Publications by List Members

The following publications are texts or issues of journals that IABA listserv members have published, announcement for new journals with calls for papers, or schedules and programs of events held by lifewriting programs and centers.


New biography, The master from Marnpi,
by Dr Alec O’Halloran, Australia.
This cross-cultural biography details the life story and art career of a Pintupi man, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, from the Western Desert region of Central Australia. Namarari (c1923-1998) had his first contact with white people as a child and became an award-winning artist in later life, receiving the prestigious national Red Ochre Award in 1994.
The master from Marnpi
ISBN 9780959056549.
The book is 244pp, 300 x 240mm, hard cover, with 230+ illustrations, including over75 of Namarari’s artworks, plus comprehensive endnotes, maps and tables, glossary and index.
This limited edition is a worthy inclusion for university and college programs that address biography, cross-cultural research, Indigenous art and art history.
Availability: details and online purchase at
Author’s journey blog:




Project Title:   Queering the Post-Holocaust Experience: An Oral History of LGBTQ+ Children of Holocaust Survivors

We are seeking LGBTQ+ children of Holocaust survivors to participate in an oral history interview. This study is an oral history of LGBTQ+ children of Holocaust survivors in Canada and the United States. A great deal of research has been done examining the experiences of children of survivors, but few have looked at the specific experiences of LGBTQ+ children of survivors. This study seeks to construct an oral history of LGBTQ+ children of Holocaust survivor experiences. This is an opportunity for those interested to share their experiences as an LGBTQ+ child of Holocaust survivor(s) as well as contribute to both LGBTQ+ and Jewish history.

Participants will be asked to participate in a recorded oral history interview with the researcher to discuss their experiences as an LGBTQ+ child of survivor(s). The length of the interview will be determined by the participant. Those who participate will receive both a written transcript of the interview as well as a copy of the recording for their own records to share with family and friends.

For those interested or to request additional information, please contact Jacob Evoy at

Dr. Susan Knabe
Associate Dean and Professor
University of Western Ontario

Jacob Evoy
Ph.D. Candidate.
University of Western Ontario


Newsletter Biography Institute

March 2019

Chris Hietland will defend his thesis on André van der Louw
The public defense of Chris Hietland’s biography of the labor union leader André van der Louw will take place on April 11, 14.30 hrs. in the aula of Groningen University. Hietland wrote his thesis as a PhD-candidate at the Biography Institute. His project was supervised by prof. Hans Renders, prof. Gerrit Voerman (University of Groningen) and prof. Paul van der Laar (Erasmus University Rotterdam).

PhD-ceremony Ad van Liempt on May 9
The renowned historian Ad van Liempt will defend his biography of Albert Gemmeker as a PhD-thesis on May 9, 14.30 hrs. in the aula of Groningen University. The biography of Gemmeker, a commander of Westerbork transportation camp, will be published at Balans. The project was supervised by prof. Hans Renders and prof. Doeko Bosscher.

David Veltman will speak at conference King’s College
During the conference (Un)Like: Life Writing and Portraiture, c.1700-the present, David Veltman will speak on May 3 about the portraits of Felix de Boeck. The event is organized by the Centre of Life-Writing Research of King’s College, London. The lectures can be attended for free, please subscribe here.

Bornmeer-Noordboek publishers starts a new biographical series
The series, called ‘Over leven’, will comprise reprints of biographies. The first part in the series, that is edited in collaboration with the Biography Institute,  is Mansholt. Een biografie by Johan van Merriënboer. The next will be Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis. Een romantische revolutionair by Jan Willem Stutje, a former employee of the Biography Institute.

Hans Renders and David Veltman will be joining BIO-conference
During the yearly conference of the Biographers International Organization, Hans Renders and David Veltman will present their research. The conference will take place from May 17 until 19 in New York. Please subscribe here.

More information can be found on the website
For subscribing to and unsubscribing from this newsletter, please email


William L. Andrews, Slavery and Class in the American South: A Generation of Slave Narrative Testimony, 1840-1865, Oxford University Press.

“William Andrews has ‘lifted the veil’ on class relations within the slave community in the antebellum South.  Well-meaning scholars, mostly for political reasons, have far too often chosen to remain silent about distinctions of class drawn by black people among themselves, starting in slavery, choosing to discuss African Americans as if they were always a social monolith, and thereby reducing their complexity.  Andrews reveals, in riveting detail, that this has never been the case, even well before the Civil War.  This is a seminal work of scholarship, one destined to generate a new branch of literary studies, dedicated to studying how class mattered within the African American tradition.”-Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University

“William Andrews has given us an inestimable gift-the first sustained consideration of the totality of known antebellum slave narratives. Andrews provides new insight into the ways enslaved and oppressed people leveraged limited social and economic power to claw out a place for themselves in a system that was never meant to support their survival or success. This momentous work reveals more than we ever have known about the kinds of work these writers did before they made their way to ‘freedom.’ This much-needed contribution will be used by literary scholars and historians and will help shape emerging scholarship for decades.”-P. Gabrielle Foreman, University of Delaware, Founding Faculty Director, The Colored Conventions Project

  • The most complete study of the antebellum African American slave narrative, including not just the canonical texts but dozens that have been overlooked.
  • The most complete study of social strata and class differentiation among the enslaved of the antebellum South.
  • Written by an eminent scholar of African American literature who has spent a career studying slave narratives.

For more on Slavery and Class in the American South, see


Autobiography is one of the most dynamic and quickly-growing genres in contemporary comics and graphic narratives. In Serial Selves, Frederik Byrn Køhlert examines the genre’s potential for representing lives and perspectives that have been socially marginalized or excluded. With a focus on the comics form’s ability to produce alternative and challenging autobiographical narratives, thematic chapters investigate the work of artists writing from perspectives of marginality including gender, sexuality, disability, and race, as well as trauma. Interdisciplinary in scope and attuned to theories and methods from both literary and visual studies, the book provides detailed formal analysis to show that the highly personal and hand-drawn aesthetics of comics can help artists push against established narrative and visual conventions, and in the process invent new ways of seeing and being seen.

As the first comparative study of how comics artists from a wide range of backgrounds use the form to write and draw themselves into cultural visibility, Serial Selves will be of interest to anyone interested in the current boom in autobiographical comics, as well as issues of representation in comics and visual culture more broadly.

FREDERIK BYRN KØHLERT is a lecturer in the School of Art, Media, and American Studies at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom. He is the author of The Chicago Literary Experience: Writing the City, 1893-1953.

“In this engrossing and tremendously insightful book, Køhlert deftly analyzes comics as a visual form with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, paying close attention to the myriad ways comics authors use the formal elements unique to comics to express meaning and embody their intentions. By discussing these five authors in concert, Køhlert not only sheds new light on their individual works, but he also points to the potential for the medium to serve as a powerful vehicle to represent issues around the body. This is an invaluable text for anyone teaching comics.”

—Nick Sousanis, author of Unflattening“Serial Selves leaps past the existing scholarship on autobiographical comics, bringing a fuller sense of context and more diverse corpus. Persistently, and brilliantly, Køhlert reminds us that the choice between formal rigor and social engagement is a false one, and that comics studies at its best achieves both. Synthesizing a tremendous range of research—from autobiography theory, trauma theory, gender studies, disability studies, and other fields—he approaches neglected or misunderstood works, asks tough questions, and, in every case, uses close formal analysis to unpack issues of subjectivity and identity formation. A watershed work.”

—Charles Hatfield, author of Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby

“Acutely attuned to the formal properties of autobiographical comics, Frederik Byrn Køhlert argues that the drawn ‘I’ produces new knowledge about trauma, bodies, temporality, power, and resistance. Serial Selves persuasively demonstrates the complexity of autobiographical comics and their undeniable importance as a cultural and autobiographical form.”

—Leigh Gilmore, author of Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives


Life Writing, Volume 16, Issue 2, June 2019 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

Life Writing and Celebrity: Exploring Intersections

This new issue contains the following articles:

Introduction Life Writing and Celebrity: Exploring Intersections
Sandra Mayer & Julia Novak
Pages: 149-155 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1539208Articles An Austrian Auden: A Media Construction Story | Open Access
Timo Frühwirth
Pages: 159-175 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1540247Sergei Eisenstein as Seen by Peter Greenaway: A Dialectic Representation of an (Anti-)Great Film Director
Fátima Chinita
Pages: 177-193 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1548251Fictionalisation in Biography: Creating the Dickens Myth
Rosemary Kay
Pages: 195-212 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1548262Visual Art as Celebrity Memoir: The Paradox of Peg Woffington’s Sick-bed Portrait
Annette Rubery
Pages: 213-230 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1548253Writing Celebrity as Disability: Las Meninas, Performing Dwarfs, and Michael Jackson Fan Day
Eva Sage Gordon
Pages: 231-244 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1548261‘Boswellized From Mere Persons to Personages’: Arthur Stringer, Mary Pickford, and the Trouble with Celebrity Profile(r)s
Katja Lee
Pages: 245-259 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1548264‘Watergate-ing’ Norman Mailer’s Marilyn: Life Writing in Cultural Context
Oline Eaton
Pages: 261-277 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1548260

Pacts, Paratext, and Polyphony: Writing the Authorised Biography of Robert Wyatt
Marcus O’Dair
Pages: 279-294 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1548265

Reviews Writing Feminist Lives: The Biographical Battles Over Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, and Simone de Beauvoir
Ina C. Seethaler
Pages: 297-300 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1440877

