Category Archives: Biography Issue

Release of Biography 42.3

We’re proud to announce the release of a new special issue of Biography:

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol. 42, no. 3, 2019

Biographic Mediation: On the Uses of Personal Disclosure in Bureaucracy and Politics

a special issue edited by Ebony Coletu

https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/41516

“Introduction to Biographic Mediation: On the Uses of Personal Disclosure in Bureaucracy and Politics”

Ebony Coletu                                                

This special issue explores biographic mediation as a tool to analyze technical demands for personal disclosure that affect earnings and overexposure to policing. Biographic mediation refers to institutional documentation of personal information to make decisions about who gets what and why, alongside public critiques and calls to action that feature personal narratives. The issue engages the dialectic between bureaucracy and politics, where institutional paperwork and public perception of applicants interact, making the case for exploring less visible linkages between paperwork and politics to better understand how biographic data operates within a political economy. Contributors include scholars and activists working to redefine the scope of rights that are narrowed on paper, while drawing attention to mechanisms for surveillance operating through biographic forms.

“Biographic Mediation and the Formerly Incarcerated: How Dissembling and Disclosure Counter the Extended Consequences of Criminal Convictions”

Michelle Jones                                                        

When formerly incarcerated people seek access to resources and opportunities upon release they are often met with biographic mediation processes that weaponize stigma, as the demand for disclosure re-adjudicates criminality upon them.  Performing dissemblance and managing disclosure are two ways in which the formerly incarcerated counter the violence inherent in the carceral rationality of governance that works to break or keep broken, disabled, and therefore easily controlled, formerly incarcerated people. As this essay shows, weaponized stigma, while effective, is not absolute.

“A Complaint Biography”

Sara Ahmed

Originally appearing as a blog entry on Sara Ahmed’s public research site, Feminist Killjoys, this essay understands paperwork as a tool to both address and deflect complaints, with the file appearing as an object made to manipulate time and exhaust energy. By interviewing people who have engaged the complaint process, Ahmed develops a means of tracking tensions in the act of reporting, incorporating silences and the effect of time on decisions to withdraw complaints—to “get on with life.” Creating a working vocabulary from the interviews themselves, Ahmed proposes alternative forms of listening and accountability that exceed the reputation-management functions of university protocols. In this essay, Ahmed models a listening technique that takes place outside of the grievance protocol while reflecting on it publicly.

“Lives on the Line: An Interview with Aly Wane”

Aly Wane interviewed by Ebony Coletu

In this interview, Ebony Coletu speaks with Aly Wane, an undocumented immigrant and human rights organizer. Wane reflects on his own path to activism and how personal disclosure became a central part of his practice. Turning away from exceptional narratives tailored for national inclusion, Wane emphasizes the need to recuperate the criminalized remainder left out of immigration reform proposals. He contributes to a theory of biographic mediation by using his own story to interrogate the ways racial profiling, violence, and deportation operate together, marking the limits of “papers” as a form of protection. With specific attention to Black and indigenous experiences in the United States and the ongoing resource of Black feminism, he argues that citizenship cannot be the horizon for migrants’ rights organizing if it justifies mass incarceration, selective recognition, and patriarchy as a model of power.

“The Securitate File as a Record of Psuchegraphy

Cristina Plamadeala

Working primarily with Securitate files, currently stored at the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives (CNSAS), located in Bucharest and Popesti-Leordeni, Romania, this essay explains the various terror mechanisms the Securitate, Romania’s secret police during the country’s communist period, employed in order to gain recruits and employ them as part of its surveillance network. This article  discusses the following two concepts—psuchegraphy and dossierveillance—described herein as two terror methods applied by the Securitate to obtain informers and compel them to collaborate.

“‘Has someone taken your passport?’: Everyday Surveillance of the Migrant Laborer as Trafficked Subject”

Annie Isabel Fukushima

This article examines the role of the missing passport in human rights discourse about migrants who experience violence in the form of human trafficking. Fukushima argues that the passport and mechanisms of documentation that emerge in human trafficking survivor accounts are central to legal and social appeals for recognition. Through a scavenger methodology, the essay analyzes the “missing passport” in campaign materials, a survivor memoir (Shyima Hall), and court testimonies in U.S. v. Kil Soo Lee, Rana v. Islam, Lipenga v. Kambalame, Gurung v. Malhotra, U.S. v. Firas Majeed et al., and U.S. v. Wood. Ultimately, Fukushima explores how the question “has someone taken your passport?” discursively and socially compels the everyday person to participate in surveillance, thus witnessing transnational migrant laborers through the racializing and policing logic of biographic mediation that furthers neighborly suspicion.

