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, announcements of new publication series, or schedules and programs of events held by lifewriting programs and centers.


The Oxford History of Life-Writing Volume VII: Postwar to Contemporary, 1945-2020
by Patrick Hayes
Considering a diverse range of texts from across the English-speaking world, this volume explores the history of life-writing in relation to wider debates about the sociology and philosophy of modern identity, and the changing marketplace of publishing and bookselling. Yet in doing so it seeks above all to credit the extraordinary literary inventiveness which the pursuit of self-knowledge inspired in this period.
Major subjects addressed include: the aftermath of World War II, including responses to the Holocaust; the impact of psychoanalysis on biography; autofiction, autrebiography, and changing ideas about authentic self-knowledge; coming out memoirs and the transformation of sexual identity; feminist exemplary writing and lyric poetry; multilingualism and intercultural life-writing; the memoir boom and the decline of intimacy; testimony narrative and memory culture; posthumanism in theory and practice; literary biography as an alternative to literary theory; literary celebrity and its consequences for literature; social media and digital life-writing.
Link to the page on Google Books, and on OUP.
About the author:
Also available in the same series:
Vol.1, The Middle Ages, by Karen Winstead
Vol. 2, Early Modern, by Alan Stewart

Simon Rolston, Prison Life Writing: Conversion and the Literary Roots of the U.S. Prison System

Prison Life Writing is the first full-length study of one of the most controversial genres in American literature. By exploring the complicated relationship between life writing and institutional power, this book reveals the overlooked aesthetic innovations of incarcerated people and the surprising literary roots of the U. S. prison system.

Simon Rolston observes that the autobiographical work of incarcerated people is based on a conversion narrative, a story arc that underpins the concept of prison rehabilitation and that sometimes serves the interests of the prison system, rather than those on the inside. Yet many imprisoned people rework the conversion narrative the way they repurpose other objects in prison. Like a radio motor retooled into a tattoo gun, the conversion narrative has been redefined by some authors for subversive purposes, including questioning the ostensible emancipatory role of prison writing, critiquing white supremacy, and broadly reimagining autobiographical discourse.

An interdisciplinary work that brings life writing scholarship into conversation with prison studies and law and literature studies, Prison Life Writing theorizes how life writing works in prison, explains literature’s complicated entanglements with institutional power, and demonstrates the political and aesthetic innovations of one of America’s most fascinating literary genres.


Fear of Theory. Towards a New Theoretical Justification of Biography now published

In the preparation of this volume, Hans Renders and David Veltman (Biography Institute, University of Groningen) asked several biographers and researchers to reconstruct the theory behind their books. How does the backside of a biography look like, the side one cannot see? How does the invisible hand look like? Some biographies are exclusively inventorying, others are based on a theoretical notion, a research method, for example by comparing human lives to find out how respresentative a person is, by using the microhistorical method or by using psychology? Which disciplines do we use?

Preceded by a foreword by Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, the current President of Iceland, this volume consists of seventeen essays by Nigel Hamilton, Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon, Emma McEwin, Melanie Nolan, Kerstin Maria Pahl, Eric Palmen, Hans Renders, Carl Rollyson, David T. Roth, István M. Szijártó, Jeffrey Tyssens and David Veltman. Fear of Theory, the third installment in the Biography Studies series, is now published at Brill. More information can be found here.

European Journal of Life Writing


New cluster and book review


We are very happy to announce that the EJLW has published the new cluster ‘Beyond Boundaries’ edited by Helma van Lierop-Debrauwer, Jane Mcveigh and Monica Soeting, and a book review.


Beyond Boundaries

Helma van Lierop-Debrauwer, Jane Mcveigh, Monica Soeting, ‘Beyond Boundaries. Authorship and Readership in Life Writing: Introduction’.

Marjolein Breems, ‘Tattoos Tell Stories: Children’s Literature Tattoos as a Form of Life Narrative’.

Hannah Fleming, ‘Virtual Reality Life Writing and Young Adult Media Practice’.

Lena Hoffmann, ‘Life Writing through Texts and Images – Picture books by Celebrities’.

Vanessa Joosen, ‘Writing when Young: Bart Moeyaert as a Young Adult Author’.

Anne Klomberg, ‘Stranger spaces: Embodiment, space and language in the collaborative life writing novel The Fortune Finder’.

Helma van Lierop-Debrauwer, ‘Voice and Silence in Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming’.

Anna Poletti, ‘Youth Life Writing, Networked Media, Climate Change: The Challenge of Testimony to the Future’.

Marleen Rensen, ‘New Female Role Models from Around the World: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls’.

Beyond Boundaries. Creative Section

Jessica Sanfilippo-Schulz, ‘A Victorious Roman Holiday: Life Writing and Loving Beyond Boundaries’.

Book review

Alexandra Effe, ‘Yvonne Delhey, Rolf Parr and Kerstin Wilhelms (eds.), Autofiktion als Utopie // Autofiction as Utopia’.


Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol.44, no. 1, 2021

International Year in Review & Annual Bibliography

The entire issue can be accessed on Project Muse here:

Remembering Lauren Berlant

More Flailing in Public

Anna Poletti

National Fantasies about the Self

Rebecca Wanzo

An excerpt from Riva Lehrer’s Golem Girl: A Memoir

International Year in Review

From Individual to Collective Memories: The Year in Aruba

Rose Mary Allen and Jeroen Heuvel

Burning Shame, Decolonizing (His)tory, and Writing Illness
and Disability: The Year in Australia

Kylie Cardell

Viennese Modernism and No End: The Year in Austria

Wilhelm Hemecker and David Österle

COVID-19 Emergency Diaries: The Year in Brazil

Sergio da Silva Barcellos

Lives Interrupted: The Year in Canada

Alana Bell

“Diaries in the Lockdown City”: The Year in China

Chen Shen

To Belong—or Not to Belong: The Year in Denmark

Marianne Høyen

“Is the World Still There?”: Estonian Lockdown Diaries:
The Year in Estonia

Leena Kurvet-Käosaar and Maarja Hollo

Stories of Secrets, Wounds, and Healing: The Year in Finland

Kirsi Tuohela

“Ways of Worldmaking”: The Year in France

Joanny Moulin

Complicit Filmmakers, Self-Made Women, and the Weltgeist
on Horseback: The Year in Germany

Tobias Heinrich

Parallel Pathways: The Year in Hungary

Ágnes Major and Zoltán Z. Varga

Eyes Wide Open with Paper in Hand: The Year in Italy

Ilaria Serra

Prison Narratives: The Year in South Korea

Heui-Yung Park

Illness Writing and Revolution, Converging Narratives:
The Year in Lebanon

Sleiman El Hajj

“A Place on the Banknote”: The Year in Malawi

Nick Mdika Tembo

Periodismo, crimen, misoginia: El año en México

Gerardo Necoechea Gracia

A Profusion of Perspectives: The Year in Netherlands

Hans Renders and David Veltman

Pandemic Diaries: The Year in Poland

Paweł Rodak

Fighting Against Traditions of Silence: The Year in Portugal

Cláudia Maria Ferreira Faria

Documenting Lives: The Year in Romania

Ioana Luca

Narratives of a Pandemic: The Year in Spain

Ana Belén Martínez García

Imagining Gender+ Justice amid the Pandemic:
The Year in Turkey

Hülya Adak

Necrography: The Year in the United Kingdom

Tom Overton

Pandemic Reading: The Year in the United States

Leigh Gilmore

Annual Bibliography of Works about Life Writing, 2020

Compiled by Zoë E. Sprott



Edited Collections and Special Issues

Articles and Essays




Alfred Hornung


Al Capone: Der amerikanische Traum und das organisierte Verbrechen [The American Dream and Organized Crime] (Darmstadt: wbgTheiss, 2021), 320 pp.

In this biography of Al Capone, I focus on the promises of the American Dream for Southern Italian immigrants and the propensity for drifting into the arms of criminal organizations. The discrimination against visibly different foreigners and their separation from mainstream American society in districts like Little Italy resulted in ethnic fights, e.g. between Irish White Handers and Italian Black Handers, and culminated in calling Al Capone “Black” and initially rejecting him in the Irish family of his future wife. Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, constituted the perfect platform for illegal activities in the 1920s. The manufacturing or sale of alcohol became the profitable business of ethnic groups who used the revenue to set up sites for gambling and prostitution. This challenge to the legal and political system and violent forms of interethnic rivalry resulted in beer wars and capital crimes. The consumers of Al Capone’s services ignored his alleged criminal record and valued his self-styled role as a benefactor of the poor. In this combination of capitalistic measures and charity he explicitly emulated the position of the powerful captains of industry or “robber barons,” repeatedly attributed to him, most prominently when Time Magazine featured him as the “John D. Rockefeller of the Underworld.” Ethnic discrimination continued into the legal proceedings against Capone for tax evasion and seemed to substantiate the public perception of Italians as criminals. In most media representations of Al Capone’s life, his financial success rather than his syphilis-ridden existence in prison and the miserable final days in his Miami Beach home became the dominant topic, transforming the image of the criminal into that of a daring hero. My analysis of the Capone Organization in Chicago in relation to the simultaneously established Trump Organization in the construction business in New York is based on the frequent references of President Donald Trump to Al Capone and the comparison of their business deals as well as their establishment of a system of ‘alternate truths’ and their interference with elections. The reasons for the unabated public interest in Al Capone as a subject of study and media representation can be linked to these current concerns. Thus, the Harvard Business School recently conducted a case study on Al Capone’s Organization, a Chicago bar association re-enacted Al Capone’s trial, complementing the long list of films, serialized formats and publications turning him into a product of the culture industry. The ethnic profiling in earlier productions has receded in favor of entertaining consumption. However, the analysis of Al Capone’s migration background also reflects the treatment of (im)migrants in past and present, their discrimination and separation hindering their legal participation in public life and instead contributing to their potential involvement in criminal activities.

Alfred Hornung is Research Professor of American Studies and director of the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. He is a founding member of IABA and of IABA-Europe and on the editorial board of Life Writing in Europe, Journal of Life Writing, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies. His latest life writing publications are: the Chinese translation of Ecology and Life Writing (2016); Jack London: Abenteuer des Lebens (2016); “North American Autobiography,” Handbook Autobiography/Autofiction, ed. Martina Wagner-Egelhaaf, 3 vols., (2019), vol. 2, 1205-1259; “Ecocriticism and Life Narrative,” Research Methodologies for Auto/biography Studies, ed. Kate Douglas and Ashley Barnwell, (2019) 236-243.The Routledge Companion to Transnational American Studies (2019 with Nina Morgan, Takayuki Tatsumi); “Chuangzao Kuayue Guojie De Ziwo” [Life Writing Knowledge and Narrative Medicine: Creating the Transnational Self], Journal of the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2020): 81-90. 

Dear Colleagues,


Last week I announced on this site the Canadian launching of ” Choosing the Island” on October 15, and this week on November 12 I will launch the book here in Finland.

I would like to offer you your personal  complimentary copy of my book: “Choosing the Island ‘through the warp and woof of time’ Women who made twentieth century Prince Edward Island Canada their home” in the hope that you will read it and consider recommending it to your institution or library for purchase. 

The book is an interdicilpinary study of five women of various backgrounds who migrated to Prince Edward Island from Europe (Scotland, England, Poland) and elsewhere in Canada during the twentieth-century. Their performances in the area of the arts, as teachers, entrepreneurs, social activitists, letter writers, poets, and  family women, establish a point of departure for studying women, notorious or otherwise, and their identification and contirbution to their new place.


Thank you in advance for not sharing my book beyond this community but rather ask others to contact me for a copy.

Best wishes!

Mary McDonald-Rissanen

Lähetetty Windowsin Sähköpostiista 

Dear Colleagues:
I am pleased to announce the publication of my book–Lives Beyond Borders: U.S. Immigrant Women’s Life Writing, Nationality, and Social Justice–with SUNY Press this week. If you work in higher education or at a library and you are so inclined, it would be much appreciated if you suggested your institution purchase a copy:
For any questions or requests, please email me directly at
Many thanks for taking a look.
All my best,
Ina C. Seethaler, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)
Associate Professor/Director of Women’s and Gender Studies
HTC Honors College
Coastal Carolina University
Kearns 104B
PO Box 261954, Conway, SC 29528



Critical Essays


These are critical essays on biography. Not theory, not history: criticism, based on textual analyses, by a method rather less often applied to biographies than to works of other genres. The studies are devoted to the works of five contemporary British biographers — Ruth Scurr, Peter Ackroyd, Hermione Lee, Claire Tomalin and Ian Kershaw — selected for their resistances to criticism. This meditation on biography, seeking to break up the husk of its apparent straightforwardness, comes up with the conviction that, since life itself is already writing, it ought to be pursued on philosophical ground.

Ce livre regroupe des essais critiques sur la biographie. Ni théorie, ni histoire : critique, basée sur des analyses textuelles, selon une méthode moins souvent appliquée à la biographie qu’à d’autres genres. Ces études sont consacrées aux oeuvres de cinq biographes britanniques contemporains – Ruth Scurr, Peter Ackroyd, Hermione Lee, Claire Tomalin et Ian Kershaw – choisis pour leurs résistances à la critique. Cette méditation sur la biographie, cherchant à briser l’écale de son apparente simplicité, débouche sur la conviction que, puisque la vie elle-même est déjà une écriture, elle doit être poursuivie sur le terrain philosophique.

Joanny Moulin, Membre senior de l’Institut Universitaire de France, Professeur des Universités à l’Institut d’Histoire de la Philosophie d’Aix-Marseille Université, fondateur de la Biography Society, est également l’auteur de plusieurs biographies dans le domaine anglophone.


Choosing the Island “through the warp and woof of time” Women who made twentieth century Prince Edward Island their home explores, analyzes, and records the lives of five immigrant women – Elsie Sark, Elaine Harrison, Joan Colborne, Janina Zielinski, and Erica Rutherford – and their rapport with their Island through their auto/biographical endeavours. Although work has been done on Elaine Harrison and Erica Rutherford, and to some extent on Elsie Sark, there has been little on Joan Colborne and even less, if any at all, on Janina Zielinski. The inspiration for this book has arisen from my previous studies of the diaries of L.M. Montgomery (“Veils and Gaps: Women’s Life Writing in Early 20th Century Prince Edward Island,” unpublished licentiate thesis) and those of less prominent Island women (In the Interval of the Wave: Prince Edward Island Women’s Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Life Writing, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014). My research, conference papers, and publications have resulted in a strong desire to look deeper into the lives and writing of women immigrants and their impact on the Island. Furthermore, the sense of affinity with them, being an emigrant from PEI to Europe, gave me the motivation to explore, through these five women, how they felt and fared in a new place. Their diaries, poetry, paintings, letters, autobiographies, and biographies have provided a point of departure for studying their lives and their action on numerous fronts, for example: the arts, their community engagement, gardening, teaching, all of which reveal how they became part of the Island fabric.


Island born Mary McDonald-Rissanen grew up in Summerside, studied in Kinkora and Charlottetown before moving to Finland. Since the 1970s Mary has lectured and researched language and literature at the University of Tampere (Finland) where she earned her doctorate in Comparative Literature with her dissertation entitled Sandstone Diaries – Prince Edward Island Women’s Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Life Writing. Mary lives in Finland and summers in Darnley, PEI.

ISBN 978-952-94-5113-5

Publisher: Timsak Ltd., Vantaa, Finland



Life Writing, Volume 18, Issue 4, December 2021 (Special) is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.


Self/Culture/Writing: Autoethnography in the 21st Century – Part 2; Guest Editor: Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle

This new issue contains the following articles:



Autoethnography and Beyond: Genealogy, Memory, Media, Witness
Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle
Pages: 475-482 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1982161


Where the Centres Line Up: Finding Myself in the Fabric of the Highlands
Laura J. Beard
Pages: 485-496 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1927489

Writing Ourselves into Time: Stories of Indo-Trinidadian Women
Prabha Jerrybandan
Pages: 497-511 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1930496

Strangers in a Strange Land: Jewish Memories of Istanbul in the Memoirs of Roni Margulies
Esra Almas
Pages: 513-525 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1928811

The Language of Food: Semiotics in Diana Abu-Jaber’s Gastrographies
Leila Moayeri Pazargadi
Pages: 527-543 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1926892

Hip Hop, La Crónica and Epiphany in Mexico City: Performative Research, Methodological Identities and Affective Analysis
Ruben Enrique Campos III
Pages: 545-561 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1928094

Arriving on YouTube: Vlogs, Automedia and Autoethnography
Ümit Kennedy
Pages: 563-578 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1927485

Embodied Dread in Covid-19 Images and Narratives
Sabina M. Perrino
Pages: 579-592 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1926615

Embracing the ‘Good-enough’—Teaching, Learning, Living During the COVID-19 Lockdown
Irene Strasser
Pages: 593-609 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1928810

Open Your Hand: Teaching as a Jew, Teaching as an American
by Ilana M. Blumberg, New Brunswick and London, Rutgers University Press, 2019, 195 pp., ISBN 978-1-9788-0081-6
Susan S. Lanser
Pages: 613-616 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1686339

This Place You Know
by Christina Houen, Port Adelaide, Ginninderra Press, 2019, 242 pp., ISBN 9781760417437
Gay Lynch
Pages: 617-621 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1720822

In Search of the Woman Who Sailed the World
by Danielle Clode, Sydney, Australia, Picador, 2020, 384 pp., ISBN 13: 978-176084959
Katerina Bryant
Pages: 623-625 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1812022

Ficciones de verdad. Archivo y narrativas de vida
[In English: True Fictions from Spain. Life-Writing and the Archive], by Patricia López-Gay, Madrid/Frankfurt, Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2020, 244 pp., ISBN: 9783968690513
Anna Forné
Pages: 627-630 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1864252

Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies
No.16, Spring 2021
Center for Life Writing, SJTU, China


Editor’s Note

[Special Section: Interview]

Fenimore Cooper’s Biography, Life and Works: An Interview with Prof. Wayne Franklin
……Ma Yueling

[Theory Studies]

On “Phasic Biography”: Taking the Series of “The Corridor and The Back” as an Example……Shi Jianguo

[Text Studies]

Misplaced Compassion:On Emperor Huizong by Patricia Buckley Ebery……Liu Tao
The New Milestone in the Research History of The Scholars: A Book Review of The Biographies of Famous Cultural Figures of Past Dynasties in Jiangsu: Wu Jingzi……Hu Peng
A Critical Reading of Wang Yuanhua’s Biographies……Wang Yulin
The “Sick Man” Churchill: Medical Ethics and Body Politics in Biography……Zhou
Isolated Life and Identity Dilemma: John Jung’s Writing of Early Chinese Americans’ Life in American South……He Xiuming

[Autobiography Studies]

“Who Knows My True Face in Those Years”: Western Researches on Self -Portrait……Liang Qingbiao
The Return of Presence: The Emergence of Autobiographical Literary Criticism and Its Possibility in the New Era of English & American Literature Study……Zhang Huifang
Autotopography and the Construction of Cultural Memory: Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul: Memories and the City……Zhu Yan
Autobiographical Literature, Media Memory and Literary Style cross the Boundary——Centered on the Autobiography of Qinwen……Huang Yucong  Chen Shuyun
A Halfway Man: Patrick White’s View of Gender……Zhang Wenru

 [History of Life Writing]

Between Fiction and Truth and inside or outside Power: The Research on Deqing’s Taming Style……Wang Yanming
Samuel Johnson’s Selection Criteria for Biographees……Sun Yongbin

 [Subject Studies]

The “Real Record” Writing of Wang Yangming’s Image of Treacherous Courtier……Xie Yidan
Writer or Thinker: A Study of Joseph Conrad’s Biographies……Zhu Hongxiang
The Case of Love Triangle in the History of European Studies and its Cultural and Historical Significance: The “Two Wangs’ Controversy” Centering around Wu Ruoying……Ye Jun
Identity Construction in Chiang Yee’s Travel Writings……Fan Chen

 [Film Biography]

The Truth Description of Semiotics on Anti-biopic: A Semiotic Observation of Bob Dylan’s Bio-pic I’m not there……An Liya

 [PhD Dissertation Extracts]

“Life-Writing”: On Virginia Woolf’s Memory Writing……Jiao Hongle
Biography Publishing and Social Change: A Study on Biography
Publishing since 1949……Wang Hongbo
A Study of Biographies of Modern Chinese Play-Wrights……Song Na
The Descriptive Catalogue and Textual Research of “The Biographies of the Sages”
in Ancient China……Li He

Call for PhD Dissertation Extracts……

Instructions to Contributors

From the Editors

From the Editor

With the popularity of the concept life writing, the life writing in broad sense has evolved into a large cultural group and developed into new categories and sub-categories. In the meantime, new areas, concepts, objects and approaches have emerged in the life writing studies, as demonstrated in several innovative articles of this issue.
Shi Jianguo proposes the concept of “phasic biography,” which focuses on a certain stage of the subject’s life, in contrast with the standard one of encompassing the whole life. This form has a long history and its number is increasing. Maybe Shi is the first scholar conducting research on this area of research.
Liang Qingbiao discusses the Western researches on self-portrait. Despite the fact that the self-portrait is a well-established artistic form, the origin of the specialized research on this genre is only traced back to 20 to 30 years ago. On the basis of the paper on image biography published in our journal, Liang further argues that the self-portrait is a form of autobiography and the history of self-portrait thus falls into the category of the history of autobiography. In addition, Liang analyzes the different cultural connotations of Chinese and the Western self-portraits and the classic self-portraits provided in his paper are invaluable materials to help further interpretation. 
Zhu Yan sheds light on a new autobiographical concept, i.e. autotopography, which refers to the autobiographical works centering around a certain region and follows the relations between the subject and the place. Zhu Yan selects Istanbul: Memories and the City by Nobel Prize laureate Pamuk to explore the cultural memories in it. The concept of the autotopography broadens the field of autobiography studies.
Zhang Huifang concisely and comprehensively describes autobiographical literary criticism, a new genre that combines autobiography with literature criticism, including the origin, status quo and potentials. As a form of literature criticism, this field will achieve promising development.
An Liya discusses the anti-biopic, a new film pattern in the post-structural category which challenges the conventional narration in the film biography produced in Hollywood and contends that it simplifies the complex human life and conflicts. Bob Dylan’s film biography I’m not there is a typical one, in which 6 actors/actresses of different colors and sexes play the role of the biographee who seems irrelevant to Bob Dylan himself. An Liya puts this film in the perspective of Semiotics and believes that it constructs a text of abstract symbols with close connections to the object. Is anti-biopic a new approach of developing film arts? We need to patiently wait for the test of time.
The history of life writing is unignorable when a close eye is put on the new topics of life writing studies. Two papers are published in the section of History of Life Writing. Scholars attention is attracted to the monk biography in recent years and Deqing’s Taming in the late Ming Dynasty is unique. Wang Yanming explores this form in a modern academic approach and examines the narrative orientation and the narrative strategies from details, so as to analyze the cultural implications and broaden the scope of monk biography studies.
The origin of British and the Western modern biography is traced back to Dr. Johnson’s Lives of the Poets. Through the examination of the biographees depicted by Johnson, Sun Yongbin discovers that they are ordinary people and share a common ground with the biographer, for this type of biographees are suitable for him and enables him to make a success. Sun further finds evidence in the classic eighteenth-century biographies for the biographer’s identification with the biographee.
In the four papers of “Subject Studies,” two concern Chinese cultural figures with detailed textual research. As an important thought in China’s history of philosophy, Wang Yangming is portrayed as a well-esteemed and eminent minister and scholar with great achievements. In Ming Shilu, however, he is described as a treacherous courtier committing slaughter of innocent civilians. Xie Yidan conducts textual criticism of a great variety of historical documents and makes a reasonable explanation of this historical myth from the perspectives of politics, court struggle and Neo-Confucianism trend.   
As the participant of the May-fourth Movement and one of the leaders of Young China Society, Wang Guangqi studied in Germany and became a famous music theorist. The influence of the Western liberal thinking on China’s social, political and cultural history as a whole is explored through Ye Jun’s examination of Wang’s love affair and the change of life in the aftermath of this event. This issue is important and complex and further research is needed.
Biographee’s identity is one of the core issues in the life writing studies with the most prominent distinctive feature of the discipline. Two papers concern this issues in the section of “Subject Studies.”
As a frontier branch of autobiography, travel writing features uncertain and incomplete indication of the subject’s identity and is thus more difficult to research. Fan Chen examines Chiang Yee’s identity in travel writings and peruses Chiang’s texts in combination with such paratext as poems and paintings to analyze the content, techniques, styles and the changes concerned. In so doing, Fan reveals Chiang’s persistent construction of his cultural identity and challenge of the stereotype of and prejudice against China in the West in over 40 years of his travel writing, so as to forge his cosmopolitan identity with Chinese culture at its core. This paper is an innovative and successful effort from the perspectives of both the identity studies and travel writing studies.
Zhu Hongxiang focuses on Conrad’s identity. Through the interpretation of Conrad’s autobiographies and biographies, Zhu analyzes Conrad’s ideas and the origins concerned against the milieu of the history and Conrad’s life stories to argue that he is mostly a thinker rather than a writer. What matters is the objective and methodology of identity studies and we invite your attention to this issue.
This issue features several specialized researches on biographical/autobiographical works. Biographies of Chinese figures by U.S. biographers tend to arouse attention of Chinese readers. Patricia Buckley Ebery’s Emperor Huizong is a new one, which undermines the emperor’s conventional image in Chinese’s mind. Liu Tao expresses sharp criticism of this biography because of the biographer’s full of compassion for Huizong without understanding, detailed historical materials with misinterpretation, and subjective shaping with misrepresentation. The representation of Huizong moves from the extreme of political discourse to the extreme of cultural discourse and results in the misplaced compassion. Liu’s argument is open to discussion, but the difference between Chinese and American scholars in the academic approaches and values orientation that he proposes is noteworthy.
Wang Yuanhua is an important contemporary humanist and intellectual. With a collection of Wang Yuanhua’s biographies and biographical materials, Wang Yulin conducts his criticism of the texts and on this basis, develops his research on the biographee, including the analysis of Wang Yuanhua’s origin of academic thought, Wang’s relations with the contemporary mainstream ideology and in particular his outlook of literature and aesthetics featuring expressing ideals in emotions. In so doing, Wang Yulin provides a sample of breaking the boundary between book review and paper and thus follows the academic trend.
As a writer, Xu Qinwen has close connections with Lu Xun and his Autobiography of Qinwen arouses much attention for it originates from a murder case. Huang Yucong and Chen Shuyun examine the writing of this autobiography and focus on the relations of the autobiography with newspaper media and public opinion. With reference to the theory of communication, the author discusses the problems of autobiographical truth and style boundaries. Although this autobiography is long past, the questions raised in this article are of practical significance.
He Xiuming’s research focuses on the group of Chinese Americans in the two memoirs by Chinese American historian John Jung. The isolated life and the identity dilemma are usual perspectives in the research of overseas Chinese biography. He notices that the living conditions of Chinese Americans’ life in American South are different from those in the bicoastal areas of America and titles this paper as “Isolated Life and Identity Dilemma,” in particular to describe the plight of the second generation of Chinese Americans. This effort demonstrates the refined identity studies. 
British Prime Minister Churchill is also a famous autobiographer and a great many biographies have been written for him to forge the image of a “giant.” Zhou Jili, however, focuses on Churchill’s image of a “sick man” in the biographies and explores the influence of his illness on his political career and the international politics. Zhou explains the milieu of these debunking biographies and mentions the medical ethics, which are both valuable for further discussion.
Australian writer Patrick White called himself a “halfway man” in his autobiography written in his late years to break the socially constructed barrier between males and females and restore the true nature of humankind. Why did White make this claim in Australian culture where masculinity and “bush man” are promoted? What is the significance of his view of gender? What is inspiration of his view to the trend of cultural development? Zhang Wenru’s paper gives the answer to these questions and her analysis of them are noteworthy.
Professor Chen Meilin is an expert of Wu Jingzi studies. Hu Peng’s criticism of Chen’s new biography, Biographies of Famous Cultural Figures of Past Dynasties in Jiangsu: Wu Jingzi, reveals the innovation and rigor of a veteran scholar. We should model on his respectable spirit of academic research.
In the section of Interview, Ma Yueling conducts an interview with professor Wayne Franklin, who is an American literature historian and famous for his biography of Fenimore Cooper. Although this interview focuses on this biography, the universal issues are involved for the benefit of readers as well, such as the selection and verification of biographical materials and the understanding of the biographee.
To diversify our journal and promote academic exchanges, we establish a new section “PhD Dissertation Extract” to publish the summary of PhD in the field of life writing studies since 2000. Your contributions are welcomed.

                                January, 2021

Instructions to Contributors

Life writing studies have moved onto the central stage in the academia and gained ever more attention both in and outside China. As the first scholarly journal in the field of China, the biannual journal Modern Life Writing Studies intends to fill up the blank of life writing studies in China, provide a venue for scholars all over the world, attract and promote specialists in the field.
   Aiming to keep abreast of the cutting edge of life writing research, Our journal seeks to, in modern views and perspectives, explore various topics of life writing in China and in the world, with almost 20 sections included, such as Interview, Comparative Biography, Theory Study, History of Life Writing, Text Study, Autobiography Study, Diary Study, Subject Study, Film Biography, Book Reviews, Life Writing Materials, From the Life Writer, etc.
Ever since its appearance in 2013, our journal has been well-received by scholars at home and abroad and fundedby a steady grant from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is exerting increasingly greater influence in academia with a due wide positive response. In 2017, our journal was included in CSSCI (Chinese Social Science Citation Index), and listed in the international academic literature or included in the annual annotated bibliography by world prestigious universities.
Our journal accepts both Chinese and English submissions. All the articles will be subject to anonymous peer review.

  Submissions are welcome from both Chinese and international researchers. Simultaneous submissions are not accepted. English papers should be between 4,000 and 7,000 words of text in length (including notes), while English book reviews are about 2,500 words. Full-length articles take up most part of the journal, but short essays with originality and fresh ideas are also welcome.

Submission Guidelines
All written submissions should be formatted according to the eighth edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. All submissions should include a 100-word abstract both in Chinese and English, keywords (less than 5), a 70–word biographical statement, and works cited. Please adhere to the following requirements:
•   Double spacing, Times New Roman, 12–point font
•   One-inch margins
•   Only Microsoft Word doc or docx files will be accepted
•  Citations should be provided in parenthetical reference followed by “Works Cited”.
•  Endnotes are preferred if there are any.

Submissions should be emailed in Word format to the editor Each contributor will get two complimentary copies once his/her paper is published.

Our journal is based at SJTU Center for Life Writing. We welcome suggestions and proposals, from which we believe our journal will surely benefit.

Shen Chen
School of Humanities, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai,China,200240


Love Affair in the Garden of Milton: Loss, Poetry, and the Meaning of Unbelief, by Susannah B. Mintz
Love Affair in the Garden of Milton interweaves the private story of a marriage coming apart with readings of John Milton’s poetry and prose. Connected essays chart the chaos of loss and the discovery of how a writer can inhabit our emotional as well as our intellectual selves. Inflected by the principles of mindfulness, Susannah B. Mintz’s memoir explores how we reconstruct ourselves and find our way back to meaning in the aftermath of trauma.
Formally inventive and engaging dynamic philosophical ideas, Love Affair in the Garden of Milton raises questions of forgiveness, desire, identity, grief, and the counterintuitive relevance of literary tradition. This lyric memoir offers readers a sense of partnership, with the author and Milton as companionable guides through the wilds of love and loss.


Praise for the book:
In Love Affair in the Garden of Milton, Mintz seamlessly maps Milton’s great epic onto the small, craggy contours of private grief. A marriage dissolving, a pet missing, an atheist longing for meaning: all of these struggles find their unique telling through the studious (but never distant) love Mintz exhibits for the great English poet, who is also the focus of her academic life. Add to that her insights into (and at times frustrations with) practicing Buddhism and mindfulness, and you have one of the more nuanced displays of a complex intelligence, at once playful and joyous to read, but dead serious, too. This book exemplifies the rigor, energy, and ranginess that I have come to crave from the best literary nonfiction.
–Chad Davidson, Director, School of the Arts, University of West Georgia, author of Unearth and Analyze Anything


In this moving memoir, appeals to the work of John Milton, especially Paradise Lost, become uncanny conduits for managing marital discord. Like an embedded reporter, the bard sings from the front lines of uncoupling and unbelief. Mintz teaches us to read as if our lives were at stake. And they are.
–Ralph James Savarese, Grinnell College, author of See It Feelingly: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers, and the Schooling of a No-Good English Professor

Susannah B. Mintz is a Professor of English at Skidmore College. Author of the memoir Love Affair in the Garden of Milton: Poetry, Loss, and the Meaning of Unbelief (LSU Press, 2021), she has published extensively as a writer of creative nonfiction, with essays in Nashville Review, Clackamas, American Literary Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, Epiphany, Ninth Letter, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She was the winner of the 2014 South Loop National Essay Prize; a finalist for the 2010 William Allen nonfiction prize, the Epiphany chapbook contest in 2015, and the 2019 Cagibi essay prize; and a semi-finalist for the 2019 River Teeth nonfiction prize. Her work has received notable mention from Best American Essays 2010 and the Pushcart Prize Anthology 2018. A short memoir called “Match Dot Comedy” appeared as a Kindle Single in 2013. A specialist in disability studies and scholar of autobiography, she is also the author of four monographs, including Unruly Bodies: Life Writing by Women with Disabilities (2007), Hurt and Pain: Literature and the Suffering Body (2014), and The Disabled Detective: Sleuthing Disability in Contemporary Crime Fiction (Bloomsbury 2019), and co-editor of three critical volumes on disability and life writing.