Dylan’s Autobiography of a Vocation: A Reading of the Lyrics 1965-1967
Muireann Leech
Pages: 301-304 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1512032

In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein
Omar Sabbagh
Pages: 305-308 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1510816

Biography:An Interdisciplinary Quarterly

vol. 41, no. 4 • Fall 2018

M4BL and the Critical Matter of Black Lives

Guest edited by Brittney Cooper and Treva B. Lindsey

Brittney Cooper and Treva B. Lindsey

Introduction to M4BL and the Critical Matter of Black Lives

As the most recent iteration of Black freedom struggles in the United States, what is the story of the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL)? This special issue is interested both in the political life of the M4BL and in the stories of those who made this movement possible. We are interested in the critical moment of encounter, when because someone’s life was taken, a community’s life, an activist’s life, or our collective lives changed. From representations of maternal, familial, or communal grief to the sexual and gender politics which prescribe and proscribe how individual Black lives come to matter or not matter, this issue interrogates the politics of Black life and Black living. These interrogations are especially salient in a political moment where liberal humanist conceptions of “the human” fail to compel broad empathy and structural protection for the value of Black people. We collectively ponder: what does “life” mean in the context of M4BL and what is the fundamental meaning of “lives” when centering those on the margins? How has technology shaped the way we tell the stories of individual and collective Black lives? What tools does the Movement for Black Lives offer up to us, not only for reconceptualizing the social structures which shape Black living, but also for reconceptualizing our current understandings of Black life in the first place? How do we center healing, restoration, and transformative justice in our freedom and justice praxes? What forms of mourning and becoming emerge as a result of communal and activist encounters with police violence? What does a life lived in solidarity with other social movements around the globe, for instance in Brazil and Palestine, look like? In asking these questions, both the co-editors and the contributors seek to understand the life contexts and livelihoods of Black people living at the beginning of the 21st century. Although contemporary realities are deeply rooted in historical lived experiences, we have entered a unique era in anti-Black racial terror. These living stories must be told. This special issue is but one collective documentation of a wide range of stories from multiple frequencies of contemporary Black life, death, community, healing, freedom-dreaming, and working.

Tabitha Jamie Mary Chester

Movement for Black Love: The Building of Critical Communities through the Relational Geography of Movement Spaces

This piece chronicles the journey of friendships and relationships that are created in movement spaces. Too often we focus on friendships and relationships that organizing destroys without taking time to celebrate the birth of new beginnings and the strengthening of old bonds. I will use autoethnography to explore how my own relationship-building has kept me accountable to the movement as well as sustained my engagement in highly turbulent, emergent, and volatile spaces of protest and confrontation.

Rhaisa Kameela Williams

Choreographies of the Ongoing: Episodes of Black Life, Events of Black Lives

In this essay, I weave personal narratives together with “public” events to theorize the complex feelings of regularly encountering spaces of black death and trauma. To do so, I use the concept of “episodic events” to collapse distinctions between memorable events and the quiet passage of nondescript episodes in order to push us to think about the grief that stains and strains the lifeworlds of people most invested in Black Lives Matter. In doing so, the essay meditates on the stakes of Black life, constituted by an intimacy with the environment that makes the scenes of events, no matter the scale, part of one’s daily episodes. Attention to Black life in the political era of Black lives means that we consider the forms of intimacy beyond racial kinship that do not allow for the symbolic signification that happens when we are moved by the atrocity happening to the person central to the racial event. Thus by contending with
the “afterlives” of black murder, this essay attempts to deal with the visceral of the episodic, the ongoingness, the living-through that is often sidelined, if considered at all, in the tight focus of the juridical promise of the event.

Rasul A. Mowatt

Black Lives as Snuff: The Silent Complicity in Viewing Black Death

A video has been uploaded from a live source, then circulated from one user to another, and becomes a trending topic. The cycle has been repeated, although the spectacle of the violence perpetrated on Black bodies has existed for years. But what does it mean that these videos are “produced” and shared? How are these videos being consumed? What are our actions once we “see” and share? How do our actions condone the necropolitics at play? This essay seeks to ask, does a Black life really matter? The ubiquity of social media has fostered an ever-increasing mediated culture on the injustice of racialized violence. Like a “snuff” film depicting the death of an innocent for pleasure, does our lack of concrete action reveal a hidden pleasure? Our silent complicity is discussed in this essay in three key areas: 1) the popular focus on videos of state-sanctioned deaths of Black male victims; 2) the quiet reactions in cases of the deaths of women and transpersons by police; and 3) the silence surrounding cases of injury to Black women by police. The concluding aim in this examination is to make the underlining principle of #BlackLivesMatter a call for justice, as much about substance as it is about form.

Robin Brooks

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

This article presents a study of R.I.P. (rest in peace) shirts, also known as memorial shirts, which are significant and visible pieces in the Movement for Black Lives. While it is true that many people are “being memorialized by a hashtag,” the shirts, which are wearable memorials, are ever-present in the movement as well. Whether displaying the name or face of the deceased person, or a quotation from a famous ancestor like Martin Luther King, Jr., these shirts exert great power. In fact, many people ask how these memorial shirts can simultaneously evoke joy and pain. Just as some see wearing a memorial shirt as a way to honor the memory of a person no longer physically with us, others view it as a trigger that reignites the trauma associated with the person’s death. Hence, the study of memorial shirts necessarily includes an analysis of death, trauma, justice, and spirituality. In this article, I argue that the memorial shirts, or what I call the “shirts of the movement,” operate as a form of visual life writing; the shirts collectively (in reference to the larger movement) and individually (in reference to the deceased person) tell a story. I discuss how shirts of the movement preserve memories and call for action. More specifically, I contend that these shirts are not only symbols of grief, expressions of empathy, and coping mechanisms, but are also a public stance against racial injustice and anti-Black racial terror.

Gillian Maris Jones

Black Lives Abroad: Encounters of Diasporic Solidarity in Brazil

From the pacification of favela communities in Rio de Janeiro to the heavily militarized police presence in Ferguson, Black citizens in Brazil and the United States must constantly assert why our lives matter. In what way does the common struggle for our humanity work to create community and solidarity among Black-identified individuals of diverse national origins? What happens when Black people encounter the suffering of other Black populations? In what ways does Black solidarity abroad open the possibility of an international Movement for Black Lives? Through a comparative analysis of the state of Black citizenship in Brazil and the United States, based on fieldwork observations, autoethnographic reflections, and interviews, I argue that the transnational vertigo of violence can connect local Black experiences with patterns seen across the diaspora, inspire sentiments of solidarity among disparate communities, and serve as a basis for a worldwide Movement for Black Lives.

Danielle Fuentes Morgan

Visible Black Motherhood Is a Revolution

This article addresses the ways that society imagines parenthood and the child to be “sacred,” “innocent,” and “worth protecting” seemingly until it considers parents and children of color, in which case these bodies—and the bodies of children of color—are always already criminalized. Personal experiences and the lived experiences of others frame this analysis and address questions surrounding the general American expectation of motherhood as marked by white feminine performance. To this end, the article engages contemporary national events in which the presence of the mother and child and the reciprocal love and support within the relationship was rendered invalid or inconsequential. It examines the police shooting of Philando Castile while in a car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter, Dae’Anna; the police shooting of both Korryn Gaines—which resulted in her death—and her five-year-old son, Kodi; and the racialized claims of poor parenting lodged against Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Michael Brown’s mother, Lezley McSpadden—claims which refuse the right to even their own victimization as a space for grief. Ultimately, public black motherhood and maternity disrupt racist narratives of absenteeism and the destruction of black familial connections and, as such, are constantly under attack as threats to the American investment in the racial hierarchy.

Kaila Adia Story

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

The Black mothers of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, including mothers who have lost a child through ritualized state violence, have now begun to speak out, positing Black motherhood as a site of resistance and contestation to state violence. They have also dismantled much of the racist and sexist imagery that surrounds Black motherhood as an institution and praxis. This essay will explore past Black maternal activism and current labor and politicized care as embodied through Margaret Garner, Korryn Gaines, Lezley McSpadden, Geneva Reed-Veal, and cofounder of the #BlackLivesMatter network, Patrisse Cullors, to elucidate the many ways in which their images and voices complicate and layer society’s many misconceptions of what Black motherhood represents. Utilizing Black feminist, queer feminist, and reproductive justice scholarship, this essay will argue that the mothers of the #BlackLivesMatter movement represent the past and current noncomplacency of Black mothers. It will also rearticulate how their maternal activism and life stories show that love enacted as politicized care continues to dismantle the gendered and racialized assumptions of Black mothers as an institution and a subjective identity.

Jameta Nicole Barlow

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

Recent evidence-based research has suggested the impact of intergenerational trauma on both a biological and psychological level. This offers a potential explanatory mechanism for health inequities such as hypertension, obesity, depression, and heart disease in Black communities as a result of colonialism, American slavery, Jim Crow laws and segregation, and the prison-industrial-complex and its contextual environment of over-policing Black communities. Thus, any intervention combating intergenerational trauma may also contribute to improving the physical health of Black communities. The Community Healing Network and the Association of Black Psychologists have partnered to develop Emotional Emancipation Circles (EEC), a social movement to combat the intergenerational trauma of colonialism and its effects on Black people throughout the world. Based upon Freire’s conscientization and radicalized awareness approach, EECs offer a holistic approach towards healing, centering on the personal narratives of marginalized populations and defying the lie of Black inferiority. This essay reflects on the implementation of an EEC with Black university student leaders actively engaged in social justice issues on an urban, predominantly white college campus in the Baltimore, Maryland area.

