We are pleased to announce that our latest issue of Biography, including a special cluster of essays on Prince(!), guest edited by Andreana Clay, is officially out in the world! You can access the complete issue via your ProjectMuse subscription right here: http://muse.jhu.edu/issue/38246
(You might also note that we deviated from our template color for this cover and chose a highly saturated deep purple in honor of the Purple One!)
The full TOC, with abstracts, is below:
__On Prince: A Labor of Love, Loss, and Freedom__
With the death of Prince Rogers Nelson on April 21, 2016, many people’s lives were changed forever. In efforts both big and small, those of us left have tried to recall, feel deeply, and write down what his life and death meant to us individually and in community. This special feature explores the feelings of four writers—Andreana Clay, Greg Tate, Steven W. Thrasher, and Scott Poulson-�Bryant—who have written about music, race, and Blackness and turn that gaze to Prince and his impact. Each paper was part of the American Studies Association special panel on Prince titled “Prince in Revue.” Here, as we did there, we draw upon a personal and political relationship to Prince in an effort to understand his impact on music, identity, and community.
Prince and the Erotics of Democracy
Obituarizing Black Maleness, Obituarizing Prince
Prince, Queerness, and the Both/And of “Or”
Keywords: Light Skin-ded Free Black Sex, Girlfriend
Stefano Calzati and Roberto Simanowski
Self-Narratives on Social Networks: Trans-Platform Stories and Facebook’s Metamorphosis into a Postmodern Semiautomated Repository
This article focuses on self-narratives and identity construction in the context of social networking sites (SNSs) by discussing the findings of a research project that had at its core the practice-based module “Facebook and Autobiography: How We Narrate Ourselves on Social Networks,” which we designed and taught at a major Hong Kong university. With students as participants, we explored how the infrastructure of Facebook affects the processes of self-narration and what differences and similarities can be detected between such digitally mediated processes and those emerging in more traditional written forms, such as diaries.
“More National (to Ireland) than Personal”: James Prior’s Life of Oliver Goldsmith (1837)
No full biography of Oliver Goldsmith (1728–1774) appeared until 1837. It was written by a fellow Irishman, James Prior, who had already published a well-received biography of Edmund Burke. Prior explicitly claimed Goldsmith for Ireland, situating him in a tradition of writers whose lives were not well known and paying attention to other Irish writers in his London circle. Prior’s book was praised for its research but criticized for the accumulation of detail, especially about minor figures. John Forster in 1848 and Washington Irving in 1849 each used Prior’s research to issue biographies of Goldsmith aimed at a wider public. Prior was furious. A controversy ensued in which Prior claimed that the information he had gathered belonged to him. Forster struck back. Public and critics alike responded favorably to Forster, whose version of Goldsmith was judged “real biography” and whose argument that biographers do not have possession of facts seemed common sense. Posterity sided with Forster. But this essay argues that Prior’s anger can be understood differently if we take Irish history into account.
“The Experience Being My Own”: Identifying Life Writing in Plays by Canadian Veterans of the Great War
This article explores the problem of theatrical playtexts that disguise the operations of life writing in conventionalized dramatic genres by identifying life writing in three plays written by returned soldiers in Canada in the years following the First World War. The essay asks how we might identify life writing in theater if auto/biography is neither overtly claimed nor foregrounded in content or performance and identifies a historical moment when the autobiographical compulsion was hidden behind the scrim of genre convention prior to the legitimization of autobiographical drama in the modern theater.
“A Very Strange Relationship”: Life Writing, Overwriting, and the Scandal of Biography in the Gordimer-Roberts Affair
This article considers a controversial biography of Nadine Gordimer, as yet the only life of the South African novelist and Nobel laureate. No Cold Kitchen (2005) by Ronald Suresh Roberts was the subject of much media attention when Gordimer revoked her authorization of the project and was accused of “censorship” by her biographer. Beyond the immediate scandal, the Gordimer-Roberts affair reveals latent, unresolved elements within the South African transition. Caught up in the vexed question of critical authority—who can plausibly write about whom in a literary system so warped by colonial and apartheid aftermaths?—it becomes an excessive, overdetermined, and even chaotic life writing project, but one that can still be read against the grain for its wealth of source materials, correspondence, and primary research.
“Here I Am”: Eliot, “Gerontion,” and the Great War
This essay considers “Gerontion,” contra Eliot and scholarship, as an essentially autobiographical poem. Detailed analysis of the poem’s composition reveals it to be firmly rooted in the summer of 1919. The poem is part of Eliot’s wider critical attempt to reconcile experience with art in the aftermath of the Great War.
The Private Jefferson: Perspectives from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, by Henry Adams, Peter S. Onuf, and Andrea Wulf
Reviewed by Susan Kern
Musical Biographies: The Music of Memory in Post-1945 German Literature, by Michal Ben-Horin
Reviewed by Simon Trevor Walsh
Narrative Matters in Medical Contexts across Disciplines, edited by Franziska Gygax and Miriam A. Locher
Reviewed by Lars-Christer Hydén
The Lives of Frederick Douglass, by Robert S. Levine
Reviewed by Jeannine Marie DeLombard
Making Marie Curie: Intellectual Property and Celebrity Culture in an Age of Information, by Eva Hemmings Wirtén
Reviewed by Mott T. Greene