How I Lost My Mother: A story of life, care, and dying
By Leslie Swartz

How I Lost My Mother is a deeply felt account of the relationship between a mother and son, and an exploration of what care for the dying means in contemporary society. The book is emotionally complex – funny, sad and angry – but above all, heartfelt and honest. It speaks boldly of challenges faced by all of us, challenges which are often not spoken about and hidden, but which deserve urgent attention. This is first and foremost a work of the heart, a reflection on what relationships mean and should mean. There is much in the book about relationships of care and exploitation in southern Africa, and about white Jewish identity in an African context. But despite the specific and absorbing references to places and contexts, the book offers a broader, more universal view. All parents of adult children, and all adults who have parents alive, or have lost their parents, will find much in this book to make them laugh, cry, think and feel.

Praise for the book:

  • How I Lost My Mother A story of life, care and dying Leslie Swartz This is an extraordinary memoir: refreshingly candid and self-critical, humorous and wise. It offers a compassionate account of a difficult mother-son relationship and delves deeply into the ethics of care. In his mother’s last years, Leslie hired and worked with her carers to help him look after his mother and in this memoir he documents and honours their work. The book makes an original contribution both to the genre of family memoirs and caring for the dying. — G. Thomas Couser, Professor Emeritus of English and founding director of the Disability Studies Program, Hofstra University, and author of, most recently, a memoir, Letter to My Father
  • With humour and tenderness Leslie Swartz writes about his late mother, Elsie, telling her life story and describing her with as much loving objectivity as one can have towards a parent. His intimate narrative shows how love is all about ‘losing’ a loved one in multiple ways over and over again. In this compelling memoir he also demonstrates how the important work of caring is too often invisible and goes unrecognised. — Colleen Higgs, author of my mother, my madness
  • It is precisely because the writing of this book is so deeply personal that it will resonate universally. This is a story of one man but so too is it the story of us all. It is brave, truthful and full of heart. — Rahla Xenopoulos, author of A Memoir of Love and Madness, Bubbles, Tribe and The Season of Glass

About the Author: Leslie Swartz is a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa best known for his work on disability studies, disability rights, and mental health issues. His memoir Able-Bodied: Scenes from a curious life (2010), received critical acclaim.

Leslie Swartz
Professor: Department of Psychology | Departement Sielkunde | Isebe LeSayikholoji
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Room 1023 Krotoa Building
Stellenbosch University
Private Bag X1 Matieland 7602, South Africa
e: | t: +27 21 808 3450 | f: +27 21 808 3584 | mobile: +27 82 459 3559


Oral Forms of Nigerian Autobiography and Life Stories by Adetayo Alabi. Routledge, 2021.

Oral Forms of Nigerian Autobiography and Life Stories discusses the oral life stories and poems that Africans, particularly the Yoruba people, have told about the self and community over hundreds of years.

Disproving the Eurocentric argument that Africans didn’t produce stories about themselves, the author showcases a vibrant literary tradition of oral autobiographies in Africa and the diaspora. The oral auto/biographies studied in this book show that stories and poems about individuals and their communities have always existed in various African societies and they were used to record, teach, and document history, culture, tradition, identity, and resistance. Genres covered in the book include the panegyric, witches’ and wizards’ narratives, the epithalamium tradition, the hunter’s chant, and Udje of the Urhobo.

Providing an important showcase for oral narrative traditions this book will be of interest to students, scholars, and researchers in African and Africana studies, literature and auto/biographical studies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Place of Orí (Head) and Some Foundational Texts on Oríkì

3. Oríkì Praise Tradition in Yoruba Music

4. Niyi Osundare, Oríkì, and the Oral Auto/biographical Form

5. “I of the Valiant Stock”: Yoruba Bridal Chant and the Auto/biographical Genre

6. “I am the hunter who kills elephants and baboons”: The Auto/biographical Component of the Hunters’ Chant

7. When Witches and Wizards Are Narrators: Oral Auto/biography, Magical Realism, and Memory

8. The Auto/biographical Images of Africa in Udje and Tanure Ojaide’s Poetry

9. On Seeing Africa for the First Time: Orality, Panegyric, Memory, and the Diaspora in Isidore Okpewho’s Call Me By My Rightful Name

10. It Was Oríkì for You: Contemporary Reincarnations of Oral Life Story Genre in the Academy


Adetayo Alabi teaches African and other world literatures and cultures at the University of Mississippi, USA


Oral Forms of Nigerian Autobiography and Life Stories is a brave and noble effort to identify and affirm the presence and role of an oral and aural way of being and knowing comprising a rich and nuanced ethical epistemology among the Yoruba and Urhobo people of Nigeria. Professor Adetayo Alabi’s heroic struggle against the unwarranted domination of one epistemology over another – intellectual and spiritual colonization – is inspiring in itself.

Rowland Abiodun, John C. Newton Professor of Art History and Black Studies, Amherst College, MA, USA. 

Oral Forms of Nigerian Autobiography and Life Stories foregrounds the oral creative process in Nigerian texts about the self and the community.  This innovative approach extends and challenges autobiographical genres and theories by situating orality as critical to their definitions and formations.  Alabi here simultaneously advances and extends our knowledge of orality, autobiography and African literature in a work that also contributes to the larger current academic decolonization processes, important in literature as in the larger intellectual schema.

Carole Boyce Davies, Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters and Professor of Africana Studies and Literatures in English, Cornell University, USA.


The Political Economy of Stigma: HIV, Memoir, Medicine, and Crip Positionalities
Ally Day
Ohio State UP, 2021

“In this groundbreaking book, Day builds on and extends key conversations about audience reception and reaction to memoir, motivations for reading and writing disabled lives, and the operation and maintenance of intersectional disability stigma. It is a must-read for scholars interested in life writing, textual circulation, disability studies, and humanistic approaches to medicine.” —Stephanie L. Kerschbaum, author of Toward a New Rhetoric of Difference

“This new theorization of stigma in relation to political economy is an important contribution to disability and crip studies, to literary studies, and to health humanities. Its innovative methods and its new concepts of ‘diagnostic’ and ‘differential reading’ are sure to stimulate discussion in these fields.” —Olivia Banner, author of Communicative Biocapitalism: The Voice of the Patient in Digital Health and the Health Humanities

In The Political Economy of Stigma, Ally Day offers a compelling critique of neoliberal medical practices in the US by coupling an analysis of HIV memoir with a critical examination of narrative medicine practice. Using insights from feminist disability studies and crip theory, Day argues that stories of illness and disability—such as HIV memoirs—operate within a political economy of stigma, which she defines as the formal and informal circulation of personal illness and disability narratives that benefits some while hindering others. On the one hand, this system decreases access to appropriate medical care for those with chronic conditions by producing narratives of personal illness that frame one’s relationship to structural inequality as a result of personal failure. On the other hand, the political economy of stigma rewards those who procure such narratives and circulate them for public consumption.
The political economy of stigma is theorized from three primary research sites: a reading group with women living with HIV, a reading group with AIDS service workers, and participant observation research and critical close reading of practices in narrative medicine. Ultimately, it is the women living with HIV who provide an alternative way to understand disability and illness narratives, a practice of differential reading that can challenge stigmatizing tropes and reconceptualize the creation, reception, and circulation of patient memoir.

Ally Day is Associate Professor at the University of Toledo.


Announcing H-Biography

by Jesse Draper – Interim Executive Director

H-Net proudly welcomes H-Biography to its family of nearly 200 networks, now available on the H-Net Commons. Read on and follow the links below for more information about this exciting new network!


H-Biography is an interdisciplinary and international network devoted to biography as an object and a method of scholarly research. H-Biography considers Biography Studies as a unique field, distinct from the related approaches of autobiography, life writing, and literary theory. As such, while the network will occasionally publicize biographies of individuals that represent exemplary theory, methods, scholarship, or writing style, its primary purpose is to allow for the discussion and dissemination of information relating to Biography Studies more broadly.

H-Biography Editorial Staff

Daniel R. Meister, Queens University – Network Editor

David Veltman, Biography Institute, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen – Network Editor

H-Biography Advisory Board

Hans Renders, Professor of History and Theory of Biography, Director Biography Institute, University of Groningen (Netherlands)

Billy Tooma, Documentary Filmmaker & Assistant Professor of English, Essex County College (US)

Barbara J. Messamore, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Fraser Valley (Canada)

Maryam Thirriard, Assistant Professor of English, Aix-Marseille Université (France)

Melanie Nolan, Professor of History, Australian National University; Director, National Centre of Biography; General Editor, Australian Dictionary of Biography (Australia)

All H-Biography content is freely accessible at:

You can contact the editors of H-Biography here:

A free account and subscription are required in order to receive discussion posts by email for all of our networks.  For assistance with creating accounts and managing subscriptions on the H-Net Commons:

For instructions to create an account in the Commons go to:

For instructions on subscribing to H-Biography go to:
For tutorials and assistance in using the H-Net Commons, visit H-Net’s Help Desk:

H-Biography is owned by H-Net, Humanities and Social Sciences Online. H-Net is a nonprofit, tax-exempt international network of scholars in the humanities and social sciences that creates and coordinates electronic networks, using a variety of media, and with a common objective of advancing humanities and social science teaching and research. H-Net was created to provide a positive, supportive, equalitarian public environment for the friendly exchange of ideas and scholarly resources.  It is hosted by the Department of History at Michigan State University.

For more information about H-Net, point your web browser to:


Life Writing, Volume 18, Issue 3, September 2021 (Special) is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

Self/Culture/Writing: Autoethnography in the 21st Century; Guest Editor: Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle

This new issue contains the following articles:

Autoethnography and Beyond: Colonialism, Immigration, Embodiment, and Belonging
Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle
Pages: 307-314 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1964920


Manthia Diawara’s Autoethnographic Forays in Memoir and Film from ‘Counter’ to ‘Strong’ to ‘Beyond’ | Open Access
Julia Watson
Pages: 317-335 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1930899

‘The Synergy Between You’: Mothers, Nannies, and Collaborative Caregiving in Contemporary Matroethnographies
Elizabeth Podnieks
Pages: 337-354 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1926880

Becoming a Settler Descendant: Critical Engagements with Inherited Family Narratives of Indigeneity, Agriculture and Land in a (Post)Colonial Context | Open Access
Cameo Dalley
Pages: 355-370 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1927493

Materialising the Decolonising Autobiography
Emily R.M. Lind
Pages: 371-383 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1930495

Spectator Curator: An Autoethnographic Tour of a Latinx in Canada
Luciana Erregue
Pages: 385-399 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1930093

On Being Impossible: Thoughts on Ethnicity, Embodiment and Kinship
May Friedman
Pages: 401-415 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1926870

Bitter/Love: A Mixed-Race Body Archive
Sonja Boon
Pages: 417-428 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1927483

Details Optional: An Account of Academic Promotion Relative to Opportunity
Agnes Bosanquet
Pages: 429-442 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1927492

Journalling in the Currents of Yin and Yang: Adrift in the Chinese Academic Job Market
Lingjuan Fan
Pages: 443-455 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1928812

Book Reviews Memories From the Frontline
by Jerry Palmer, Palgrave, London, 2018, 339 pp., ISBN978-3-319-78050-4
Sarah MacDonald
Pages: 459-462 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1616525

Growing up with God and Empire: A Postcolonial Analysis of Missionary Kid Memoirs
by Stephanie Vandrick, Bristol, Blue Ridge Summit, 2019, pp.141., ISBN-13:978-1-78892-232-6(hbk), ISBN-13:978-1-78892-231-9(pbk)
Andrea Simon-Maeda
Pages: 463-466 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1660040

Notes on the Flesh
by Shahd Alshammari, Malta, Faraxa Publishing, 2017, 113 pp., ISBN 978-99957-48-67-8
P. Boopathi
Pages: 467-470 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1658264

Anaïs Nin: A Myth of Her Own
by Clara Oropeza, Abingdon, Routledge, 2019, 130 pp., ISBN 9781138057395
Wayne E. Arnold
Pages: 471-474 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1669264


We are happy to announce that the European Journal of Life Writing has recently published a new cluster and a new book review:


Women’s Lives on Screen

Eugenie Theuer, ‘Mattering’ Women’s Lives on Screen: An Introduction.

Belén Vidal, New Women’s Biopics: Performance and the Queering of Herstor/ies.

Bethany Layne, ‘Full cause of weeping’: Affective Failure in The Queen (2006) and The Crown (2019).

Paulina Korzeniewska-Nowakowska, American Poverty and Social Rejection in Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya.

Timo Frühwirth e.a., ‘For better or for worse, there is history, there is the book and then there’s the movie’: Foregrounding and Marginalizing African American Women in the Film Hidden Figures (2016).

Kate Sutherland, Giving Voice to a Portrait: The Intersection of Gender, Race, and Law in Belle.

Kanchanakesi Warnapala, The Reluctant Wife: Ginnen Upan Seethala and Gendering Revolution.

Sylvie Pomiès-Maréchal, The Enduring Influence of Female Special Operations Executive Agent Biopics on Cultural Memory and Representations in France and Great Britain.

Marija Antic, Beyond the Voice of Egypt: Reclaiming Women’s Histories and Female Authorship in Shirin Neshat’s Looking for Oum Kulthum (2017).

Jaap Kooijman, What’s Whitney Got to Do with It: Black Female Triumph and Tragedy in the 2015 Lifetime Biopic Whitney.

Christina Schönberger-Stepien, Making Her Case: Dramatisation, Feminism, and the Law in the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biopic On the Basis of Sex.

Women’s Lives on Screen. Creative Section

Maria Hinterkörner, ‘The Great Scene That Never Happened’ – A Screenwriter’s Techniques of Blending Fact and Fiction in Creating a Compelling Character Arc in Biopics.

Book review

Christine Fischer, Anne Smith, Ina Lohr (1903-1983). Transcending the Boundaries of Early Music.

Dr. Petra van Langen
European Journal of Life Writing
Journal Manager

The European Journal of Life Writing is an open access e-journal, but editing and type setting do cost money.
Your financial support can help us to publish a wide array of valuable articles about life writing:

Newsletter Biography Institute

September 2021

[PDF version]

Colloquium and presentation biography Felix de Boeck
On September 23, David Veltman will present the first copy of his biography of Felix de Boeck to former governor Lodewijk de Witte. The presentation will be the start of a colloquium in the FeliXart Museum (Drogenbos, Belgium), devoted to the theme of ‘Uncomfortable histories in a contemporary context’. Six speakers were invited to tell something about their treatment of black pages in Belgian cultural history, including Virginie Devillez and Matthijs de Ridder.

Persian translation The ABC of Modern Biography
Sahar Vahdati Hosseinian recently published a Persian translation of The ABC of Modern Biography, the book that was written by Nigel Hamilton and Hans Renders in 2018. In trenchant, witty entries Hamilton and Renders explore the pitfalls and prospects of biography as a genre, in 26 letters of the alphabet: the ‘E’ is for ‘Ethics’ and ‘I’ is for ‘Identity’. Now people from Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan can read what’s in the ‘F’ is for ‘Facts’.

Daniel R. Meister and David Veltman start H-Biography
Biographies are written around the world, but an international platform for biographical research did not exist until today. Therefore, Daniel R. Meister (PhD Queens University, Canada) and David Veltman (RuG) started H-Biography, an interdisciplinary network that considers Biography Studies as a unique field, distinct from the related approaches of autobiography, life writing, and literary theory. Its primary purpose is to allow for the discussion and dissemination of information relating to Biography Studies more broadly. The editors welcome contributions in the form of reviews or essays.

Cover Fear of Theory ready
Hans Renders and David Veltman have compiled an edited volume under the title of Fear of Theory. Towards a New Theoretical Justification of Biography. Recently, the publication was announced by Brill. The volume consists of eighteen contributions by researchers from Australia, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Iceland, the Netherlands and the US.

Biographical research Groen van Prinsterer
Gertjan Schutte recently began his biographical research into the life of the nineteenth century Dutch politician Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer. The research focuses on the interface between the professional and the personal life of Groen. Schutte is working at the Theological University of the Reformed Churches at Kampen, the Netherlands. His promotors are prof. George Harinck (TU Kampen) and prof. Hans Renders (RuG).

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


A Book from A List Member–Mi María: Surviving the Storm, Voices from Puerto Rico

Launching on the four-year anniversary of Hurricane María, Mi María: Surviving the Storm, Voices from Puerto Rico is a new oral history book that shares seventeen first-person testimonies from Puerto Ricans that explore how government neglect impacts recovery, how communities come together in the wake of disaster, and how precarity and inequity are exacerbated on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

In this collection, readers will learn about ZAIRA, who survived the hurricane by floating on a patched air mattress for sixteen hours; NEYSHA, who gave birth prematurely in a clinic without electricity, running water, or a working phone; LOREL, who fed hundreds of people despite not receiving aid from the supply ships that docked minutes away from her neighborhood of La Perla in San Juan; CARLOS, a coffee farmer whose harvest and home were destroyed for the second time in his life; and many other survivors who used all that they had to help their communities through the hurricane and its long aftermath.

This book is part of an on-going public humanities project at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez that brings together hundreds of students, faculty members, and community partners to record, transcribe, translate, edit, and disseminate the stories of Puerto Rico. The volume is made possible by a partnership with Voice of Witness and Haymarket Books with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Modern Language Association.

For more information, contact Annaick Miller, Communications and Outreach Manager at Voice of Witness ( or follow this link to the book page at Haymarket Books:

You can also register for the free online bilingual book launch on September 16 at 5pm EST here:


Professor Ricia Anne Chansky, Ph.D.

University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

Director, Mi María: Puerto Rico after the Hurricane

Archivo de Respuestas Emergencias de Puerto Rico

Humanities Action Lab Faculty Fellow

Series Editor, Routledge Auto/Biography Studies

Editor, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies



Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 4, 2020

A Forum on Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains, Open-Forum Articles, and Reviews

The entire issue can be accessed on Project Muse here:

A Forum on Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains

Introduction: A Forum on Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison
Anna Poletti

This introduction to a forum of essays on Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison situates the book as a work of life writing and political theory, arguing it is a landmark moment in the evolution of life writing as a cultural, social, political, and epistemological practice. It introduces the essays that make up the forum, and situates Boochani’s text as a direct challenge to the genre of refugee memoir and its privatizing modes of reading.

Enduring Indigeneity and Solidarity in Response to Australia’s Carceral Colonialism
Crystal McKinnon

This essay engages with Behrouz Boochani’s critical documentation of the Manus Island prison as part of Australian society. The current practices of detention and torture of refugees and asylum seekers need to be understood as part of the system that has been founded upon the violent theft of Indigenous lands, and one that continues to perpetrate ongoing colonial violence against Indigenous people. Considering the experiences of Indigenous people and asylum seekers together reveals the logics of Australian colonialism, which operate through, and are sustained by, white supremacy. In spite of these conditions, Indigeneity endures settler colonialism. One way that people exist, persist, and resist (Kauanui) is through building solidarity and undertaking actions that are grounded in, and center, Indigenous sovereignty.

No Friend but the Mountains: How Should I Read This?
Gillian Whitlock

This essay turns to the paratexts of No Friend but the Mountains, and the question of how this book should be read in these margins of the text. Focusing on both peritexts and epitexts—Richard Flanagan’s “Foreword,” Omid Tofighian’s “Translator’s Tale” and “Reflections,” and a review of the novel by J. M. Coetzee, “Australia’s Shame”—it examines the ethical challenge to Australian readers at this threshold of interpretation, and asks what responses we might make as beneficiaries and implicated subjects, and as Southern readers.

From Mountains to Oceans: The Prison Narratives of Behrouz Boochani
Özlem Belçim Galip

The political autobiography No Friend but the Mountains revolves around the lived experiences of Behrouz Boochani, first as a Kurdish undocumented refugee, through his boat journey to Australia, and then as a detainee in an Australian offshore immigration detention center on Manus Island (Papua New Guinea). By considering diverse literary techniques and forms of expression and the dichotomy between poetic language and realistic mode, this essay analyzes Boochani’s reflections on the systematic violence and abuse in the prison and immigration system, and the “coloniality of power” in general from the perspective of a Kurd whose preoccupation with his cultural/national “identity” and “homeland” is greatly influenced by the traumatic experiences of war and conflicts that led him to flee Kurdistan. It also examines the influence of Kurdish oral and written literary traditions on his narration.

Kyriarchy, Nomopoly, and Patriarchal White Sovereignty
Maria Giannacopoulos

Behrouz Boochani’s political prison writings authored from Manus Prison from 2013 to 2019, especially his notion of kyriarchal power, strike at the heart of colonial Australia and its ongoing imperial ordering. The vast body of intellectual work Boochani produced during his imprisonment makes a powerful and embodied contribution to an already established and influential body of work produced in the last two decades that has articulated the patriarchal and imperializing function of Australian sovereignty, while drawing crucial links between Indigenous dispossession and refugee imprisonment. Australia’s history as a colonial state is indissociably bound to incarceration as a practice that is critical to the exercising of illegitimate and colonial sovereignty. This violence is traceable to the foundational and ongoing function of the colonial nomopoly.

Translation as Freedom, Experimentation, and Sharing: Omid Tofighian on Translating No Friend but the Mountains
Omid Tofighian interviewed by Stephanie Bennett

After the publication of No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison and the book being awarded the 2019 Victorian Prize for Literature, Behrouz Boochani and translator and collaborator Omid Tofighian (Farsi-English) were invited to speak at many festivals together, in addition to seminars, workshops, and other venues. A small number of events focused on translation, and in June 2019 Tofighian participated in two sessions at the Emerging Writers’ Festival in Melbourne, Australia. Stephanie Bennett, then the senior editor of RMIT’s magazine The Gazette, interviewed Tofighian.

“This place really needs a lot of intellectual work”: Behrouz Boochani’s Innovation in Life Writing as a Transnational Intellectual Practice
Anna Poletti

This essay examines the absence of mobile phone technology from the narrative of No Friend but the Mountains in order to reflect on the centrality of mobile digital technology for the intellectual work the book undertakes. Examining a key scene from No Friend but the Mountains where telecommunications technology is represented as a limited resource within Manus Prison, it draws on media theory and life writing theory to argue that the affordances of mobile digital technologies enabled the emergence of a new, collaborative form of life writing that both affirms the value of an individual life, while also making powerful claims regarding the collective suffering and dehumanization at the heart of Australia’s mandatory detention policy.

Open-Forum Articles

Autofiction, Autobiografiction, Autofabrication, and Heteronymity: Differentiating Versions of the Autobiographical
Max Saunders

Descriptions of “autofiction” have been unhelpfully imprecise. This article uses Stephen Reynolds’s 1906 essay “Autobiografiction” to argue that we need both terms for a fuller picture of the various ways writers can combine autobiography and fiction. The logic of the analysis is shown to require the other two concepts to complete the proposed new taxonomy.

“This book belongs to”: Trauma, (Bio)Degradation, and the Law in Visual and Narrative Diaries
Jessica Gildersleeve and Beata Batorowicz

Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2002), Nan Goldin’s photo diary The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1986), and Tracey Emin’s intimate art installations My Bed (1998) and Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995 (1995) complicate the genres of life writing and confessional art. These artistic narratives both degrade and are responsible to “truth” as a means of bearing witness to trauma.


Metabiography: Reflecting on Biography, by Caitríona Ní Dhúill
Reviewed by Pamela Graham

Handbook of Autobiography/Autofiction, edited by Martina Wagner-Egelhaaf
Reviewed by Wilhelm Hemecker and Nicolas Paulus

Memory and Autobiography: Explorations at the Limits, by Leonor Arfuch, translated by Christina MacSweeney
Reviewed by Ksenija Bilbija

Autofiction in English, edited by Hywel Dix
Reviewed by Aude Haffen

Biography in Theory: Key Texts with Commentaries, edited by Wilhelm Hemecker and Edward Saunders
Reviewed by Joanny Moulin

Witnessing Girlhood: Toward an Intersectional Tradition of Life Writing, by Leigh Gilmore and Elizabeth Marshall
Reviewed by Catherine Brist

My Brilliant Friends: Our Lives in Feminism, by Nancy K. Miller
Reviewed by Mary Beth Rose

Women Activating Agency in Academia: Metaphors, Manifestos and Memoir and Lived Experiences of Women in Academia: Metaphors, Manifestos and Memoir, edited by Alison L. Black and Susanne Garvis
Reviewed by Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle

Autoethnography and Feminist Theory at the Water’s Edge: Unsettled Islands, by Sonja Boon, Lesley Butler, and Daze Jefferies
Reviewed by Astrida Neimanis

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, by Jenn Shapland
Reviewed by Carlos Dews

The Comics of Julie Doucet and Gabrielle Bell: A Place Inside Yourself, edited by Tahneer Oksman and Seamus O’Malley
Reviewed by Martha Kuhlman

The Graphic Lives of Fathers: Memory, Representation, and Fatherhood in North American Autobiographical Comics, by Mihaela Precup
Reviewed by Carolyn Kyler

Histories of the Self: Personal Narratives and Historical Practice, by Penny Summerfield
Reviewed by Naiara Ardanaz-Iñarga

Lives of the Dead Poets: Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, by Karen Swann
Reviewed by Tadakazu Suzuki

Literary Impostors: Canadian Autofiction of the Early Twentieth Century, by Rosmarin Heidenreich
Reviewed by Marjorie Worthington

Istanbul – Kushta – Constantinople: Narratives of Identity in the Ottoman Capital, 1830–1930, edited by Christoph Herzog and Richard Wittmann
Reviewed by A. Ebru Akcasu

Ecologies of Witnessing: Language, Place, and Holocaust Testimony, by Hannah Pollin-Galay
Reviewed by Ellen G. Friedman

Anaesthetics of Existence: Essays on Experience at the Edge, by Cressida J. Heyes
Reviewed by Helga Lenart-Cheng

Biography and History in Film, edited by Thomas S. Freeman and David L. Smith
Reviewed by Ian Scott


The European Journal of Life Writing has recently published two new articles, two new clusters and a new book review:


Nancy M. Arenberg, ‘Breaking the Silence: A Testimonial of Resistance to Jewish Invisibility in Simone Veil’s Une jeunesse au temps de la Shoah’.

Eveline Kilian, Migrating Objects and Wanderers between Worlds: Cosmopolitan Selves in Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes’.


Remembering Late Socialism

Agnieszka Mrozik and Anja Tippner, ‘Remembering Late Socialism in Autobiographical Novels and Autofictions from Central and Eastern Europe: Introduction’.

Agnieszka Mrozik, ‘Growing Up as a Girl in Late Socialist Poland: The Personal, the Political and Class in Feminist Quasi-Autobiographical Novels by Izabela Filipiak and Joanna Bator’.

Anja Tippner, ‘”How it all turned out alright”: Autofiction as Memory Form in Irena Dousková’s Novels about Childhood and Youth in Post-1968 Czechoslovakia’.

Doris Mironescu and Andreea Mironescu, ‘Maximalist Autofiction, Surrealism and Late Socialism in Mircea Cãrtãrescu’s Solenoid’.

Ksenia Robbe, ‘Reanimating/Resisting Late Soviet Monstrosity: Generational Self-Reflection and Lessons of Responsibility in Alexei Ivanov’s Pischeblok [The Food Unit]’.

The Self in Verse

Johannes Görbert, Marie Lindskov Hansen and Jeffrey Charles Wolf, ‘The Self in Verse. Exploring Autobiographical Poetry. Editorial’.

Jutta Müller-Tamm, ‘The Mask in Verse. Imaginary Poets and Their Autobiographical Poetry (Jan Wagner, Die Eulenhasser in den Hallenhäusern)’.

Carmen Bonasera, ‘Bodies and self-disclosure in American female confessional poetry’.

Martin Kindermann, ‘Beyond the Threshold – Autobiography, Dialogic Interaction, and Conversion in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s and W. Abdullah Quilliam’s Poetry’.

Stefan Kjerkegaard, ‘A Lyrical ‘I’ Beyond Fiction. Yahya Hassan and Autobiographical Poetry in Denmark After Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle’.

Book review

Martyn Lyons, ‘Philippe Artières, Un Séminariste assassin: L’affaire Bladier, 1905’.

Dr. Petra van Langen
European Journal of Life Writing
Journal Manager

The European Journal of Life Writing is an open access e-journal, but editing and type setting do cost money.
Your financial support can help us to publish a wide array of valuable articles about life writing:



Call for contributions – Palgrave Studies in Mediating Kinship, Representation and Difference

This book series brings together analyses of familial and kin relationships with emerging and new technologies which allow for the creation, maintenance and expansion of family. We use the term “family” as a working truth with a wide range of meanings in an attempt to address the feelings of family belonging across all aspects of social location: ability, age, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, gender identity, body size, social class and beyond. This book series aims to explore phenomena located at the intersection of technologies including those which allow for family creation, migration, communication, reunion and the family as a site of difference. The individual volumes in this series will offer insightful analyses of these phenomena in media, social media, literature, popular culture and corporeal settings.

Possible book topics include:

• the use of technology and migration and family composition and disjunction; the ways that technologies may both push and pull kin together/apart

• the range of technology use across literal and figurative space including intersections of geography, race, age, poverty, gender and beyond

• the impact of technological absence: the ways that technologies may be taken for granted in particular environments (privileged nations; privileged subject positions) and may be denied or inaccessible in other spaces or places

• technologies of family creation and maintenance: the use of alternate reproductive technologies; the use of communication technologies to share information

• discussions of race and racialization in the context of kinship relationships and intersected with connections to technologies; hypervisibility of racism including police brutality; activist circles as forms of kinship

• queer family creation and representation through technology; making queer family visible through traditional, popular and social media; alternate family connections including non-normative parenting arrangements (more than two parents, multiple different shades of parenting); “new” family through donor sibling relationships

• technologies of class mobility, including the impact of smartphone technology on mediating/curtailing aspects of the digital divide; shifting family relationships through generational moves in class status

• fat family: the ways that narratives of obesity have had impacts on the creation and representation of family (for example: obese women who are denied reproductive technologies or access to international adoption); the ways these rhetorics have shifted differently in different jurisdictions; representation of fat family; intersection of fat and working class identities in popular culture

• trans families: both in terms of gender identity but also in terms of other families that “confound”— families that do not “match” one another, or that otherwise transgress normative models

• technologies of disability: the use of technology to enhance or bolster independence, the ways that disabled people are seen as incapable of parenting; on the other hand, the technologies which come into play around parenting children with disability, both prenatally and once children are born; representation of disability and family (fetishization and the perceived martyrdom of parents)

Please send inquiries to AND

Prof. Dr. Silvia Schultermandl (she/her)

Chair of American Studies

WWU Münster

Johannisstrasse 12-20

48143 Münster




New Directions in Life Narrative explores the concept of life narrative across the mediums of written work, oral narratives, photography, documentary film, visual art, performance and social media. The series will nurture theoretical, methodological and interpretive innovation in life writing research, supporting projects that apply new combinations of philosophy, critical theory, and methodology to the study of life narrative, providing new ways of reading diverse and always evolving forms – an important aspect of the series given the ever-changing landscape and parameters of study in this area. It will advance interdisciplinary approaches to life narrative, combining the insights of life writing scholarship with those of cognate fields such as art history, history, anthropology, comparative literary studies, law, sociolinguistics, media studies, medicine, philosophy, psychology and sociology. The series will have an international scope that mirrors its community, offering a forum for the study of works in translations not previously studied as well as publishing studies of non-Anglophone works.

Series Editors:

Kate Douglas is a Professor in English at Flinders University, Australia. She is the author of Contesting Childhood: Autobiography, Trauma and Memory (2010) and the co-author of Life Narratives and Youth Culture: Representation, Agency and Participation (2016; with Anna Poletti). Her edited collections include (with Ashley Barnwell) Research Methodologies for Auto/Biography Studies (2019). Kate is the Head of the Steering committee for the International Auto/Biography Association’s Asia-Pacific chapter.

Anna Poletti is Associate Professor at Utrecht University, Netherlands, and co-editor of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly. They are the author of Stories of the Self: Life Writing after the Book (2020), Life Narratives and Youth Culture: Representation, Agency and Participation (2016; with Kate Douglas), and Intimate Ephemera: Reading Young Lives in Australian Zine Culture (2008). With Julie Rak, they co-edited Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online (2014).

John David Zuern is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, USA and a co-editor of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly. His work on life writing and digital literature has appeared in Comparative Literature and (with Laurie McNeill) in the volume Research Methodologies for Auto/Biography Studies (2019).