Kai M. Green, Je Naé Taylor, Pascale Ifé Williams, and Christopher Roberts

#BlackHealingMatters in the Time of #BlackLivesMatter

Since at least 2013, the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) has reanimated public conversation, highlighting a pattern of present-day and historical state-sanctioned violence against Black people. Much of the conversation has centered on the premise that Black Lives Matter, a statement that challenges an anti-Black logic in which Black and life or rather Black and human are thought to be antagonistic entities. Black Lives Matter is a necessary statement for now, as it signals how Black life’s mattering is not common sense, but rather a contested idea under racial capitalism. Black Lives Matter is a slogan that implicates a white supremacist capitalist police state as one of the leading factors in the cause of Black premature death. While there is much written about the work being done to challenge the anti-Blackness of the state, less is written on the internal work that Black folk are doing in the name of healing justice. Much of this work is just getting off the ground, like the Healing & Safety Council (HSC), also known as the holistic human resources team of the Black liberation organization Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100). We, BYP100’s Healing & Safety Council, have decided to come together and document the work we have been doing in the name of Black liberation. What follows is a staged conversation that is both scholarly and poetic, inviting the reader to engage this piece as we have had to engage the work of Black healing, repair, and transformative justice. In this conversation, we focus on BYP100’s mobilization of a Black queer feminist lens to create a Black politic that holds at its core Black healing and a radical ethic of love.

Marc Lamont Hill

From Ferguson to Palestine: Reimagining Transnational Solidarity Through Difference

Using the genre of life writing, I explore how the praxis of Palestine delegation work spotlighted the contours, possibilities, and limits of how I understood and performed Black-Palestinian political solidarity. Focusing on three particular experiences that stem from a 2014 “Palestine to Ferguson” solidarity delegation, I examine how the trip created spaces for critical reflection, self-critique, and reconsideration of my own identity as a political ally. Such insights are critical for understanding the political possibilities of the Movement for Black Lives as a transnational (and anti-colonial) political project. They also allow us to reimagine political solidarity in ways that yield a more effective, humane, and transformative liberation praxis.

Tef Poe

Ferguson: An Identity Politics Liberation Manifesto

What’s the difference between a movement and a revolution? What is the role of class in conjunction with these experiences? In this essay I ask myself and the reader a series of questions about Ferguson’s connection to feminism, homophobia, and classism. These portraits are painted from the front lines and may lack the politically correct overtones many academics are accustomed to. As the world changes, so does our collective perspective about mental health, poverty, and the need for all variations of human identity to be treated fairly. This analysis merges all of these worlds at once, while realizing the answers to these problems will be revealed through unconventional means. I’ve decided to present an analysis about the way we treat women as freedom fighters, while also understanding the vast nature of identity politics means our intersectionalities do not solely reside within gender and sexuality. We meet at the pockets of nuance in this article, while also interacting with the realities of lack of education, resources, and unity dominating these discussions within our communities. As a person who was nearly driven to the brink of suicide while enduring the unpacking of my own patriarchal vices, my research is the accumulation of personal experiences and stories.

Recently the Handbook of Autobiography/Autofiction, ed. by Martina Wagner-Egelhaaf, 3 vols., Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2019 (2.180 pages) has been published. Vol. 1 presents a wide range of theoretical and disciplinary approaches to autobiography as a genre, from anthropology to theology, from gender studies to narratology. It highlights the key concepts of autobiographical research and discusses a variety of autobiographical forms such as letters, diaries, essays, memoirs, and travelogues. Vol. 2 provides a survey of the autobiographical from a perspective that considers both historical developments and the world’s various regions. Reflecting the problem of eurocentrism in the conceptualization of genres, it travels around the world and observes the interplay between cultural differences, modes of interchange, and global media developments. Vol. 3 gives a voice to individual autobiographical texts through the ages and from different continents. It thus reveals the variety both of autobiographical writing itself and of individual critical approaches. The reader will find essays on well-known texts from the autobiographical tradition as well as some less well-known and even surprising examples. For more information see

Prof. Dr. Martina Wagner-Egelhaaf
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität
Germanistisches Institut
Schlossplatz 34 (Vom-Stein-Haus)
D-48143 Münster
Tel.: +49 251/83-24431
Sekretariat (Frau Claudia Altrock): +49 251/83-24430
Fax: +49 251/83-25424
Email Sekretariat:


Volume 15, issue 3 of Life Writing (September 2018) on the subject of ‘Philosophy and Life Writing’ is now available as a Routledge book, edited by D. L. LeMahieu and Christopher Cowley:

In this volume, scholars from a number of academic disciplines illuminate how a range of philosophers and other thoughtful individuals addressed the complex issues surrounding philosophy and life writing.

The contributors interrogate the writings of Teresa of Avila, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, Wilhelm Dilthey, Walter Benjamin, Albert Camus, Bryan Magee, Mikhail Bakhtin, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Judith Butler, ranging in time from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries.

As this volume demonstrates, the relationship between philosophy and life writing has become an issue of urgent interdisciplinary concern.

This book was originally published as a special issue of Life Writing.


a/b: Auto/Biography Studies
33.3 Autumn 2018
Special Issue: Lives Outside the Lines: Gender and Genre
Guest Editors: Eva C. Karpinski and Ricia Anne Chansky

The 2018 Hogan Prize
Eleanor Ty, Wilfrid Laurier University

“Finding Fragments: Intersections of Gender and Genre in Life Narratives”
Eva C. Karpinski, York University, and Ricia Anne Chansky, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

“Cultivating Gullibility” Marlene Kadar, York University
“The Urgency of Writing a Life: An Interview” Sidonie Smith, University of Michigan and Marlen Kadar

The Work of Marlene Kadar
“Mar and Me: Following the Traces” Linda Warley, University of Waterloo
“Marlene Kadar’s Life Writing: Feminist Theory Outside the Lines” Julie Rak, University of Alberta
“Revising What’s Past: Compassion in the Work of Marlene Kadar and Louise DeSalvo” Julia Galbus, University of Southern Indiana
“Escape from the Colonial Asylum” Patrick Taylor, York University
“Inside the Cover, Outside the Archive: Reading the Dispersal of Jane Rule’s Library and Modes of Female Sociability” Linda Morra, Bishop’s University
“Maternal Stars of the Silent Screen: Gender, Genre, and Photoplay Magazine” Elizabeth Podnieks, Ryerson University
“Unlikely Documents, Unexpected Places: The Limits of Archive” Mark Celinscak, University of Omaha
“Frayed Edges: Selfies, Auschwitz, and a Blushing Emoticon” Rachel E. Dubrofsky, University of South Florida
“Kim Thuy’s Ru and the Art of the Anecdote” Helen Buss, University of Calgary Emerita
“Drawing a Narrative Landscape with Women Refugees” Ozlem Ezer, University of California Berkeley

“Autobiogeography and Translanguaging: Decolonizing Immigrant Life Stories through Visual Narrative Practices” Manoela dos Anjos Afonso Rodrigues, Universidade Federal de Goiás
In this article I present a research that explores individual and collective autobiographical acts aiming at the creation of places of enunciation for decolonial selves through practices in visual arts. This practice-based research benefits from interdisciplinary crossings between feminist geography, life writing, and decoloniality, through which I designed the network of concepts that gave form to the epistemological approach to practice and research I used. The first stage of the practice is a self-reflective response to personal experiences within geographical displacement and dislocation in language. The second part comprises collective writing processes conducted with twelve Brazilian women who live in London. Writing became a cross-element in this practice-based research and visual arts offered a space for exploring decolonial acts and turning a place of muteness into a place of enunciation. Thus, I sought in decoloniality a path to offer a contribution to knowledge by proposing decolonial strategies for writing life narratives within displacement through translanguaging and autobiogeography.

“Autotheory as Contemporary Feminist Practice Across Media” Lauren Fournier, York University
In autotheory as a feminist practice, artists, writers, philosophers, curators, and critics use the autobiographical, first person, and related practices of self-imaging (Jones, Self/Image 134) to process, perform, enact, iterate, subvert, instantiate, and wrestle with the hegemonic discourses of “theory” and philosophy. The term “autotheory” circulates specifically in relation to third wave and fourth wave feminist texts, such as American writer Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts and American filmmaker and art writer Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick even as the act of theorizing from the first person is well-established within the genealogies of feminism; as a post-1960s practice it takes on a particularly conceptual and performative valence. This article serves as a historicization of what we are referring to in the present as “autotheory,” with autotheoretical antecedents having been referred to as “critical memoir,” “theoretical fiction” (Hawkins 263), “life-thinking” (Samatar), and “fiction theory” (Brossard). I turn my attention to “Sick Woman Theory” and “Sad Girl Theory” as twenty-first century examples of auto-theoretical feminist practices that span out across social media. I consider how these post-internet practices of making space for sickness and sadness in autotheoretical ways can be understood in relation to the imperatives of intersectionality and the complications of neoliberalism in the present.