“Guidelines for Squatting: Concerned Citizens of North Camden, 1978–1990”

Mercy Romero

Concerned Citizens of North Camden (CCNC), a multiracial activist group in Camden, New Jersey, used genres of organizational writing, from pamphlets to housing applications, to circulate and develop its practices, from squatting to a community land trust. CCNC developed a counter-bureaucracy to pressure policy reforms that included the least-resourced residents of North Camden. Throughout, CCNC carefully used biographic mediation—from their identification as “concerned citizens,” to a fixed sense of neighborhood affiliation and belonging, all designed to communicate across bureaucratic information networks that held the economic potential to alleviate the lived conditions of homelessness and push against discourses of demolition and blight.

“Frames of Witness: The Kavanaugh Hearings, Survivor Testimony, and #MeToo”

Leigh Gilmore                                              

This article argues that three frames of witness competed in the 2018 Kavanaugh hearings: the life story of Supreme Court nominee—now Justice—Brett Kavanaugh that was fashioned for the nomination process, the survivor testimony of Christine Blasey Ford that interrupted it, and the cultural frame of #MeToo in which her testimony and his repudiation of it were heard, which includes the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearing and the accompanying pattern of erasing Black women as they bear witness. With reference to Judith Butler’s work on grievability, “Frames of Witness” identifies the potential affiliation of #MeToo discourse with other protest movements in order to underline how vulnerable subjects cross into testimonial spaces and find, or fail to find, a hearing.

“Call My Name: Using Biographical Storytelling to Reconceptualize the History of African Americans at Clemson University”

Rhondda Robinson Thomas

Biographical storytelling can be an effective means for higher education institutions like Clemson University, which was built by a predominately African American convict workforce on John C. Calhoun’s Fort Hill Plantation, to reclaim complicated public narratives that are informed by the history of slavery and its legacies enacted in Jim Crow policies and practices. Thomas examines how biographic mediation enables the extraction of details from historical records that were created to commodify or criminalize people of African descent who are inextricably intertwined with institutional histories for the creation of life histories. The author asserts that biographic accountability can lead to the development of a multifaceted approach to acknowledging and commemorating Black labor as a critical component of the building and sustaining of higher education institutions, while offering descendants the documentation they need to make a case for redress and reparations.

“Mirror Memoirs: Amita Swadhin on Survivor Storytelling and the Mediation of Rape Culture”

Amita Swadhin interviewed by Ebony Coletu

Ebony Coletu interviews Amita Swadhin, the founder of Mirror Memoirs, a national storytelling and organizing project featuring the narratives, healing, and leadership of LGBTQI+ people of color who survived child sexual abuse. Recently, they completed sixty audio interviews for a growing archive that brings storytelling to bear on our understanding of how institutional spaces designated for “help” sustain child sexual assault. Working through the theme of this special issue, Swadhin reflects on biographic mediation as a mechanism operating within Mirror Memoirs, explaining how the collection of “inconvenient” stories about survivorship can help transform institutional practices of profiling that disappear the most vulnerable targets of violence.

“The Consumption of Adoption and Adoptees in American Middlebrow Culture”

Kimberly McKee

Interested in how the media engages instances of fraud within adoption, as well as how adoptees negotiate the practices that led to their adoptions, this essay explores the reunion of Korean adoptee twins Samantha Futerman and Anaïs Bordier. The author analyzes the depiction of the twins’ reunion in the documentary Twinsters (2015) and Futerman and Bordier’s reflections in their co-authored memoir. Central to this analysis is how biographic mediation functions—demands for personal disclosure affect public perception of adoption and adoptees’ reflections of their adoption experiences—to shape the documentary’s arc, and how it affects what information is disclosed in the memoir. Operating simultaneously is how adoption agencies and institutions mediate their adoption records, and what is shared to both adoptees in adulthood and adoptive parents during the adoption process.