Editorial Board :

• Dr Ebony Coletu (Penn State University, USA)
• Dr Ana Belén Martínez García (University of Navarra, Spain)
• Associate Professor Claire Lynch (Brunel University, UK)
• Professor Pramod K Nayar (The University of Hyderabad, India)
• Dr Nick Tembo (The University of Malawi)
• Professor Jianling Liu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China)
• Professor Gerardo Necoechea (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico)
• Dr Laurie McNeill (University of British Columbia, Canada)

Do you have a monograph proposal that would fit this exciting new series?

Submissions can be sent to: Lucy Brown Commissioning Editor, Literary Studies and Creative Writing Bloomsbury Publishing:
We welcome proposals from scholars who are interested in developing English translations of their scholarship.

dr. Anna Poletti
Associate Professor in English
Co-editor, Biography: an interdisciplinary quarterly
Co-editor, New Directions in Life Narrative series (Bloomsbury Academic)
Department of Languages, Literature and Communication, Utrecht University Trans 10 3512 JK Utrecht, The Netherlands

A special issue of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, now available online for free

“We Are Maunakea: Aloha ʻĀina Narratives of Protest, Protection, and Place”

Aloha pumehana. Guest editors Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla and the editorial team of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly are proud to present a special issue on the lifewriting strategies of the kiaʻi (protectors) who gathered at Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu in the summer of 2019 to defend Maunakea against desecration by the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

This special issue features first-hand accounts, academic reflections, creative works, photography, and interviews with kiaʻi from the 2019 front lines and members of the media team.

“We Are Maunakea: Aloha ʻĀina Narratives of Protest, Protection, and Place” is now available on Project Muse.

The entire issue can be accessed for free at this link:


Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly volume 43, number 3, 2020

We Are Maunakea: Aloha ʻĀina Narratives of Protest, Protection, and Place

Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla, guest editors

In the summer of 2019, kiaʻi (protectors) gathered at Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu to defend Maunakea, a sacred mountain, against desecration by the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Thousands gathered at Ala Hulu Kupuna, or Mauna Kea Access Road. Daily protocols were led by cultural practitioners and long-time protectors of Maunakea, intergenerational Native Hawaiian leadership was developed and empowered on Hawaiian terms, a community kitchen was organized, Puʻuhuluhulu University was established as an actual Hawaiian place of learning, and a collective commitment to ʻāina and kapu aloha rooted all who arrived and all who continue to stay in this movement.

The 2019 stand was also an unprecedented opportunity to witness the battle of narratives, as mainstream media and highly paid public relations firms were outmaneuvered by Kanaka- and ally-authored life writing.

This special issue features first-hand accounts, academic reflections, creative works, photography, and interviews with kiaʻi from the 2019 front lines and members of the media team.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Mana from the Mauna
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

On the Cattle Guard
Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua

“It Could’ve Been You, It Could’ve Been You, It Could’ve Been
So Many of Us”: Interview with Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

Mele and ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi on the Mauna
Kainani Kahaunaele

At the Feet of a Mauna
Noʻeau Peralto

Statement on Maunakea from Hui Mālama i ke Ala ʻŪlili
Noʻeau Peralto and Board Members of huiMAU

“Create Abundance Right Here”: Interview with
Haley Kailiehu and Noʻeau Peralto
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

Ea: Lessons in Breath, Life, and Sovereignty from Mauna Kea
Emalani Case

Stories from the Mauna, Ku‘u One Hānau
Kawena Kapahua

Aloha Wale Mauna Kea, Aloha Wale Kuʻu Poʻe Hoapili Kiaʻi
ma ke Anuanu
Marie Alohalani Brown

Mākua: A Creation Story
leilani portillo

Kaʻala: A Creation Story

“It Is Okay to Spit Fire on Our Oppressors”: Interview with
leilani portillo and Punahele
Noʻu Revilla

“We’re Asking You to Remember Why We’re Here”: Interview with Joy Enomoto
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

Mālama Mauna: An Ethics of Care Culture and Kuleana
Māhealani Ahia

Makakū Mauna: Photos from the Mountain

“Filling in Puka”: Interview with Ryan “Gonzo” Gonzalez
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

“I Wanted to Show the Joy”: Interview with Marie Eriel Hobro
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

“You’re Here Now”: Interview with Mikey Inouye
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

“It May Have Been through My Hands, But That’s All the Work
of the Mauna, Not Me”: Interview with Kanaiʻa Nakamura
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

“We Were Being Who We Are, And That Was the Story”:
Interview with Kēhaunani Abad
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla

Selected Sources for Further Research

Paige Rasmussen
Managing Editor
The Center for Biographical Research
Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
1960 East-West Road, Biomed B104
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-3774

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Please consider donating to the European Journal of Life Writing

Dear IABA List Subscriber,

This year we are celebrating the tenth birthday of the European Journal of Life Writing, which was founded at the Free University in Amsterdam in 2011. We are very happy and proud to let you know that the Journal has gone from strength to strength, with a record number of 53 peer reviewed published articles in 2020, including book reviews and creative work on the subject of life writing.

The European Journal of Life Writing, which is published by the University of Groningen Press, is an open access, peer reviewed journal, featuring articles on all aspects of life writing within a broad European context. The Journal is produced on a voluntary basis by the Journal Manager, the Editors and the External Reviewers. Authors are not asked for Article Processing Charges (APC’s), and readers can read and download all articles for free.

In this budget-friendly way, the EJLW has developed into a flourishing open access, peer reviewed journal, that is indexed in most of the important bibliographies and directories.

However, as the number of publications continues to grow, the work of the journal manager and of the review editors is increasing as well. This makes it impossible for them to maintain their work on a solely unpaid, voluntary basis. Apart from this, money is required for yearly editors’ meetings, and for expenses like obtaining copy rights of illustrations.

We therefore urgently need financial help to continue publishing one of the most popular open access scholarly journals on life writing, offering a platform to students and scholars, independent or university based.

Please consider donating to support our work.

For European scholars, your donation – any amount helps, but may we suggest a minimum of € 50 – can be transferred to: Stichting European Journal of Life Writing, Rooseveltlaan 207 III, 1079 AS Amsterdam, the Netherlands. IBAN: NL61 RABO 0328 1078 59; BIC: RABONL2U.

We know from past experience that those not in Europe who wish to contribute find the process daunting, and the money transfer fees prohibitive. What we would suggest is that you find a European friend who can donate for you, with reimbursement worked out between you, or to plan on contributing when next in Europe–ideally in June 2022, at the IABA International conference in Turku, Finland, or perhaps at the next IABA Europe conference, planned for 2023 in Poland.

Whatever the arrangements, thank you very much for your great help and support!

Dr. Petra van Langen

Journal Manager


Revista Nós – Cultura, Estética e Linguagens – Volume 6 / Número 1. Dossiê: Imagens Auto/Biográficas na História e na Prática Artística

A Revista Nós, em mais uma edição, colocou-se em desafio ao articular duas áreas de conhecimento – a história e as artes – em torno de um tema: a auto/biografia. A chamada para o dossiê Imagens Auto/Biográficas na História e na Prática Artística convocou pesquisadoras e pesquisadores para pensar o tema a partir de seus próprios eixos de investigação. O objetivo foi fomentar discussões pertinentes à exploração do campo das histórias de vida que impacta de maneira transdisciplinar as humanidades.

Publicado: 2021-05-27

Newsletter Biography Institute

May 2021

[PDF version]

David Veltman defends his thesis

The public defense of the PhD-thesis ‘Sterven in het bed waarin ik geboren ben’. Een biografie van Felix de Boeck (1898-1995) will take place on July 5th. The artist and farmer De Boeck had an important influence on Belgian twentieth century cultural history. Due to the corona measures, the ceremony will take place online. Veltman was the first to use a large number of letters that were sent to De Boeck during his life. In his research, Veltman tried to relate the ‘unique’ mentality of De Boeck to that of his contemporaries. A video was uploaded to Youtube in which Veltman tells about his biography of Felix de Boeck (English captions available). After the defense, the book will be available in the bookshops.

Biography Institute hosts research seminar Biography & History

The MA-course Biography & History will be given by members of the Biography Institute during the first semester of the next academic year. For more information about enrollment (also for contract students) and the content of the seminar, see the flyer and the section Courses on the website of the Biography Institute.

PhD-defense Hans van der Jagt on June 24

Hans van der Jagt will defend on June 24, 13.45 hrs. his PhD thesis at the Free University, Amsterdam. Guests and other interested people can attend the ceremony live. Van der Jagt conducted his research under supervision of prof. George Harinck (Free University) and prof. Hans Renders. The thesis is about the moral of Dutch imperialism in the Dutch East Indies, Surinam and the Caribbean Islands during the governance of minister and governor-general A.W.F. Idenburg (1861-1935). The study analyses changing colonial relationships and geopolitical developments.

Boris van Haastrecht hired as PhD student biography P.J. Oud

A suitable candidate has been found to conduct PhD research into the life of P.J. Oud, former mayor of Rotterdam and famous member of the Dutch liberal party. Boris van Haastrecht will conduct his research under supervision of prof. Gerrit Voerman of the Documentation Centre Dutch Political Parties and prof. Hans Renders of the Biography Institute.

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

Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies
No.15, Autumn 2020
Center for Life Writing, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
Editor’ note


[Special Section: Interview]

Biography, Biofiction and Postmodernist Biofiction:
An Interview with David Lodge……Chen Wenyu

[Comparative Biography]

Transcending Historical and Biographical Truth: Shakespeare’s Revelation to Contemporary Chinese Writers……Wang Ning
Poetic Heart and Sincere Love Entangled in the Conventions: Comparison of the Love Letters Written by Xu Zhimo and Zhu Xiang……Liu Ping
The “Traitor” of Impressionism: Cezanne in the Multi-prism……Shi Qiqi

[Theory Studies]

Debate On “Granite And Rainbow”: A Dialogue Between Andre Maurois And Virginia Woolf on Biographical Art……Ye Jian
Cross Verification and Intercommunication between Literature and History:On Qian Zhongshu’s Criticism of Chen Yinke’s Historical Research……Zhao Lingling
On the Public Persona of Political Biographee: With Parallel Lives as an Example……Mao Xu

[Text Studies]

Profiles in Backlight: The Group Portraits of Literary Writers in Taisho Period Depicted in Akutagawa’s A Collection of Short Lives……Chen Lingling

[Autobiography Studies]

The Challenge of Contemporary French Autobiographical Theory: The Imaginary Autobiography of Patrick Modiano……Tang Yuqing
The Virtue Narration in The 40 Years of Stage Life……Cao Lei
Berlin Childhood: Fragmentary Writing of Autobiography and the Theme of Salvation……Li Yongqing, Hao Xujiang

[Memoir Studies]

Public Memory, Memoir, and the Shoah: Narrating Inherited Trauma…… Daphne Desser

[Image Biography]

Visual Memory: An Outline of Western Autographics……Xu Meng
An Absolute Album: Photography in Marguerite Duras’s L’Amant……Jin Wenxin

[History of Life Writing]

The Main Features of the Biographical Appraisals of the Monks in the Six Dynasties ……Yang Chaolei
From a Layman to a Sage and the Return to Secularity: The Autobiographical Writing of Jianyue Duti the Monk……Wu Yuecong

[Subject Studies]

Shaping of Biographical Subject’s Image and Examination of Biographical Doubts: The Research on Lu Yao’s Biographies ……Wang Renbao
1900 in Eruption: Toward Anti-ecoimperialism Theory of Mark Twain’s Last Decade……Lin Jiazhao()

[Life Writing Materials]

Historical Reality behind Biography and Literature Illustration: Two Years in the Forbidden City Confirmed by an illustration from Liao Zhai Tu Shuo……Wang Xiaona

[Film Biography]

A Literature Review on Biopic……Fu Yingjie

Instructions to Contributors

From the Editor

Instructions to Contributors

Life writing studies have moved onto the central stage in the academia and gained ever more attention both in and outside China. As the first scholarly journal in the field of China, the biannual journal Modern Life Writing Studies intends to fill up the blank of life writing studies in China, provide a venue for scholars all over the world, attract and promote specialists in the field.
Aiming to keep abreast of the cutting edge of life writing research, Our journal seeks to, in modern views and perspectives, explore various topics of life writing in China and in the world, with almost 20 sections included, such as Interview, Comparative Biography, Theory Study, History of Life Writing, Text Study, Autobiography Study, Diary Study, Subject Study, Film Biography, Book Reviews, Life Writing Materials, From the Life Writer, etc.
Ever since its appearance in 2013, our journal has been well-received by scholars at home and abroad and fundedby a steady grant from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is exerting increasingly greater influence in academia with a due wide positive response. In 2017, our journal was included in CSSCI (Chinese Social Science Citation Index), and listed in the international academic literature or included in the annual annotated bibliography by world prestigious universities.
Our journal accepts both Chinese and English submissions. All the articles will be subject to anonymous peer review.

Submissions are welcome from both Chinese and international researchers. Simultaneous submissions are not accepted. English papers should be between 4,000 and 7,000 words of text in length (including notes), while English book reviews are about 2,500 words. Full-length articles take up most part of the journal, but short essays with originality and fresh ideas are also welcome.

Submission Guidelines
All written submissions should be formatted according to the eighth edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. All submissions should include a 100-word abstract both in Chinese and English, keywords (less than 5), a 70–word biographical statement, and works cited. Please adhere to the following requirements:
•   Double spacing, Times New Roman, 12–point font
•   One-inch margins
•   Only Microsoft Word doc or docx files will be accepted
•  Citations should be provided in parenthetical reference followed by “Works Cited”.
•  Endnotes are preferred if there are any.

Submissions should be emailed in Word format to the editor Each contributor will get two complimentary copies once his/her paper is published.

Our journal is based at SJTU Center for Life Writing. We welcome suggestions and proposals, from which we believe our journal will surely benefit.

From the Editor
This issue features an unusual context when the world is haunted by Covid-19 and the Coronavirus death toll reached over 800,000. To the extent that life writing functions as the monument of human life, as the authors and researchers of life writing, we hereby express our deepest sympathy on the passing of the victims and come to be aware of our duties.
Chen Wenyu’s discussion of David Lodge’s biographical fiction was published in Issue No. 12 of our journal and the section of interview includes her interview with the novelist. The questions in the interview are concise and carefully designed. As the forerunner of biographical fiction, Lodge’s replies are clear and authoritative. This is a valuable interview on biographical fiction.
The section “Comparative Biography” encompasses a variety of topics. “Shakespeare und kein Ende!” is what Goethe commented on Shakespeare in literary works and dramas and applies to life writing as well. Our journal has published many papers on Shakespeare’s life writing, while Wang Ning’s “Transcending Historical and Biographical Truth” is his advice to Chinese life biographers on the basis of Shakespeare’s historical writing. In light of New Historicism, Wang argues that literary biographies should transcend biographical truth by comparing biographical texts widely. In the context of a forthcoming reform in China’s biographies, his advice is timely but many theoretical and practical issues need further discussion.
Liu Ping bases her research on her comparison of the love letters written by Xu Zhimo and Zhu Xiang. They are both representatives of modern Chinese poets in the last century and both express their love, iconoclasm and the conflict between ideal and reality in their poetic letters. Through the perusal of the texts, Liu attributes the different styles of the love letters to circumstances and characteristics and identifies what they share in common–poetic heart and sincere love entangled in the conventions
Shi Qiqi compares the different images of Cezanne the French Post-Impressionist painter in his three biographies, and then analyzes the complicated relations of this artist to other genres and his artistic ideals. The three biographies involved are of different types, hence increasing the difficulty of comparison. Nevertheless, her effort enriches the understanding of Cezanne.
The section of “Theory Study” concerns several famous figures, e.g. Maurois and Woolf, who have both contributed immensely to the discipline of life writing and share the life-writing concepts in common and are thus deemed as the representatives of the New Biography in Europe in the last century. Despite the fact that enormous researches have been made on them by the academic community, Ye Jian’s paper, “Debate On ‘Granite and Rainbow’” makes an innovative effort to discuss and analyze their theoretical difference to make a better understanding of them.
Zhao Lingling’s “Cross Verification and Intercommunication between Literature and History” starts the exploration of the relations between literature and history from Qian Zhongshu’s critique of Chen Yinke and argues that history and biography should be understood in the context of the space and time of the writer through the “sympathetic understanding.” Zhao’s argument is widely accepted in the academic community, but she enjoys wide horizon and her wide range of quotations are enlightening.
Life writing study develops in light of new concepts and approaches, such as the application of the concept “identity” in this century as a boost to the life writing study. Mao Xu borrows “public persona,” a popular concept in the modern popular culture, which means “highlighting and stressing the flat character by attaching a label to him/her.” Mao analyzes the “public persona” of the three Roman statesmen and President Reagan as depicted by Plutarch and Morris respectively. Whether this concept is conducive to deepening the understanding of the biographee is open to your discussion.
The section of “Text Study” includes a discussion of a Japanese biography. Howes’s essay on biobits published on our previous issue appeals to our readers’ interests. Chen Lingling argues that Akutagawa’s A Collection of Short Lives written in the previous century falls into the category of “biobits” and characterizes the biography collection as “profiles in backlight.” Her examination on the aesthetic level is a good attempt at short biography study.
Tang Yuqing’s essay published in the section of Autobiography Study deserves consideration. Philippe Lejeune’s concept of the autobiographical pact laid the foundation of modern autobiographical theories and exerted influence globally over half a century ago. Controversies over this concept, however, have occurred as well. Modiano the winner of Nobel Prize for literature is among the challengers and names his fiction as “imaginary autobiography” as an attempt to argue for the possibility of escaping from the traditional categories of autobiography and fiction. Tang’s critique shows us the current evolution of French autobiographical theories and acquaints us with many thought-provoking issues.
The 40 Years of Stage Life by Mei Lanfang has been published for many years and faded in people’s memory. Cao Lei, however, places this autobiography into the specific historical period, determines its status and analyzes the “virtue narration”, proving that more research is needed on Chinese life writing in 1950s and 1960s.
Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood is his memory fragments in his late years of his childhood in the form of a collection of beautiful prose, so it is popular among readers. Li Yongqing and Hao Xujiang’s essay focuses on the signification of the fragmented form and the theme of salvation. Whether the abstract philosophical interpretation is conducive to better understanding a philosopher is an interesting question.
Increasing interests have been shown to the healing power of life writing, as is evident in the essays published on our journal on this topic. Daphne Desser’s “Public Memory, Memoir, and the Shoah: Narrating Family and Inherited Trauma” elaborates on this topic too. To escape from Nazi’s holocaust, her Jewish family were exiled from Netherlands to the UK and Canada. Through her examination of her family history and the memoirs of two second-generation Holocaust survivors, she proves that these first-person accounts of inherited trauma represent rhetorical acts of resistance and demonstrate the persuasive and healing power of breaking the silence.
The combination of images and literature and the emergence of the image biography are important cultural phenomena currently. Autographics popular in some Western countries are particularly eye-catching. Xu Meng’s “Visual Memory” briefly reviews the history, representative works and status quo of study of autographics. L’Amant, the novel by French writer Marguerite Duras, made a great impact upon the adaption into a movie. Jin Wenxin filled the gap by exploring the photography in it, which is neglected by Chinese academic community to a great extent, to analyze the new narrative pattern and the value of the “textual-image biography.” Both essays were selected by our reviewers in anonymous review and written by M. A. candidates. We are glad with their achievements for modern life writing as an emerging discipline and young scholars’ participation is urgently needed.
Two essays are published in the section of History of Life Writing and both focus on monk biography. “Biographical appraisal” was a prominent feature of the society and the literature in the Six Dynasties and exerted an influence on monk biography, in which the biographical subject’s personality and manners were depicted and appraised briefly. Yang Chaolei is proficient with reading monk biographical texts, examining the content and characteristics of the biographical appraisals and revealing the significance of eminent monks’ acquaintance with celebrities and contribution to the Sinicization of Buddhism. In addition, the biographical appraisal is a notable historical and cultural phenomenon, just like the “epiphany” of Zen School of Buddhism, but deviates from the mainstream of biographical development, i.e. characterization by detailed speeches and acts.
Wu Yuecong’s research on A Casual Talk of a Dream, the autobiography by monk Jianyue Duti in the Ming Dynasty. As an autobiography, this is unusual among monk auto/biography. Wu examines the life stories, religious practice and mental development of this eminent monk and summarizes the monk’s life-long career and review of the past in his late years into “from a layman to a sage” and “the return to secularity.” This an accurate comment on the main characters and historical value of the autobiography.
Two important authors are involved in the section of Subject Study. One is Lu Yao, a figure of interest to both the life-writing community and readers and a dozen of biographies have been written for him. Wang Renbao discovers differences, contradictions and omissions through the close reading of these works. These issues concern the complexity of Lu’s personality and the understanding of his works and call attention of Lu’s biographers and researchers, so they should not be ignored or understated.
Lin Jiazhao analyzes the social activities Mark Twain participated in his last decade and the resulting intellectual change. After his productive peak, this decade is the continual of Twain’s past in lifestyle and thinking, so the knowledge of these issues will enable us to further understand his representative works.
The section of Life Writing Materials features Wang Xiaona’s interesting effort. In Liao Zhai Tu Shuo, Empress Dowager Cixi’s favorite picture book, an illustration depicts Jesus as a convicted ghost in hell, kneeling down for salvation from Kuan Yin (Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara). This is further supported by Cixi’s different attitudes to Kuan Yin and Christianity in Princess Derling’s biographical account, heralding the tumults in China’s history from a particular perspective.
The essays previously published in the section of Film Biography are mostly about specific films, but Fu Yingjie’s is a literature review in English of film biography study and broadens our horizon and provides materials for further study. In our view, the conventional approaches to film do not apply to the study of the film biography, which is a cultural symbol of the era. Instead, the study of the film biography should be combined with the popular cultural study to break up the generic boundary.

August, 2020

Shen Chen
School of Humanities, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai,China,200240


Life Writing, Volume 18, Issue 2, June 2021 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:

Articles The Air that I Breathe: Surviving the Loss of the Communication Senses Through Narrative Writing
Annmaree Watharow
Pages: 171-180 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1570582


‘To Unearth the Layers of Forgetting’: Reading Boy, Lost as a Postmemoir
Cheryl O’Byrne
Pages: 181-193 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1608492

‘Mother Weight Carried across Borders’: Migrant Materiality and the Maternal in Meena Alexander’s Fault Lines: A Memoir (2003)
Szidonia Haragos
Pages: 195-208 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1641880

Disclosing the Self: 1956 Hungarian Student Refugees Creating Autobiographies for University Scholarships in the USA
Vera Sheridan
Pages: 209-224 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1644210

Youth Matters: Shedding Light on Displacement in Syrian Girls’ Memoirs
Alberta Natasia Adji
Pages: 225-241 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1658505

The Milner Method: Marion Milner and Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical cures
Emilia Halton-Hernandez
Pages: 243-260 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1717912

The Dialogical Self: Elements of Life Writing in the Works of Hannah Arendt
Samantha C. Grayck
Pages: 261-279 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1723183

Reviews Exile and Expatriation in Modern American and Palestinian Writing
by Ahmad R. Qabaha, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, 250+XIII pp., US $ 63,06 (EBook), ISBN: 978-3-319-91415-2, US $ 80, 24 (Paperback), ISBN 978-3-319-91414-5
Bilal Tawfiq Hamamra
Pages: 283-284 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1514238

Memoir of a Berber: Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones in Jahjouka and the Beat Generation in Morocco
by Hassan Ouakrim, Meadville, Fulton Books, 2017, 120 pp. (paperback), ISBN 978-1-63338-145-2
Oudadene Hassane
Pages: 285-288 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1590759

by Meera Atkinson, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, Australia 2018, 288 pp., ISBN: 9780702259890
Christina Houen
Pages: 289-290 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1559780

Life Writing in the Long Run: A Smith & Watson Autobiography Studies Reader
by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Ann Arbor, MI, Michigan Publishing, 2016, 784 pp., ISBN 9781607854098, DOI
Helga Schwalm
Pages: 291-293 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1594019

Modernist Lives: Biography and Autobiography at Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press
by Claire Battershill, London, Bloomsbury Academic, 2018, xiii+231 pp., ISBN 9781350043848.
Janine Utell
Pages: 295-298 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1608494

Virginia Woolf: The War Without, the War Within: Her Final Diaries and the Diaries She Read
by Barbara Lounsberry, Gainesville, University Press of Florida, 2018, 397 pp., ISBN9780813056937
Ella Ophir
Pages: 299-302 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1609876

Autobiography. A Very Short Introduction
by Laura Marcus, Oxford, Oxford UP, 2018, 145 pp. £7.99. ISBN 978-0-19-966924-0
Arnaud Schmitt
Pages: 303-305 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1644269


European Journal of Life Writing

Volume X, first cluster and articles


On behalf of the editorial board of the European Journal of Life Writing, we are very happy to announce that the EJLW has published the first cluster and articles of its tenth volume.

Maricel Oró-Piqueras, ‘The Pain and Irony of Death in Julian Barnes’s Memoirs Nothing to Be Frightened Of and Levels of Life’.

Amy Prendergast, ‘A Winter in Bath, 1796–97: Life Writing and the Irish Adolescent Self’.

Cluster Mass Observation (1937-2017) and Life Writing

T.G. Ashplant, ‘Mass Observation (1937-2017) and Life Writing: an Introduction’.

T.G. Ashplant, ‘”Subjective Cameras”: Authorship, Form, and Interpretation of Mass Observation Life Writings’.

Dorothy Sheridan, ‘Woven Tapestries: Dialogues and Dilemmas in Editing a Diary’.

Patricia and Robert Malcolmson, ‘MO Diaries and Their Editors’.

James Hinton, ‘Seven Late Twentieth-Century Lives: the Mass Observation Project and Life Writing’.


Good morning, Colleagues. My biography of Black feminist literary scholar Nellie Y. McKay was recently published by University of North Carolina Press. Links below. I hope you’ll consider adding it to your summer reading list!

Warmly, shanna

Shanna G. Benjamin

My book, Half in Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Nellie Y. McKay
<>, is available for pre-order!

Read my interview

with the AAIHS to learn more about the book and why I wrote it.

Visit my Linktree <> for videos of past events and notice of upcoming talks.

Here’s how you pronounce my name

Iʻm delighted to announce the publication of my new book


Biographical Television Drama.

by Hannah Andrews

This is the first book-length exploration of the relationship between biography and television. Using a range of case studies from across British TV history, it explores how television as an aesthetic and institutional form tells biographical stories. It looks at the relationships between fact and fiction, public and private, cultural and ethical values, and the role of television drama in forging biographical legacy.


Programmes discussed include Elgar (1963), The Brontës of Haworth (1973), The Alan Clark Diaries (2004), The Curse of Steptoe (2008), Babs (2017), Gentleman Jack (2019) and, of course, The Crown (2016 -).

“Biographical Television Drama breaks new ground as, to my knowledge, the first book-length exploration of the terms in which television engages in biographical storytelling. Backed by robust research in biography studies and British television history, Hannah Andrews deftly unravels the complexities behind the accessibility of biographical television drama. Her book tackles key questions head-on, notably rhetorics and style, narrative and performance and, innovatively, ethics, while also shedding light on the interconnections with other biographical screen forms through a rich corpus. This is an essential critical study that vindicates television drama’s unique place in the histories and practices of screen biography.” (Belén Vidal, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London and co-editor of The Biopic in Contemporary Film Culture)

Palgrave Macmillan, 231 pages.
Ebook: US$89.99
Hardcover: US$119.99.

Please consider it for your libraries and bookshelves!

Many thanks,



The Work of Life Writing; Essays and Lectures

G. Thomas Couser

Routledge Auto/Biography Studies

Life writing, in its various forms, does work that other forms of expression do not; it bears on the world in a way distinct from imaginative genres like fiction, drama, and poetry; it acts in and on history in significant ways. Memoirs of illness and disability often seek to depathologize the conditions that they recount. Memoirs of parents by their children extend or alter relations forged initially face to face in the home. At a time when memoir and other forms of life writing are being produced and consumed in unprecedented numbers, this book reminds readers that memoir is not mainly a “literary” genre or mere entertainment. Similarly, letters are not merely epiphenomena of our “real lives.” Correspondence does not just serve to communicate; it enacts and sustains human relationships. Memoir matters, and there’s life in letters. All life writing arises of our daily lives and has distinctive impacts on them and the culture in which we live.

“The Work of Life Writing collects several of the most important essays of G. Thomas Couser’s exemplary career at the forefront of life writing scholarship. Reminding us that life writing deserves our attention for its social significance as much as its artistic strength, these dozen pieces treat the many varieties of life writing as unique literary forms that enact relationships and identities, especially under-represented ones. It was Couser who reminded us that memoir is our most democratic of genres, and who brought the study of life writing to bear on disability and illness representation―one of the most important shifts in literary disability study in the past twenty years. This is a book for students and scholars alike, and will appeal to anyone compelled by the important cultural work of auto/biographical texts.”
Susannah B. Mintz, Professor of English, Skidmore College

“G. Thomas Couser is a central figure in the field of life writing. His lively and accessible prose enters into conversation with scholarship in a variety of fields, including disability studies, narrative medicine, pedagogy (literary studies, creative writing), cultural studies, and sociology. Readers will appreciate having some of his harder-to-find pieces, along with some of his best-known essays, collected in one volume. This book demonstrates the ways in which memoir and autobiography, even those forms that are unlikely to garner critical acclaim, should be taken seriously as forces with the potential to shape our everyday lives. I appreciate the personal touches in his writing―his work feels urgent because, as a reader, I have the opportunity to learn about the life experiences that inspired it.”
Megan Brown, Professor of English, Drake University

206 pages, 23 illustrations
Hardcover $160
Kindle $36.99
Paperback, forthcoming 2022


Dear IABA Colleagues,

You are warmly invited to this virtual launch April 28 11:0 am Mountain
Time. Looking forward to seeing you!

Take care, Julie


False Summit: Gender in Mountaineering Nonfiction/, by Julie Rak

Join Julie and some eminent colleagues to launch /False Summit!

April 28, 2021 11:00 AM Mountain Time
On Zoom

*Special Guest Presenters*

Katie Ives, Editor of /The Alpinist, /USA
Peter Hansen, Worcester Polytech Institute, UK
PearlAnn Reichwein, University of Alberta, Canada

Host: Jonathan Cohn, University of Alberta, Canada

Thanks to: Glass Bookshop and McGill-Queens University Press

False Summit

Julie Rak
Professor and Henry Marshall Tory Chair
Department of English and Film Studies
University of Alberta
Humanities Centre 3-5
Edmonton, AB T6G 2E6, Canada
ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Amiskwacîwâskahikan), Treaty 6/Region 4 Métis Nation


Newly published by the Auto/Biography Study Group,
These Barbed Wire Barriers, Antonio Gramsci and the Schucht Sisters
by Jenifer Nicholson.
ISBN 978-0-9564261-6-1.
Copies may be ordered from the British Sociological Association


Antonio Gramsci’s political life and thought has been, and continues to be, the focus of research and interpretation. Although Gramsci himself said that all the strands of his life were inextricably mixed, much less attention has been paid to his relationships. The women in his life remain shadowy, both in terms of their view of  of their relationship with Gramsci, and in terms of their individual stories.Their lives have been of little interest to historians and political theorists and they appear only briefly in accounts of Gramsci’s life.
This study focuses on three of the Schucht sisters, Eugenia, Giulia and Tatiana Schucht who each, in turn, had a loving relationship with Antonio  Gramsci.
Using mainly Italian texts, archival material held in the Fondazione Gramsci in Rome, and the family histories written by Antonio Gramsci jr., the study explores the  relationships between Gramsci and each of the three women and also gives form and substance to the personalities and the stories behind the faces of the three women whom Gramsci loved.  All three were well educated professional women. Eugenia had worked with Krupskaya on the reform of schools and teacher education which undoubtedly  interested Gramsci greatly, Giulia  too worked for the party.  Both were members of the  communist party at a time when membership had to be earned, and was an accolade. Both had supported the 1917 revolution in Russia and were trained to bear arms.           Despite Eugenia’s hostility for years after her rejection by Gramsci, he nevertheless remembered her  political experience and commitment with  respect. Tatiana, who had remained in Rome had completed medical training apart from the final examinations which she did not sit; she already had a science degree. She had devoted her life to teaching and caring  for sick children when she met Gramsci.
   The author also explores and analyses the complex relationships between the sisters;  how Eugenia dominated Giulia from childhood on, and the conflictual relationship between Eugenia and Tatiana. The correspondence between Tatiana and the family in Russia helps to clarify some of the reasons for the difficulties in the central relationship between Antonio Gramsci and Giulia Schucht, who was not only his wife but his ideal of a political partner.
   Giulia has been unkindly treated by history. When she met Gramsci she was a talented concert violinist and composer, fitting music round her increasing workload for the Party. She was energetic, hard-working, totally committed to the emerging soviet state, and fun. Far from being the passive, fragile beauty swept off her feet by Gramsci, draft letters show that she was extremely attracted to him.  Unfortunately, many of Giulia’s letters to Antonio are missing, nevertheless the woman who emerges from the letters and drafts in the archive is very different from the weak, uncaring impression of her given in the well known accounts of Gramsci’s life. She was in difficult circumstances. She had two very young children and Eugenia wished to usurp her position with the elder boy, Delio,  while ignoring Giuliano the younger one.   In addition Giulia was the major wage earner for the Schucht family. Since she was employed by the state security service in Stalin’s Soviet Union, and Gramsci was a political prisoner in Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, their correspondence was always scrutinised and occasionally blocked. Both were afraid to make the other’s situation worse, politically; both were paralysed by loss and censorship and found it difficult to write, but it took a long time before Gramsci realised that Giulia’s circumstances were as difficult as his own.
    Tatiana became his chief supporter through the prison years until his death. The study explores the relationship Gramsci-Tatiana  which was complicated by their feelings for each other until Gramsci clarified his position. The correspondence was warm, but occasionally strained; he could be demanding, critical and insulting as well as affectionate and deeply grateful for her devotion. She was endlessly tolerant of his explosions of rage and frustration. She was his sounding board as well as his most faithful friend. Her letters discussed films and books as well as his medical conditions. She was concerned by his and Giulia’s lack of correspondence and the subsequent misunderstandings between them. Finally she persuaded him to keep writing to Giulia. Tatiana’s letters kept him alive and functioning.
   Gramsci had asked her to be the channel of communication between himself and Giulia. This arrangement added delays to  the correspondence and perhaps another layer of inhibition to Gramsci’s letter-writing. She also acted as gatekeeper between Gramsci and Giulia, withholding information one from another which she thought might be upsetting. Inadvertently she made the situation worse.The lack of information and frankness, coupled to what Gramsci termed the “bizantine” tangle of unexpressed thoughts, emotions and habits in the Schucht household in Russia between Giulia, Apollon her father and the implacably hostile Eugenia, created the emotional ‘barbed wire barriers” which kept Giulia and Antonio from reaching out to each other. They were never to meet again, but towards the end of his life they did, at least, begin to say what they really meant to each other.
   Richard Holmes wrote that the single subject of biography is “…a chimera, almost as much as the Noble Savage of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, living in splendid a-social isolation” . Without consideration of affect in Gramsci’s life, without the stories and the letters of these three women, there are nuances and dimensions to his writing which readers will miss.
Biographical Note.
Jenifer Nicholson has been researching and writing about Antonio Gramsci for many years since her Masters and her Doctoral thesis on his political thought .
she has published articles  on Gramsci in La Gramsciana, the Auto/Biography Journal , and the Auto/Biography Yearbook, and most recently in The Palgrave Handbook of Auto/Biography. She is currently working on a book about Gramsci and all the women in his life.