“Remembering and Forgetting: Graphic Lives at the End of the Line” Kathleen Venema, The University of Winnipeg
This essay analyzes four graphic texts, each of which narrates a daughter’s experience of caregiving through a mother’s final years. I argue that each of the four texts – Roz Chast’s 2014 Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?, Joyce Farmer’s 2010 Special Exits: A Graphic Memoir, Sarah Leavitt’s 2010 Tangles: A Story about Alzheimer’s, My Mother and Me, and Dana Walrath’s 2016 Aliceheimer’s: Alzheimer’s Through the Looking Glass – uniquely deploys comics’ resources to: assert the elderly mother’s significance as a simultaneously physical, cognitive, emotional, and social being; chronicle the aging mother’s increasingly complex health-care needs; track the processes by which the daughter emerges as caregiver; acknowledge the frequently negative emotions that caregiving prompts; and document the critical, and often very generous forgetting by which ugly emotions are refined and re-storied as elegiac compassion.
“Childhood Exile: Memories and Returns” Leonor Arfuch, Universidad de Buenos Aires
In the context of contemporary forced migrations, my paper deals with the problem of political exile. I focus on the experiences of children whose parents had to flee the repression of the Chilean (1973-1989) and Argentinian (1976-1983) dictatorships, and for whom living “outside the lines” was often a matter of life and death. From Verónica Gerber-Bicceci and Laura Alcoba’s autobiographical and auto-fictional novels, to Macarena Aguiló and Virginia Croatto autobiographical and testimonial films, my analysis focuses on recent works that lie “outside the lines” of canonical genres, and in which personal experience interfaces with collective memory and bears important ethical and political impact.
“Women Making Freedom: Rethinking Gender in Intra-Caribbean Migration from a Curaçaoan Perspective” Rose Mary Allen, University of Curaçao
Caribbean studies has very often conceptualized past migration as a largely male worker affair and has neglected women as independent participants and autonomous decision-makers. Understanding gender-specific migration movements and in that sense also recovering the experiences of women in migration, means addressing issues related to the process of data-collection. One can clearly see here how colonialism, race, and class intersect with gender and sexuality. The patriarchal social structure of inequality, that has historically relegated women to an inferior status in society and the consequent disadvantages have impacted the availability of primary historical source material that could help explore the impact of gender on migration. In this paper, I used a feminist scholarly historical data research approach to ‘reinsert’ Curaçaoan women into the historical narratives of migration as this took place in the nineteenth century from Curacao, a Dutch island situated near the coast of Venezuela.

The Process
“Rejecting Objectivity: Reflections of a Black Feminist Researcher Interviewing Black Women” Keila Taylor, University of Washington

How Would You Teach It?
“The Work of Teaching Women’s Auto/Bio Comics” Candida Rifkind, University of Winnipeg

The 2018 Timothy Dow Adams Awards

Rev. of Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives Candida Rifkind and Linda Warley (Eds) Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2016. Bethany Mannon, Old Dominion University
Rev. of Women and Genocide: Gendered Experiences of Violence, Survival and Resistance JoAnn DiGeorgio-Lutz and Donna Gosbee, (Eds.) Women’s Press of Canada, 2016. Jill Worrall, Masey University
Rev. of Postcolonial Life Narratives: Testimonial Transactions Gillian Whitlock Oxford University Press, 2015. John McLeod, University of Leeds

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It is will great pleasure (and indeed relief) that I announce the publication of my book The Art and Science of Trauma and the Autobiographical: Negotiated Truth by Palgrave Macmillan, Palgrave Studies in Life Writing Series, March 2019. This work would not have been possible without the intellectual inspiration, challenging debates and discussions and personal generosity of my fellow IABA members over the past ten years, and I am delighted to now share it with you all. The links (US and UK) below will lead to a 20% discount and the text is also available via ebook and individual chapter downloads. Similar offers are available via Palgrave online sites across the world

All best wishes,

Meg Jensen

1st ed. 2019, XIII, 299 p. 1 illus. Printed book Hardcover 74,99 € | £64.99 | $89.99 80,24 € (D) | 82,49 € (A) | CHF [1] 88,50 eBook 63,06 € | £51.99 | $69.99 63,06 € (D) | 63,06 € (A) | CHF [2] 70,50 Available from your library or MyCopy [3] Printed eBook for just € | $ 24.99

This book examines posttraumatic autobiographical projects, elucidating the complex relationship between the ‘science of trauma’ (and how that idea is understood across various scientific disciplines), and the rhetorical strategies of fragmentation, dissociation, reticence and repetitive troping widely used the representation of traumatic experience. From autobiographical fictions to prison poems, from witness testimony to autography, and from testimonio to war memorials, otherwise dissimilar projects speak of past suffering through a limited and even predictable discourse in search of healing. Drawing on approaches from literary, human rights and cultural studies that highlight relations between trauma, language, meaning and self-hood, and the latest research on the science of trauma from the fields of clinical, behavioral and evolutionary psychology and neuroscience, I read such autobiographical projects not as ‘symptoms’ but as complex interrogative negotiations of trauma and its aftermath: commemorative and performative narratives navigating aesthetic, biological, cultural, linguistic and emotional pressure and inspiration.

From Nadine Saba, Board President and Program Director, Akkar Network for Development, Beirut:

“This work provides useful information to rights practitioners and social workers who are confronting complex trauma on a day to day basis. It allows them to learn more about the nature of trauma, its relationship to story-telling, and use this knowledge to improve their interventions through evidence – based information and time-efficient treatments for supporting the well-being of those with complex trauma.”

From Dr Ghassan Jawad Kadhim, Ministry of the Interior and Human Rights Commission, Iraq, and human rights consultant to Oxfam, Iraq:

As a survivor of two kidnappings, I found the material in this book both professionally useful in the work I now do with peace educators and victims of sexual violence in Iraq, my home, and personally healing. It is an important and highly relevant marriage of theory and practice. In Iraq we have suffered decades of war and we need the tools to help us recover. Understanding the role of trauma in autobiographical writing and finding ways to apply this wisdom in the field, will help in our recovery and this book will become a vital source for this work.

Meg Jensen is Associate Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing and Director of the Life Narrative Research Group at Kingston University. In 2014 she co-edited a major collection, Life Narratives and Human Rights, with Margaretta Jolly. She lives in London with her lovely family and two rather stupid cats.



Call for Book Proposals

Interdisciplinary Studies in Diasporas

Series Editors: Irene Maria F. Blayer and Dulce Maria Scott

The Interdisciplinary Studies in Diasporas book series published by Peter Lang International Academic Publishers was launched in 2016. The series opens a discursive space in diaspora scholarship in all fields of the humanities and social sciences. The volumes published in this series comprise studies that explore and contribute to an understanding of diasporas from a broad spectrum of cultural, literary, linguistic, anthropological, historical, political, and socioeconomic perspectives, as well as theoretical and methodological approaches.

Proposals now being accepted for original monographs and edited collections. If you have a relevant manuscript or book prospectus that you would like considered for the series, please direct inquiries to the editors. All proposals and manuscripts are peer reviewed.

Dr. Irene M. F. Blayer,
 Brock University, Ontario, Canada
Dr. Dulce M. Scott,
 Anderson University, Indiana, USA

Series website:


Seeking Submissions for New Open Access Online Journal–The Journal of Epistolary Studies


The Journal of Epistolary Studies (JES) aims to be the premier international publication venue for all scholarship epistolary. The purpose of JES is to publish quality research in all areas of epistolary study, bringing together scholarship of letters and letter writing from across disciplines and historical time periods. Social, historical, literary, linguistic, bibliographical, and material approaches to letters and letter writing all will be considered. JES will offer a forum for academics researching a major genre hitherto not served by major periodical publication. It will be an articles-only journal published bi-annually in the spring and fall.

JES has a stellar editorial board membership of scholars whose research covers many epistolary subfields and historical periods:

Eve Tavor Bannet, University of Oklahoma

Paola Ceccarelli, University College London, United Kingdom

James Daybell, University of Plymouth

Susan Fitzmaurice, University of Sheffield

Elizabeth Hewitt, The Ohio State University, Columbus

Katherine Kong, Independent Scholar

Bronwen Neil, Macquarie University

Antje Richter, University of Colorado, Boulder

Liz Stanley, University of Edinburgh

Alan Stewart, Columbia University

The journal’s website is at

We are seeking submissions from any scholars interested in the genre. Please register at the website to submit a manuscript, to volunteer as a peer reviewer, and to receive journal announcements. Click on REGISTER above the masthead. Optional fields on the registration page you may complete as you wish, but please include your affiliation and if you wish to serve as peer reviewer, please indicate your reviewing interests.

Contact the editor, Gary Schneider, at with any questions.