“(Un)Reasonable, (Un)Necessary, and (In)Appropriate: Biographic Mediation of Neurodivergence in Academic Accommodations”

Aimée Morrison

Using neuroqueerness as a heuristic as well as a form of situated auto/biographical knowledge, this article considers the biographic mediation of disability in the academic workplace. Ultimately, what is at stake when disability makes itself visible to the institution is not so much whether the provision of extra administrative assistance or noise-mitigating equipment is affordable. It is, instead, this: what do disabled lives mean? The main sites of biographic mediation of disability in the academic workplace are diagnosis; the formalized process of disclosure and verification in the university accessibility bureaucracy; and the enactment and framing of any granted accommodation. Each site is the ground for battles over agency enacted through the solicitation, management, and framing of disabled life stories. Biographic mediation of disability in the academic workplace works to contain and control difference in such a way as to leave intact the fundamentally ableist set of values, practices, and built environments that constitute the institution known as “the university.”

RELEASE OF BIOGRAPHY 42.2

We are delighted to announce the publication of this beautiful new issue of Biography, vol. 42, no. 2.

The full issue is available on Project Muse: https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/40820

Table of Contents

Editor’s Note
Craig Howes

Articles

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
Philip Miletic

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
Sarita Cannon

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
Oline Eaton

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.

Reviews

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

 

 

RELEASE OF BIOGRAPHY 42.1

 

We’re happy to announce the publication of the latest issue of Biography, vol. 42, no. 1,  2019 with our International Year in Review and Annual Bibliography. Check out the new journal design.

The full issue is available on Project Muse:  https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/40486
Table of Contents

Editors’ Notes
John David Zuern and Craig Howes

Essays as Life Writing: The Year in Australia
Kylie Cardell

The Tercentenary of Maria Theresa (1717–1780): The Year in Austria and Germany
Tobias Heinrich

The Brazilian “I/Eye” at the IABA Global Conference: The Year in Brazil
Sergio da Silva Barcellos

Musicians’ Lives and National Identity: The Year in Canada
Alana Bell

Independent Biographical Documentaries: The Year in China
Chen Shen

Testigo de barbarie y resistencia: El año en Colombia
Gabriel Jaime Murillo-Arango

Life Writing’s Coming of Age: The Year in Estonia
Leena Kurvet-Käosaar and Maarja Hollo

The Ghosts of World War II: The Year in France
Joanny Moulin

Selves and Identities in the Arabian Gulf: The Year in the Gulf Cooperation Council
Szidonia Haragos

What the Stars Tell: The Year in India
Pramod K. Nayar

Biographies from the Alps to Capri: The Year in Italy
Ilaria Serra

Emergent Subjectivities: The Year in Korea
Heui-Yung Park

Archiving the Political, Narrating the Personal: The Year in Lebanon
Sleiman El Hajj

Politics and Violence: The Year in Mexico
Gerardo Necoechea Gracia

Mediators as the Subject of Dutch Biography: The Year in the Netherlands
Hans Renders and David Veltman

Voices against Erasure, Loss, and Dehumanization: The Year in Palestine
Adam Yaghi

A Time of Great Biographies—Gombrowicz and Herbert: The Year in Poland
Paweł Rodak, Alessandro Malusà

“No Coward Soul is Mine”: The Year in Portugal
Cláudia Faria

Auto/Biography After Disaster: The Year in Puerto Rico
Ricia Anne Chansky

Cultural Figures and the Biographical Turn: The Year in Romania
Ioana Luca

“Born-Frees” on South Africa’s Memory Traps: The Year in South Africa
Nick Mdika Tembo

Auto/Biography and Conflict: The Year in Spain
Ana Belén Martínez García

“The necessary disloyalty”: The Year in the UK
Tom Overton

#MeToo and the Memoir Boom: The Year in the US
Leigh Gilmore

American Biography: The Year in the US
Carl Rollyson

Release of Biography 41.4

We’re thrilled to announce the publication of the latest special issue of Biography, vol. 41, no. 4, M4BL and the Critical Matter of Black Lives, edited by Brittney Cooper and Treva B. Lindsey

The full issue is available on Project Muse: https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/40025

Table of Contents

Introduction to M4BL and the Critical Matter of Black Lives
Brittney Cooper and Treva B. Lindsey

Movement for Black Love: The Building of Critical Communities through the Relational Geography of Movement Spaces
Tabitha Jamie Mary Chester

Choreographies of the Ongoing: Episodes of Black Life, Events of Black Lives
Rhaisa Kameela Williams

Black Lives as Snuff: The Silent Complicity in Viewing Black Death
Rasul A. Mowatt

R.I.P. Shirts or Shirts of the Movement: Reading the Death Paraphernalia of Black Lives
Robin Brooks