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 2, 2020

Open-Forum Articles and Reviews

Open-Forum Articles

Relating Otherwise: Forging Critical Solidarities Across the Kashmiri Pandit-Muslim Divide
Mona Bhan, Deepti Misri, and Ather Zia    

In this paper we reflect on a history of the textured relationships that Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits shared prior to 1989, a date widely framed in Kashmiri popular history and memory as the moment when communitarian relationships in the Kashmir Valley underwent a radical shift. Grounding our exploration in nine life narratives appended to this article by scholars, artists, poets, and writers, mostly Kashmiri, we seek to retrieve a textured understanding of the past, and envision alternative futures for inclusive community building. We complicate the romanticized discourse of Kashmiriyat—the ethos of shared cultural understanding in which cross-community relations between Pandits and Muslims are often cast—and instead propose that intersubjective understanding across the two communities can only emerge from the building of critical solidarities that engage histories of caste, class, gender, and militarization in Kashmir.

Relating Otherwise: Curated Narratives     

These are the accompanying life narratives for “Relating Otherwise: Forging Critical Solidarities Across the Kashmiri Pandit-Muslim Divide.” The nine authors—Zahir-ud-Din, Soniya Amin, Parvaiz Bukhari, Amit Bamzai, Sagar Kaul, Sagrika Kissu, Bhavneet Kaur, Huzaifa Pandit, and Fozia Qazi—reflect on the relationships that Kashmiris shared across religious communities prior to 1989.

(Un)veiled Women, Modernity, and Civilizing Missions: Selma Ekrem’s Legacy and the Suffrage Movement
Zeynep Aydogdu    

In Unveiled: The Autobiography of a Turkish Girl (1930), Selma Ekrem shapes her self-representation as a Turkish immigrant and “outstanding feminist” by appropriating the conventions of suffrage autobiography to appeal to her white middle-class suffragette audience. While drawing on long-standing Orientalist stereotypes of the harem and the veil, she also incorporates tenets of Turkish nationalist ideology to fashion a complex self-portrait that challenges a view of Turkish women as hapless victims of the veil and despotism.

A Self-Portrait of the Armenian Artist as Homo Sacer: The Biopolitical Limits of Hagop Mintzuri’s Life Writing
Maral Aktokmakyan           

This essay is an attempt to rethink the (im)possibility of Ottoman-Armenian writer Hagop Mintzuri’s autobiography after his life was biopoliticized in the nation-forming period of Turkey. Focusing on his memoir that gives an account for his stay in Istanbul before and after the Armenian Genocide in 1915, this essay probes the biopolitical limits operating not just on this particular self-narrative but also on the genre of autobiography.

Working Out Socialism: Labor and Politics in Socialist Autobiography in Twentieth-Century Poland
Wiktor Marzec        

This essay examines socialist workers’ autobiographies as inscriptions of the self unfolding from illicit political militancy in tsarist times to the establishment of actually existing socialism in twentieth-century Poland. The autobiographies written in state socialism pin together the workers’ strivings for a better life with their intellectual pursuits and their negotiation of the relationship between work and politics. While this essay is informed by an analysis of more than 100 biographical narratives of workers engaging in mass politics during the 1905 Revolution, it closely examines four typologically interesting cases. Most of these socialist autobiographies are loaded “time-vehicles,” written as gestures to legitimize the existing state socialism. However, they are embedded in earlier experiences such as proletarian autodidacticism, learning via socialist printings, and prewar socialist memory. At the same time, such life writing bears witness to real and imagined continuities between past socialist militancy and actually existing socialism. The politics of writing is necessary to understand socialist autobiography, and the prior life course of the writing workers is equally crucial to understanding state socialism.

What’s in an I?: Dissonant and Consonant Self-Narration in Autobiographical Discourse
Zuzana Fonioková                    

Combining narratological analysis with autobiography studies, this article looks at examples of focalization strategies in several autobiographical works. It adopts Dorrit Cohn’s distinction between consonant and dissonant self-narration (identification or distance between the narrating-I and the experiencing-I) to explore how authors engage creatively with different positions of the autobiographical “I,” and how this engagement contributes to their texts’ aesthetic qualities. Starting from a brief exposition of the role of the narrating-I and the experiencing-I in autobiographical narratives, the article discusses the juxtaposition of the two selves’ perspectives in Sylvia Fraser’s My Father’s House, which is achieved by means of a dexterous combination of consonant and dissonant self-narration. Examples of dissonant self-narration from Günter Grass’s Peeling the Onion and Christopher Isherwood’s Christopher and His Kind and of consonant self-narration from Mary Karr’s memoir trilogy (The Liars’ Club, Cherry, and Lit) then demonstrate how self-dissonance may help convey a work’s meta-autobiographical message, while self-consonance seems to contribute to readers’ immersion in the narrative.

Biography in Contemporary France
Joanny Moulin                          

This article provides a survey of biography in France today, limiting its scope to biography considered as a distinct genre relative to other forms of life writing such as autobiography, memoir, or diary. It seeks to explain biography’s contrasted reception in France, where it is in fact very popular, though still apparently held in relatively mediocre esteem in academia, if not in the Académie. The study examines the historical and ideological reasons for the resistance that biography has long been met with in some academic walks. By contrast, it also demonstrates the vivacity of biography in France, with a presentation of the best-known French biographers and the main publishers, book series, and prizes devoted to the genre.

Queering the Family, Reclaiming the Father: Proustian Evocations in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home
Olga Michael       

Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic includes a number of intertextual references to Marcel Proust and his multi-volume novel Remembrance of Things Past. In this essay, I investigate the usefulness of these references in the narrative of Alison’s problematic relationship with her father, and I propose that they enable the structuring of queer gender and sexuality performances, which allow Alison to reclaim and reunite with her distant and ultimately lost father. As such, I point to the potential value of intertextual readings in identifying positive accounts of queer lives in the field of autographics.


Women’s Life Writing and the Practice of Reading: She Reads to Write Herself, edited by Valérie Baisnée-Keay, Corrine Bigot, Nicoleta Alexoae-Zagni, and Claire Bazin
Reviewed by Patsy Schweickart      

Shared Selves: Latinx Memoir and Ethical Alternatives to Humanism,
by Suzanne Bost
Reviewed by Gillian Whitlock     

Ancient Biography: Identity through Lives, by Francis Cairns and Trevor Luke
Reviewed by Øivind Andersen      

Women’s Life Writing and Early Modern Ireland, edited by
Julie A. Eckerle and Naomi McAreavey
Reviewed by Sarah Covington       

Diaries Real and Fictional in Twentieth-Century French Writing,
by Sam Ferguson
Reviewed by Karen Ferreira-Meyers        

Secret Police Files from the Eastern Bloc: Between Surveillance
and Life Writing
, edited by Valentina Glajar, Alison Lewis, and
Corina L. Petrescu
Reviewed by Cristina Plamadeala      

The Qualified Self: Social Media and the Accounting of Everyday Life,
by Lee Humphreys
Reviewed by Hywel Dix    

Through the Looking Glass: Writers’ Memoirs at the Turn
of the 21st Century
, by Robert Kusek
Reviewed by Dagmara Drewniak         

Conversations with Biographical Novelists: Truthful Fictions
across the Globe
, edited by Michael Lackey
Reviewed by Laura Cernat  

Elusive Lives: Gender, Autobiography, and the Self in Muslim
South Asia
, by Siobhan Lambert-Hurley
Reviewed by Leila Moayeri Pazargadi    

Girls, Autobiography, Media: Gender and Self-Mediation
in Digital Economies
, by Emma Maguire
Reviewed by Lucy E. Bailey                    

Autobiography: A Very Short Introduction, by Laura Marcus
Reviewed by Margaretta Jolly          

Antonia White and Manic-Depressive Illness, by Patricia Moran
Reviewed by Lizzie Hutton            

The Wounded Self: Writing Illness in Twenty-First-Century
German Literature
, by Nina Schmidt
Reviewed by Franziska Gygax            

Picturing Identity: Contemporary American Autobiography in
Image and Text
, by Hertha D. Sweet Wong
Reviewed by Manoela dos Anjos Afonso Rodrigues                        For more information about subscriptions and submissions
Life Writing, Volume 18, Issue 1, March 2021 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.


Essays in Life Writing

This new issue contains the following articles:

Introduction Essays in Life Writing
Kylie Cardell
Pages: 1-6 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1878570

Essays Writing (from) the Rubble: Reflections on the August 4, 2020 Explosion in Beirut, Lebanon
Sleiman El Hajj
Pages: 7-23 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1830736

Will the Real Subject Please Stand Up? Autobiographical Voices in Biography
Karen Lamb
Pages: 25-30 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1672615

Speculative Biography and Countering Archival Absences of Women Clowns in the Circus
Katerina Bryant
Pages: 31-44 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1866777

‘A Man of Violent and Ungovernable Temper’: Can Fiction Fill Silences in the Archives?
Katherine E Collins
Pages: 45-51 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1564215

Killing the Silent Witness: The Benefits of an Authorial Stance as Interpreter in Future-focused Natural Biography
Sarah Pye
Pages: 53-65 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1795979

How to be a Fan in the Age of Problematic Faves
Matt Bucher & Grace Chipperfield
Pages: 67-78 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1864090

Letter Writing and Space for Women’s Self-expression in Janet Frame’s Owls Do Cry and Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table
Hannah Matthews
Pages: 79-94 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1831134

In Parallel With My Actual Diary: On Re-writing an Exile
Chris Campanioni
Pages: 95-111 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1766752

Metaphor and Neonatal Death: How Stories Can Help When a Baby Dies at Birth
Tamarin Norwood
Pages: 113-124 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2021.1871705

Three Wheels on My Wagon: An Account of an Attempt to Use Life Writing to Access Shared Family Narratives After Bereavement
Jane Hughes
Pages: 125-133 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1794124

Becoming a Traitor | Open Access
Linus Hagström
Pages: 135-143 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1644986

My Obscure Career as an Aspiring Poet
Eugene Stelzig
Pages: 145-154 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1558711

Archive of the (Mostly) Unspoken: A Queer Project of Caring for the Dead
Margot Francis
Pages: 155-168 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1775482

Dear Colleagues
I would like to bring to your attention a book that I published in September 2020, titled Performative Selves, Performative Poses. Getrude Stein, Norman Mailer and Philip Roth as Autobiographers.
The book combines literary studies and narratology with cultural studies, the sociology of literature, the philosophy of time, psychology, theories of the genius, and celebrity studies, in a critical approach governed by performativity theory. The methodology used is adapted from the model of cultural analysis practiced by Mieke Bal and formulated by her in Double Exposures: The Practice of Cultural Analysis (1966). Cultural analysis is interdisciplinary and inter-temporal, developed by cultivating ”critical intimacy” with texts. My corpus includes, in chronological order, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1932) and Everybody’s Autobiography (1937) by Gertrude Stein, Advertisements for Myself (1959) by Norman Mailer, and The Facts: A Novelist’s Autobiography (1988), Operation Shylock: A Confession (1993), and Patrimony: A True Story (1991) by Philip Roth.
 The introduction gives an overview of the canonization of autobiography as a genre and a field of academic interest, and discusses autobiographical topoi such as the problematic nature of life-writing, memory, time, intentionality, autobiography as a speech act, and the reading contract between authors and readers. It also formulates a definition of autobiography as a cultural phenomenon of performatively writing a life, contextualizing an individual’s development as a relational self, and meeting the readers’ need to consume stories packaged and promoted as real.
The key element in this definition is performativity. Chapter one retraces this notion’s trajectory from J. L. Austin to Judith Butler, with additions from Derrida’s critical apparatus, and analyzes the autobiographical pact from the perspective of performativity theory. Chapter two deals with the social, relational and performative autobiographical self, and investigates Stein’s, Mailer’s and Roth’s ludic ”poses”. Chapter three discusses various aspects of life-writing: memory, narrative conventions and ownership over a life-story. The final chapter analyzes how the three writers mentioned above engaged their status as celebrities – a status created or consolidated by the publication of their autobiographies.
The conclusions suggest that in its diversity, American autobiography often distances itself from the conventions of the genre and by generic ”deviation” underscores the vitality of this performative cultural phenomenon which, currently, has an intrinsic political potential by enabling marginalized voices to make themselves heard.

Further information can be found here: Should anyone be interested in the book, I can provide an electronic copy.

Enjoy the week and good luck with all your projects!

Sorina Chiper
Associate Professor
Alexandru Ioan Cuza University.



Several new articles have been published in Volume IX of the European Journal of Life Writing and can be freely accessed at

In the cluster ‘Beyond Endings. Past Tenses and Future Imaginaries’:

In the creative Matters section:

Book Reviews:

The first articles of Volume X will be published in March 2021.


Dr. Petra van Langen
Dr. Monica Soeting
European Journal of Life Writing
Journal Manager

The European Journal of Life Writing is an open access e-journal, but editing and type setting do cost money.
Your financial support can help us to publish a wide array of valuable articles about life writing:

Newly Published by Duke University Press
Empire’s Mistress, Starring Isabel Rosario Cooper
by Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez
For more information, and to order the book directly from Duke University Press at a 30% discount please visit and enter the coupon code E21GNZLZ during checkout.
In Empire’s Mistress Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez follows the life of Filipina vaudeville and film actress Isabel Rosario Cooper, who was the mistress of General Douglas MacArthur. If mentioned at all, their relationship exists only as a salacious footnote in MacArthur’s biography—a failed love affair between a venerated war hero and a young woman of Filipino and American heritage. Following Cooper from the Philippines to Washington, D.C. to Hollywood, where she died penniless, Gonzalez frames her not as a tragic heroine, but as someone caught within the violent histories of U.S. imperialism. In this way, Gonzalez uses Cooper’s life as a means to explore the contours of empire as experienced on the scale of personal relationships. Along the way, Gonzalez fills in the archival gaps of Cooper’s life with speculative fictional interludes that both unsettle the authority of “official” archives and dislodge the established one-dimensional characterizations of her. By presenting Cooper as a complex historical subject who lived at the crossroads of American colonialism in the Philippines, Gonzalez demonstrates how intimacy and love are woven into the infrastructure of empire.

“Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez crafts a gorgeous and meticulous portrait of one of the most intriguing women of the twentieth century, Isabel Rosario Cooper. Woven out of ghosts of texts and archival fractures and gaps, Empire’s Mistress is a replete mystery tale, a feminist biography, a Hollywood story, an intimate study of Philippine-U.S. relations, and a masterful work of postcolonial noir. Above all, Empire’s Mistress is a haunting, by which afterlives of empire address our contemporary dilemmas about how to articulate, frame, and center unspoken lives to tell history accurately. A deeply satisfying work of exhumation, Empire’s Mistress makes complex history live, and I’m grateful for Gonzalez’s unflinching, refractive, and always revelatory gaze on that history.” — Gina Apostol, author of Insurrecto
“Imaginatively tracing the life of Isabel Rosario Cooper in and through the elisions and silences of the archives, Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez makes a significant contribution to rethinking the process of archival research when it involves marginalized subjects whose existence appears sporadically in the historical accounts of others. A compelling read.” — Vicente L. Rafael, author of Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language amid Wars of Translation

“Imaginatively tracing the life of Isabel Rosario Cooper in and through the elisions and silences of the archives, Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez makes a significant contribution to rethinking the process of archival research when it involves marginalized subjects whose existence appears sporadically in the historical accounts of others. A compelling read.” — Vicente L. Rafael, author of Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language amid Wars of Translation
Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez
Professor, Department of American Studies
Director, Honors Program
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Series co-editor: Detours: A Decolonial Guide series



Forthcoming Book Series: Narratives and Mental Health–Brill


Series editors: Jarmila Mildorf, University of Paderborn, Germany, Elisabeth Punzi, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Christoph Singer, University of Innsbruck, Austria, and Cornelia Wächter, University of Bochum, Germany

Narratives and Mental Health offers a forum for dialogue between the arts, humanities and other disciplines interested in mental health and well-being.

Narrative is a central tool for meaning-making. Yet, its relevance has long been side-lined in the mental health sector including psychiatry, clinical psychology, medicine and social work.

To explore the intersection of narratives and mental health, the peer-reviewed book series takes an interdisciplinary approach and accommodates studies which investigate, for one, the uses and usefulness, but also the possible limitations of narrative in mental health care settings. The series is also very interested in studies that examine mental health issues in the representation, conceptualization, medialization and dissemination of mental health-narratives in areas as varied as literature and life-writing, the arts and film, journalism and (oral) history, digital and graphic storytelling, and many more.

Monographs and themed volumes are invited that include perspectives from comparative literary studies, history, narratology, psychology and philosophy, amongst others.

Authors are cordially invited to submit proposals and/or full manuscripts to the publisher at BRILL, Masja Horn.

ISSN: 2667-0518

Editorial board

  • Ann Burack-Weiss, Columbia University, USA
  • Rita Charon, Columbia University, USA
  • Daniel McCann, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany
  • China Mills, City University of London, UK
  • Cecilia Petterson, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Geoffrey Reaume, York University, Canada
  • Katrin Röder, University of Potsdam, Germany
  • Linda Steele, University of Technology Sidney, Australia
  • Sara Strauss, University of Paderborn, Germany

Advisory board

  • Daniel D. Hutto, University of Wollongong, Australia
  • Daniel Ketteler, Berlin School of Medicine, Germany
  • Matthew Ratcliffe, The University of York, UK
  • Brian Schiff, The American University of Paris, France


Contemporary Feminist Life-Writing: The New Audacity is the first volume to identify and analyse the ‘new audacity’ of recent feminist writings from life. Characterised by boldness in both style and content, willingness to explore difficult and disturbing experiences, the refusal of victimhood, and a lack of respect for traditional genre boundaries, new audacity writing takes risks with its author’s and others’ reputations, and even, on occasion, with the law. The book offers an examination and critical assessment of new audacity in works by Katherine Angel, Alison Bechdel, Marie Calloway, Virginie Despentes, Tracey Emin, Sheila Heti, Juliet Jacques, Chris Krauss, Jana Leo, Maggie Nelson, Vanessa Place, Paul Preciado, and Kate Zambreno. It analyses how they write about women’s self-authorship, trans experiences, struggles with mental health, sexual violence and rape, and the desire for sexual submission. It engages with recent feminist and gender scholarship, providing discussions of vulnerability, victimhood, authenticity, trauma, and affect.

Jennifer Cooke is Senior Lecturer in English at Loughborough University. She’s author of Contemporary Feminist Life-Writing: The New Audacity (CUP, 2020) and editor of The New Feminist Literary Studies (CUP, 2020), Scenes of Intimacy: Reading, Writing and Theorizing Contemporary Literature (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), and a special issue of Textual Practice on challenging intimacies and psychoanalysis (September 2013). Her first monograph was Legacies of Plague in Literature, Theory and Film (Palgrave, 2009). Her research interests lie in theories of intimacy; the affective turn and theories of the emotions; queer and feminist theories; and contemporary literature. She chaired the Gendered Lives Research Group from 2015-2020.


Dr Jennifer Cooke (she/her)

Head of English
Senior Lecturer in English
School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Loughborough University, UK
@JenniferACooke | Webpage | Contemporary Feminist Life-Writing: The New Audacity

Newsletter Biography Institute

January 2021

[PDF version]

Annual Report available online
The annual report 2020 of the Biography Institute is available in Dutch and in English.

Cover biography Felix de Boeck ready
David Veltman recently finished his PhD-research on Felix de Boeck. The cover of his biography was already put on the website of Verloren Publishers. The artist and farmer Felix de Boeck was a solitary figure. On his farm in Drogenbos, near Brussels, he avoided the bustle of the big city. His long beard, simple clothing and inseparable pipe suggested an individual unreceptive to passing fads, and the artist confirmed this impression, continuing to work in his own idiosyncratic way. After the war, he showed interest to an alternative Catholic tradition in Flemish art.

Hans Renders continues his monthly talk on biography
Each third Sunday of the month, Hans Renders will continue to give his talk on biography at the radio program Met het oog op morgen, NPO Radio 1. Earlier installments of his monthly feature can be found here.

Jelte Olthof and Maarten Zwiers present their volume Profiles in Power
Donald Trump’s years in the White House once again demonstrate the central role of personality in presidential campaigns and policy-making. Besides the highly personalistic nature of Trump’s politics, critics claimed he simultaneously personified a broader current in U.S. political culture: a spokesman for the hyper-capitalist class that has little regard for minorities, women, the environment, or middle- and lower-class white voters, but which feeds on the fears and anxieties that live amongst these latter two groups. From different perspectives, the exploits of the Trump White House thus show the importance of studying the role of individual agency in politics. The book presentation will be on Zoom on Monday 8th February 2021 at 14.00 (CET). To attend the presentation, please email us.

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

Natalie Edwards, Multilingual Life Writing by French and Francophone Women: Translingual Selves, part of the Routledge Auto/Biography Studies series edited by Ricia Chansky.


This volume examines the ways in which multilingual women authors incorporate several languages into their life writing. It compares the work of six contemporary authors who write predominantly in French. It analyses the narrative strategies they develop to incorporate more than one language into their life writing: French and English, French and Creole, or French and German, for example. The book demonstrates how women writers transform languages to invent new linguistic formations and how they create new formulations of subjectivity within their self-narrative. It intervenes in current debates over global literature, national literatures and translingual and transnational writing, which constitute major areas of research in literary and cultural studies. It also contributes to debates in linguistics through its theoretical framework of translanguaging. It argues that multilingual authors create new paradigms for life writing and that they question our understanding of categories such as “French literature.”

“In this eagerly awaited study of translingual selves, Natalie Edwards nuances and deepens our knowledge of contemporary women’s life writing in French. By exploring the work of authors who have, in various ways, migrated to the French language, she illuminates at the same time dimensions of cross-lingual writing that have previously attracted little attention. As such, Edwards contributes to the long overdue ‘transnationalization’ of French studies. In the writers she reads, we discover a multilingual poetics that challenges the ideological monolingualism often unwittingly perpetuated by many French literary texts. In the process, and by engaging with concepts such as translanguaging, the book forges highly suggestive links between Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics. This is essential literary analysis for any scholars and students serious about wanting to understand new and often experimental forms of language use in twenty-first-century literature in French.” Charles Forsdick, James Barrow Professor of French, University of Liverpool, UK

“This volume illustrates what multivocality means for authors who with dexterity engage their multilingual repertoires and how this offers readers opportunities for reading through and between layers of literary expression. A delicately articulated text that invites conversation among authors who reveal multilingual and decolonial repertoires of resistance and linguists who attempt to understand the implications of ‘southern’ and decolonial thinking. Natalie Edwards entices readers along a path that transverses contemporary debates that are central to a 21st century understanding of humanity.” Kathleen Heugh, University of South Australia

Professor Natalie Edwards, SFHEA
Department of French Studies
Director of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Arts
The University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005
President, Australian Society for French Studies

ARC DP 2019-2021: Transnational Selves: French Narratives of Migration to Australia

New OPEN ACCESS article on Multilingual Australian Literature

CRICOS Provider Number 00123M

This Way Back, by Joanna Elftheriou, West Virginia Press, 2020


“Winning and contemplative.” —Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Going back to her ancestral homeland, a Greek American girl discovers she is a lesbian in love with God, so her questions about home and belonging will not be easily answered.

This Way Back dramatizes a childhood split between Queens, New York, and Cyprus, an island nation with a long colonial history and a culture to which Joanna Eleftheriou could never quite adjust. The book avows a Greek-Cypriot-American lesbian’s existence by documenting its scenes: reenacting an 1829 mass suicide by jumping off a school stage onto gym mats at St. Nicholas, harvesting carobs on ancestral land, purchasing UNESCO-protected lace, marching in the island’s first gay pride parade, visiting Cyprus’s occupied north against a dying father’s wish, and pruning geraniums, cypress trees, and jasmine after her father grew too weak to lift the shears. While the author’s life binds the essays in This Way Back into what reads like a memoir, the book questions memoir’s conventional boundaries between the individual and her community, and between political and personal loss, the human and the environment, and the living and the dead.

Contributing Editor, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies
Language & Culture Instructor, Writing Workshops in Greece
As Routledge are currently offering a discount, I thought it might be a good idea to send out a note to the IABA list now:

Life Writing and Celebrity
Exploring Intersections

Edited By Sandra Mayer & Julia Novak

This book examines the relationship between life writing and celebrity in English-language and comparative literary and cultural contexts, focusing on historical as well as contemporary auto/biographical subjects.

With contributions on the 18th-century actress Peg Woffington, Charles Dickens, Mary Pickford, Sergei Eisenstein, W.H. Auden, Marilyn Monroe, and Michael Jackson, amongst others, the book encompasses a wide range of disciplines and approaches. It explores the representation of famous lives in genres as varied as TV documentary, biopic, biofiction, journalism, (authorized) biography, and painting. The contributors address broad themes including authenticity, self-fashioning, identity politics, and ethics; and reflect on the ways in which these affect the reading and writing of celebrity lives.

This volume is the first to bring together life writing and celebrity studies—two vibrant and innovative areas of research which are closely connected through their shared concerns with authenticity and intimacy, public and private selves, myth-making and revelation. As such it will be of interest to a wide range of scholars from across the humanities. This book was originally published as a special issue of Life Writing.

Liebe Grüße
Dr. Julia Lajta-Novak
Department of English and American Studies
University of Vienna
Campus Altes AKH Hof 8.3, Spitalgasse 2
1090 Vienna, Austria
+43(0)699 81761689

The Bride in the Cultural Imagination:

Screen, Stage, and Literary Productions

Jo Parnell, Editor


  • This essay collection examines the cultural and personal world of girls and women at a time when their lives, their person, their realities, and their status are about to change forever. Together, the chapters cleverly create an in-depth study of the subject, and look at several cultural forms to offer a different approach to the popularly-held views of the bride. The critical essays in this edited collection are thematically driven and include global perspectives of the portrayals of the bride in the films, stage productions and pop-culture narratives from Nigeria; Kenya; Uganda; Tanzania; Spain; Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome; Tajikistan; India; Egypt; and the South-Eastern Indian Ocean Islands. This multinational approach provides insight into the intricacies, customs, practices, and life-styles surrounding the bride in various Eastern and Western cultures.


  • Jo Parnell is Conjoint Research Fellow to the Faculty of Education and Arts, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Kevin Hall

Introduction by Jo Parnell and Josephine May

1.Plautus, Catullus and Public Depictions of the Bride in Rome
Jane Bellemore
2.In Grey and Pink: The Image of the Bride through the Spanish Post-War Novela Rosa
Rosana Murias
3.Sex and the Bride: Citra Mudgal’s Hindi Short Story Dulhin as a Mirror of Changing Family Relations in Contemporary India
Alessandra Consolaro
4.Here Comes the (Bollywood) Bride: Gender, Power, Family, and Patriarchy in
Millennial India
Andrew Howe
5.Ideological and Cultural Manifestations in Bridal Narrative and the Image of the Bride in Modern Egyptian Visual Culture
Azza Harras
6.The Image of a Bride in Tajik Cinema
Sharofat Arabova
7.The “Economics” of Bride Price in Nigerian Women’s Literature
Shalini Nadaswaran
8.The Bride’s Agency: East Africa Novelistic and Dramatic Imaginaries
Wafula Yenjela
9.Advertising the Bride in South-Eastern Indian Ocean Islands
Zoly Rakotoniera and Gladys Abdoul

  • Dr. Jo Parnell’s collection of scholarly essays on Bride is a fascinating read. The topic is riveting and the collection is beautifully put together. The poignant figure of the bride parades before us in a series of different global cultures, past and present, each of them blending tradition and (occasionally) innovation, fantasy and reality, and empowerment and subjugation. There are common threads and striking differences. Amazing that no-one has thought of doing this before, but we can rejoice that someone has now carried it off!
    — Hugh Craig, Emeritus Professor, FAHA, University of Newcastle

This is absolutely the best kind of essay collection: original, insightful, scholarly and beautifully written. An important work on a largely underexplored topic, this globally focused view of the bride in literature and on the stage and screen is essential and enthralling reading. Ambitious in its scope, which ranges across time and place, this carefully curated volume can be read straight through or dipped into for its deep insights into this ubiquitous but surprisingly overlooked figure. Essential reading!
— Donna Lee Brien, Central Queensland University

This edited collection is the perfect companion to Dr. Parnell’s 2018 publication on representations of the mother-in-law, restoring the voices of women often overlooked by academic scholarship. The sweeping scope of the essays takes us across multiple disciplines, chronologies, and continents to examine the bride (both child and adult) in literature, stage, film, and even advertising videos. From Ancient Roman to Franco’s Spain to 2019 Mauritius and Madagascar, the bride emerges as a figure on the border of tradition and modernity, shaped by and at odds with globalization and local patriarchal cultures, negotiating her oppression and personal freedom.
— Julie Taddeo, University of Maryland

Lexington Books
Pages: 206 • Trim: 6 x 9
978-1-7936-1613-5 • Hardback • November 2020
978-1-7936-1614-2 • eBook • November 2020
Subjects: Social Science / Popular Culture, Social Science / Gender Studies, Social Science / Women’s Studies



Perspectives on Transnational Life Writing

Edited by Babs Boter, Marleen Rensen & Giles Scott-Smith

Forthcoming 4 December 2020

Paperback ISBN: 9789088909740 | Hardback ISBN: 9789088909757 | Imprint: Sidestone Press Academics | Format: 182x257mm | ca. 220 pp. | CLUES no. 5 | Series: CLUES | Language: English | 16 illus. (bw) | 7 illus. (fc) |

Keywords: life writing; (auto)biography; postcolonial studies; gender studies; transnationalism/globalization; travel writing; cultural history; social networks

This book focuses on the 20th century lives of men and women whose life-work and life experiences transgressed and surpassed the national boundaries that existed or emerged in the 20th century. The chapters explore how these life-stories add innovative transnational perspectives to the entangled histories of the world wars, decolonization, the Cold War and post-colonialism.
The subjects vary from artists, intellectuals, and politicians to ordinary citizens, each with their own unique set of experiences, interactions and interpretations. They trace the building of socio-cultural and professional networks, the casual encounters of everyday life, and the travel, translation, and preserving of life stories in different media. In these multiple ways the book makes a strong case for reclaiming lost personal narratives that have been passed over by more orthodox nation-state focused approaches.
These explorations make use of social and historical categories such as class, gender, religion and race in a transnational context, arguing that the transnational characteristics of these categories overflow the nation-state frame. In this way they can be used to ‘unhinge’ the primarily national context of history-writing.
By drawing on personal records and other primary sources, the chapters in this book release many layers of subjectivity otherwise lost, enabling a richer understanding of how individuals move through, interact with and are affected by the major events of their time.