Contact Email:
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I am thrilled to announce that my book Literature and the Rise of the Interview is now available from Oxford University Press. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible, it has emphatically (and fittingly) been a collaborative effort.
Please see the announcement below. Use code AAFLYG6 to get a 30% discount when purchasing from OUP directly. The book is also available from general bookstores and I am pleased to note that if you buy the Kindle edition you get a whole 80 cents (or £3) off the cover price. Bargain indeed.
Do also note my updated email address: I have recently joined the University of Birmingham as Lecturer in Contemporary Literature!
best wishes
Becky Roach
Cover for Literature and the Rise of the Interview

December 2018 | Hardcover
£60.00 | $74.00 9780198825418 | 304 pages

Literature and the Rise of the Interview

Rebecca Roach

  • Traces the literary and cultural history of interviews from the 1860s to today
  • Reveals how writers have been interviewers and the subject of interviews and how they have used interviews in their fiction and non-fiction
  • Explores a broad range of writers including Henry James, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Djuna Barnes, William Burroughs, Philip Roth, J. M. Coetzee, and Toni Morrison
  • Contributes to exciting work examining new media and informational technologies in the modernist period and beyond

Now For Sale (limited edition):

T.G. Ashplant, Clare Brant and Iona Luca (eds.)
Cher Philippe
A Festschrift for Philippe Lejeune on the occasion of his 80
(Amsterdam: Panchaud Publishers and the European Journal of Life Writing, 2018)
Price: € 30 (Libraries: € 50)
Please send your orders to: Monica Soeting ( and support the European Journal of Life Writing
Julia Watson: The Exquisite Ironies of Philippe Lejeune: Nine Auto-Anti-Theses John Eakin: Philippe Lejeune Turns Eighty
Alfred Hornung: Le Pacte Philippe
Craig Howes: For Philippe Lejeune
Jeremy D. Popkin: Philippe Lejeune and the Spirit of May 1968
Christa Hämmerle: Enthusiasm, Curiosity and Creative Approaches: In Recognition of Philippe
Lejeune’s Research
Carole Allemand: The Autobiographical Pact, Forty-Five Years Later
Zoltán Z. Varga: About the Contractual Nature of the Autobiographical
T.G. Ashplant: Un Esprit Démocratique: les dérives de Lejeune, chiffonnier et collectionneur des autobiographies
G. Thomas Couser: Philippe Lejeune: An American(ist)’s Appreciation
Julie Rak: The Hidden Genre: Diaries and Time
Arianne Baggerman and Rudolf Dekker: The Hidden Genre: Diaries and Time
Regine Strätling: Economies of the Gift: Michel Leiris’s “‘Vois! Déjà l’ange …’” and Sociological Theories of the Circulation and Expenditure of Goods
Leonieke Vermeer: “Cheerful Angels Looking Down on Us.” Parental Emotions in Diaries about the Illness and Death of Infants and Young Children (1780–1880)
Gergely Kunt: Coping with Horror, Writing with Humour: A Hungarian Teenager’s Diary of Her Family’s 1951 Deportation to the Countryside
Pawel Rodak: Suffering and Writing. Autotherapeutic Functions of Some Polish Writers’ Personal
Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle: Impossible Autobiography: For Phillippe Lejeune
Gillian Whitlock: The Diary of a Disaster: Behrouz Boochani’s “asylum in space”
Monica Soeting: Dear Diary, Dear Comrade. Fiction and Non-Fiction in the Diaries of Setske de Haan, Joop ter Heul and Anne Frank
Clare Brant: Dining with Philippe Lejeune: Just Desserts


Newsletter Biography Institute

January 2019


Annual Report Biography Institute
The annual report 2018 of the Biography Institute is available in Dutch and in English. A printed copy can be ordered via email.

Hans Renders fellow in Canberra
From the end of January to mid-March, Hans Renders works as a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra. He teaches at the Life Writing Center there a series of lectures, as well as for the George Rudé Society, The National Library of Australia in Sydney and for the National Center of Biography – Australian Dictionary of Biography. Renders will be temporarily added to the staff of College Arts & Social Sciences.

Ad van Liempt writes biography Albert Gemmeker
The renowned historian Ad van Liempt writes under supervision of prof. Hans Renders and prof. Doeko Bosscher a biography of Albert Gemmeker, commander of the transition camp for jews near the Dutch village of Westerbork. After the war, the legal investigation of his criminal acts took seventeen years in total. The question if Gemmeker knew the fate of the jews produced a huge pile of documents in German archives. Up till now this material was considered to be confident, but for this project Ad van Liempt was given full access.

Biography Jelle Zijlstra praised widely
The biography of Jelle Zijlstra, the subject of Jonne Harmsma’s PhD defense on 29 November, received many laudatory reviews in the Dutch press. For example Meindert Fennema praised the book in his article in NRC Handelsblad. A complete list of the reviews in newspapers and online can be found here.

More information can be found on the website
For subscribing to and unsubscribing from this newsletter, please email


Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
vol. 41, no. 3 • Summer 2018

Editor’s Note

Roderick N. Labrador & Brian Su-Jen Chung, guest editors
Asian American Hip-Hop Musical Auto/Biographies

Roderick N. Labrador
“Freaky” Asian Americans, Hip-Hop, and Musical Autobiography:
An Introduction
This introduction uses the life, music, and autobiography of Fresh Kid Ice
(from the 2 Live Crew) to frame a central objective in this themed cluster of
essays, titled “Asian American Hip-Hop Musical Auto/Biographies,” which
extends our understanding of how hip-hop, and more specifically rap, in
Asian America are forms of musical autobiography. Along with the contributions
in the cluster, this introductory essay begins productive conversations
between Asian American studies, hip-hop studies, and life writing studies.
Asian American hip-hop musical autobiographies can offer alternative ways
for imagining and unsettling a politics of Asian American identity and cultural
production in the context of global capitalism, neoliberalism, and hip-hop
culture industries as they intersect with Blackness and anti-Blackness,
gender, sexuality, multiracial space and place, refugee diasporas, and linguistic

Kenneth Chan
“Bad Gal” and the “Bad” Refugee: Refugee Narratives, Neoliberal
Violence, and Musical Autobiography in Honey Cocaine’s Cambodian
Canadian Hip-Hop
This project employs a close textual reading of Cambodian Canadian hip-hop
artist Honey Cocaine’s 2016 music video “Bad Gal.” Drawing from the fields
of Critical Refugee Studies, comparative racialization, and neoliberal critique,
I delineate the processes of gendered racialization for the Cambodian diasporic
subject, and begin to unpack its racialized relationship to Blackness. In
observing “Bad Gal” for its audiovisual content, temporal narrative, themes
of deviance and Blackness, as well as supplemented by historical and spatial
contexts, and interviews with Honey Cocaine, I argue that the construction
of the “bad gal” or “bad refugee” persona is racialized through the genre of
hip-hop and Blackness, and acts as a way for the Cambodian diasporic subject
to negotiate against neoliberal logics and binary discourses of the “good”
versus “dysfunctional” refugee. Through engaging with a cultural studies lens,
this project encourages a reading of Asian diasporic hip-hop that complicates
static understandings around authenticity, appropriation, and race relations,
and to read the texts for their contradictions in revealing the ways it negotiates
systems of neoliberalism, rather than to assess work for their “critical” or
“politically resistive” value.

Mark Redondo Villegas
Redefined What Is Meant to Be Divine: Prayer and Protest in
Blue Scholars
This article examines the biographical narrations of spiritual redemption in
Blue Scholars (2004), the debut album of the Seattle-based hip-hop duo the
Blue Scholars. The article shows how the album inherits the soulfulness of
the avant-garde community group isangmahal arts kollective, which itself
emerged from a sprawling network of experimental Filipino American creative
communities in the 1990s. As a nostalgic homage to these communities,
Blue Scholars gives evidence of the mutuality between themes of spiritual redemption
and leftist political agitation in Filipino American cultural politics.
The article argues that a new Asian American culture of defiance (as seen in
the Asian Pacific Islander American Spoken Word and Poetry Summit) is
indebted to a tradition of Filipino American decolonial spiritual politics as
documented in Blue Scholars.

Ruben Enrique Campos III
The Posse Cut as Autobiographical Utterance of Place in the Night
Marchers’ Three Dots
Two hundred and forty years after contact and one hundred twenty years
after the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom, the process and project of
conquest continues. Hawai‘i’s Indigenous people and settler populations remain
caught in a tense, back-and-forth process of place-making and identity
formation. The poles of Native and settler exist in the same time and place,
reflected in the land and lyrical life writing as if two turntables were playing
very different songs synced to the same BPM, their peaks and valleys complementing
each other, the horizon of their soundscape always competing. Understanding
Hawai‘i thus requires the crossfade—the constant movement between
two decks. In 2012, the Night Marchers, a local and Hawaiian hip-hop
posse, released their debut album Three Dots, across which, Indigenous, Asian
settler, and Black diasporic rap artists crossfaded across their tense geography
through overlapping verses and dialogic life writing. The complexities of their
work together, understood as synced but choppy, reveals the dense layers of
Hawai‘i’s rich, symbolic, and politically overdetermined landscape.

Genevieve Leung and Melissa Chen
(Re)Writing Contemporary Cantonese Heritage Language and Identity:
Examining MC Jin’s ABC Album
Debuting in 2001, Cantonese-English bilingual rapper Jin Au-Yeung, better
known as MC Jin, has been a longstanding figure in the Asian American
hip-hop community. His professional and personal journey has taken him
from his birthplace of Miami to Hong Kong, where he became a household
name, to New York, where he currently resides with his wife and young son.
Some have viewed Jin and his language use through the deficit lens of his
incomplete Cantonese language acquisition. We argue, however, that his so-called
“kitchen language,” or the perceived reduction of his linguistic productive
domain to merely household objects and phrases, as well as his “return
home” to Hong Kong, are actually poignant heuristics to literally and interactionally
perform transnational Chinese American identity and masculinity
across time and space. Through examining the songs from Jin’s 2007 album,
ABC, we discuss the various tropes Jin utilizes to stake claims on and narrate
authenticity relating to the Hong Kong Cantonese (American) experience.
Viewing Jin’s lyrics and his collaborations with Asian American celebrities
and hip-hop artists as auto/biographical texts, we discursively analyze his autonomy
of self-expression and narration of identity through hip-hop. We
also discuss the ways these narratives map onto larger discourses of Asian
American identities. Ultimately, we argue that Jin is a pioneering mediator
who reconfigures modern geographies of Asia/Asian America by (re)writing
what it means to be a contemporary heritage speaker of Cantonese, providing
new and powerful resonances to bilingual prose and expression.

