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
Biography 40.2 is now available on Project Muse.
Here is what you can find in the issue:
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
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.
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
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 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.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
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.
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
“‘My Birth is My Fatal Accident’: Introduction to Caste and Life Narratives,” pp. 1-15
S. Shankar, Charu Gupta
“Speaking Self, Writing Caste: Recovering the Life of Santram BA,” pp. 16-43
“The Dalit Personal Narrative in Hindi: Reflections on a Long Literary Lineage,” pp. 44-63
“Tamil Dalit Literature: Aesthetics, Politics, and Life Narratives,” pp. 64-76
“Bending Biography: The Creative Intrusions of ‘Real Lives’ in Dalit Fiction,” pp. 77-92
LIVES IN VISUAL AND PERFORMANCE CULTURES
“Periyar as a Biopic: Star Persona, Historical Events, and Politics,” pp. 93-115
“Affective Returns: Biopics as Life Narratives,” pp. 116-139
“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
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
“Invisibility of ‘Other’ Dalits and Silence in the Law,” pp. 222-243
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