Babs Boter and Marleen Rensen
Archival traces
Mieke Bouman (1907-1966) and the Jungschläger/Schmidt trials
Ernestine Hoegen
Colonialism, class, and collaboration: A wartime encounter on Java
Eveline Buchheim
“The Voortrekkers, on their way to Pretoria, 1952”: Doing Race in Life Writing from South Africa to the Netherlands
Barbara Henkes
Sleepwalking to a poem: A theory of Adrienne Rich’s translations from the Dutch
Diederik Oostdijk
W.E.B. Du Bois at Ons Suriname: Amsterdam transnational networks and Dutch anti-colonial activism in the late 1950s
Lonneke Geerlings
Following the letters: Emile de Laveleye’s transnational correspondence network
Thomas D’haeninck
Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery in the Dutch Empire, 1902-1995
Marijke Huisman
The production and contestation of biography: New approaches from South Africa
Ciraj Rassool
Ordinary lives: teaching history with life narratives in transnational perspective
Nancy Mykoff
Starring Morgenland! The life and work of Jan Johannes Theodorus Boon (1911-1974)
Edy Seriese
“She is English, isn’t she?”: transnationality as part of Cissy van Marxveldt’s self-presentation
Monica Soeting
“A caveman in a canal house”: The rejection of transnationalist biography in Hafid Bouazza’s A Bear in Fur Coat
Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar
Afterword: Reflections from a diplomatic historian
Giles Scott-Smith

Dr. Babs Boter
Lecturer and researcher in Literatures in English
Faculty of Arts


T +31 (0)20 59 82814 | | WORKING DAYS: mon – wed, fri |
ADDRESS: de Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands |

Writing the Empire: The McIlwraiths, 1853-1948, by Eva-Marie Kröller. University of Toronto Press 2021.


For full information

Crossing time and oceans, this fascinating history of the McIlwraiths tracks the family’s imperial identities across the generations to tell a story of anthropology and empire. 

Writing the Empire is a collective biography of the McIlwraiths, a family of politicians, entrepreneurs, businesspeople, scientists, and scholars. Known for their contributions to literature, politics, and anthropology, the McIlwraiths originated in Ayrshire, Scotland and spread across the British Empire, specifically North America and Australia, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards.
Focusing on imperial networking, Writing the Empire reflects on the McIlwraiths’ life-writing through three generations, contained in correspondence, diaries, memoirs, and estate papers, along with published works by members of the family. By moving from generation to generation, but also from one stage of a person’s life to the next, the author investigates some of the ways in which various McIlwraiths, both men and women, articulated their identity as subjects of the British Empire over time. Kröller identifies parallel and competing forms of communication that involved major public figures beyond the family’s immediate circle, and explores the challenges issued by Indigenous people to imperial ideologies. Drawing from private papers and public archives, Writing the Empire is an illuminating biography that will appeal to readers interested in the links between life-writing and imperial history.

Eva-Marie Kröller is a professor emerita in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia.

Transnational Perspectives on Artists’ Lives Edited by Marleen Rensen and Christopher Wiley Palgrave Studies in Life Writing 2020


For complete table of contents–

  • Applies transnationality to artists’ biography and life writing and examines a range of subjects from the late nineteenth century to the present
  • Explores the lives and works of artists who straddle different nations and cultures in biographies and biofictions, the study and writing of artists’ lives, and historical artists writing about one another
  • Comprises a wide international coverage from England, France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Hungary, Russia, North America, South Africa and New Zealand, with experts from a diverse wide range of arts subjects including literature, music and the visual art

This book demonstrates the significance of transnationality for studying and writing the lives of artists. While painters, musicians and writers have long been cast as symbols of their associated nations, recent research is increasingly drawing attention to those aspects of their lives and works that resist or challenge the national framework. The volume showcases different ways of treating transnationality in life writing by and about artists, investigating how the transnational can offer intriguing new insights on artists who straddle different nations and cultures. It further explores ways of adopting transnational perspectives in artists’ biographies in order to deal with experiences of cultural otherness or international influences, and analyses cross-cultural representations of artists in biography and biofiction. Gathering together insights from biographers and scholars with expertise in literature, music and the visual arts, Transnational Perspectives on Artists’ Lives opens up rich avenues for researching transnationality in the cultural domain at large.

‘This impressively varied and highly accessible book is characterized by an open and inclusive attitude towards the subjects it covers. Its innovative transnationalist perspective facilitates interaction between fields that really ought to communicate more. Refreshingly, it takes “fictional” life writing seriously as contributing to the shaping of the afterlives of artists. There may not be one way of “doing” biography, but, surely, this is the best way of doing biography research.’
— Dr Dennis Kersten, Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, Radboud University, The Netherlands

Marleen Rensen is Senior Lecturer in Modern European Literature at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters, and co-edited and introduced the special collection Life Writing and European Identities (2019) and the volume Unhinging the National Framework: Perspectives on Transnational Life Writing (2020).

Christopher Wiley is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Surrey, UK. He is the author of many journal articles and book chapters, and the co-editor of volumes including Researching and Writing on Contemporary Art and Artists (2020), Writing About Contemporary Musicians (2020) and The Routledge Companion to Autoethnography and Self-Reflexivity in Music Studies (2021).

Américanas, Autocracy, and Autobiographical Innovation: Overwriting the Dictator by Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle


is now published with Routledge Press. It is the latest title in their Auto/Biography Studies Series.

Book Description

Overwriting the Dictator is literary study of life writing and dictatorship in Americas. Its focus is women who have attempted to rewrite, or overwrite, discourses of womanhood and nationalism in the dictatorships of their nations of origin. The project covers five 20th century autocratic governments: the totalitarianism of Rafael Trujillo’s regime in the Dominican Republic, the dynasty of the Somoza family in Nicaragua, the charismatic, yet polemical impact of Juan and Eva Perón on the proletariat of Argentina, the controversial rule of Fidel Castro following Cuba’s 1959 revolution, and Augusto Pinochet’s coup d’état that transformed Chile into a police state. Each chapter traces emerging patterns of experimentation with autobiographical form and determines how specific autocratic methods of control suppress certain methods of self-representation and enable others. The book foregrounds ways in which women’s self-representation produces a counter-narrative that critiques and undermines dictatorial power with the depiction of women as self-aware, resisting subjects engaged in repositioning their gendered narratives of national identity.

Dr. Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle

Department of English
The College of New Jersey

Genre Studies Delegate, Modern Language Association


Book Reviews Editor, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies

[Pronouns: she/her/hers]

Dear colleagues,
Celebrity Memoir: from Ghostwriting to Gender Politics by Hannah Yelin is now out and may be of interest to some of you. Perhaps especially those teaching and researching on the topics of gender, celebrity culture, the politics of production, 21st century women’s writing, porn, reality TV, YouTubers, pop stardom, or life narratives in their various forms.
It is currently £12 in ebook format (usually £64) til 1st Dec with the discount code CYBER20PAL.
Celebrity Memoir: from Ghostwriting to Gender Politics
In this timely analysis of the economics of access that surround contemporary female celebrity, Hannah Yelin reveals a culture that requires women to be constantly ‘baring all’ in physical exposure and psychic confessions. As famous women tell their story, in their ‘own words’, constellations of ghostwriters, intermediaries and market forces undermine assertions of authorship and access to the ‘real’ woman behind the public image. Yelin’s account of the presence of the ghostwriter offers a fascinating microcosm of the wider celebrity machine, with insights pertinent to all celebrity mediation. Yelin surveys life-writing genres including fiction, photo-diary, comic-strip, and art anthology, as well as more ‘traditional’ autobiographical forms; covering a wide range of media platforms and celebrity contexts including reality TV, YouTube, pop stardom, and porn/glamour modelling. Despite this diversity, Yelin reveals seemingly inescapable conventions, as well as spaces for resistance. Celebrity Memoir: from Ghostwriting to Gender Politics offers new insights on the curtailment of women’s voices, with ramifications for literary studies of memoir, feminist media studies, celebrity studies, and work on the politics of production in the creative industries.


Narrative research with children:  New book published by Palgrave

Narrating Childhood with Children and Young People: Diverse Contexts, Methods and Stories of Everyday Life 

Edited by
Dr Lisa Moran, Department of Social Sciences, Edge Hill University, UK

Dr Kathy Reilly, School of Geography, Archaeology and Irish Studies, NUI Galway

Dr Bernadine Brady, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway
This new volume draws together scholarly contributions from diverse, yet interlinking disciplinary fields, with the aim of critically examining the value of narrative inquiry in understanding the everyday lives of children and young people in diverse spaces and places, including the home, recreational spaces, communities, and educational spaces. Incorporating insights from sociology, geography, education, child and youth studies, social care, and social work, the collection emphasises how narrative research approaches present storytelling as a universally recognizable, valuable, and effective methodological approach with children and young people. The chapters point to the diversity of spaces and places encountered by children and young people, considers how young people ‘tell tales’ about their lives and highlights the multidimensionality of narrative research in capturing their everyday lived experiences.


Life Writing, Volume 17, Issue 4, December 2020 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

Animating Interior Worlds

This new issue contains the following articles:

Interior Matter: Photography, Spaces, Selves
Jane Simon
Pages: 441-452 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1770473


The Implied Rummager: Reading Intimate Interiors in Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules | Open Access
Anna Poletti
Pages: 455-467 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1768874

Media’s Domestication as Intimate Geography
Justine Lloyd
Pages: 469-481 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769305

Imperial Debris in Janet Frame’s To the Is-Land (1982)
Emma Parker
Pages: 483-491 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769304

Circuits of Children’s Testimony: Reading Syrian Children’s Drawings of Home
Kylie Cardell & Kate Douglas
Pages: 493-502 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769257

The Problem of Story: Criminal Evidence, Affect, and Sense-making
Kate Rossmanith
Pages: 503-511 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1768821

Objects and Death: A Tentative Taxonomy
Nicole Matthews
Pages: 515-522 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769307

Reading the Police File: Interiority and the Forensic Artefact
Peter Doyle
Pages: 523-538 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1770044

Light-Writing and Photography’s Bodies of Memory
Tara McLennan
Pages: 539-560 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769310

Treading Water, Hoarding Swims
Jo Croft
Pages: 561-572 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1770155

Speaking Objects: A (Suit)case Study
Rachel Robertson
Pages: 573-579 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769845

Small Pleasures: Tracings of the Endotic in Everyday Spaces, Acts and Bodies
Beth Yahp
Pages: 581-589 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1770154

The Ceramic Zoo: Writing with Animal Representations
Vanessa Berry
Pages: 591-598 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1769857

Genre and Women’s Life Writing in Early Modern England
edited by Michelle M. Dowd and Julie A. Eckerle, London, Routledge, 2016, 212 + xii pp., ISBN 13 978 1 138 26492 2
Jill Burton
Pages: 601-604 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1478172

A History of English Autobiography
by Adam Smyth, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016, 437 pp., ISBN: 978-1-107-7841-3
Trev Broughton
Pages: 605-608 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1504597

Women Writers of the Beat Era: Autobiography and Intertextuality
by Mary Paniccia Carden, Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2018, 248 pp., ISBN 9780813941219
Meg Jensen
Pages: 609-611 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1548875

The Good Bohemian: The Letters of Ida John
edited by Rebecca John and Michael Holroyd, New York, Bloomsbury, 2017, 336 pp., £25 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-40887-362-5
Charles Reeve
Pages: 613-616 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1565599

Representations of Forgetting in Life Writing and Fiction
Memory Studies Series, by Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, xii + 188 pp. ISBN 978-1-137-59863-9
Kathleen Venema
Pages: 617-620 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1565598

Literary Autobiography and Arab National Struggles
by Tahia Abdel Nasser, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2017, 224 pp., ISBN: 9781474420228
Sophia Brown
Pages: 621-624 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1491781


 Dear Colleagues,

Northwestern University Press has published my new book, Geographies of Flight: Phillis Wheatley to Octavia Butler, available here:   .

You’ll receive a 25% discount when using this code at checkout: NUP2020.

With thanks and best wishes,

Bill Decker


Geographies of Flight: Phillis Wheatley to Octavia Butler 


African American writing commonly represents New World topography as a set of entrapments, contesting the open horizons, westward expansion, and individual freedom characteristic of the white, Eurocentric literary tradition. Geographies of Flight: Phillis Wheatley to Octavia Butler provides the first comprehensive treatment of the ways in which African American authors across three centuries have confronted the predicament of inhabiting space under conditions of bondage and structural oppression. William Merrill Decker examines how, in testifying to those conditions, fourteen black authors have sought to transform a national cartography that, well into the twenty-first century, reflects white supremacist assumptions. These writers question the spatial dimensions of a mythic American liberty and develop countergeographies in which descendants of the African diaspora lay claim to the America they have materially and culturally created.

Tracking the testimonial voice in a range of literary genres, Geographies of Flight explores themes of placement and mobility in the work of Phillis Wheatley, Olaudah Equiano, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W. E. B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Octavia Butler.

“Decker’s Geographies of Flight is an intellectual, philosophical, political, social, cultural, and activist tour de force. A radical and revolutionary blueprint representing a call to scholarly arms in today’s world in which the ‘formidable structures of oppression’ are continuing to exert a dehumanizing stranglehold over US society, his pioneering methodology asks and answers the vitally important question to which we must all be held accountable: ‘How do we hear the descendant voices of those who write from spaces shaped by the African diaspora?’” —Celeste-Marie Bernier, author of Characters of Blood: Black Heroism in the Transatlantic Imagination

“Ambitious in scope, William Merrill Decker’s Geographies of Flight: Phillis Wheatley to Octavia Butler asks us to reconsider the complex geographies of testimonial personhood in the development of the African American literary tradition over the longue durée. It offers insightful, detailed readings of the most significant autobiographical nonfiction and fiction in the canon.” —Edlie Wong, author of Racial Reconstruction: Black Inclusion, Chinese Exclusion, and the Fictions of Citizenship

WILLIAM MERRILL DECKER is a professor of English and American Studies at Oklahoma State University. His previous books include The Literary Vocation of Henry Adams, Epistolary Practices: Letter Writing in America before Telecommunications, and Kodak Elegy: A Cold War Childhood.

I am thrilled to announce to publication of my new book, available now!
Joanne Jacobson
Professor Emerita of English
Yeshiva University
New York, NY


Every Last Breath
A Memoir of Two Illnesses

Joanne Jacobson

When Joanne Jacobson’s writing about her mother’s respiratory illness was interrupted by her own diagnosis with a rare blood disorder, she found her perspective profoundly altered. Every Last Breath follows these two chronic illnesses as they grow unexpectedly intertwined. Rejecting a fixed, retro­spective point of view and the forward-moving trajectory of conventional memoir, Jacobson brings the reader to the emotionally raw present—where potentially fatal illness and “end of life” both remain, emphatically, life. As chronic illness blurs the distinction between illness and wellness, she discovers how a lifetime of relapse and remission can invite transformation. Written at the fluid, unsettling boundary between prose and poetry, these essays offer a narrative diagnosis of ongoing revision.

Joanne Jacobson is the author of Authority and Alliance in the Letters of Henry Adams (1992) and Hunger Artist: A Suburban Childhood (2007). Her critical and memoir essays have appeared in such publications as Bellevue Literary Review, New England Review, Fourth Genre, and The Nation and her work has been sup­ported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.


“In this brilliant memoir, so gorgeously written, so richly intelligent, and so achingly heartfelt, Jacobson tells the stories of two illnesses, a mother’s and a daughter’s, one of breath and one of blood. Jacobson plunges all the way down (to borrow from Emily Dickinson) to ‘Where the Meanings are.’ With its lyrical compression and unguarded honestly, Every Last Breath is a knock-out.”
–Richard McCann, author of Mother of Sorrows

“Every Last Breath is a book in which every last word illuminates the mutable, mortal body we singly inhabit and commonly share. It speaks deeply to the human experience of incremental time and ongoing, subtle, threshold-crossing change. It is impossible to overstate the beauty and intelligence that imbues Joanne Jacobson’s mediation on the ecstatic and perishable conditions of our lives.”
–William Merrill Decker, author of Kodak Elegy: A Cold War Childhood

“Beautiful and yet often fierce in its prose, Every Last Breath draws me into Jacobson’s story—an interlocking narrative of her mother’s independent and determined last years, and of her own sudden confrontation with a rare life-threatening blood disorder. These powerful essays can stand alone, but together they are a humbling reminder that aging and illness can make even the ordinary unknowable.”
–Marsha Hurst, lecturer in Narrative Medicine, Columbia University


114 pp., 5 x 7 | ISBN 978-1-64769-001-4 | Paper $17.95


To Order:
phone: 800-621-2736
fax: 800-621-8476

Dear colleagues,
Mémoires, traces, empreintes (Memory, Traces, Imprints) is out, published by Orbis Tertius and edited by Elisabeth Bouzonviller, Floriane Reviron-Piégay et Emmanuelle Souvignet.


Mémoires, traces, empreintes is an interdisciplinary volume, with contributions from specialists of the English- and Spanish- speaking world. It explores the political, historical, ethical and aesthetic representations of memory from an epistemological standpoint with chapters devoted to contemporary American illness memoirs, to Elizabethan drama, contemporary architecture, Spanish poetry and photography, and 20th- and 21st-century English, American and Spanish fiction. The paradoxical relationship between memory and the traces or imprints it leaves on monuments, in texts, photographs or in the  body and the mind is analysed through its literary, historical and artistic manifestations essentially.


Mémoires, traces, empreintes
E. Bouzonviller, F. Reviron-Piégay, E. Souvignet (editors)
Orbis Tertius

Septembre 2020
ISBN: 978-2-36783-153-4

Table of Contents

·        Introduction

• Mémoire et traumatismes/ Memory and Trauma

– Nancy K. MILLER « Indelible Memories, Legible Bodies: The Case of Graphic Illness Memoir »
– Sélima LEJRI « “Pew-Fellow with Others’ Moan”: Mourning Rituals on Shakespeare’s Heterotopic Catholic Stage »
– Alicia ALTED « La conflictiva relación entre Historia y Memoria en la sociedad española desde la Transición »
– Marek PAWLICKI « Analysing Postmemory: The Notions of Imprint and Trace in Eva Hoffman’s After Such Knowledge and Iris Murdoch’s Message to the Planet »

• Commémoration: la mémoire monumentale/ Commemoration: monumental memory

– Sophie L. RIEMENSCHNEIDER « Conquering the Void: The Necessity of Constructing Absence in the 9/11 Memorial »
– John MATTESON « Text as Tomb, Tomb as Text: Emerson, Melville, Bassani and the Fallacies of Commemoration »
– Christine OROBITG « Trace, empreinte et mémoire sous Philippe IV : l’Anfiteatro de Felipe IV el Grande (1631) »

• La Mémoire incarnée : entre mémoire individuelle et collective/ Incarnated Memory: from Individual to Collective Memory

– Stéphane SITAYEB « Mémoires et spécularité dans Ulysse de Joyce : le reflet, l’écho et l’effluve »
– Jacques SOUBEYROUX « La mémoire et la trace. Autobiographie et fiction dans Como la sombra que se va d’Antonio Muñoz Molina »
– Gilles DEL VECCHIO « Le paysage marin remémoré dans les trois premiers recueils de poésies de Rafael Alberti »
– Anouk CHIROL TO « Les autoportraits d’Alberto García-Alix »

• Mémoire, création et imagination/ Memory, Creation and Imagination

– Corinne BIGOT « Embodied Memories and Memory Dishes: the Diasporic Culinary Memoir as an alternative Locus of Memory. A reading  of Laura Schenone’s Lost Ravioli Recipe of Hoboken and Austin Clarke’s Pig Tails ‘n’ Breadfruit  »
– Virginia SHERMAN « From Memory to Impression, Recipe to Embodiment, in the Auto-Ethnographic Cookbooks of Claudia Roden »
– Grégory COSTE « Sur les traces du présent : la mémoire révoquée dans Víspera del Gozo (1926) de Pedro Salinas »
– Julie FINTZEL « La Guerre d’Espagne n’a pas eu lieu. L’entrée de Max Aub dans l’“Irreal Academia” ou la mémoire de la Seconde République par la réécriture de l’Histoire »

Floriane Reviron-Piegay
MCF Département d’Etudes Anglophones
Faculté Arts, Lettre, Langues
Campus Tréfilerie
33 RUE du 11 Novembre
04 77 42 13 05



The Other Side of Absence: Discovering my Father’s Secrets 
The personal recovery of a WW II Polish resistance fighter’s story and the long tail of war.
Dear colleagues,


Some of you may remember a paper I gave at the inaugural IABA conference in Adelaide, Australia in 2015 and may also have read my journal article in Life Writing, I Can’t Call Australia Home in 2017. I am pleased to inform you that a version my doctoral submission, completed in 2018, has now been published through Ventura Press, Sydney, Australia. Here follow three comments:

What happens when the past you didn’t even know existed catches up with you and resets your life on an entirely new course? O’Neill’s family memoir examines the devastating, intergenerational impact of trauma and secrets on children and other family members. Spanning several countries and two continents, it takes us from one revelation to another, building towards the riveting discovery of her father’s war-time identity. In drawing her chilling portrayal of the damaged man, O’Neill is capable of making a leap of empathy and understanding as she embraces her newly found legacy. The Other Side of Absence is a spellbinding read, an original contribution to migration history in Australia, and in particular the Polish diaspora during the Cold War period.


Eva C. Karpinski, author of Borrowed Tongues: Life Writing, Migration, and Translation, York University

A fascinating account of a quest for a vanished father that takes the author to Poland, wartime Europe and postwar Britain. Was he a scoundrel or a victim? Evidence comes in on both sides in a moving narrative that is also a page-turner as we wait eagerly for the author’s next discovery.


Sheila Fitzpatrick, author of Mischka’s War’ University of Sydney.

I have rarely been so gripped by a family history as I have by this one. This is an extraordinary tale of what damage war and post-war trauma can wreak on multigenerational members of the same family moving from Poland to Australia and back again. No wonder Betty threw herself into family history research to try and answer the myriad questions left hanging by her father. We are left with a clear understanding of how important history is to individual identity and redemption.


Tanya Evans, Director of the Centre for Applied History, Macquarie University, author of Fractured Families: Life on the Margins in Colonial New South Wales

The Other Side of Absence can be ordered through The Book Depository and Amazon and for those in Australia, directly through my website or in all good bookshops.


Dr Betty O’Neill
Lecturer, Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation
Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation
University of Technology, Sydney

New articles added to Vol. IX of the the European Journal of Life Writing

Dear Reader,

Four new articles have been added to Volume IX of the European Journal of Life Writing:

Gábor Csikós: “Remaining an Ousider: An Eighteen-Century Diary of a
Hungarian Nobleman”

Rachel Robertson: “Buttons: Life Writing from a Small Collection”

*       Chantal Zabus: review of Souhir Zakri Masson’s Mapping
Metabiographical Heartlands in Marina Warnerʻs Fiction

*       Helen van Duijn: review of Helen Southworthʻs Fresca. A Life in
Making. A Biographerʻs Quest for a Forgotten Bloomsbury Polymath


European Journal of Life Writing

The European Journal of Life Writing is an open access e-journal, but
editing and type setting do cost money.

Your financial support can help us to publish a wide array of valuable
articles about life writing:  <>

Dear Colleagues,
I have recently published a biography of a Chinese playwright and novelist, under the title Shih-I Hsiung, A Glorious Showman, by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
The following is a synopsis of the book. Any comments will be most welcome.
Thank you!
Da Zheng
In 1933, Shih-I Hsiung (1902–1991), a student from China, met with Allardyce Nicoll, a Shakespearean scholar at the University of London, to discuss his PhD study in English drama. After learning about Hsiung’s interest and background, Nicoll suggested that he should consider studying Chinese drama for his dissertation and writing a play of a Chinese subject. Hsiung took the advice to heart and set out to write Lady Precious Stream, a play based on a classical Beijing opera. In six weeks, the writing was completed; six months later, the manuscript was accepted for publication by Methuen; and not long after, Little Theater in London agreed to produce the play, which ran for 900 successive shows. The phenomenal success turned Hsiung into stardom all at once: he became the first Chinese to write and direct a West End play in England; in 1936, the play had its Broadway premiere and subsequent performances in Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, and other U.S. cities; and it has been produced and staged in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia ever since. Following the success of Lady Precious Stream, Hsiung translated into English the Chinese classic The Romance of the Western Chamber; in addition, he wrote a number of plays, novels, and essays, in both English and Chinese, as well as the biography The Life of Chiang Kai-shekShih-I Hsiung: A Glorious Showman unfolds the transnational and transcultural life experience of an extraordinary showman: a literary master, a theater man, and a social actor bold and impassioned on socio-cultural stages. Hsiung introduced English and American literature to readers in China through his translation works in the 1920s and early 1930s. After his arrival in England, he began writing in English for audiences not familiar with the Chinese culture. His works were known for their originality, humor, and a deep sense of cultural and historical engagement. Later in his life when he was residing in Hong Kong, he was devoted to education and was also active in Chinese literary and theater circles.
Da Zheng, Ph.D.


Professor of English
73 Tremont Street, Room 8046
Suffolk University
Boston, MA 02108


Dear All:

It is now possible to pre-order my first book about autobiographical fictions in the blues, Fictional Blues: Narrative Self-Invention from Bessie Smith to Jack White. Here’s the book blurb:

The familiar story of Delta blues musician Robert Johnson, who sold his soul to the devil at a Mississippi crossroads in exchange for guitar virtuosity, and the violent stereotypes evoked by legendary blues “bad men” like Stagger Lee undergird the persistent racial myths surrounding “authentic” blues expression. Fictional Blues unpacks the figure of the American blues performer, moving from early singers such as Ma Rainey and Big Mama Thornton to contemporary musicians such as Amy Winehouse, Rhiannon Giddens, and Jack White to reveal that blues makers have long used their songs, performances, interviews, and writings to invent personas that resist racial, social, economic, and gendered oppression.

Using examples of fictional and real-life blues artists culled from popular music and literary works from writers such as Walter Mosley, Alice Walker, and Sherman Alexie, Kimberly Mack demonstrates that the stories blues musicians construct about their lives (however factually slippery) are inextricably linked to the “primary story” of the narrative blues tradition, in which autobiography fuels musicians’ reclamation of power and agency.

Fictional Blues will be published by the University of Massachusetts Press in December 2020 as part of their African American Intellectual History series edited by Christopher Cameron (former president of the AAIHS). I have a code that I can share that offers a 30% discount and free shipping when ordering:


For all you teachers out there, I would sincerely appreciate it if you would see if your library might want to order it and/or if you would consider adopting it for your spring 2021 classes.

And if any of you can think of someone else who might be interested in this interdisciplinary book that engages popular music, literature, visual culture, and cultural history, feel free to share this message.

Thank you in advance!

Best regards,

Kimberly Mack
Assistant Professor of African American Literature and Culture
Department of English Language and Literature
The University of Toledo

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 1, 2020
International Year in Review

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

Kylie Cardell

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

Alana Bell

Writing Cultural Celebrities: The Year in China

Chen Shen

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

Marianne Høyen

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

Maarit Leskelä-Kärki

“The Absolute Genre”: The Year in France

Joanny Moulin

De/Constructing Friedrich Hölderlin: The Year in Germany

Tobias Heinrich

Disappearing Worlds in Life Writing: The Year in Iceland

Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir

Bollywood Stars and Cancer Memoirs: The Year in India

Pramod K. Nayar

Scar Issues: The Year in Ireland

Liam Harte

Villains Between History and Literature: The Year in Italy

Ilaria Serra

Retelling the History of the Sengoku Period and the Era Name System: The Year in Japan

Lu Chen

Embodied Subjects of Victimization: The Year in Korea

Heui-Yung Park

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

Monica Soeting

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

Szidonia Haragos

“The strange and often alien world of the past”: The Year in the United Kingdom

Tom Overton

More Than Angry: The Year in the United States

Leigh Gilmore

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.

Paige Rasmussen
Managing Editor
The Center for Biographical Research


Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
1960 East-West Road
Biomed B104
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-3774
Dear colleagues,

List members may be interested in my latest book, What’s France got to do with it? Contemporary memoirs of Australians in France, released by ANU Press and available for free download at

While only one book-length memoir recounting the sojourn of an Australian in France was published in the 1990s, well over 40 have been published since 2000, overwhelmingly written by women. Although we might expect a focus on travel, intercultural adjustment and communication in these texts, this is the case only in a minority of accounts. More frequently, France serves as a backdrop to a project of self-renovation in which transplantation to another country is incidental, hence the question ‘What’s France got to do with it?’

The book delves into what France represents in the various narratives, its role in the self-transformation, and the reasons for the seemingly insatiable demand among readers and publishers for these stories. It asks why these memoirs have gained such traction among Australian women at the dawn of the twenty-first century and what is at stake in the fascination with France.

Best regards

Juliana de Nooy

Dr Juliana de Nooy
Senior Lecturer in French
School of Languages and Cultures
The University of Queensland
St Lucia Qld 4072 Australia
T +61 7 3365 2278  F +61 3365 6799
CRICOS code: 00025B




Research in Life Writing and Education

The field of life writing is innovative and ever evolving. The purpose of this book series is to create a robust space for scholars to examine the intersections of life writing, education, and research in varied forms. Volumes in the series will reflect a wide range of methodologies, interdisciplinary approaches, topics, and theories in exploring life writing in education—from classic teacher biographies to innovative narrative, oral history, and arts-based approaches that continue to unfold in the field. We encourage scholars to consider both informal and formal educational spaces; life writing exemplars as teaching tools; innovative life writing methodologies in educational work; and varied lives with lessons to teach, whether student activists, educational leaders, or unknown and rarely celebrated instructors.

Call for Chapters 

1) Race and Life Writing

2) Methodological Innovations in Life Writing and Education

Call for Volumes in the Series

The series editors invite volumes focused on topics related to life writing, education, and research. Potential volumes could be single-authored, co-authored, or edited collections of multiple chapters following a common theme in life writing and education writ large. All volumes should include attention to methodological theorizing, innovations or processing. Topics might include:

1) Notable leaders’ or educators’ biographies in a particular space (e.g., high schools, prisons, homeschooling, foster care systems, after school programs, social media contexts), intellectual or educational tradition (e.g. peace studies, spiritual traditions, poststructuralism, Montessorian education), or movement (e.g. progressive era, environmental movement, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo Movement).

2) Methodological innovations in carrying out, reflecting on, and representing life writing research and education;

3) Theoretical innovations in approaching life writing research and education;

4) Research into transformations in lives and education;

5) Intersectional analyses of educational lives in their sociocultural contexts (race, class, gender, nation, dis/ability, sexualities, age, generation);

6) Research into teaching with biography and other forms of life writing;

7) Research into students and school workers’ roles in and contributions to an educational effort of note, whether a historic high school, community program, or outreach effort.

We advise that authors first submit an outline and proposal for consideration in the book series. We welcome a description of the volume mission and focus, possible chapter/section contents, methodological contribution, and how the volume aligns with the series focus on life writing and education. Please also include a description of how the book extends the field of scholarship it enters and the potential audiences for the text.

The proposal and manuscript should include author/editor contact information, institutional affiliation, professional title, and a brief biographical note about the authors/editors. Please follow the formatting requirements for the 7th edition of the APA Manual (the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association) for the materials. Submit in word documents only to the series editors, as listed below.