Brian Su-Jen Chung
Narrating Failure: MC Jin’s Return to Rap in the United States
When MC Jin returned to the United States in 2012 after a four-year stint
as a Hong Kong entertainer, US media was fixated on a particular narrative
of his “failed” opportunity to be one of the first Asian American rap stars
nearly a decade prior. This essay examines how MC Jin himself explains his
interest in rap as a source of Asian American identity and kinship formation.
His self-narratives both respond to and prompt media coverage of failure
as a racial discourse in MC Jin’s biography as a rap artist. I argue that MC
Jin revises existing knowledge of his biography, which counters the model-minority
logic attributed to Asian American rap stardom and resignifies “failure”
as an ongoing dialogue to explore, develop, and imagine new ways of
becoming Asian American.

David A. M. Goldberg
Beats, Rhymes, and Life in the Ocean of Sound: An Object-Oriented
Methodology for Encountering Rap Music
In this article I propose a prototype analytic framework for rap that 1) foregrounds
the phenomenological and aesthetic encounter with the sonic energy
that remains the core experience of rap music; and 2) considers that
encounter without segregating vocals, lyrics, and music. I draw on philosopher
Graham Harman’s object-oriented ontology and experimental musician
Paul Schaeffer’s technique of “reduced listening” to decenter the emcee in a
nonhierarchical, desegregated approach to sound. This approach is intended
to generate fresh vectors for listener and creator subjectivity that are based on
how individual words, sounds, textures, and rhythms are stored within and
transmitted by the mechanics of the rap composition. I test my phenomenological
approach using three works by Asian American hip-hop artists whose
culturally specific autobiographical narratives are carried and articulated by
soundscapes that adhere to and depend on Black aesthetic priorities. Playing
with and against Halife Osumare’s hip-hop ontology of “connective marginalities”
and critical works by poet Thien-Bao Thuc Phi and scholar Oliver
Wang, I hope to destabilize rap’s ethnocentrism by “getting down” to the
molecules of sound, where race and individual identity are emergent but not
inevitable or primary properties of rap’s sonic complexes. By encouraging
the analysis of rap at smaller and shorter scales of syllables and snare hits and
larger scales of genre transpositions, I hope to excavate standards of production
and performance that, though African American in origin, have not only
been established by hip-hop itself but transformed and contributed to by all
of its participants.

Joanny Moulin & Delphine Letort, guest editors
Political Biography in Literature and Cinema

Delphine Letort and Joanny Moulin
Introduction to Political Biography in Literature and Cinema
This short introduction proposes to look at the growing impact of contemporary
biographical films on political life, more particularly on the collective
mental representations of political figures. Compared to print biographies,
biographical films focus on significant periods of the subjects’ lives, and even
more on specific issues or debates related to those, to propose discursive statements
on certain crucial questions of general interest. Envisaging film biographies
through the perspective of their more recent evolution, which goes far
beyond the historically situated form still more or less implied by the term
“biopic,” this introduction goes on to reflect on the different aesthetic perceptions
of fictionalization in film and print. Finally, it offers brief summaries
of the articles gathered in this cluster.

Rémi Fontanel
French Television and Political Biography
This article focuses on the specificities of political biopics created by French
television. First, this essay offers an overview of French televised fictional
biography as it was forged over time on the narrative treatment of historical
figures (Léon Blum, Charles De Gaulle, Georges Pompidou, François
Mitterrand, Simone Veil, etc.) and facts (Popular Front, resistance fighting
during the war, political campaigns, May ‘68, legalizing abortion, etc.). The
second part of this survey focuses more particularly on the subjects of recent
productions (2000s and after), which explore new types of writing, for example
by utilizing archival documents that enrich the biopic genre. Finally,
this contribution questions the different political stakes of the biopic as a
historical and cultural representation of the French nation.

Nicole Cloarec
Recasting the Iron Lady into Flesh and Blood: Gender Performance and
Politics in Three Thatcher Biopics
This article analyzes how three Margaret Thatcher biopics, produced twenty
years or so after she stepped down from power, have portrayed the highly
controversial former British Prime Minister. In keeping with the conventional
approach of the biopic genre, the three films typically shift focus from
the public to the private figure, but they also bring a more specific answer,
reading Thatcher’s career from a gendered perspective. Thus the films “humanize”
their main character by “feminizing” her, but this perspective also
allows Thatcher’s image to be deconstructed through the notion of gender
and political performance. Ultimately, the films turn the political figure into
a proper heroine within different generic conventions that all share proleptic
and dramatic irony as their main propelling narrative device.

Françoise Coste
Writing the Life of Ronald Reagan: An Impossible Mission? 654
Few American academics have written biographies of Ronald Reagan. The
field remains wide open and is dominated by conservative hagiographers, the
political reporter Lou Cannon, and an official biographer, Edmund Morris,
who channeled his writer’s block into fiction. This article analyzes how
a French Reagan scholar had to navigate such complex sources to write an
academic biography of the fortieth president of the United States.

Gertjan Willems
From Political Biography to Political Event: The Daens Myth in
Literature and Cinema
This article examines how Louis Paul Boon’s historical novel Pieter Daens
(1971) and Stijn Coninx’s biopic Daens (1992) have contributed to the
“Daens myth,” in which the Belgian priest and politician Adolf Daens is
idealized as a self-assured hero fighting social injustice. The article focuses on
how Daens is related to Flemish nation-building and how the political biopic
became a political event itself.


Political Life Writing in the Pacific: Reflections on Practice, edited by Jack
Corbett and Brij V. Lal
Reviewed by Alexander Mawyer

Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives, by Leigh
Reviewed by Sarah Brophy

Picture Bride Stories, by Barbara F. Kawakami
Reviewed by Kelli Y. Nakamura

“How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?”: Women and Jewish American
Identity in Contemporary Graphic Memoirs, by Tahneer Oksman
Reviewed by Roberta Mock

Gendered Testimonies of the Holocaust: Writing Life, by Petra M. Schweitzer
Reviewed by Batsheva Ben-Amos

Holocaust Memory in the Digital Age: Survivors’ Stories and New Media
Practices, by Jeffrey Shandler
Reviewed by Sarah Jefferies

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


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


New Issue of 19: Silence in the Archives: Censorship and Suppression in Women’s Life Writing

The nineteenth-century women’s life writing archive is a space rife with gendered intervention. ‘Silence in the Archives: Censorship and Suppression in Women’s Life Writing’ engages with forms of archival spaces ranging between the institutional, the familial, and the imaginary. Five scholarly articles examine the preservation, construction, and censorship of nineteenth-century women’s life writing using a wide range of primary sources and across disciplines including literature, history, art history, and information sciences. These articles examine evidence both incorporated within and peripheral to traditional institutional archives, suggesting that researchers’ materials and methods of interpretation must be creative and interdisciplinary, and that the concept of the ‘archive’ must be stretched beyond its traditional limitations in order to grapple with the many dimensions and remnants of nineteenth-century women’s life writing. A forum section presents new models for mediating and negotiating archival absences in nineteenth-century women’s life writing through digital innovations. The forum also suggests strategies for recovering the doubly silenced voices of nineteenth-century women of colour. This issue of 19 queries women’s role in society in the long nineteenth century across temporalities and contributes to understandings of how the creation and preservation of life writing interacted with women’s evolving domestic, societal, and self-reflexive identities. It does so by examining extant archives and recovery projects relating to both canonical and lesser known women, including Claire Clairmont, Margaret Fuller, Eva Knatchbull-Hugessen, Christina Liddell, Mary Watts, Dora Montefiore, and Margaret Harkness.


Introduction: Reading Silence in the Long Nineteenth-Century Women’s Life Writing Archive
Alexis Wolf

Horrid Mysteries of Cl Cl 26: A Tale of Mothers and Daughters
Elizabeth Campbell Denlinger

Margaret Fuller’s Archive: Absence, Erasure, and Critical Work
Sonia Di Loreto

Silence, Dissent, and Affective Relations in the Juvenile Diaries of Eva Knatchbull-Hugessen (1861-1895)
Kathryn Gleadle

Christina Liddell, the Forgotten Fraser Tytler Sister: Censorship and Suppression in Mary Watt’s Life Writing
Lucy Ella Rose

Censorship and Self-Censorship: Revisiting the Belt Case in the Making of Dora Montefiore (1851-1933)
Karen Hunt

The Harkives: Cataloguing the Coherence and Complexity of Margaret Harkness/John Law
Lisa C. Robertson, Flore Janssen

‘We the ladies… have been deprived of a voice’: Uncovering Black Women’s Lives through the Coloured Conventions Archive
Samantha de Vera

Katherine Newey

To read the latest issue and all previous issues click here:

Contact Info:

Niki Lambert

Contact Email:


Centre for Narrative Research at UEL: 

Programme of Activities, 2018-2019

All events are free, and open to everyone


CNR directors: Molly Andrews, Cigdem Esin and Corinne Squire

CNR Research Fellow: Aura Lounaasma

CNR website and elist :

CNR blog:
CNR twitter: @CNRUEL

CNR Facebook:


Ten years after: Stories of a decade of austerity in the HIV sector

CNR with HIV Psychosocial Network: Report launch. Tuesday November 20 River House, Rutland Grove, Hammersmith W69DJ, 3.30-5pm. Contact: Corinne Squire

Narratives of political conflict and struggle, Wednesday February 27, UEL, Docklands, 2-5pm. Contact: Cigdem Esin

Artistic strategies and methods in refugee projects. Friday March 29, UEL, USS Stratford, 1-4pm. Room tba. Contact: Cigdem Esin

To think is to experiment: The annual CNR international graduate conference

Thursday May 2, 2019 UEL, USS Stratford, 10am-4pm. Room tba. Call for papers: forthcoming, early 2019. For early-bird details, please contact Cigdem Esin

Book launch and discussion: Narrative power, by Ken Plummer, May, UEL, USS Stratford, TBA

Contact: Molly Andrews

Questions of narrative criminology: Lois Presser in conversation, June, UEL Stratford, TBA

Contact: Molly Andrews

CNR Visitors

Adriana Prates Sacramento, University of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil: until March 2019. Adriana has a long and rich history of working with vulnerable youth, particularly around drug issues. She is currently researching trans women’s experiences in Bahia, Brazil.