Black Lives Abroad: Encounters of Diasporic Solidarity in Brazil
Gillian Maris Jones

Visible Black Motherhood Is a Revolution
Danielle Fuentes Morgan

Mama’s Gon’ Buy You a Mocking Bird: Why #BlackMothersStillMatter
A Short Genealogy of Black Mothers’ Maternal Activism and Politicized Care
Kaila Adia Story

Restoring Optimal Black Mental Health and Reversing Intergenerational Trauma in an Era of Black Lives Matter
Jameta Nicole Barlow

#BlackHealingMatters in the Time of #BlackLivesMatter
Kai M. Green, Je Naé Taylor, Pascale Ifé Williams, and Christopher Roberts

From Ferguson to Palestine: Reimagining Transnational Solidarity Through Difference
Marc Lamont Hill

Ferguson: An Identity Politics Liberation Manifesto
Tef Poe

Release of Biography 41.3

We are delighted to announce the publication of the latest issue of Biography, vol. 41, no. 3, which includes two clusters–Asian American Hip-Hop Musical Auto/Biographies (edited by Roderick N. Labrador and Brian Su-Jen Chung) and Political Biography in Literature and Cinema (edited by Joanny Moulin and Delphine Letort).

The full issue is available on Project Muse: http://muse.jhu.edu/issue/39537

Table of Contents

Editor’s Note

“Freaky” Asian Americans, Hip-Hop, and Musical Autobiography: An Introduction
Roderick N. Labrador

“Bad Gal” and the “Bad” Refugee: Refugee Narratives, Neoliberal Violence, and Musical Autobiography in Honey Cocaine’s Cambodian Canadian Hip-Hop
Kenneth Chan

Redefined What is Meant to Be Divine: Prayer and Protest in Blue Scholars
Mark Redondo Villegas

The Posse Cut as Autobiographical Utterance of Place in the Night Marchers’ Three Dots
Ruben Enrique Campos III

(Re)Writing Contemporary Cantonese Heritage Language and Identity: Examining MC Jin’s ABC Album
Melissa Chen and Genevieve Leung

Narrating Failure: MC Jin’s Return to Rap in the United States
Brian Su-Jen Chung

Beats, Rhymes, and Life in the Ocean of Sound: An Object-Oriented Methodology for Encountering Rap Music
David A. M. Goldberg

Introduction to Political Biography in Literature and Cinema
Delphine Letort and Joanny Moulin

French Television and Political Biography
Rémi Fontanel

Recasting the Iron Lady into Flesh and Blood: Gender Performance and Politics in Three Thatcher Biopics
Nicole Cloarec

Writing the Life of Ronald Reagan: An Impossible Mission?
Françoise Coste

From Political Biography to Political Event: The Daens Myth in Literature in Cinema
Gertjan Willems

Political Life Writing in the Pacific: Reflections on Practice ed. by Jack Corbett and Brij V. Lal (review)
Alexander Mawyer

Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their by Leigh Gilmore (review)
Sarah Brophy

Picture Bride Stories by Barbara F. Kawakami (review)
Kelli Y. Nakamura

How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses? Women and Jewish American Identity in Contemporary Graphic Memoirs by Tahneer Oksman (review)
Roberta Mock

Gendered Testimonies of the Holocaust Writing Life by Petra M. Schweitzer (review)
Batsheva Ben-Amos

Holocaust Memory in the Digital Age Survivors’ Stories and New Media Practices by Jeffrey Shandler (review)
Sarah Jefferies

Back to the Blanket: Recovered Rhetorics and Literacies in American Indian Studies by Kimberly G. Wieser (review)
Lisa King

Corrigendum

Nadine Gordimer and the Vices of Biography: A Reply to Hedley Twidle
Ronald Suresh Roberts

Release of Biography 41.2 on Interviewing as Creative Practice

Biography’s latest special issue, Interviewing as Creative Practice, guest-edited by Anneleen Masschelein and Rebecca Roach, is now available for download on Project Muse!