Lucy E. Bailey, Ph.D.
Oklahoma State University
Social Foundations & Qualitative Inquiry
Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies

KaaVonia Hinton, Ph.D.
Old Dominion University
Department of Teaching and Learning

“Autobiography, biography and autoethnography: life writing envelops them all. This series brings to bear the head work, field work, and text work across the theory and methodology that makes life writing in education come alive” Patti Lather, The Ohio State University

“Many people tell stories, but not all are storytellers. Many academics write biographies, but not all are biographers. Now, for the first time, the biography strand of the Research in Life Writing and Education Book Series provides a publishing venue for educational biographers, versed in biographical theory, whose research has been guided and tempered by the perennial issues of biographical inquiry.” Craig Kridel, University of South Carolina

“Life writing, with its deep, far-reaching roots, resonates profoundly in our present moment. This important new series connects it broadly with education while critically exploring new modalities, perspectives, and interpretations. It is a gift to those of us seeking to make sense of lives in education” Jackie Blount, Professor, The Ohio State University

Lucy E. Bailey, Ph.D.
Social Foundations and Qualitative Inquiry
Director of Gender and Women’s Studies
Oklahoma State University
215 Willard Hall
Stillwater, OK 74074
Bradley Smith, Susan, A Splendid Adventure: Australian Suffrage Theatre on the World Stage, Peter Lang, Oxford, 2020
Australia led the world in the achievement of woman’s suffrage and the nation’s cultural history reflects this ambitious and progressive atmosphere. The impressive achievements of suffrage feminists in Australian theatre, however, are an untold story, as is their contribution to the development of international women’s theatre of the time. A Splendid Adventure brings these experiences and experiments to light through a group biography exploring the theatrical careers of Katharine Susannah Prichard, Stella Miles Franklin, and Inez Isabel Bensusan. Chosen because of their expatriate involvement in the women’s movement, their international profile as enfranchised Australian women, and their exceptional contribution to both the development of Australian drama and international feminist theatre, these women embody the energies and passions of Australian suffrage playwrights. The biographies of these major figures are accompanied by the dramatic stories of the New Women playwrights, the theatrical endeavours of women university students, and a consideration of international feminist theatre on tour in Australia, including the work of migrant suffragette Adela Pankhurst. The volume also includes the full text of a play by each playwright. Australian suffrage playwrights emerge from this study as exceptional feminists, expatriates, and theatre workers, whose «splendid adventures» have considerable implications for international women’s theatre, feminist dramatic criticism, and Australian theatre historiography.
‘The most original and substantial contribution that this book makes to women’s and theatre studies is in excavating the international dimension of the suffrage theatre movements. This whole area has been neglected, particularly within Anglo-American studies. The contribution to international feminist studies – not just theatre studies – will be considerable.’
(Professor Vivien Gardner, University of Manchester)

Dr Susan Bradley Smith

Associate Professor | Creative Writing
School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry
Faculty of Humanities
Tel | +61 8 9266 7217
Email |



Publication announcement

Remembering Our Grandfathers’ Exile:  US Imprisonment of Hawaiʻi’s Japanese in World War II

A personal recovery of a family and collective ethnic history

Dear Colleagues:

A few of you on this list may remember the collective life history project that I began well over a decade ago and shared with you at a seminar in Honolulu.  I am pleased to inform you that this ever-expanding and evolving project has been published and is described below:

Remembering Our Grandfathers’ Exile is a composite chronicling of the Hawai‘i Japanese immigrant experience in mainland exile and internment during World War II, from pre-war climate to arrest to exile to return. Told through the eyes of a granddaughter and researcher born during that war, it is also a research narrative that reveals parallels between pre-WWII conditions and twenty-first century anti-immigrant attitudes and heightened racism in the U.S. The book introduces Okawa’s grandfather, Reverend Tamasaku Watanabe, a Protestant minister, and other Japanese resident aliens imprisoned after the Pearl Harbor attack—all legal immigrants excluded by law from citizenship—in a collective biographical narrative that depicts their suffering, challenges, and survival as highly literate men faced with captivity in the little-known prison camps run by the U.S. Justice and War Departments.

Okawa interweaves documents, personal and official, and internees’ firsthand accounts, letters, and poetry to create a narrative that not only conveys their experience but, equally important, exemplifies their literacy as ironic and deliberate acts of resistance to oppressive conditions. Her research revealed that the Hawai‘i immigrants who had sons in military service were eventually distinguished from the main group; the narrative relates visits of some of those sons to their imprisoned fathers in New Mexico and elsewhere, as well as the deaths of sons killed in action in Europe and the Pacific. Documents demonstrate the high degree of literacy and advocacy among the internees, as well as the inherent injustice of the government’s policies. Okawa’s project later expanded to include New Mexico residents having memories of the Santa Fe Internment Camp—witnesses who provide rare views of the wartime reality.

This can be ordered directly from the University of Hawai‘i Press via its website:

Gail Y. Okawa (
Professor Emerita of English, Youngstown State University, Ohio;

Visiting scholar, Center for Biographical Research, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa


New Forms of Self-Narration
Young Women, Life Writing and Human Rights 
Ana Belén Martínez García
Develops the idea of life writing as a form of self-construction, whereby victims may reframe their story as that of an empowered survivor
Examines strategic narrative devices typical of testimonial accounts both online and offline
Unpacks the global phenomenon of young women’s testimonial projects
This book is a timely study of young women’s life writing as a form of human rights activism. It focuses on six young women who suffered human rights violations when they were girls and have gone on to become activists through life writing: Malala Yousafzai, Hyeonseo Lee, Yeonmi Park, Bana Alabed, Nujeen Mustafa, and Nadia Murad. Their ongoing life-writing projects diverge to some extent, but all share several notable features: they claim a testimonial collective voice, they deploy rights discourse, they excite humanitarian emotions, they link up their context-bound plight with bigger social justice causes, and they use English as their vehicle of self-expression and self-construction. This strategic use of English is of vital importance, as it has brought them together as icons in the public sphere within the last six years. New Forms of Self-Narration is the first ever attempt to explore all these activists’ life-writing texts side by side, encompassing both the written and the audiovisual material, online and offline, and taking all texts as belonging to a unique, single, though multifaceted, project.
Ana Belén Martínez García researches human rights life writing by young women activists at the University of Navarra, Spain. She is a member of the International Auto/Biography Association, the IABA-SNS (Students and New Scholars) Network, AEDEAN (Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies), and ISSN (International Society for the Study of Narrative).
You can purchase the book at the Palgrave Studies in Life Writing series website:

The editors of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies are delighted to share that the Autumn 2020 issue (35.3), has now been published digitally: Print copies will be mailed within the next month.

This is a special issue on “The Textualities of the Auto/biogrAfrical,” edited by Sally Ann Murray, Fiona Moolla, and Mathilda Slabbert.


Introduction: “The Textualities of the AutobiogrAfrical” Sally Ann Murray, University of Stellenbosch, Fiona Moolla, University of the Western Cape, and Mathilda Slabbert, University of Stellenbosch

Essay: “Loss and Trauma in Ugandan Girls’ Ex-Child ‘Soldier’ Autobiographical Narratives: The Case of Grace Akallo and China Keitetsi” Florence Ebila, Makerere University, Kampala
Cluster: Life Narratives of African Political Womanhood

“African Political Womanhood in Autobiography: Possible Interpretive Paradigms” Marciana Nafula Were, Stellenbosch University and Tom Mboya University College

“Taboos and their Subversion: Reconceptualizing the Proper African Woman in OluìreÌòmiì Oòbaìsanjoìò’s Autobiography, Bitter-Sweet: My Experience with Obasanjo” Folasade Hunsu, Oòbaìfemi Ìò AwoìlowÌòo ÌòUniversity

“The Burden of Representation in the Life Stories of Wambui Waiyaki Otieno and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela”
Grace A. Musila, University of the Witwatersrand
The (Critical-Creative) Process

“Bending Bodies, Signing Words: Re-Shaping a Father and a Feminist Practice” Nadia Sanger, Stellenbosch University

“One Moment, Three Bullets, a Lifetime” Gillian Rennie, Rhodes University


“Complicating Apartheid Resistance Histories by means of South African Autobiographies” Annie Gagiano, Emerita, Stellenbosch University
Cluster: South Africa

“Rewriting the Colonial Gaze? Black Middle-Class Constructions of Africa in Sihle Khumalo’s Travel Writing” Isaac Ndlovu, University of Venda

“Privacy, Authorship, and Ownership: On Reading André Brink and Ingrid Jonker’s Letters in Flame in the Snow” Louise Viljoen, University of Stellenbosch

“The Matriarchive as Life Knowledge in Es’kia Mphahlele’s African Humanism” Uhuru Portia Phalafala, Stellenbosch University
Cluster: Queering African Lives

“African Queer Autobiographics: Drama, Disclosure, and Pedagogy” Taiwo Tunji Osinubi, University of Western Ontario

“‘I am Berated as a Communist because I Sometimes Wear a Red Tie’: Not Forgetting the Awkward Afrikaner, Dr Petronella ‘Nell’ van Heerden” Christi van der Westhuizen, Nelson Mandela University

Book Reviews

Rev. of Girls, Autobiography, Media: Gender and Self-Mediation in Digital Economies. EMMA MAGUIRE Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. Ina C. Seethaler, Coastal Carolina University

Rev. of Witnessing Girlhood: Toward an Intersectional Tradition of Life Writing. LEIGH GILMORE and ELIZABETH MARSHALL Fordham University Press, 2019. Roxanne Harde, University of Alberta

Rev. of Autofiction in English HYWEL DIX, ED. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. Alison Gibbons, Sheffield Hallam University
Notes on Contributors

Professor Ricia Anne Chansky, Ph.D.
University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez
Research Affiliate, York University CERLAC
Fulbright Specialist in US Studies – Literature
Director, Mi Maria Project    

This is a link to my article Writing for Life.  My creative and essay writing comes out of life writing.  NEW ONLINE issue of “THE SOUL OF THE AMERICAN ACTOR” (22nd Year): Writing for Life by Marjorie Kanter and the general link at, reaching over 25,000 readers across America and the world. Enjoy!


Publication announcement
Life Writing after the Book
Anna Poletti

The importance of personal storytelling in contemporary culture and politics

In an age where our experiences are processed and filtered through a wide variety of mediums, both digital and physical, how do we tell our own story? How do we “get a life,” make sense of who we are and the way we live, and communicate that to others? Stories of the Self takes the literary study of autobiography and opens it up to a broad and fascinating range of material practices beyond the book, investigating the manifold ways people are documenting themselves in contemporary culture. Anna Poletti explores Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, a collection of six hundred cardboard boxes filled with text objects from the artist’s everyday life; the mid-aughts crowdsourced digital archive PostSecret; queer zine culture and its practices of remixing and collaging; and the bureaucratic processes surrounding surveillance dossiers.

Stories of the Self argues that while there is a strong emphasis on the importance of personal storytelling in contemporary culture and politics, mediation is just as important in establishing the credibility and legibility of life writing. Poletti argues that the very media used for writing our lives intrinsically shapes how we are seen to matter.

Anna Poletti is Associate Professor of English Literature and Culture at Utrecht University and co-author of Life Narratives and Youth Culture: Representation, Agency and Participation.
“What kind of digital life did you have in the middle of 2013? Had you taken a selfie yet? Did you have a blog? From the beginning, this dazzling book has you hooked. Anna Poletti returns to a field of autobiography studies she pioneered—intimate ephemera—and gets personal. We must think about our use of media and materiality to make sense of our lives, she insists, to encounter the lives of others and the agency of matter, both human and nonhuman. In a series of case studies various and sometimes rogue scholarly practices focus on the agency of diverse things: rummaging in the cardboard boxes in the Warhol archives; reading the camera as an actor in documentary scenes; tracking the remediation of surveillance dossiers; mapping the entrepreneurial coaxing of crowdsourced autobiographies. In the process, we engage with a rigorous interrogation of recent theorising in the humanities and social sciences on material culture and materiality, queer theory, posthumanism, media studies and communication by one of the most original and innovative critics in autobiography studies now.”

—Emeritus Professor Gillian Whitlock, The University of Queensland

“A corrective to traditional approaches that privilege the book as the ideal medium for life stories, Anna Poletti not only asks which lives come to matter, but also how they are lived through matter, how matter matters. Stories of the Self provides readers a genealogy of the material production of the self, and especially non-normative and queer selves. From Andy Warhol’s ephemera to the anonymous crowdsourcing of PostSecret, Poletti offers reparative alternatives to life writing as we’ve come to know it.”

—Katherine Sender, author of The Makeover: Reality Television and Reflexive Audiences

You can purchase the book with a 30% discount at the NYU Press website using the following discount code: Poletti30

dr. Anna Poletti
Associate Professor in English
Co-editor, Biography: an interdisciplinary quarterly
Department of Languages, Literature and Communication, Utrecht University Trans 10 3512 JK Utrecht, The Netherlands


Life Writing, Volume 17, Issue 3, September 2020 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.


The Selfless Ego Part II

This new issue contains the following articles:

The Selfless Ego II. Conjuring Tibetan Lives
Franz Xaver Erhard & Lucia Galli
Pages: 297-304 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1785985


Memory, Politics, and Peace in the Autobiography of Sumpa Khenpo
Rachael Griffiths
Pages: 307-325 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1669426

Genealogy, Autobiography, Memoir: The Secular Life Narrative of Doring Tenzin Penjor
Franz Xaver Erhard
Pages: 327-345 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1737496

The Crafting Memory of the Self. Reflections on Tibetan Diary-Keeping
Lucia Galli
Pages: 347-366 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1669427

Family Matters: Women’s Spaces and Quiet Truths in House of the Turquoise Roof and Dalai Lama, My Son
Isabella Ofner
Pages: 367-386 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1694595

The Wandering Voice of Tibet: Life and Songs of Dubhe
Lama Jabb
Pages: 387-409 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1680247

Bearers of the Past, Bridges with the Beyond: The Complicated Lives of Ordinary Objects
Charles Ramble
Pages: 411-428 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1773027

Envisioning a Tibetan Luminary, The Life of a Modern Bönpo Saint
by William M. Gorvine, New York, Oxford University Press, 2019, 309 pp., ISBN 9780199362356, paperback edition
Jean-Luc Achard
Pages: 431-433 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1768622

The Social Life of Tibetan Biography: Textuality, Community, and Authority in the Lineage of Tokden Shakya Shri
by Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa, Lanham, Lexington Books, 2014, 221 pp., ISBN 978-0-7391-6519-5, hardcover edition
Cameron Bailey
Pages: 435-439 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1785953

Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies
No.14, Spring 2020
Center for Life Writing, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

Editor’s Note

Theory Studies

Biobits and the Life Writing Environment—From Micro to Macro…… Craig Howes
A Two-way Interaction between Lives: On the Relationship between the Biographer and the Biographee……Ma Luodan

History of Life Writing

Image Narration and Empire Writing in the Han and Tang Dynasties……Xu Jie
The Evolution from Historical Biography to Chinese Classical Novel: Focusing on The Generic Evolvement of A Miscellany of Western Capital…… Chen Fang
The Study of Stylistic Variation in Tao Yuanming’s Biography of Master Five Willows……Sun Wenqi
Class Interaction and Style of Writing: On the Phenomenon of “Biography of Commoners” in Ming and Qing Dynasties……Song Ziqiao

Comparative Biography
A Contextual Misplacement Between Wu Mi and Shen Congwen: From the Confrontation of “Strongholds” of Ta-Kung-Pao……Sheng Hui

Text Studies
Samuel Johnson’s “Bias” in the Life of Gray……Fu Shijing  Sun Yongbin
Opposing Each Other yet Also Complementing Each Other: Tension in the Biographies by Maurois.……Feng Changjiao

Autobiography Studies
An Autobiographical Literature Research on Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk……Huang Libin
A Centennial Retrospect by an Anti-War Veteran: On Jin Xuetie’s Autobiography……Liu Jin
Life Writing” between History and Memory: On Helena Kuo’s I’ve Come a Long Way
……Xie Wei
On Doris Lessing’s Cultural Identity Shown in Her Autobiography from the Perspective of “Third Culture Kid”……Zhang Yan

Memoir Studies
On Self-exploration in Martin Amis’ Memoir Experience……Zhang Liyou
Ethnicity, Assimilation, and Identity Negotiations of Chinese Americans:
Reading Eric Liu’s Memoirs ……He Xiuming

Letter Study
Inheritance and Evolvement of Chinese Spirit in “Hakka Qiaopi”: Taking Lim Lian Geok’s Family Letter as a Clue……Zhou Sen

Subject Studies
The “Implicit Confession” of Günter Grass: Interpreting The Tin Drum from Peeling the Onion……Liang Qingbiao
Can Xue’s Biography as a Research Approach: A New Solution to the Mystery of Can Xue……Jiang Tao

Academic Info
Ocean or Summit: Biographical Dialogues and Interactions in the Pacific Era: “Life Writing and Asia-Pacific Cultures” International Conference Review……Zhang Jiayao

Promoting Life-Writing Practice, Cultivating Life-Writing Professionals: An Overview of the First Workshop on Literary Life Writing……Yuan Qi

Instructions to Contributors
From the Editor

Instructions to Contributors

Lifewriting studies have moved onto the central stage in the academia and gained ever more attention both in and outside China. As the first scholarly journal in the field of China, the biannual journal Modern Life Writing Studies intends to fill up the blank of lifewriting studies in China, provide a venue for scholars all over the world, attract and promote specialists in the field.
Aiming to keep abreast of the cutting edge of lifewriting research, Our journal seeks to, in modern views and perspectives, explore various topics of lifewriting in China and in the world, with almost 20 sections included, such as Interview, Comparative Biography, Theory Study, History of Life Writing, Text Study, Autobiography Study, Diary Study, Subject Study, Film Biography, Book Reviews, Life Writing Materials, From the Life Writer, etc.
Ever since its appearance in 2013, our journal has been well-received by scholars at home and abroad and funded by a steady grant from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is exerting increasingly greater influence in academia with a due wide positive response. In 2017, our journal was included in CSSCI (Chinese Social Science Citation Index), and listed in the international academic literature or included in the annual annotated bibliography by world prestigious universities.
Our journal accepts both Chinese and English submissions. All the articles will be subject to anonymous peer review.

Submissions are welcome from both Chinese and international researchers. Simultaneous submissions are not accepted. English papers should be between 4,000 and 7,000 words of text in length (including notes), while English book reviews are about 2,500 words. Full-length articles take up most part of the journal, but short essays with originality and fresh ideas are also welcome.

Submission Guidelines
All written submissions should be formatted according to the eighth edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. All submissions should include a 100-word abstract both in Chinese and English, keywords (less than 5), a 70–word biographical statement, and works cited. Please adhere to the following requirements:
•   Double spacing, Times New Roman, 12–point font
•   One-inch margins
•   Only Microsoft Word doc or docx files will be accepted
•  Citations should be provided in parenthetical reference followed by “Works Cited”.
•  Endnotes are preferred if there are any.

Submissions should be emailed in Word format to the editor Each contributor will get two complimentary copies once his/her paper is published.

Our journal is based at SJTU Center for Life Writing. We welcome suggestions and proposals, from which we believe our journal will surely benefit.

From the Editor

It is a great pleasure to witness a total of 20 papers included in this issue, covering a wide variety of topics and featuring new insights.
“Biobits and the Life Writing Environment—From Micro to Macro” by Professor Howes is a long-expected essay. With a real boom in development of Internet and We Media, online literature, audio and video manifest the characteristics of auto/biography to some extent, thus exerting great impact on conventional life writing and calling the attention of many scholars. In this context, a new concept “biobit” is coined by Howes to refer to all tiny or sketchy life narratives, including online literature. Through a review of the history of Western and Eastern brief lives and the new genre “biobit”, he draws upon the critical and theoretical work of many critics and examines the biographical value of the indigenous Pacific life-writing from the micro to the macro level. We hope to see more opinions on this issue.
As far as life-writing theories are concerned, the relationship between the biographer and the biographee is one of the essential topics and named by Ma Luodan as “a two-way interaction between lives”. What interests us in his analysis of this topic from such three perspectives as social relations, narration and aesthetic value is the object of his researches, namely Russian life writing, which is strange to a great number of scholars. This paper will certainly broaden readers’ horizon.
Despite some treatises on China’s life-writing history, in particular China’s ancient life-writing history, this research is generally at the initial stage, so special subject researches and in-depth researches are needed. All the four papers under the column of “History of Life Writing” fall into this category.
Life-writing images have attracted wide attention and the Han and Tang dynasties feature both the exuberance of Chinese images and the golden age of Chinese empires. Professor Xu Jie’s “Image Narration and Empire Writing in the Han and Tang Dynasties” focuses on the images during the booming periods of the Han and Tang dynasties and interprets the biographical value in the image narration in his historical, political and cultural examination by tracing the source and analyzing nuance. To the extent that the expansion of common literati, namely lower-class intellectuals failing to win an official rank through examination, in Ming and Qing Dynasties is an essential historical phenomenon, a complete exploration of the context, categories, evolvement and value is conducted in Song Ziqiao’s “Class Interaction and Style of Writing: On the Phenomenon of ‘Biography of Commoners’ in Ming and Qing Dynasties”. Both the papers are based on a great number of materials and focus on unnoticed phenomenon concerning the life-writing history.
The other two papers under this column are designed to explore the status of a specific text in the life-writing history. A Miscellany of Western Capital is a notebook and the genre is controversial. In “The Evolution from Historical Biography to Chinese Classical Novel,” Chen Fang examines firstly the evolvement of the genre of this notebook as identified by the academic community, and then the production and content of the text, contending what it exemplifies in the evolution from historical biography to Chinese classical novel. The genre of Biography of Master Five Willows by Tao Yuanming, a masterpiece in China’s literature, is controversial too. Sun Wenqi proves the biographical transition from narration to lyrical prose is initiated in this work through examination, comparison and contrast of a great number of history materials.
Two papers concerning Western life-writing history are recommended. Dr. Johnson enjoys a high position in British life-writing history. As a cultural giant with a strong mind, he is associated with various controversies, one of which is his Life of Gray. Many critics thought that Johnson had personal bias against Gray. Fu Shijing and Sun Yongbin, however, justify Johnson’s biography through an analysis of the controversy and the fundamental reasons, thus providing reference for the production of the critical biography. Maurois is a master in the history of French life writing and boasts a large readership in China. MA candidate Feng Changjiao discusses the source of artistic charm in Maurois’s works and identifies his tension structure, hence shedding new light on Maurois studies.
The two papers under the column of Subject Study both associate the life-writing text with the subject’s spiritual world. In Liang Qingbiao’s “The ‘Implicit Confession’ of Günter Grass”, the complex intertextual relationship between The Tin Drum and Peeling the Onion is discussed to reveal the historical truth behind the exaggerated, bizarre and magic style of the novel and express the author’s implicit confession, while the image and narration in Peeling the Onion, his autobiography published in his late years, correspond to the novel and function as a guidance to interpreting the novel. The other paper concerns Can Xue, a Chinese contemporary writer full of enigma. In “Can Xue’s Biography as a Research Approach” by Jiang Tao, however, Jiang attempts to find a new solution to the mystery of Can Xue. In other words, he approaches the author’s works from the personal experience, particularly some mishaps in the childhood, resembling the approach of the psychoanalytic school to Modernist texts.
In the column of comparative biography, Sheng Hui’s research on the relations between Wu Mi and Shen Congwen is interesting. Although many papers are published on the two authors, the comparison of them seems rare. In the confrontation between the two persons in 1930s arguing for different literary camps, Sheng discovers the similar personality and romance in them. In the 1950s, Shen repeated Wu’s fate to some extent, but they embark on different roads merely due to the “misplacement”
This issue allocates a large portion to the autobiographical researches, i.e. seven essays on autobiography, memoir and letter. To the extent that Lu Xun’s Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk is deemed as a novel, a prose or an autobiography, Huang Libin defines it as an autobiography and supports his argument from perspective, discourse and self-consciousness. In the 10th issue published previously, the autobiographical orientation of Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk is discussed in a different way, so the comparison of the two essays is recommended.
Two autobiographies of special life stories are discussed in this issue. Jin Xuetie is a Korean Chinese writer, who lived in Korea during the Japanese occupation and went to China to resist Japanese Invasion. After the war he returned to Korea, but neither the North nor the South welcomed him. Eventually, he returned to China and became a professional writer. Therefore, his autobiography The Last Team Leader of the Korean Volunteers is an epitome of the modernization history of East Asia in the 20th century. The self-identity in his autobiography is discussed by Liu Jin. Guo Jingqiu is a Chinese American women writer who was born in Macao, a former Portugal colony, educated in China and went to France, the UK and the US in turn. Her multicultural experience is rare among the Republican females. In Xie Wei’s “‘Life Writing’ between History and Memory”, the issues of multicultural communication and identity are touched upon in the discussion of Guo’s autobiography I’ve Come a Long Way.
The criticism of autobiographical works tends to discuss the sense of the self or identity in the autobiographer’s life story in the historical and cultural contexts so far. This is case in the two aforementioned papers, Zhang Liyou’s discussion of Martin Amis’s Memoir Experience and He Xiuming’s reading of Eric Liu’s two memoirs. We expect the emergence of new concepts and perspectives. Zhang Yan employs the concept of the “third culture kid” to explore Doris Lessing’s autobiography. This concept refers to the children living outside the original nation and, with the expansion of this group in the context of globalization, has become an important object in the social studies. Zhang examines their identification in Lessing’s autobiography from the literary perspective and thus furthers the understanding of the author and her works.
Zhou Sen’s essay touches upon “Hakka Qiaopi”, a special type of letter sent by overseas Chinese to their relatives in their native land. The collection and compilation of these letters has become a new topic in the studies of Southeast Asian Chinese. With a number of autobiographies published in Malaysia, Lim Lian Geok is a famous Chinese educator in Malaysia. Zhou Sen takes Lim’s family letters kept in China as a clue and researches the family history and the spiritual portraits of the three generations, hence providing a valuable source for Southeast Asian Chinese studies.
Two high-profile academic conferences were hosted by the Center for Life Writing, SJTU in the fall of 2019, i.e. the “Life Writing and Asia-Pacific Cultures” International Conference: IABA Asia-Pacific 2019 and the Workshop on Literary Life Writing, as reported by Zhang Jiayao and Yuan Qi respectively. The former one stresses the current issues of common concern and the opinions concerned across the international life-writing community, while the latter focuses on the orientation of life writing development, namely the exploration of literary life writing. Both call the attention of readers.

January, 2020


VOLUME IX (2020)


Five new articles and two book reviews have been added to the 9th volume of the European Journal of Life Writing:

  • Arnaud Schmitt: ‘The Autobiographical Dimension of Brainy Books’
  • Jerome Boyd Maunsell: ‘The Writer as Reporter’
  • Agata Sikora: ’From Social Performance to Expressing the “True Self”’
  • Karina Lukin: ’Voice and Frames in the Soviet Nenets Auto/Biographies’
  • Marcel Herbst: ‘My Poyln’
  • Charles Reeve: review of  Pablo Picasso and Gertrud Stein: Correspondence
  • Arnaud Schmitt: review of Sam Ferguson’s Diaries Real and Fictional in Twentieth-century French Writing 


Petra van Langen &  Monica Soeting
European Journal of Life Writing
Journal Managers

The European Journal of Life Writing is an open access e-journal, but editing and type setting do cost money.
Your financial support can help us to publish a wide array of valuable articles about life writing:



Dear colleagues,

I write to announce that Routledge recently published my book, Writing Life Writing: Narrative, History, Autobiography, with a Foreword by Craig Howes. Below please find a description of the book and a link to Routledge.

–John Eakin

Why do we endlessly tell the stories of our lives? And why do others pay attention when we do? The essays collected here address these questions, focusing on three different but interrelated dimensions of life writing. The first section, “Narrative,” argues that narrative is not only a literary form but also a social and cultural practice, and finally a mode of cognition and an expression of our most basic physiology. The next section, “Life Writing: Historical Forms,” makes the case for the historical value of the subjectivity recorded in ego-documents. The essays in the final section, “Autobiography Now,” identify primary motives for engaging in self-narration in an age characterized by digital media and quantum cosmology.


“Writing Life Writing: Narrative, History, Autobiography shows how autobiographical narrative works as an essential aspect of humanity. In fresh, exciting ways, it melds literature with psychology, neurobiology, ethics and cultural anthropology, to argue that telling stories about our- selves is psychically and even biologically motivated. Eakin guides us through the fact-fiction tease of the form, its relevance to historians and its future in an age of social media. Eakin’s own experiment with writing autobiographically, which closes this beautifully written collection, will intrigue those who wonder what it is to find a vocation in writing about life writing, distilling with it a life time of thinking about this ever-interesting form and practice.”

—Margaretta Jolly, Professor of Cultural Studies, University of Sussex


“What a pleasure–and convenience–to have these trenchant and timely essays of the last two decades gathered in one accessible volume! John Eakin is a distinguished American critic of autobiography studies with international reach and resonance, as well as an elegant, witty, and insightful writer. His work has long blazed a trail in theorizing the relationship of the autobiographical to diverse fields: the narrative identity system, where his probing interventions inform debates on it as cultural practice, cognitive process, and embodied representation; the history of autobiography as an evolving mode of representing subjectivity in dialogue with, but distinct from, related literary genres; and the stakes of life writing in emergent digital media and as a model of quantum cosmology. In two additional personal essays on his biological and intellectual fathers, Eakin traces how a lifelong engagement with the discipline has motivated and shaped his own processes of memory and reflection. These essays reward rereading and will enrich current debates.”

Julia Watson, Professor Emerita of Comparative Studies, The Ohio State University, Co-author with Sidonie Smith of Reading Autobiography: A Guide to Interpreting Life Narrative and Life Writing in the Long Run: A Smith & Watson Autobiography Studies Reader


“Written with his characteristic lucidity, this selection of key pieces is a reminder, if we needed one, of why Eakin has been so indispensable to the study of life writing for so long: seeing autobiography as not only a textual product but a fundamental human activity, Eakin can appreciate it all its forms and dimensions. Understanding self-narrative as pre-textual, rooted in somatic homeostasis, Eakin is well equipped to surf the waves of change in the way humans produce it in post-print media. Tracing his critical trajectory, this book reveals a mind probing beyond the traditional boundaries of disciplines to illuminate his subject in new and fruitful ways.”
— G Thomas Couser, Professor of English Emeritus, Hofstra University

Paul John Eakin is Ruth N. Halls Professor Emeritus of English at Indiana University. He is the author of Fictions in Autobiography: Studies in the Art of Self-Invention (1985); Touching the World: Reference in Autobiography (1992); How Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves (1999); and Living Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in Narrative (2008). He is the editor of On Autobiography, by Philippe Lejeune (1989); American Autobiography: Retrospect and Prospect (1991); and The Ethics of Life Writing (2004).

And here is the link to Routledge.


New book by a list member – Hans Renders and David Veltman (eds.), Different Lives. Global Perspectives on Biography in Public Cultures and Societies, Biography Studies volume 1

Biography Institute, University of Groningen (the Netherlands)

Hardcover or ebook, xvi,278 pp., now published by Brill

In the edited volume Different Lives: Global Perspectives on Biography in Public Cultures and Societies national traditions in the history of biography are discussed from fifteen different perspectives. Most chapters were presented during the conference Different Lives organized at the Biography Institute, University of Groningen, in September 2018. The contributors took a new step towards further defining international research in Biography Studies. In every chapter, the starting point was biography as a genre in the public cultural and social domain. How can we define biography’s public role in diverse cultures and societies? How do biographers from cultures from all over the world view the individual life, and how is that reflected in the works they produce? Themes such as public history and the biographical approach of history, societal renewal, and publishing structures will be addressed. By comparing and contrasting cultural and social differences between the functions of biography and of biographical research, this volume aims to explore one of biography’s finest qualities: to provide insight on others, as well as ourselves, by researching different individual lives. The volume was edited by professor Hans Renders and David Veltman, both working at the Biography Institute, University of Groningen. A broad group of international and prominent researchers contributed to the volume.
For more information, please contact us at


Richard Holmes, Introduction
Hans Renders, Different Lives in a Global World
Nigel Hamilton, Truth, Lies and Fake Truth: The Future of Biography
Daniel R. Meister, Historical Biography in Canada: Historians, Publishers, and the Public
Lindie Koorts, Biography as discourse: South African biography in the post-apartheid era
David Veltman, ‘La pauvre Belgique’: How a Debate over the Repression after the Second World War Informed a Biographical Tradition in Belgium
María Jesús González, Biography in Spain: A Historical and Historiographic Perspective
Kerry Brown, The Chinese sense of self and biographical narrative: an overview
Carl Rollyson, Double Dutch: The Art of Presidential Biography
Melanie Nolan, Biography in Australia: Different yet the Same? All Connected Flatland?
Yannick Gouchan, Writing Lives in Contemporary Italy
Sahar Vahdati Hosseinian­, Hidden and Forbidden Issues in Works of Iranian Biography
Doug Munro, From Reticence to Revelation: biography in New Zealand
Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon, The Icelandic Biography and Egodocuments in Historical Writing
Jana Wohlmuth Markupova, Between ‘Creators and Bearers of the Czech National Myth’ and an ‘Academic Suicide’: Czech Biography in the Twenty-First Century
Joanna Cymbrykiewicz, Biographies and Their Agendas: The Danish Biographical Tradition in a Historical Perspective
Elsbeth Etty, The Biography’s Pretension to Truth Is Relative. Biography in the Netherlands

Liu Jialin, Inception, Inheritance and Innovation: Sima Qian, Liang Qichao and the Modernization of Chinese Biography



Brochure Different Lives

Biography Institute

David Veltman
PhD candidate
University of Groningen
Biography Institute, Faculty of Arts
Oude Boteringestraat 32-34
9712 GJ Groningen

the Netherlands
+31 50 363 2426

‘Een strijdbaar bestaan. Mieke Bouman en de Indonesische strafprocessen’ (‘A militant life. Mieke Bouman and the Indonesian criminal trials’), by Ernestine Hoegen


Dutch history is inextricably intertwined with Indonesian history. Until 17 August 1945, when Soekarno proclaimed the independence of Indonesia, the ‘Dutch Indies’ were a colony of the Netherlands, and many adventurous and privileged Dutch had settled throughout the Indonesian archipelago. In this biography, written by list member Ernestine Hoegen and published by Spectrum, we trace the life of Dutch classics teacher Mieke Bouman, who together with her lawyer husband Herman arrived in the colony in 1935. After the war, which she spent in a Japanese internment camp, she and Herman carried on living and working in the newly independent republic, which was in the violent throes of decolonisation. In the 1950’s, Herman was appointed as defence lawyer for a group of Dutch defendants who stood accused of waging a guerrilla war against the young Indonesian Republic, and the criminal trials sent shockwaves through both Indonesian and Dutch society. When Herman succumbed to the pressure and fled the country, Mieke Bouman decided to stay on and take over as defence lawyer. It was a decision that would change both their lives forever.