Lois Presser, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA: summer 2019.  Lois is one of the founders of narrative criminology and a widely cited for her innovative empirical and theoretical approach to this narrative field.

CNR-TCRU Postgraduate Narrative Research Seminars, 2018-2019

Centre for Narrative Research (CNR), University of East London

and Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU), UCL Institute of Education

All seminars take place at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, 27-28 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA, from 5 -6.30pm, on Tuesdays.  All are welcome, particularly graduate students.

October 9 Claire Feeley, University of Central Lancashire: Practising ‘outside of the box’ whilst within ‘the system’. A feminist narrative inquiry of NHS midwives facilitating and supporting women’s unconventional birth choices in the UK.

November 6 Elizabeth Chappell, The Open University: What can we learn from talking to hibakusha (survivors of Hiroshima)? Narrative and the ethics of memory in hibakusha life stories.

December 4 Adriana Prates, Federal University of Bahia Problematizing the production of health knowledge about stigmatized people: POPTRANS research on transsexual women and transvestites

February 12 Carolina Gutierrez, UCL Institute of Education, TCRU:Grandparent care in Chile: experiences of parenting grandparents and their live-in grandchildren

March 5 Amneris Puscascu, UCL Institute of Education, TCRU: Title TBA

April 2 Peter Phillips, Cardiff University:Inside stories

May 7 Sa  Sanny Mulubale, University of East London, CNR: Critical Citizens: 

                 Positionality of the ‘Self’ within Stories of Zambian Teachers Living with Human Immune–deficiency Virus (HIV) and on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).

Seminar details are announced on CNR and TCRU mailing lists two weeks before the seminar date. For more details, please contact Corinne Squire, CNR, or Carolina Guttierez Munoz, Thomas Coram Research Unit graduate partner,

Teaching Programmes in Narrative Research

The Postgraduate Associate Certificate programme in Narrative Research at CNR is a unique Masters-level interdisciplinary programme, drawing on social sciences and the humanities to provide graduate-level education in narrative theories and methods. The 30 credit programme gives students experience in the application of narrative concepts and analysis to particular fields. In addition, the programmes develop more general skills of review, criticism, and team and individual research, all within the context of narrative research.

Narrative Research September-January 2018-2019, by distance learning

Life Stories is a five-credit introductory undergraduate programme, delivered outside of UEL for students with historically low Higher Education access, as a gateway to HE. Last year this programme was delivered with UNITE the union, NOMAD (Nations of Migration Awakening the Diaspora), and the Greater Manchester Refugee Support Network. This year, it will be delivered alongside the Open Learning Initiative for refugees and asylum-seekers (OLIve) at UEL, for Syrian refugees in Jordan, and for a group of young people at Newham FE College.

For further information, please email and see or


Open Your Hand

Teaching as a Jew, Teaching as an American

By Ilana Blumberg

210 pages, 6 x 9

Paperback,November 1, 2018,$19.95


Cloth,November 1, 2018,$99.95


PDF,November 1, 2018,$19.95


EPUB,November 1, 2018,$19.95


About This Book
Fifteen years into a successful career as a college professor, Ilana Blumberg encounters a crisis in the classroom that sends her back to the most basic questions about education and prompts a life-changing journey that ultimately takes her from East Lansing to Tel Aviv.  As she explores how civic and religious commitments shape the culture of her humanities classrooms, Blumberg argues that there is no education without ethics. When we know what sort of society we seek to build, our teaching practices follow.
In vivid classroom scenes from kindergarten through middle school to the university level, Blumberg conveys the drama of intellectual discovery as she offers novice and experienced teachers a pedagogy of writing, speaking, reading, and thinking that she links clearly to the moral and personal development of her students.
Writing as an observant Jew and as an American, Blumberg does not shy away from the difficult challenge of balancing identities in the twenty-first century: how to remain true to a community of origin while being a national and global citizen. As she negotiates questions of faith and citizenship in the wide range of classrooms she traverses, Blumberg reminds us that teaching – and learning – are nothing short of a moral art, and that the future of our society depends on it.
About the Author/Editor
ILANA M. BLUMBERG is a senior lecturer in English literature and director of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Israel. She is the author of Victorian Sacrifice: Ethics and Economics in Mid-Century Novels and the Sami Rohr Choice Award-winning memoir Houses of Study: a Jewish Woman among Books.
“In this remarkable memoir, Ilana Blumberg insists that classroom instruction entails moral commitments illuminated, in her case, through immersion in the humanities. A gift to anyone interested in the art and practice of teaching, and a powerful pedagogic manifesto.”

–Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University

“This extraordinary book is part memoir, part discussion of the ethics and praxis of education, and part detailed accounts of Blumberg’s teaching experiences – poignant, dramatic, profound in their implications. Ranging from pre-school to college, these narratives show how redemptive the act of writing can sometimes be. Blumberg herself thinks and writes her way through crises that interrogate her own assumptions. Here lies the generative drama of her book. A large-hearted and clear-minded document. Highly recommended.”

–Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, author of Moses: A Human Life

“A smart, compelling, significant memoir. I enthusiastically recommend this particularly timely book as it makes a spiritual and ethical case for the humanities in action and for fact-based, rational discourse…Ultimately, Blumberg champions the sacred art of teaching and the power of reading and writing to make worlds and moral selves.”

–Helene Meyers, author of Identity Papers: Contemporary Narratives of American Jewishness

“A powerful reflection on this teaching life…engaging, reflective, and honest. Open Your Hand will appeal to those interested in grappling with what the connection is–or should be–between worlds inside and outside of the classroom.”

–Tahneer Oksman, author of “How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?”

“Reading Open Your Hand is an exhilarating experience. Beautifully written, passionately argued, this is a profound meditation on education, morality, identity. Blumberg takes us through an astonishing range of educational experiences and reminds us why education is an exalted adventure. In a relativistic era, she insists on the urgency and possibility of a moral education. Open Your Hand is an essential book on what it means to be an educator.”

–Yossi Klein Halevi, senior fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute

Open Your Hand will restore your faith in the power of teachers to make a difference. Blumberg offers her readers a thoughtful meditation on moral education by way of an entertaining and often poignant tour of the institutions in which she has taught. She describes her students with a level of empathy and insight that makes you wish that you had studied with her.”

–Jonathan Krasner, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Associate Professor of Jewish Education Research, Brandeis University


New Directions in the Humanities
After Poland: A Memoir Because of Primo Levi 
Cheryl Chaffin

In If This Is a Man, Italian Jewish writer Primo Levi wrote an ethical treatise on how to regain humanity after atrocity. His need to write developed at Auschwitz. Upon return to Italy in late 1945, he began to compose his rst testimonial work. In After Poland, a story written as both a biography and a memoir, scholar Cheryl Chaffin travels to Poland because of her love for Levi’s writing and his story. As a student in Italy in the 1980s, she first discovered Levi’s work. Years later, his words accompany her through sites of memory and modern streets of rebuilt cities and towns. She turns to Polish art, poetry, photography, and politics to make sense of interconnected histories. This is a literary love story of one woman’s confrontation with the trauma of history. In deep engagement with Levi’s writing, she discovers her own ethical response to the world and learns to live in response to the histories that haunt us.

Cheryl Chaffin has an MFA in Writing and a Ph.D. in Humanities. She teaches composition and literature at Cabrillo College in California. In 2014 she travelled to Poland with Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellows. She is currently writing a second book, The Bright Dream: A Writer’s Return to Italy. Cheryl’s writing has appeared in The Sun, Poesy, Porter Gulch Review, Literary Mama, InPrint, Mothers and Daughters, Penumbra, Catamaran Literary Reader, and, Ex-Centric Narratives.

978-1-86335-007-5 (hbk)
978-1-86335-008-2 (pbk)
978-1-86335-009-9 (pdf)

176 Pages

Network Website:

Author Website:

DOI: 10.18848/978-1-86335- 009-9/CGP


Newsletter Biography Institute

November 2018


Conferentie Different Lives big success

From 19 until 21 September, the conference Different Lives: Global Perspectives on Biography in Public Cultures and Societies took place, organized by the Biography Institute, the Biography Society and the Biographers International Organization. The conference was followed with great interest by the public and the media. The opening lecture by Nigel Hamilton was the start of a series of panels and roundtable discussions. Seventeen speakers from four continents lectured upon the biographical tradition in their home country, but also about (self)censorship in biography, the relation between biography and history and that between biography and the publishing world. An extensive report on the conference can be found here.

Jonne Harmsma’s PhD defense ceremony on 29 November

With his biography Jelle zal wel zien. Jelle Zijlstra. Een eigenzinnig leven tussen politiek en economie, Jonne Harmsma will finish his PhD project at the Biography Institute. The public defense of his thesis will take place on 29 November, 14.30 at the Academy Building of the University of Groningen. The biography, which will be published by Prometheus, will afterwards be available in the bookstores.