Please help us spread the word! https://muse.jhu.edu/journal/25

Table of Contents

Putting Things Together: Introduction to Interviewing as Creative Practice
Anneleen Masschelein, Rebecca Roach

The Interview as Criticism: David Sylvester’s Artist Interviews
James Finch

Confessions of a Ventriloquist
Sylvère Lotringer, Anneleen Masschelein, Catherine Combes

Criticism Live: The History and Practice of the Critical Interview
Jeffrey J. Williams

Emergent Conversations: Bronwyn Davies on the Transformation of Interview Practices in the Social Sciences
Anneleen Masschelein, Rebecca Roach

“Three words you must never say”: Hermione Lee on Interviewing
Rebecca Roach

The Interviewer Speaks Back: Turning the Tables of the Literary Interview in Contemporary French Novels
Galia Yanoshevsky

“To Unreel a Whole Story”: Julia Kerninon on Writers’ Interviews
Rebecca Roach

“Making Friends”: The Geopolitics of the Interview on the BBC’S Eastern Services
Julie Cyzewski

Ways of Seeing/Ways of Talking: Conversation and Collage in the Films of Mike Dibb
Anneleen Masschelein

Morituri Te Salutant: The Mediatization of the Literary Last Interview at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century
Anneleen Masschelein

Theoretical Perspectives on Historians’ Autobiographies: From Documentation to Intervention by Jaume Aurell (review)
Barbara Caine

Documentary Across Disciplines eds. by Erika Balsom and Hila Peleg (review)
S. Topiary Landberg

Women Writing Cloth: Migratory Fictions in the American Imaginary by Mary Jo Bona (review)
Christine D. Beaule

Beyond the Archive: Memory, Narrative, and the Autobiographical Process—Explorations in Narrative Psychology by Jens Brockmeier (review)
Maarit Leskelä-Kärki

Reading Lessons in Seeing: Mirrors, Masks, and Mazes in the Autobiographical Graphic Novel by Michael A. Chaney (review)
Anna Poletti

PInay: Culture Bearers of the Filipino Diaspora eds. by Virgie Chattergy and Pepi Nieva (review)
Kim Compoc

Life Narratives and Youth Culture: Representation, Agency and Participation by Kate Douglas and Anna Poletti (review)
Victoria Ford Smith

Click and Kin: Transnational Identity and Quick Media eds. by May Friedman and Silvia Schultermandl (review)
Oline Eaton

Representations of Forgetting in Life Writing and Fiction by Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir (review)
Ellen G. Friedman

Biography, Gender and History: Nordic Perspectives ed. by Erla Hulda Halldórsdóttir et al. (review)
Hannah Yoken

Mourning and Mysticism in First World War Literature and Beyond: Grappling with Ghosts by George M. Johnson (review)
Kathy J. Phillips

Working Memory: Women and Work in World War II eds. by Marlene Kadar and Jeanne Perreault (review)
Penny Summerfield

Girls’ Feminist Blogging in a Postfeminist Age by Jessalynn Keller (review)
Akane Kanai

Autobiographical Comics by Andrew J. Kunka (review)
Candida Rifkind

Reading African American Autobiography: Twenty-First-Century Contexts and Criticism ed. by Eric D. Lamore (review)
Roland Leander Williams Jr.

Joseph: Portraits through the Ages by Alan T. Levenson (review)
Kapali Lyon

Memoir Ethics: Good Lives and the Virtues by Mike W. Martin (review)
Raymond Angelo Belliotti

Korean and Korean American Life Writing in Hawai’i: From the Land of the Morning Calm to Hawai’i Nei by Heui-Yung Park (review)
Joseph Han

Understanding Biographies: On Biographies in History and Stories in Biography by Birgitte Possing (review)
Jeremy D. Popkin

Rebuilding Shattered Worlds: Creating Community by Voicing the Past by Andrea L. Smith and Anna Eisenstein (review)
Michael Silverstein

Life Writing in the Long Run by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson (review)
Thomas R. Smith

Emblem of Faith Untouched: A Short Life of Thomas Cranmer by Leslie Williams (review)
Fredrica Harris Thompsett

The Antiquary: John Aubrey’s Historical Scholarship by Kelsey Jackson Williams (review)
Andrea Walkden

Release of Biography Special Issue 41.1, on Prince

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__

Andreana Clay
Introduction
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.

Greg Tate
Prince and the Erotics of Democracy

Steven Thrasher
Obituarizing Black Maleness, Obituarizing Prince

Scott Poulson-Bryant
Prince, Queerness, and the Both/And of “Or”

Andreana Clay
Keywords: Light Skin-ded Free Black Sex, Girlfriend

__Open-Forum Articles__
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.

Norma Clarke
“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.

Alan Filewod
“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.

Hedley Twidle
“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.

Jamie Wood
“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.

_Reviews_
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

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