This Dutch-language biography, called ‘Een strijdbaar bestaan. Mieke Bouman en de Indonesische strafprocessen’ (‘A militant life. Mieke Bouman and the Indonesian criminal trials’) takes the reader from interbellum student life in The Netherlands, to pre-war colonial life in the Dutch Indies, from the Japanese internment camps to the turbulent decolonisation of Indonesia in the late ’40’s and early ’50’s, and ends on Ibiza. Ernestine Hoegen, a Dutch writer, translator and editor, draws on her prior experience as a public prosecutor to delve into the criminal trials that played such a significant part in Indonesia’s transition from colony to independent republic.

How to order (hard copy or e-book):

See also:



Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol. 42, no. 4, 2019

Academic Freedom, Academic Lives

Bill V. Mullen and Julie Rak, guest editors

“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”
Amanda Gailey

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”
Elżbieta Klimek-Dominiak

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”
Theresa Smalec

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.

Open-Forum Articles

“Self-Publication, Self-Promotion, and the Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave
Bryan Sinche

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”
Mary Besemeres

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
Reviewed by Robert Warrior

The editors of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies are delighted to announce that issue 35.2 (Spring 2020) has been published online with print copies to follow.


This is a special issue on “Migration, Exile, and Diaspora in Graphic Life Narratives,” guest edited by Nima Naghibi, Candida Rifkind, and Eleanor Ty.


“Migration, Exile, and Diaspora in Graphic Life Narrative”
Nima Naghibi, Ryerson University, Candida Rifkind, University of Winnipeg, and Eleanor Ty, Wilfrid Laurier University

“Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis
Nima Naghibi and Andrew O’Malley

The Process
“Graphic Lives, Visual Stories: Reflections on Practice, Participation, and the Potentials of Creative Engagement”
Sara Wong, PositiveNegatives, Rachel Shapcott, PositiveNegatives, and Emma Parker, PositiveNegatives


“Belonging in Auto/Biographical Comics: Narratives of Exile in the German Heimat” by Jakob F. Dittmar, Malmö University [] and Ofer Ashkenazi, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
“Testifying Graphically: Bearing Witness to a Palestinian Childhood in Leila Abdelrazaq’s Baddawi” by Hiyem Cheurfa, Lancaster University
“Dreamlands, Border Zones and Spaces of Exception: Comics and Graphic Narratives on the US-Mexico Border” by Dominic Davies, City University of London
“Crossing, Conflict and Diaspora in Cyprus and beyond in Miranda Hoplaros’ and Lara Alphas’ The Sign-Maker” by Olga Michael, University of Central Lancashire
“Drawing out of Detention: The Transnational Drawing Practices of Eaten Fish, Refugee Cartoonist” by Aaron Scott Humphrey, University of Adelaide
Empathy and Ethics in Graphic Life Narratives
“Introduction: Discursive Contexts, ‘Voice,’ and Empathy in Graphic Life Narratives of Migration and Exile” by Nina Mickwitz, University of the Arts London
“Traumatic Displacement in Puerto Rican Digital Graphic Narratives” by María Fernanda Díaz-Basteris, Cornell College
“Drawing Ground in the Graphic Novel” by Rebecca Scherr, University of Oslo

“Infantilizing the Refugee: On the Mobilization of Empathy in Kate Evans’s Threads from the Refugee Crisis” by Dragoș Manea, University of Bucharest and Mihaela Precup, University of Bucharest
“Mourning and Empathy in Graphic Life Narratives” by Golnar Nabizadeh, University of Dundee


“Implicated Subjects” by Gillian Whitlock, Emeritus University of Queensland

The Hogan Prize Announcement
Guest Judge: Gillian Whitlock

Book Reviews 

Rev. of Autobiographical Comics, by ANDREW J. KUNKA, Bloomsbury Comics Studies, 2018 by Priyanka Tripathi, Indian Institute of Technology, Patna

Rev. of Through the Looking Glass: Writers’ Memoirs at the Turn of the 21st Century, ROBERT KUSEK, Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press, 2017 by Melissa Schuh, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel


The editors are delighted to announce a special cluster on life writing and death in the European Journal of Life Writing. In this challenging time of pandemic, we hope it offers constructive reading. 


Life Writing & Death: Dialogues of the Dead

 special issue/cluster in the European Journal of Life Writing, Vol.9, 2020

edited by Clare Brant, James Metcalf and Jane Wildgoose


Editors’ Preface and INTRODUCTION

Pages: 1-18


James Morland ‘Master Tommy Lucretius’: Thomas Gray’s Posthumous Life Writing and Conversing with the Dead in his Poetry to Richard West

Pages: 19-34;

Lisa Gee ‘A Task enough to make one frantic’: William Hayley’s Memorialising

Pages: 35-55


James Metcalf  Un-earthing the Eighteenth-Century Churchyard: Charlotte Smith’s Life Writing Among the Dead

Pages: 56-80;

Ruth Richardson Charles Dickens Post Mortem & Bare Life under the New Poor Law

Pages: 81-107

Kiera Lindsey‘Grave-Paved Stars’: Comparing the Death of Two Artists in Nineteenth-Century Rome

Pages: 108-131

Charles Lock Till Death Did Him Part: Thomas Hardy and his Funerals

Pages: 132-150

Maria Cecilia Aguilar Holt AnOracle of Ashes: The Burial of James Purdy

Pages: 151-176

Alisa Miller Youthful Death and Melancholia: The Case of Rupert and Mary Brooke

Pages: 177-197;

Roelof Bakker A Boy’s Own Trauma: Revisiting a Photograph Recorded in a Nazi Concentration Camp First Encountered as a Child

Pages: 198-222


Alex Belsey Written Out of Life: The Death of Keith Vaughan and his Journal

Pages: 223-241

Clare Brant Obituaries: A Dead Important Genre

Pages: 242-263;

Korina Giaxoglou Mobilizing grief and remembrance with and for networked publics: towards a typology of hyper-mourning

Pages: 264-284;

Emma Newport Cytoarchitecture: Digital Dismembering and Remembering in Cyberspace

Pages: 285-312


Jane Wildgoose FINIS: Objects of the End of Time, Afterlife Writing and Situation of Graves

Pages: 313-343


Jane Wildgoose Afterlife Writing and Situation of Graves II

Pages: 1-17;


Spring HurlbutOriri ex cinere

Pages: 18-33;


Catherine Bell Funerary Artefacts, Cemetery Souvenirs and Final Resting Places

Pages: 34-49;

Heather Scott ‘And Writing […] Will Preserve His Memory’: Laman Blanchard’s Afterlife in Letters and Ledgers

Pages: 50-59;


James Metcalf Revisiting the Churchyard

Pages: 60-69;

Korina Giaxoglou Life After Life

Pages: 70-72;

Kiera Lindsey ‘A Short Time Before Her Death’

Pages: 73-82;

James Morland We all got Poetry and Life is Rich

Pages: 83-84;

Clare Brant Death in a Nutshell: Frances Glessner Lee’s ‘Nutshell Studies in Unexplained


Pages: 85-89;

1499769482741_PastedImage is flying…out of bookshops!  You can get a copy here:
Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature & Culture
Co-Director, Centre for Life-Writing Research

an Editor for the European Journal  of Life Writing:

Project Director, STRANDlines  –


Documenting Trauma in Comics: Traumatic Pasts, Embodied Histories, and Graphic Reportage

Edited by Dominic Davies (City, University of London) &
Candida Rifkind (University of Winnipeg)

Palgrave Studies in Comics and Graphic Novels (2020)

VIRTUAL LAUNCH INFO (pre-registration required)
When: Jun 23, 2020 12:00pm CST/ 1:00pm EST/ 6:00pm GMT/ 7:00pm CET/ 10:30pm IST

Please register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the launch.

Launch attendees will receive info about discounts on the book.

Why are so many contemporary comics and graphic narratives written as memoirs or documentaries of traumatic events? Is there a specific relationship between the comics form and the documentation and reportage of trauma? How do the interpretive demands made on comics readers shape their relationships with traumatic events? And how does comics’ documentation of traumatic pasts operate across national borders and in different cultural, political, and politicised contexts?

The sixteen chapters and three comics included in Documenting Trauma in Comics set out to answer exactly these questions. Drawing on a range of historically and geographically expansive examples, the contributors bring their different perspectives to bear on the tangled and often fraught intersections between trauma studies, comics studies, and theories of documentary practices and processes. The result is a collection that shows how comics is not simply related to trauma, but a generative force that has become central to its remembrance, documentation, and study.

Chapter 1: Dominic Davies, ‘Introduction: Documenting Trauma in Comics’

Section 1: ‘Documenting Trauma’
Chapter 2: Katalin Orbán, ‘Hierarchies of Pain: Trauma Tropes Today and Tomorrow”
Chapter 3: Alexandra Lloyd, ‘Emotional History and Legacies of War in Recent German Comics and Graphic Novels’
Chapter 4: Michael Goodrum, ‘The Past That Will Not Die: Trauma, Race, and Zombie Empire in Horror Comics of the 1950s’
Chapter 5: Sarah McNicol, ‘Exploring Trauma and Social Haunting Through Community Comics Creation’
Chapter 6: Nicola Streeten, ‘Documenting Trauma’ (comic)

Section 2: ‘Traumatic Pasts’
Chapter 7: E. Dawson Varughese, ‘Traumatic moments: Retrospective ‘Seeing’ of Violation, Rupture, and Injury in Three Post-millennial Indian Graphic Narratives’
Chapter 8: A.P. Payal and Rituparna Sengupta, ‘This Side, That Side: Restoring Memory, Restorying Partition’
Chapter 9: Haya Saud Alfarhan, ‘Visual Detention: Reclaiming Human Rights Through Memory in Leila Abdelrazaq’s Baddawi
Chapter 10: Una, ‘Crying in the Chapel’ (comic)

Section 3: ‘Embodied Histories’
Chapter 11: Ian Hague, ‘Folding, Cutting, Reassembling: Materializing Trauma and Memory in Comics’
Chapter 12: Emma Parker, ‘’’To Create Her World Anew’: Charlotte Salomon’s Graphic Life Narrative’
Chapter 13: Ana Baeza Ruiz, ‘Una’s Becoming Unbecoming Visuality, and Sexual Trauma”
Chapter 14: Eszter Szép, ‘Discourses of Trauma and Representation: Motherhood and Mother Tongue in Miriam Katin’s Graphic Memoirs’
Chapter 15: Bruce Mutard, ‘First Person Third’ (comic)

Section 4: ‘Graphic Reportage’
Chapter 16: Nina Mickwitz, ‘Comics Telling Refugee Stories’
Chapter 17: Candida Rifkind, ‘Migrant Detention Comics and the Aesthetic Technologies of Compassion’
Chapter 18: Johannes C.P. Schmid, ‘Comics as Memoir and Documentary: A Case Study of Sarah Glidden”

Chapter 19: Hillary Chute, ‘Afterword’

Candida Rifkind, PhD
Professor | Department of English | University of Winnipeg 
515 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E9 CANADA
@candidarifkind | | Board | Comics Studies Society | Crossing Lines: Transcultural/Transnational Comics Studies


Wilfrid Laurier University Press

At the University of Winnipeg, we acknowledge that we are gathered on ancestral lands, on Treaty One Territory. These lands are the heartland of the Métis people. We acknowledge that our water is sourced from Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.


We are delighted to share that Lives Outside the Lines: Gender and Genre in the Americas, edited by Eva C. Karpinski and Ricia Anne Chansky, has recently been published.


The volume is dedicated to our colleague Marlene Kadar and includes new writing by Marlene, an interview with Marlene conducted by Sidonie Smith, and essays by Linda Warley, Julie Rak, Julia A. Galbus, Patrick Taylor, Linda M. Morra, Elizabeth Podnieks, Mark Celinscak, Rachel E. Dubrofsky, Helen M. Buss, Ozlem Ezer, Manoela dos Anjos Alfonso Rodriguez, Lauren Fournier, Kathleen Venema, Leonor Arfuch, Rose Mary Allen, Keila D. Taylor, and Candida Rifkind.

For more information, please follow this link:

We are looking forward to the day when we can celebrate this publication together! In the meantime, stay as well as you can in the midst of it all.

Professor Ricia Anne Chansky, Ph.D.
University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez
Research Affiliate, York University CERLAC
Fulbright Specialist in US Studies – Literature
The Leon Levy Center for Biography is delighted to announce the award of five resident fellowships, including the second Leon Levy/Alfred P. Sloan fellow for a biography on a figure from science. Each resident fellow will receive a $72,000 grant, research assistance, writing space at The Graduate Center, CUNY and full access to research facilities.

I hope would will share this information in the Biography Quarterly Newsletter. If you have any questions or need additional materials, please let me know.

NICHOLAS BOGGS is working on a literary biography of James Baldwin, which will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Boggs is currently a clinical assistant professor in the Department of English at New York University. He earned a BA from Yale and a PhD from Columbia University. He is co-editor of James Baldwin’s collaboration with French artist Yoran Cazac, Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood (2018). He received the 2019 Robert and Ina Caro Travel and Research Fellowship from the Biographer’s International Organization. His writing has appeared in the anthologies James Baldwin Now and The Cambridge Companion to James Baldwin.
MIRIAM HORN, this year’s Leon Levy/Alfred P. Sloan fellow, is working on a biography of naturalist George Schaller, which will be published by Penguin.
Horn is the author of Rebels in White Gloves: Coming of Age with Hillary’s Class—Wellesley ‘69 (Random House 1999); the New York Times bestselling Earth: The Sequel, The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming (coauthored with Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp), (Norton, 2008); and Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman; Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland (Norton, 2016) which Kirkus named a Best Book of the Year.
SUSAN MORRISON is at work on a biography of Lorne Michaels for Random House.
Morrison has been the Articles Editor of The New Yorker for twenty-two years. Previously, she served as Editor in Chief of The New York Observer, and was an original editor of SPY Magazine. Ms. Morrison is the editor of the book Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections by Women Writers.
LANCE RICHARDSON, also the recipient of the 2020 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship, is currently working on a biography of Peter Matthiessen — writer, naturalist, Zen roshi — to be entitled True Nature: The Pilgrimage of Peter Matthiessen, which will be published by Pantheon.
Richardson is the author of House of Nutter: The Rebel Tailor of Savile Row, which appeared on several “notable books” lists of 2018. His journalism has been published in print and online in The Guardian, Slate, The New Yorker, The Sydney Morning Herald, and several international iterations of GQ.
FRANCESCA WADE is working on a biography of Gertrude Stein.
Wade is an acclaimed literary critic who writes for the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, Paris Review, The Guardian and The New Statesman. She is editor of The White Review, and winner of the Biographers’ Club Tony Lothian Prize. Her first book, Square Haunting, was published in 2020 by Faber in the UK and Tim Duggan at Crown.
Established with a generous gift from the Leon Levy Foundation in 2007 as a hub for writers, scholars, students, teachers, and readers of biography, the Leon Levy Center for Biography at The Graduate Center, CUNY builds connections between independent and university-affiliated biographers across disciplines and cultivates important discussions about the art and craft of biography historically and in our time. Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Kai Bird is the Executive Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography. For more information on the Center, please visit:


I would like to announce the publication of Disability and Life Writing in Post-Independence Ireland, by Elizabeth Grubgeld.  It’s now available as ebook and hardback from Palgrave’s Literary Disability Series. I hope it will be valuable to scholars of autobiography as a genre, as well as those interested in Disability Studies and Irish culture. Here’s a general description:

This book is the first to examine life writing and disability in the context of Irish culture. Ranging from Sean O’Casey’s 1939 childhood memoir to contemporary blogging practices, Disability and Life Writing in Post-Independence Ireland analyzes a century of autobiographical writing about the social, psychological, economic, and physical dimensions of living with disabilities. The book examines memoirs of sight loss with reference to class and labor conditions, the harrowing stories of residential institutions and the advent of the independent living movement, and the autobiographical fiction of such acknowledged literary figures as Christy Brown and playwright Stewart Parker. Extending the discussion to the contemporary moment, popular genres such as the sports and celebrity autobiography are explored, as well as such newer phenomena as blogging and self-referential performance art.

Elizabeth Grubgeld
Regents Professor of English
Director of Literature & Honors Coordinator
Department of English
205 Morrill Hall
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078

Nieuwsbrief Biografie Instituut Mei 2020

[English version below]

Biografie Instituut verzorgt mastercollege Biografie & Geschiedenis

Het mastercollege Biografie & Geschiedenis zal gedurende het eerste semester van het komende studiejaar opnieuw worden aangeboden door het Biografie Instituut. Voor meer informatie over de inschrijving (ook voor contractstudenten) en de inhoud van het college, zie de flyer en het menu-item Onderwijs op de website van het Biografie Instituut.

Sonia Purnell wint Plutarch Award

Gisteren werd bekend gemaakt dat Sonia Purnell de Plutarch Award 2020 gewonnen heeft met haar biografie A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II. De jury, waarin onder anderen Hans Renders zitting had, prees haar diepgravende onderzoek.

Oprichtingssymposium Fries Biografie Instituut goed bezocht

Op 12 maart vond in Tresoar het oprichtings- symposium van het Fries Biografie Instituut plaats. Aan de hand van vijf korte lezingen, een interview en een forumdiscussie werd ingegaan op de stand van zaken rond het biografisch onderzoek naar Friezen. De sprekers lieten zien hoe de persoon over wie zij een biografie schrijven gebonden was aan Friesland. De forumdiscussie concentreerde zich onder andere op de vraag: wat rechtvaardigt deoprichting van een Fries Biografie Instituut? Iedereen was het erover eens dat ‘de Friese biografie’ niet bestaat. Het instituut wil een infrastructuur bieden voor de begeleiding van onderzoeksprojecten die leiden tot de publicatie van biografieën van Friezen.

Biografie Petrus Tammens succesvol verdedigd

De biografie van burgemeester Petrus Tammens, waarop Chris Gevers op 7 mei promoveerde, werd lovend besproken in de pers. Een volledig overzicht van de besprekingen en interviews in kranten en op internet is hier te vinden. De verdediging zelf, die online plaatsvond, is hier terug te kijken.

Newsletter Biography Institute May 2020

Biography Institute hosts research seminar Biography & History

The course will be given by members of the Biography Institute during the first semester of the next academic year. For more information about enrollment (also for contract students) and the content of the seminar, see the flyer and the section Courses on the website of the Biography Institute.

Sonia Purnell wins Plutarch Award

Yesterday it was announced that Sonia Purnell has won the Plutarch Award 2020 with her biography
A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II.

One-day conference Fries Biografie Institute well attended

On March 12, the Fries Biografie Instituut was inaugurated during a one-day conference in Tresoar, the center for Frisian cultural history. During five short lectures, an interview and a round table discussion, the state of the art in Frisian Biography was presented. The speakers showed how the subject of their biography was connected to Friesland. The round table discussion focused on the question: what justifies the foundation of a Fries Biografie Instituut? Everyone agreed that ‘the Frisian biography’ does not exist. The institute wants to offer an infrastructure for the supervision of research projects that could lead to the publication of biographies of Frisian people.

Successful PhD defense on biography Petrus Tammens

On May 7, the biography of mayor Petrus Tammens, the subject of Chris Gevers’s PhD research, was successfully defended before the doctoral committee. A complete list of the reviews and interviews with Gevers in the newspapers and online can be found here. A registration of the defense, which took place online, can be found here.

The editors of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies are delighted to announce the publication of issue 35.1, a special issue on Life Writing in the Anthropocene, guest edited by Jessica White and Gillian Whitlock. The digital version of the full issue is now available on our website, We hope that you enjoy the issue!

a/b: Auto/Biography Studies
35.1 Winter 2020
Special Issue: Life Writing in the Anthropocene
Guest Editors: Jessica White and Gillian Whitlock Introduction
“Life: Writing and Rights in the Anthropocene”
Jessica White, The University of Queensland and Gillian Whitlock, Emeritus The University of QueenslandThe Process“From the Miniature to the Momentous: Writing Lives Through Ecobiography”
Jessica WhiteThis article contemplates ecobiography, a little-researched form of life writing which depicts how human selves are supported and shaped by their natural environment. It details my ecobiography of Georgiana Molloy (1805¬¬–1843) and the plants she collected from the South-West Australian Floristic Region (SWAFR), alongside an analysis of an Australian ecobiography, Kim Mahood’s Position Doubtful.“stereometric countersignature; or, an exploration of genre for the Australian novel” Tom Bristow, James Cook UniversityThis article explores literary modes that place the writer in dialogue with the places he has inhabited recently. It includes a fictocritical engagement with place-based Australian literature (via Xavier Herbert and Randolph Stow), and a maverick whizz through structuralism, deconstruction and genre studies. Written in an elegiac mode punctuated by countersignature relevant to the environmental humanities, this example of period rhetoric embodies autobiography in the Anthropocene, the event horizon of human signature.“Writing Towards & With Ethological Poetics & Non-Human Forms” Stuart Cooke, Griffith UniversityIn this article, I argue that the appreciation of non-human poetic forms, or an ‘ethological poetics,’ is a necessary but neglected mode of ecological relation and is especially important in the Anthropocene. Motivated by my own creative practice, I consider important examples of ethological poetics, before outlining how my compositional method attempts to incorporate insights from the environmental humanities and animal studies.“Becoming D/other: Life Narrative as a Transmuting Device” Astrid Joutseno, University of Helsinki
This essay explores the possibilities of extending the presence of an “I” of human (and nonhuman) self on the cusp of death or extinction. Reconfiguring loss of life as a story of hope through digital archiving, and viewing life as a device of transformation, I weave experiences and theory of illness time together with a new concept of D/other. I employ D/other in illustrating what is taking place with material and digital relationality.Essays “Writing the Lives of Plants” John Ryan, Emeritus University of New EnglandPhytography refers to human writings about plant lives as well as plant writings about their own lives. I conceptualize phytography in terms of vegetal intelligence, behavior, corporeality, and temporality. Narrating the complex worlds of plants, phytography uses a variety of formal strategies to advocate new possibilities for human-flora relations.


“‘If a Tree Falls…’: Posthuman Testimony in C. D. Wright’s Casting Deep Shade” Eamonn Connor, University of Glasgow

During a period marked by profound ecological transformations, there has been surprisingly little consideration of how testimony may operate as a mediating discourse between human and nonhuman. Based on a close reading of C. D. Wright’s “memoir” Casting Deep Shade (2019), this article reconsiders the subject positions of witnessing in posthuman terms.

“Writing the Lives of Fungi at the End of the World” Alexis Harley, La Trobe University

This paper examines how three recent monographs writing the lives of fungi use the co-constitutive entanglements of mycorrhizal fungi and their symbionts in order to bring the contingent, relational conditions of being itself into sharper relief. The Anthropocene demands a heightened awareness of multispecies entanglements, bringing into question the humanist ideal of human agency by turning to the co-constitutive relations of human and nonhuman lives.

“Planetary Delta: Blues Memoir in the Anthropocene” Parker Krieg, University of Helsinki

This article argues that blues memoirs are an example of life writing in the Anthropocene. Building on ecocritical scholarship which suggests that blues is a neglected source of environmental culture that reframes debates around race, economy, and culture, it asks how blues memoirs offer alternative perspectives on the Anthropocene.

“Memoir and the End of the Natural World” Tony Hughes d’Aeth, The University of Western Australia

This essay draws on Dipesh Charkrabarty’s essay, “The Climate of History: Four Theses,” to test the capacity of memoir to bear witness to the Anthropocene. The essay focuses on three texts that feature memoirs of childhood on the wheat frontiers in Canada and Australia. As an instrument of colonization and indigenous dispossession, the impact of wheat was catastrophic, and these memoirs engage with the particular sites and circumstances that shape acts of remembering ‘wheaten childhoods.’

“‘As closely bonded as we are’: Animalographies, Kinship and Conflict in Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals and Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy” Grace Moore, University of Otago

Using the fiction of Ceridwen Dovey and Eva Hornung, this essay considers animalography as a medium to represent animal emotions, particularly when ties of kinship break down. It addresses the difficulties and power dynamics associated with speaking for non-human others, while engaging with Cynthia Huff’s cautions regarding the posthumanist life narrative.


Writing the Lives of Other-than-Humans

Jessica White and Gillian Whitlock

“‘Desperation for Life’: Writing Death in the Anthropocene”

The papers in this section focus upon writing the lives of other-than-humans, and the ethics and responsibilities that accompany this writing. They dwell upon ways in which animals can be written as subjects rather than objects, providing critical responses to deaths generated by industrial farming and mass extinctions.

“Writing The Cow: Poetry, Activism & the Texts of Meat” Jessica Holmes University of Washington

“Speaking As/For Sheep” Barbara Holloway, Australian National University

“A triumphal entry, a stifled cry, a hushed retreat” Rick de Vos, Curtin University

What’s Next?
“Deborah Bird Rose” Stephen Muecke, Flinders University

Artist’s Statement


Rev. of The Self in Performance: Autobiographical, Self-Revelatory, and Autoethnographic Forms of Therapeutic Theater Eds. SUSANA PENDZIK, RENÉE EMUNAH, and DAVID READ JOHNSON. Laura Woods, Lesley University

Rev. of Victorians Undone: Tales of Flesh in the Age of Decorum KATHRYN HUGHES John Hopkins UP, 2018. Deborah Fratz, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Professor Ricia Anne Chansky, Ph.D.
University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez
Research Affiliate, York University CERLAC
Fulbright Specialist in US Studies – Literature


Hive mind!

I am once again thinking about artist biographies. Could anyone please point me to theoretical literature on auto/biography that explicitly addresses the relation between

  1. a) — Life and work (generally)
  2. b) — Life and work – specifically in connection with feminist/gender-sensitive approaches to auto/biography?

I would love to know how this has been theorized beyond the handful of texts I have so far found…
Thank you very much in advance!

Julia Lajta-Novak

— Dr. Julia Lajta-Novak Department of English and American Studies University of Vienna Campus Altes AKH Hof 8.3, Spitalgasse 2 1090 Vienna, Austria +43(0)699 81761689


Petition against destruction of the Etty Hillesum house Amsterdam

Dear IABA List Members,

I email you about the planned demolition of the house where Etty Hillsum wrote her war diary – one of the most important diaries written in the Netherlands.  It is a monumental house opposite the Concertgebouw, designed by the architect of the Stedelijk Museum. The only way to prevent this is international protest. I live close the Concertgebouw and since a few years protesting against the way the city is alowing, even stimulating, the large scale destruction of monumental 19th and early 20th century neighborhoods.  Three of my interests come together in this case: trying to save my neighborhood from being ruined – I live near the Etty Hillesum house – , the memory of WO2 in the Netherlands, and egodocuments .

One thing you can do is sign an on-line petition of the Etty Hillesum Onderzoekscentrum. This is the English text:

We, the Etty Hillesum Research Center, The Jewish Houses Foundation, Prof. dr. Klaas Smelik and others, observe that the building, Gabriël Metsustraat 6 represents a highly significant cultural-historical value because of the Jewish author Etty Hillesum (1914-1943) who lived there during the Second World War and wrote her world famous war diary. The building is a tangible reminder of this special writer and we believe that this heritage should be treated with care and respect. Unfortunately, we note that the building is in danger of being demolished and request the Minister of Education, Culture and Science to denominate the building as a national monument, so that it will be preserved and can remain a tangible place for remembrance of this very special and world-renowned Jewish writer for future generations.

The Dutch text is below, also with other addresses to which protests can be sent.

with best wishes, Rudolf

Rudolf Dekker
Van Breestraat 116 (boven)
1071 ZV Amsterdam (31-20-6719651)



De monumentale huizen in de Gabriël Metsustraat, nummers 2, 4 en 6, staan op de nominatie om te worden gesloopt. Gabriël Metsustraat 6 is het huis waar Etty Hillesum haar dagboek schreef. De drie panden, ontworpen door de architect van het Stedelijk Museum, A.W. Weissman, liggen schuin tegenover het Concertgebouw. Het huis staat tussen twee rijksbeschermde monumenten – maar is toch door de gemeente Amsterdam vogelvrij verklaard.

U kunt tegen de voorgenomen sloop protesteren door
1. De petitie van de buurtbewoners te tekenen:
2. De petitie te tekenen van het Etty Hillesum Onderzoekcentrum en de Stichting Joodse Huizen:
3. Een email of brief te sturen aan de verantwoordelijke bestuurders en volksvertegenwoordigers en hen te vragen de sloop te voorkomen van deze monumentale huizen en dit  WO2-Holocaust erfgoed. Zie de adressen hieronder
4. Het bericht in De Erfgoedstem met commentaar te ondersteunen:
5. Dit bericht door te geven aan iedereen die het cultureel erfgoed van Amsterdam ter harte gaat.

Over het bouwbeleid in stadsdeel Amsterdam, zie de websites: en
Over de achtergronden van de sloop- en bouwwoede in Amsterdam: Rudolf Dekker, Roofbouw in Oud-Zuid. Bouwpraktijk en politiek in Amsterdam (ISBN 978-90-826730-3-6).
En het blog van buurtgenoot Marita Mathijsen:
Over Etty Hillesum:
De website van het Etty Hillesum Onderzoekcentrum:
Het dagboek van Etty Hillesum is in 18 talen vertaald.
Over haar:
In Engelse Wikipedia :
Het artikel van Klaas Smelik over dit huis in Joodse huizen. Verhalen over vooroorlogse bewoners (deel IV 2018) (zie

De tekst van de petitie van de buurtbewoners
Zie ook:

Zoals u wellicht al via de media heeft vernomen worden de monumentale panden Gabriël Metsustraat 2, 4 en 6 met sloop bedreigd. Via deze email geven wij u aanvullende informatie en bieden u tevens de mogelijkheid een petitie te onderteken om te protesteren tegen deze gang van zaken. De tekst van de petitie is een verkorte versie van het onderstaande. Wij zijn buurtbewoners en/of Amsterdammers die zich tegen deze sloopplannen verzetten en de gemeentelijke- en landelijke overheid oproepen om deze aanslag op architectonisch-, cultureel- en oorlogserfgoed af te wenden. In het pand Gabriël Metsustraat 6 heeft Etty Hillesum haar beroemde oorlogsdagboeken geschreven. Wat hier nu dreigt te gebeuren brengt ons op wrange wijze in gedachten wat zij in haar dagboek van juli 1942 schreef: ‘Van alle kanten sluipt onze vernietiging naderbij’. Moet nu ook de herinnering daaraan worden vernietigd? Maar de voorgenomen sloop is ook een aanslag op de bijzondere architectuur van het Museumkwartier. Deze drie panden zijn ontworpen door de architect van het Stedelijk Museum, W.A. Weissman. Het is onbegrijpelijk waarom Hillesum’s woning nooit de monumentenstatus heeft gekregen. De Museumplein en omgeving tot een van de rijkste architectonische buurten uit de 19e en 20ste eeuw van de stad Amsterdam. Architecten van naam hebben hun stempel gedrukt op deze étalage van bouwkunst en stedenbouwkundige structuur. De sloop daarvan omwille van nietsontziend eigen gewin dient voorkomen te worden.  Wij hechten er aan dat met erfgoed in onze buurt zorgvuldig wordt omgegaan. Helaas, het Stadsdeel heeft geweigerd om het Museumkwartier aan te merken als beschermd stadsgezicht. Hierdoor ontneemt zij zichzelf het instrumentarium om tegen dit soort hersenloze moderniseringsdrang op te treden.Wij hopen dat de overheid alles wat in haar vermogen is in stelling wil brengen om deze aanslag op ons erfgoed te voorkomen en roepen o.a. de minister van OCW op, daar het stedelijk welstandsbeleid in deze kennelijk tekort schiet, om de panden Gabriël Metsustraat 2,4 en 6 te plaatsen op de lijst van rijksmonumenten.

De tekst van de petitie van het Etty Hillesum Onderzoekcenturm en de Stichting Joodse Huizen
Wij, hett Etty Hillesum Onderzoekscentrum, Stichting Joodse Huizen, Prof. dr. Klaas Smelik en andere, constateren dat het pand, Gabriël Metsustraat 6 een zeer belangrijke cultuur-historische waarde vertegenwoordigt omdat de Joodse Etty Hillesum (1914-1943) daar tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog haar oorlogsdagboek schreef. Het pand is een tastbare herinnering aan deze bijzondere schrijfster en wij vinden dat met dit erfgoed zorgvuldig en met respect omgegaan dient te worden. Helaas constateren wij dat het pand gesloopt dreigt te worden en verzoeken de minister van OCW het pand als rijksmonument aan te wijzen zodat het pand behouden blijft en ook voor volgende generaties een tastbare plek van herinnering aan deze bijzondere Joodse schrijfster kan blijven.
We, the Etty Hillesum Research Center, The Jewish Houses Foundation, Prof. dr. Klaas Smelik and others, observe that the building, Gabriël Metsustraat 6 represents a highly significant cultural-historical value because of the Jewish author Etty Hillesum (1914-1943) who lived there during the Second World War and wrote her world famous war diary. The building is a tangible reminder of this special writer and we believe that this heritage should be treated with care and respect. Unfortunately, we note that the building is in danger of being demolished and request the Minister of Education, Culture and Science to denominate the building as a national monument, so that it will be preserved and can remain a tangible place for remembrance of this very special and world-renowned Jewish writer for future generations.