The ABC of Modern Biography available

During the conference Different Lives, the first copy of The ABC of Modern Biography was handed out to Richard Holmes. The book was written by Nigel Hamilton and Hans Renders in a Dutch and in an English edition. The books are now available through Amazon and

David Veltman will give lectures in the University Library and in the Groningen Archives

During two lectures, David Veltman will tell about the relation between Felix de Boeck and Groningen. Veltman is conducting PhD research on De Boeck at the Biography Institute. First, he is invited to speak on 29 November, 16.00 hrs, in the series ‘Treasures from the University Library’. On 12 December, 20.00 hrs, he will give a lecture at the Groningen Archives about the relation between De Boeck and the Groningen art circle De Ploeg.

More information can be found on the website
For subscribing to and unsubscribing from this newsletter, please email


Truthful Fictions, edited by Michael Lackey


Bloomsbury has just released Truthful Fictions, a new collection of interviews with some of the world’s most prominent scholars and authors of biofiction, edited by Michael Lackey, and the press has a special offer for scholars. Here is the information.

In this new collection of interviews, some of America’s most prominent novelists identify the key intellectual developments that led to the rise of the contemporary biographical novel, discuss the kind of historical ‘truth’ this novel communicates, indicate why this narrative form is superior to the traditional historical novel, and reflect on the ideas and characters central to their individual works.

These interviews do more than just define an innovative genre of contemporary fiction. They provide a precise way of understanding the complicated relationship and pregnant tensions between contextualized thinking and historical representation, interdisciplinary studies and ‘truth’ production, and fictional reality and factual constructions. By focusing on classical and contemporary debates regarding the nature of the historical novel, this volume charts the forces that gave birth to a new incarnation of this genre.

Biofiction Special Offer from Bloomsbury Academic!
Buy both Truthful Fictions and Conversations with Biographical Novelists or each individually on and receive 35% off both books! Offer available October 18 – December 31, 2018

Conversations with Biographical Novelists * 9781501341458 * $32.95 $21.00
Truthful Fictions: Conversations with American Biographical Novelists * 9781623568252 * $29.95 $19.00

Life Writing, Volume 15, Issue 4, December 2018 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:


From Autobiographical Act to Autobiography
Arnaud Schmitt
Pages: 469-486 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1478598


TED Talks as Life Writing: Online and Offline Activism
Ana Belén Martínez García
Pages: 487-503 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1405317


Life Writing, Cultural Memory, and Historical Mediation in Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor was Divine
Pei-chen Liao
Pages: 505-521 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1446666


As-told-to life writing: a topic for scholarship
Sandra Lindemann
Pages: 523-535 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1289807


Tuqan and Dayan: Palestinian and Israeli Women between Romance and Tragedy
Mohammed Hamdan
Pages: 537-559 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1416530


Narrative Empathy in Dr. Goonam’s Coolie Doctor and Zubeida Jaffer’s Our Generation
Felicity Hand
Pages: 561-576 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1426969


The Enigma of Arrival
George Kouvaros
Pages: 579-590 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2016.1276792


The Biographer’s ‘Keeper’ (When the Estate is With You): Writing the Biography of Thea Astley
Karen Lamb
Pages: 591-596 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1470893


Hope Street: From Voice to Agency for Care-Leavers in Higher Education
Jacqueline Z. Wilson, Philip Mendes & Frank Golding
Pages: 597-609 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1427420


“How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?” Women and Jewish American Identity in Contemporary Graphic Memoirs
F. K. Clementi
Pages: 613-615 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2016.1234343


Writing Life: Early Twentieth-Century Autobiographies of the Artist-Hero
Alexander McKee
Pages: 617-620 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1331420


Drawing the Line: The Early Work of Agnes Martin
Alex Belsey
Pages: 621-624 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1339345


Voicing Voluntary Childlessness: Narratives of Non-Mothering in French
Shirley Jordan
Pages: 625-628 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1330647


Auto/Biography in the Americas: Relational Lives
Nicoleta Alexoae-Zagni
Pages: 629-631 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1357418


Transformative Learning through Creative Life Writing: Exploring the Self in the Learning Process
Daniel Vuillermin
Pages: 633-636 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1357106

By Nigel Hamilton and Hans Renders

The ABC of Modern Biography

Ever wondered how and why biography – in books, plays, movies, television, blogs – seem to have inundated our modern world, from Hamilton to The Crown?

In The ABC of Modern Biography – an abc of the genre, with 26 entries – two renowned biographers and teachers take us on a tour, from A for Authorization (a very misunderstood concept, in the authors’ view) to Z for Zigzagging to the End. In trenchant, witty entries they explore the good, the bad and the plain ugly in modern “life writing” and the portrayal of real lives today – and how, across history and continents, we got here.

Highly original and compellingly written, The ABC of Modern Biography  is both authoritative and provocative. It will fascinate general readers interested in how real lives are approached by biographers today in a multitude of media. It will  make a much-needed contribution in academia, where the theory of biography is a burgeoning field of inquiry, as well as providing an important text for students of history, language and literature, the arts, American and gender studies, science and media. And, not least, for biographers trying to avoid the pitfalls of ignorance or ineptitude.
“Over the last thirty years the forms and ambitions of modern biography have been expanding almost beyond recognition, and this sprightly abc volume promises to take a fresh and exuberant overview of current developments. Nimble and non-academic, boldly arranged topic by topic, it will challenge many conventional assumptions about the way biographers actually work, and should provoke some fascinating discussions about the future of the genre. I welcome this feisty contribution to the ongoing biographical debate!”̶ Richard Holmes
Nigel Hamilton, former Professor of Biography at de Montfort University and currently Senior Fellow in the McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts Boston, is the author of 27 works of biography and memoir.

Hans Renders is Professor of History and Theory of Biography, as well as Director of the Biography Institute at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands.

26 b/w illustrations
272 pages €29.99 / £24.99 / $33.75
Amsterdam University Press

Also available from University of Chicago Press


Dear IABA List Members

The paperback edition of Tainted Witness is now available! It includes a new preface connecting the TW framework to the #MeToo movement. You can order it here:

Use the promo code “CUP30” to buy the book from this site and receive a 30% discount off the price of the paperback edition of the book.

Thanks you for helping to spread the word and for all your support!
Leigh Gilmore
Wellesley College
Distinguished Visiting Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies

The self and the world. Aspects of the aesthetics and politics of contemporary North American literary memoir by women (2018) written by Agnieszka Rzepa, Dagmara Drewniak, Katarzyna Macedulska

The book constitutes an attempt at a selective, but far-ranging analysis of the aesthetics and politics of memoirs written by Canadian and US women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds since 1990. The study focuses on memoirs by experienced writers, consciously deploying in their texts a number of literary, visual and paratextual devices. The aim is to illuminate the ways in which they make sense of their experience and how they endow it with a particular narrative shape, with special focus on the implicit and explicit ideological baggage of the memoirs. An important aspect of the project is the critical reflection on the nature of memory that emerges from the selected texts in connection with both individual and collective history. Special focus falls on configurations of gender and race/ethnicity in the contexts of the two multicultural North American societies, and their influence on the process of self-fashioning.


Inge Brinkman, ‘Representing performance. Memories of song, music and dance in the autobiographical writing of Ngũgĩ and Wainaina”. in: Emily Akuno, Kahithe Kiiru and Maina Mutonya (eds.), Music and Dance Research in East Africa (Nairobi: IFRA and Twaweza Communications 2018) pp. 120-134.



Canadian Autofiction of the Early Twentieth Century

Rosmarin Heidenreich

“Rosmarin Heidenreich treats the subjects of ‘literary imposters’ and autofiction with great understanding and knowledge, making them comprehensible and captivating to the reader. This is a wonderful book that examines its characters with great insight. A considerable advancement.”

‒Diana Birchall, author of Onoto Watanna: The Story of Winnifred Eaton

“An entertaining and well-written study of the reinvention or re-engenderment of the lives of the surprisingly high number of ‘impostors’ in early Canadian literature. Heidenreich makes convincing points through suspensefully told detective work.”

‒Martin Kuester, Philipps-Universität Marburg Foreign Languages Institute of English & American Studies


In the first half of the twentieth century, a number of Canadian authors were revealed to have faked the identities that made them famous. What is extraordinary about these writers is that they actually “be- came,” in everyday life, characters they had themselves invented. Many of their works were simultaneously fictional and autobiographical, reflecting the duality of their identities.

In Literary Impostors, Rosmarin Heidenreich tells the intriguing stories, both the “true” and the fabricated versions, of six Canadian authors who obliterated their pasts and re-invented themselves: Grey Owl was in fact an Englishman named Archie Belaney; Will James, the cowboy writer from the American West, was the Quebec-born francophone Ernest Dufault; the prairie novelist Frederick Philip Grove turned out

to be the German writer and translator Felix Paul Greve. Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance, Onoto Watanna, and Sui Sin Far were the chosen identities of three mixed-race writers whose given names were, respec- tively, Sylvester Long, Winnifred Eaton, and Edith Eaton. Heidenreich argues that their imposture, in some cases not discovered until long after their deaths, was not fraudulent in the usual sense: these writers forged new identities to become who they felt they really were.

In an age of proliferating cyber-identities and controversial claims to ancestry, Literary Impostors raises timely questions involving race, migrancy, and gender to illustrate the porousness of the line that is often drawn between an author’s biography and the fiction he or she produces.

Rosmarin Heidenreich is professor emerita at the Université de Saint-Boniface.