Another season of Brown Bags begins today! As the series continues over Zoom, all are welcome to attend.
The series is entering its thiry-fourth year—well over 750 sessions have been held so far.
THE CENTER FOR BIOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAIʻI AT MĀNOA
BROWN BAG BIOGRAPHY
DISCUSSIONS OF LIFE WRITING BY & FOR TOWN & GOWN THURSDAYS, 12:00 NOON–1:15 PM HST • ONLINE VIA ZOOM
FALL 2021 SCHEDULE
September 16: “Footstepping, Perhapsing, and Bio-bits” Li Shan Chan, PhD student in English at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and 2021 Biography Prize winner Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the International Cultural Studies Program, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies and Asian Studies Zoom Meeting ID: 959 4518 4532 Password: 330127
September 23: “Spirit Beyond the Law: Radical Abolition from Olaudah Equiano to Colin Kaepernick” Hannah Manshel, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the International Cultural Studies Program, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, History, and Political Science Zoom Meeting ID: 986 0181 8734 Password: 380847
September 30: “Oral History of Okinawan Kibei/Nisei/Issei Women” Karen C. Oshiro, MEd, Assistive Technology Practitioner, Certified Aging in Place Specialist Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the School of Communications, the Center for Okinawan Studies, the Center for Oral History, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, History, Political Science, Anthropology, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Zoom Meeting ID: 959 4604 6252 Password: 212581
October 7: “Remembering Our Intimacies: Moʻolelo, Aloha ʻĀina, and Ea” Dr. Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the Hui ʻĀina Pilipili: Native Hawaiian Initiative, the School of Communications, the Center for Oral History, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, History, Political Science, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Zoom Meeting ID: 996 1558 1124 Password: 996097
October 14: “A Hybrid Memoir: A Reading and Discussion” Dr. Rajiv Mohabir, Assistant Professor of Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the Hindi-Urdu Language Program, the International Cultural Studies Program, the Center for South Asian Studies, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, Political Science, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Zoom Meeting ID: 971 5659 7266 Password: 385232
October 21: “In Time, A Writer” Stephanie Sang, PhD student in English and 2021 Biography Prize winner Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, Political Science, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Zoom Meeting ID: 915 3862 5616 Password: 052859
October 28: “An Ethics of Settler Decolonization in Hawaiʻi” Logan Narikawa, PhD candidate American Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the School of Communications, the Center for Oral History, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, History, Anthropology, and Political Science Zoom Meeting ID: 940 1700 6818 Password: 687351
November 4: “Learning What Makes My Heart Smile!” Dr. Virginia S. Hinshaw, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the School of Communications, and the Department of Political Science Zoom Meeting ID: 940 4661 6602 Password: 815666
November 18: “Becoming Foreign: Love and Writing Across the Cultural Divide” Heather Diamond, PhD in American Studies from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, and the Department of Asian Studies Zoom Meeting ID: 984 1734 7287 Password: 769161
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.
“Hulihia” refers to massive upheavals that change the landscape, overturn the normal, reverse the flow, and sweep away the prevailing or assumed. We live in such days. Pandemics. Threats to ʻāina. Political dysfunction, cultural appropriation, and disrespect. But also powerful surges toward sustainability, autonomy, and sovereignty.
The first two volumes of The Value of Hawaiʻi (Knowing the Past, Facing the Future and Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions) ignited public conversations, testimony, advocacy, and art for political and social change. These books argued for the value of connecting across our different expertise and experiences, to talk about who we are and where we are going.
In a world in crisis, what does Hawaiʻi’s experience tell us about how to build a society that sees opportunities in the turning and changing times? As islanders, we continue to grapple with experiences of racism, colonialism, environmental damage, and the costs of modernization, and bring to this our own striking creativity and histories for how to live peacefully and productively together. Steered by the four scholars who edited the previous volumes, TheValue of Hawaiʻi 3: Hulihia, the Turning offers multigenerational visions of a Hawaiʻi not defined by the United States. Community leaders, cultural practitioners, artists, educators, and activists share exciting paths forward for the future of Hawaiʻi, on topics such as education, tourism and other economies, elder care, agriculture and food, energy and urban development, the environment, sports, arts and culture, technology, and community life.
These visions ask us to recognize what we truly value about our home, and offer a wealth of starting points for critical and productive conversations together in this time of profound and permanent change.
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.
Hoʻomaikaʻi to all the youth who participated in this year’s Hawai’i History Day State Fair. It is so important for young people to help us analyze, remember, and tell histories.
Some prizes were given by various organizations for projects that use biographical research, oral history, that focus on specific communities and themes. Here is our Craig Howes presenting the Center for Biographical Research prizes. For more information about this annual event, see: https://www.hi-nhd.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/2018-Hawaii-History-Day-Special-Awards.pdf
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