances Levine
Reviewed by Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra
Clio’s Lives: Biographies and Autobiographies of Historians, edited by Doug Munro and John G. Reid
Reviewed by Jaume Aurell
The Decolonial Mandela: Peace, Justice and the Politics of Life, edited by Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni
Reviewed by Nick Mdika Tembo
Creating Identity in the Victorian Fictional Autobiography, by Heidi L. Pennington
Reviewed by Anne Reus
A History of Irish Working-Class Writing, edited by Michael Pierse
Reviewed by Muireann Leech
Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives, edited by Candida Rifkind and Linda Warley
Reviewed by Rocío G. Davis
Life? or Theatre? (Leben? oder Theater?), by Charlotte Salomon
Reviewed by Julia Watson
The Phenomenology of Autobiography: Making it Real, by Arnaud Schmitt
Reviewed by Bettina Stumm
On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements: Selected Writings, by Ella Shohat
Reviewed by Joyce Zonana
Bird-Bent Grass: A Memoir, in Pieces, by Kathleen Venema
Reviewed by G. Thomas Couser
Private Lives Made Public: The Invention of Biography in Early Modern England, by Andrea Walkden
Reviewed by Julie A. Eckerle
No’ukahau’oli Revilla and Lyz Soto are the recipients of the 2019 Biography Prize. Congratulations to both of these amazing scholars and writers. Both won the prize for their recently defended dissertations. No’ukahau’oli Revillaʻs dissertation is entitled If We Vanish: A Collection of Queer ‘Ōiwi Poetry. The title of Lyz Sotoʻs dissertation is About Homelands Speaking\Her Bodies of Stories.