Emails en brieven aan Amsterdamse bestuurders kunnen gericht worden aan:
Stadhuis, Postbus 202, 1000 AE Amsterdam, t.a.v.
Wethouder van Ruimtelijke Ordening Marieke van Doorninck (Groen Links)
Wethouder Wonen, Bouwen, Openbare Ruimte Laurens Ivens (SP)
Wethouder  Kunst en Cultuur, Monumenten en Erfgoed Touria Melian (Groen Links)

Brieven en emails aan het Stadsdeelbestuur Amsterdam Zuid kunt u sturen aan:
President Kennedylaan 923, 1079 MZ Amsterdam of Postbus 74019, 1070 BA, Amsterdam, t.a.v.
Voorzitter Sebastiaan Capel (D’66), portefeuille Bouwen en Wonen, Kunst en Cultuur, Monumenten en Erfgoed:
Vice-voorzitter Rocco Piers (GroenLinks), Openbare ruimte.

Brieven aan de Minister van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap, Ingrid van Engelshoven,

Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap
Rijnstraat 50, 2515 XP Den Haag

Brieven en emails aan de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed:
Hobbemastraat 22, 1071 ZC Amsterdam

Rudolf Dekker
Van Breestraat 116 (boven)
1071 ZV Amsterdam


Hello Life Writing Colleagues:

I’d like to draw your attention to the Stories of the Pandemic initiative, created by the interdisciplinary group Stories of Change. Graduate students have made this introductory video to show what the project is about. If you want, share a story of the pandemic, in any format (including any life writing) and we’ll post it.

Send your submissions to Thank you!


Regards, Julie Rak

Julie Rak
Henry Marshall Tory Chair
Department of English and Film Studies
University of Alberta
Humanities Centre 3-5
Edmonton, AB T6G 2E6, Canada
ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Amiskwacîwâskahikan), Treaty 6/Region 4 Métis Nation



Life Writing, Volume 17, Issue 2, June 2020 is now available online on


Taylor & Francis Online.

The Selfless Ego part 1

This new issue contains the following articles:

The Selfless Ego I. Memory and Imagination in Tibetan Hagiographical Writing
Lucia Galli & Franz Xaver Erhard
Pages: 153-159 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1728069Articles
Between Self-Expression and Convention: Tibetan Reflections on Autobiographical Writing
Ulrike Roesler
Pages: 163-186 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1620581Nested Autobiography: Life Writing Within Larger Works
David Templeman
Pages: 187-203 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1621443From Song to Biography and from Biography to Song: The Use of gur in Marpa’s namthar
Cécile Ducher
Pages: 205-219 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1621444The namthar in Khalkha Dzaya Paṇḍita Lobsang Trinle (1642–1715)’s Clear Mirror
Sangseraima Ujeed
Pages: 221-238 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1622387Reincarnation and Personal Identity in The Lives of Tibetan Masters: Linking the Revelations of Three Lamas of the Dudjom Tradition
Cathy Cantwell
Pages: 239-257 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1622392Traces of Female Voices and Women’s Lives in Tibetan Male Sacred Biography
Hanna Havnevik
Pages: 259-276 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1622393Forest Walking, Meditation and Sore Feet: The Southern Buddhist Biographical Tradition of Ajahn Mun and His Followers
Sarah Shaw
Pages: 277-296 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1622394

Coronavirus Lost and Found is a new public archival project where anyone can log the things they’ve lost, or found, because of this pandemic.

Coronavirus is measured on the planetary scale, but felt at the human one. The losses that make the news are massive: thousands of lives, trillions of dollars. The losses that make this pandemic real to us are much smaller than that: one job eliminated, one celebration canceled, one sunny spring afternoon spent indoors, one irreplaceable person.  Unexpected pleasures coexist with all this sadness, though they don’t diminish it.  We find surprising things while we’re compelled to stay at home or maintain our distance.  We figure stuff out, stay in touch, get creative, keep kids entertained, appreciate our partners in new ways, daydream about all we’ll do on the other side of this.  Coronavirus Lost and Found is an archive of individual losses and those feats of care and ingenuity that make life in a pandemic a little more tolerable.

See what others have lost or found, and share your story at  And please forward this on to colleagues, students, and friends who might be interested in reading or contributing.

Thank you, and take care,

Rebecca A. Adelman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
UMBC Department of Media and Communication Studies*Add to the archive at Coronavirus Lost and Found:*Figuring Violence: Affective Investments in Perpetual War (Fordham University Press, 2019)*

===== General list info and FAQ:


First articles of Volume IX of the European Journal of Life Writing are available

Dear Reader,

We’re happy to let you know that the first articles of Vol. IX of the European Journal of Life Writing have now been published:

  • Veijo Pulkkinen: ‘The Diary, the Typewriter and Representative Reality in the Genesis of Juha Mannerkorpi’s Päivänsinet
  • Veronika Barnaš: ‘Travelling Showpeople in Upper Austria from the Nineteenth Century to the Present’
  • John Miers: Review of Frederick Byrn Køhlert’s Serial Selves: Identity and Representation in Autobiographical Comics

All articles can be freely accessed at:
More articles will be published in the coming weeks.

Monica Soeting / Petra van Langen
European Journal of Life Writing
Journal Managers


IABA Finland is postponed–IMPORTANT

Hello IABA colleagues,

On behalf of the IABA Executive and the Finland organizing team, we want to tell you that *IABA World in Finland is postponed to June 15-18, 2021.

If you are registered already for IABA World in Finland, you will get an information email tomorrow. You will be able either maintain your registration, or contact IABA Turku to request a full refund. All social events and keynotes will be retained for next year.

There will be another CFP for IABA Turku issued in September 2020, to give others the opportunity to apply to come. If you have any questions for the IABA Turku team, please contact them via their website here:

All IABA regional conferences will be delayed to 2022.

The Executive wants to thank Maarit Leskelä-Kärki and her team for their brilliant planning so far, and for their speed and flexibility as they give us all something to look forward to. Life writing colleagues around the world, we’re all thinking of you. Please stay safe and healthy.


The IABA Executive


Information for XII IABA TURKU 2020 participants: CONFERENCE POSTPONED due to COVID-19 situation

Dear All,

This is to inform you about the implications of the coronavirus epidemic on our conference. We are fully aware of the difficult situation worldwide, and know that certain countries and universities in Europe have already banned travelling. Yesterday quite many big conferences were cancelled and/or rescheduled. Today we have heard of new travel bans that affect quite seriously the travel between Europe and US, at least for a month. We cannot know for sure how long lasting these bans will be, and definitely the situation at the moment makes it very difficult for many to make any decisions concerning traveling. The government of Finland held a press conference today and all events with more than 500 people have been banned until the end of May, and there are several other recommendations regarding the epidemic.

Due to all of this, we have been intensively discussing the situation within our group here in Turku and with the international IABA-team. After careful and thorough consideration, we have come to the conclusion that we will have to reschedule the conference. This is a very difficult situation from all possible perspectives, and we are quite devastated that we have to do this. But we have to put everybody’s safety and health first, and do our best to limit and contain the epidemic.

We will inform you all personally as soon as possible about the practicalities and also about the new schedule – we will discuss this with the international group first. Please wait for this follow-up information, as we cannot answer all individual emails right now.

Best wishes,

Maarit Leskelä-Kärki
Chair of the XII IABA 2020 TURKU organising committee





Dear IABA List Members

I would also like to draw your attention to a book which I have just published. This is about – or better against – the so-called grey or leveling view on the five years of German Occupation and Holocaust in the Netherlands, which unfortunately has become mainstream:

Plagiarism, Fraud and Whitewashing: the Grey Turn in the History of the German Occupation of the Netherlands, 1940-1945, Amsterdam: Panchaud,  isbn 978-90-826730-7-4 (

Summary: This books discusses two problems in Dutch history writing. The first is plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct. The second is the current ‘grey’ view of the Netherlands during the Second World War in which the difference between victims and perpetrators is minimalized. The influential books and documentaries of journalist and historian Ad van Liempt and a fraudulent family memoir serve as case studies.

The chapter on the family memoir is, I think, of interest for the members of IABA.

Rudolf Dekker
Van Breestraat 116 (boven)
1071 ZV Amsterdam
En: www.panchaud.hl



Dear Colleagues,

I am happy to share that my book A Poetics of Arabic Autobiography:  Between Dissociation and Belonging, has recently been published by Routledge.

And a book description:

This book examines the poetics of autobiographical masterpieces written in Arabic by Leila Abouzeid, Hanan al-Shaykh, Samuel Shimon, Abd al-Rahman Munif, Salim Barakat, Mohamed Choukri and Hanna Abu Hanna. These literary works articulate the life story of each author in ways that undermine the expectation that the “self”—the “auto” of autobiography—would be the dominant narrative focus. Although every autobiography naturally includes and relates to others to one degree or another, these autobiographies tend to foreground other characters, voices, places and texts to the extent that at times it appears as though the autobiographical subject has dropped out of sight, even to the point of raising the question: is this an autobiography? These are indeed autobiographies, Sheetrit argues, albeit articulating the story of the self in unconventional ways.

Sheetrit offers in-depth literary studies that expose each text’s distinct strategy for life narrative. Crucial to this book’s approach is the innovative theoretical foundation of relational autobiography that reveals the grounding of the self within the collective—not as symbolic of it. This framework exposes the intersection of the story of the autobiographical subject with the stories of others and the tensions between personal and communal discourse. Relational strategies for self-representation expose a movement between two seemingly opposing desires—the desire to separate and dissociate from others, and the desire to engage and integrate within a particular relationship, community, culture or milieu. This interplay between disentangling and conscious entangling constitutes the leitmotif that unites the studies in this book.

Ariel M. Sheetrit


Dear colleagues,

I am happy to announce that my monograph, Metabiography: Reflecting on Biography, has recently been published by Palgrave.

This book explores the contradictions of biography. It charts shifting approaches to the writing and reading of biographies, from post-hagiographical attitudes of the Enlightenment, heroic biographies of Romanticism and irreverent modernist portraits through to contemporary experiments in politically committed and hybrid forms of life writing. The book shows how biographical texts in fact destabilise the models of historical visibility, cultural prominence and narrative coherence that the genre itself seems to uphold. Addressing the fraught relationships between genre and gender, private and public, image and text, life and narrative that play out in the modern biographical tradition, Metabiography suggests new possibilities for reading, writing and thinking about this enduringly popular genre.

Chapter 1: Introducing Metabiography

Chapter 2: Approaching the Master: Gender, Genre, and Biographical Tradition

Chapter 3: Reading the Hero: Biography and Self-Transformation from Carlyle’s On Heroes to Bertram’s Nietzsche

Chapter 4: Rethinking the Protagonist: Subaltern Narrators and Biographical Fictions

Chapter 5: Digesting the Material: Narrative’s Efforts to Assimilate Life

Chapter 6: Medial Envy: Image-Text Relations in Biography

Chapter 7: Inscribing Absence: Missed Targets and Missing Subjects in Anti- and Pseudobiography

Chapter 8: Gendered Narratives: ‘She’, ‘He’, and Their Discontents in Biography

With best wishes

Professor Caitríona Ní Dhúill
Department of German
School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
O’Rahilly Building
University College Cork
+353 21 490 2077


The Diary: The Epic of Everyday Life

Edited by Batsheva Ben-Amos and Dan Ben-Amos

Indiana University Press, 2020

The diary as a genre is found in all literate societies, and these autobiographical accounts are written by persons of all ranks and positions. The Diary offers an exploration of the form in its social, historical, and cultural-literary contexts with its own distinctive features, poetics, and rhetoric. The contributors to this volume examine theories and interpretations relating to writing and studying diaries; the formation of diary canons in the United Kingdom, France, United States, and Brazil; and the ways in which handwritten diaries are transformed through processes of publication and digitization. The authors also explore different diary formats, including the travel diary, the private diary, conflict diaries written during periods of crisis, and the diaries of the digital era, such as blogs. The Diary offers a comprehensive overview of the genre, synthesizing decades of interdisciplinary study to enrich our understanding of, research about, and engagement with the diary as literary form and historical documentation.

Women’s Literary Tradition and Twentieth-Century Hungarian Writers

Anna Menyhért, translator Anna Bentley

In Women’s Literary Tradition and Twentieth-Century Hungarian Writers, Anna Menyhért presents the cases of five women writers whose legacy literary criticism has neglected or distorted, thereby depriving succeeding generations of vital cultural memory and inspiration. A best-selling novelist and poet in her time, Renée Erdős wrote innovatively about women’s experience of sexual love. Minka Czóbel wrote modern trauma texts only to pass into literary history branded, as a result of ideological pressure in communist times, as an ‘ugly woman’. Ágnes Nemes Nagy, celebrated for her ‘masculine’ poems, felt she must suppress her ‘feminine’ poems. Famous writer’s widow Ilona Harmos Kosztolányi’s autobiographical writing tackles the physical challenges of girls’ adolescence, and offers us a woman’s thoughtful Holocaust memoir. Anna Lesznai, émigrée and visual artist, wove together memory and fiction using techniques from patchworking and embroidery.
I regularly post on Facebook about the book, on a page entitled Women’s Literary Tradition:
Prof. dr. Anna Menyhért
Professor of Trauma Studies, The University of Jewish Studies (OR-ZSE) – Budapest, HU
Affiliated researcher, University of Amsterdam, Department of Slavic and Russian Studies – Amsterdam, NL


Limelight: Canadian Women and the Rise of Celebrity Autobiography
Katja Lee
Limelight: Canadian Women and the Rise of Celebrity Autobiography is the first book to explore the history and development of the celebrity autobiography and offers compelling evidence of the critical role of gender and nation in the way fame is experienced and represented.

At the heart of fame is the tricky business of image management. Over the last 115 years, the celebrity autobiography has emerged as a popular and useful tool for that project. In Limelight, Katja Lee examines the memoirs of famous Canadian women like L. M. Montgomery, Nellie McClung, the Dionne Quintuplets, Margaret Trudeau, and Shania Twain to trace the rise of celebrity autobiography in Canada and the role gender has played in the rise to fame and in writing about that experience.

Arguing that the celebrity autobiography is always negotiating historically specific conditions, Lee charts a history of celebrity in English Canada and the conditions that shape the way women access and experience fame. These contexts shed light on the stories women tell about their lives and the public images they cultivate in their autobiographies. As strategies of self-representation change and the pressure to represent the private life escalates, the celebrity autobiography undergoes distinct shifts—in form, function, and content—during the period examined in this study.

Dr. Katja Lee
Communication and Media Studies, University of Western Australia
Managing Editor: Persona Studies



The Army and Politics in Zimbabwe Mujuru, the Liberation Fighter and Kingmaker, by Blessing-Miles Tendi

There is also a cheaper paperback edition for the African market available via Cambridge Press South Africa:
And here is a book trailer:
Below is a blurb and some endorsements:
General Solomon Mujuru (or Rex Nhongo) was an illustrious African liberation fighter in the 1970s. Until his mysterious sudden death in 2011, he was an important figure in Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party in Zimbabwe. Through Mujuru’s life history, this book throws much needed light on the opaque elite politics of the 1970s liberation struggle, the post-independence army and ZANU PF. This first full-length biography of Mujuru examines his moments of triumph, as well as his shortcomings – in equal measure. From his undistinguished youth, and poor upbringing in colonial Rhodesia’s Chikomba rural area, through his rapid rise and notable feats in a transnational liberation struggle, his role as the first black commander of independent Zimbabwe’s national army, to his contentious political career and private life. Whatever your views are on African liberation politics, Zimbabwe’s post-independence army, ruling party politics and Mujuru’s controversial death by fire, this essential record of a prodigious life will irrevocably change them.
‘This is the book everyone interested in Zimbabwean political history has been waiting for. Its biographical lens provides unique new insight into the ruling party and military. Moving from Mugabe’s rise to power in Mozambique, through the ceasefire, army integration and persecution of ZIPRA cadres in the early 1980s, to the bitter succession struggle of the 2000s, it reveals the workings of the deep state against Mugabe’s adversaries.’
JoAnn McGregor – University of Sussex
‘Tendi’s General Solomon Mujuru is an energetic, believable, Zimbabwean freedom fighter, post-independence politician, and eventual antagonist of President Robert Mugabe’s despotism. Tendi’s enthralling biography encapsulates the entire modern political evolution of a desperate country where even heroes are in the end destroyed by their fearful rivals.’

Robert I. Rotberg – Harvard University



List member and journalist Helen Epstein ( is pleased to announce that she has resuscitated her mother’s war memoir, FRANCI’S WAR, that was rejected by publishers in 1974 and is being published in seven countries in 2020. Her Afterword and Editorial Note provide a context for the memoir.


In the U.S. the publisher is Penguin Paperbacks:

Here are two pertinent blurbs:

“What are the qualities of a heroine tested and shaped by history, not by myth? She must have unflinching intelligence, wit, will, and honesty in the face of near-unbearable trials. Franci Rabinek Epstein was a worldly, pleasure-loving dress designer when the Nazi’s invaded Prague; she endured and prevailed when they sent her to Terezin, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Her voice is riveting whether she’s outwitting Josef Mengele, grappling with her own despair, discussing Dostoevsky with another prisoner, delousing her hair with kerosene or improvising a Cocteau monologue for a show the women inmates stage with canny defiance. She survived the worst of her times; she speaks to the best of ours.” — Margo Jefferson, Pultizer-prize winning author of Negroland: A Memoir

“By bringing her mother’s vivid and engrossing memoir into the public eye, Helen Epstein has made another important contribution to our knowledge of the Holocaust in Czechoslovakia. Franci’s War is full of passion, heartache and love — shedding light on humanity’s darkest era and providing added testimony to the incredible human capacity for resilience.” — Madeleine K. Albright, Former Secretary of State

If you want to catch Helen at one of her events this month live or livestream, look at “Events” on her webpage. If planes are still flying she will be in London in April.

Nieuwsbrief Biografie Instituut / Newsletter of the Biography Institute

Februari 2020

[English version below ]

Symposium Fries Biografie Instituut
Op donderdag 12 maart zal het Fries Biografie Instituut van 13.00 tot 17.15 uur een symposium organiseren in Tresoar, het historisch en letterkundig centrum in Leeuwarden. Onder voorzitterschap van Hans Renders zullen verschillende sprekers vertellen over hun biografische onderzoek naar het leven van figuren uit de Friese cultuurgeschiedenis. Hij vroeg onder anderen Antoon Ott, promovendus bij het Biografie Instituut, om zijn onderzoek naar Nanne Ottema te presenteren. De middag zal worden afgesloten met een discussie. Aanmelden is mogelijk op de website van Tresoar.

Nominaties Plutarch Award bekendgemaakt
De jury van de Plutarch Award heeft tien boeken genomineerd voor de enige internationale biografieprijs die wordt toegekend door biografen. In de jury zaten Caroline Fraser, Peniel E. Joseph, Hans Renders, John Richetti, en Susan Ware. De uiteindelijke winnaar zal bekend gemaakt worden op zaterdag 16 mei tijdens de elfde jaarlijkse BIO conferentie in New York.

PhD-ceremonie Chris Gevers op 7 mei
Chris Gevers zal zijn proefschrift Boer Tammens, Houzee verdedigen op 7 mei, 14.30 uur in de aula van het academiegebouw. Onder begeleiding van Hans Renders en Doeko Bosscher schreef hij een biografie van Petrus Tammens, die in de geschiedenis van de stad Groningen een unieke plaats inneemt. Dat was niet door de korte duur van zijn bewind als NSB-burgemeester tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog, maar vooral door zijn achtergrond als landbouwer.

Biografie D.F. Malan opnieuw uitgegeven   
De Zuid-Afrikaanse onderzoeker Lindie Koorts promoveerde in 2010 op haar biografie van D.F. Malan. Dit boek wordt op initiatief van het Biografie Instituut nu opnieuw uitgegeven in de reeks Over Leven.
In 1948 leidde Daniël François Malan, voormalig predikant in de Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk in Zuid-Afrika, zijn Nasionale Party naar de verkiezingsoverwinning. Voor veel Afrikaners een droom die uitkwam, maar met verstrekkende gevolgen voor het grootste gedeelte van de bevolking.

Meer informatie kunt u vinden op de website
Voor aan‐ en afmelding van deze nieuwsbrief kunt u mailen naar

Newsletter Biography Institute

February 2020

Conference Fries Biografie Instituut
On Thursday the 12th of March, 13.00 until 17.15 hrs., the Fries Biografie Instituut will organize a conference in Tresoar, the historical and cultural center in Leeuwarden, Friesland. Chaired by Hans Renders, various speakers will tell about their biographical research on the lives of figures in Frisian cultural history. He asked for example Antoon Ott, PhD-student at the Biography Institute, to present his research on Nanne Ottema. The afternoon will be closed with a panel discussion. Please register on the website of Tresoar.

Longlist Plutarch Award announced
The jury of the Plutarch Award has nominated ten books for the only international biography prize, awarded by biographers. Members of the jury were Caroline Fraser, Peniel E. Joseph, Hans Renders, John Richetti, and Susan Ware. The prize will be awarded on May 16, during the eleventh yearly BIO conference in New York.

Chris Gevers will defend his thesis on Petrus Tammens
On May 7, 14.30 hrs., Chris Gevers will defend his thesis Boer Tammens, Houzee in the aula of Groningen University. Under supervision of Hans Renders and Doeko Bosscher, Gevers wrote this biography on mayor Petrus Tammens, a remarkable figure in the history of the Dutch city of Groningen. During the Second World War, he governed the executive fascist board of the city, but was also known as a farmer.

Biography D.F. Malan reissued
The South-African researcher Lindie Koorts got her PhD in 2010 on her biography of D.F. Malan. Under auspices of the Biography Institute, this book will be reissued in the series Over Leven.
In 1948 Daniël François Malan, former minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in South-Africa, lead his Nasionale Party to an election victory. To many Afrikaners, a dream came true, but this had major repercussions to the biggest part of the people.

More information can be found on the website


James R. Farr, Who Was William Hickey? A Crafted Life in Georgian England and Imperial India (London and New York: Routledge, 2020). ISBN 13: 978-0-367-33119-1.

Who was William Hickey?  This book attempts to answer that question in light of current understandings of autobiography, narrative, and selfhood.  It reasserts the importance of the individual in history and the value of analyzing personal narratives to reveal the individual as a purposive social actor but without losing sight of constitutive cultural and social contexts. It intersects with several topics of keen interest among scholars from a variety of disciplines probing the processes of identity construction. Historians in particular will find here engagement with several historiographies concerning identity in Georgian England and Imperial India: the importance of gentility and the contested making of the gentleman, the role of sensibility in the construction of genteel identity, the nature of sexuality and the meaning of masculinity, and the fabrication of national identity and what it meant to be a Briton.

Jessica White, Hearing Maud

Hearing Maud (UWA Press, 2019) is a hybrid memoir that details the author’s experiences of deafness after losing most of her hearing at age four. It charts how, as she grew up, she was estranged from people and turned to reading and writing for solace, eventually establishing a career as a writer.

Central to her narrative is the story of Maud Praed, the deaf daughter of 19th century Queensland expatriate novelist Rosa Praed. Although Maud was deaf from infancy, she was educated at a school which taught her to speak rather than sign, a mode difficult for someone with little hearing. The breakup of Maud’s family destabilised her mental health and at age twenty-eight she was admitted to an asylum, where she stayed until she died almost forty years later. It was through uncovering Maud’s story that the author began to understand her own experiences of deafness and how they contributed to her emotional landscape, relationships and career.

Jessica is co-editor, together with Prof Gillian Whitlock, of the forthcoming issue on ‘Life Writing in the Anthropocene,’ a/b: AutoBiography Studies, 35.1, 2020.

Dr Jessica White

UQ Amplify Associate Lecturer

School of Communication and Arts | The University of Queensland | Brisbane Queensland 4072 | Australia

Phone +61 7 336 52982 | Fax +61 7 336 52799 | Email | Web | CRICOS Provider Number 00025B

Recent publications:
Hearing Maud, UWAP, 2019. ‘Intertwining’Sydney Review of Books, 10 Oct. 2018. ‘K. and the NDIS’Westerly. May 9, 2019


Life Writing, Volume 17, Issue 1, March 2020 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:


Career Construction Theory and Life Writing
Hywel Dix
Pages: 1-7 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1712853

From Writer’s Block to Extended Plot: Career Construction Theory and Lives in Writing |
Hywel Dix
Pages: 11-26 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1429772

Undisguised alter ego: Mary McCarthy’s autofictional career
Jeffrey Clapp
Pages: 27-43 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1710556

Academic career construction: personnel documents as personal documents
Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle
Pages: 45-57 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1710638

The Auto/Biographical Journalist and Stories of Lived Experience
Karen Fowler-Watt
Pages: 59-74 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1710659

Career Construction in volatile settings: seeking congruence in a journalist’s world today
Michael Lee Humphrey & Lorie Humphrey
Pages: 75-88 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1710794

Narrative Medicine in China: how doctors write to understand the profession
Rong Huang
Pages: 89-102 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1710797

Writing the Self and Bereavement: Dialogical Means and Markers of Moving Through Grief
Reinekke Lengelle
Pages: 103-122 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2020.1710796

The Life and Adventures of Harvey Teasdale, The Converted Clown and Man Monkey, with His Remarkable Conversion in Wakefield Prison
edited by Rosemary Whitcombe, Dawn Hadley, and Vicky Crewe, Brighton, Victorian Secrets, 2018, 106 pp., ISBN 9781906469634
Amber K. Regis
Pages: 125-128 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1611402

The ethics of storytelling: narrative hermeneutics, history and the possible
by Hanna Meretoja, New York, Oxford University Press, 2018, 368pp., £69 (hardback), ISBN: 9780190649364
Maria Tamboukou
Pages: 129-130 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1553485

The Phenomenology of Autobiography: Making It Real
by Arnaud Schmitt, New York and London, Routledge, 2017, 186 pp., ISBN-13: 978-1138710290
David Bahr
Pages: 131-134 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1466103

Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives
by Leigh Gilmore, New York and Chichester, Columbia University Press, 2017, 240 pp., ISBN 9780231177153
Edward Saunders
Pages: 135-137 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1491086

The Art of Disappearing
by Elisabeth Hanscombe, Brisbane, Glass House Books, 2017, 264 pp., ISBN: 978-1-9252-3158-8
Kate Douglas
Pages: 139-141 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1497925

Secret Police Files from the Eastern Bloc: Between Surveillance and Life Writing
edited by Alison Lewis, Valentina Glajar and Corina L. Petrescu, Rochester, Camden House, 2016, 237 pp., ISBN 9781571139269
Ioana Luca
Pages: 143-147 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1464886

No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison
by Behrouz Boochani, translated by Omid Tofighian, Picador, Pan Macmillan, 2018, 374 pp., (paperback), ISBN: 978-1-76055-538-2
Christina Houen
Pages: 149-152 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1529548


Angela Hooks, Diary as Literature Through the Lens of Multiculturalism in America (January 2020, Vernon Press)

  1. Twelve voices, both academic and creative, analyses diary writing in its many forms from oral diaries and memoirs to letters and travel writing in the anthology The Diary as Literature: Through the Lens of Multiculturalism in America is divided into three sections: Diaries of the American Civil War, Diaries of Trips and Letters of Diaspora, and Diaries of Family, Prison Lyrics, and a Memoir, the contributors bring a range of expertise to this quasi-literary genre including comparative and transatlantic literature, composition and rhetoric, history and women and gender studies.This collection fills the void in the genre diary as literature and fits the field of Life Writing Studies.Diary as Literature is available at
    Available at 24% discount (using code CFC275273E93 at checkout):
    or on Amazon:


Newsletter Biography Institute

January 2020


Annual Report Biography Institute

The annual report 2019 of the Biography Institute is available in Dutch and in English.

PhD-ceremony Co Strootman on January 23
Co Strootman will defend his thesis Wie stuit de rebellie van de massa? P.J. Bouman 1902-1977 on January 23, 14.30 hrs in the aula of the academy building. Bouman was a famous professor of sociology at the University of Groningen and also a widely read author of popular science books. In his biography, attention is paid to his fight with science and the cause of his popularity. The book reveals an almost unknown Bouman: the obsessive labour on his project of life and his underlying motives, his simultaneous fight against and service to science. The biography shows Bouman as a self-appointed culture carrier who sometimes took a wrong turn, but above all gained success and fame.

Cover edited volume Different Lives designed
Next Spring, the edited volume Different Lives will be published by Brill. The book will contain the papers that were presented at the conference of the same name, organized by the Biography Institute. The Groningen artist Dolf Verlinden made the design for the cover of the book, which appears in the new series Biography Studies, with Hans Renders as Series Editor.

Jeroen Vullings now working for Elsevier
Vullings, who is writing a biography of the journalist Henk Hofland, now works for the news magazine Elsevier as the reviewer of literary fiction. Jeroen Vullings has been a critic for 23 years at the newspaper Vrij Nederland.


Book Announcement by Listserv Member:

Who Was William Hickey? A Crafted Life in Georgian England and Imperial India, by James R. Farr (New York and London: Routledge, 2020).

This book analyzes an example of life-writing, an autobiography that was written in the early nineteenth century. It will appeal to readers of many disciplines who are interested in understanding the interconnectedness of memory, textual narrative, and ideas of selfhood.  The author of this autobiography, William Hickey, projects a sense of self formed by a combination of an interiorized self-consciousness (an awareness of himself as an autonomous individual, although not one prone to deep self-reflection) and a socially turned self-fashioning.  Hickey’s self is realized through the production of a narrative, his self fixed and defined through the act of writing. As he wrote his memoirs, Hickey was engaged in purposeful textual representation to satisfy his perceived sense of place in his culture while tacitly reflecting the constraints of that culture imposed upon the form and content of the text.

HSR Supplement 32 (2019): Celebrity’s Histories: Case Studies & Critical Perspectives. ed. Robert van Krieken & Nicola Vinovrški

The latest supplement of the journal Historical Social Research (HSR) is published!

Until recently scholarly (wissenchaftliche) reflection on celebrity has tended to approach it primarily as a product of the twentieth century, but over the last few decades there has been increasing attention paid to its longer-term history.  The field has been expanding rapidly, along with the rigour and scope of the research approaches pursued, and this Supplement of Historical Social Research showcases a selection of key interventions both by established scholars and innovative younger researchers. Probably the most widespread approach is now to see the development of modern celebrity as anchored in the Enlightenment and the emergence of the public sphere in the eighteenth century, and this has produced a lively set of debates about how the role of celebrity in the public sphere should be analysed. Alongside those debates, there are also important things to be said about celebrity in earlier historical periods, as well as what its specific trajectories were in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Precisely because celebrity has a history, it is possible to identify particular periods when the surrounding societal changes were accompanied by connected changes in the character and dynamics of celebrity. This HSR Supplement covers the dynamics of the heightened attention paid to public figures in the eighteenth century, the ways in which the concept of ‘the King’s two bodies’ can be applied to ascribed and achieved celebrity, early-modern as well as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century theatrical and literary celebrity, American heroes in the nineteenth century, and sporting celebrity. While novelty, the state of being apparently unprecedented, is often the hallmark of the individual celebrity, celebrity as a phenomenon and the discursive themes surrounding it are anything but new, and its history remains an important and exciting field of innovative scholarship.

You will find table of contents and abstracts online. With a moving wall of six months, the HSR has a rich open access archive.

Contact Email:


The editors of Biography are proud to announce the appearance of this special issue

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

Biographic Mediation: On the Uses of Personal Disclosure in Bureaucracy and Politics
a special issue edited by Ebony Coletu
“Introduction to Biographic Mediation: On the Uses of Personal Disclosure in Bureaucracy and Politics”

Ebony Coletu

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

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

Michelle Jones

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

“A Complaint Biography”

Sara Ahmed

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

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

Aly Wane interviewed by Ebony Coletu

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

“The Securitate File as a Record of Psuchegraphy

Cristina Plamadeala

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

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

Annie Isabel Fukushima

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

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

Mercy Romero

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

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

Leigh Gilmore

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

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

Rhondda Robinson Thomas

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

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

Amita Swadhin interviewed by Ebony Coletu

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

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

Kimberly McKee

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

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

Aimée Morrison

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


The editors of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies are delighted to share that issue 34.3 Autumn 2019 is now available. This special issue–Engaging Donna Haraway: Lives in the Natureculture Web–was guest edited by Cynthia Huff, Illinois State University, and Margaretta Jolly, University of Sussex, and features a new essay by Donna Haraway.
This issue is available digitally on our Routledge website and in print to subscribers. Subscriptions include print and digital access (including access to our full archive), and may be obtained by emailing
Situating Donna Haraway in the Life Narrative Web
Cynthia Huff, Illinois State University
This introduction argues that Donna Haraway’s key concepts can provocatively trouble foundational frameworks in life writing/narrative studies to question and expand the meaning of autobiography and the scholarly practice of autobiography studies. It also situates contributor’s pieces to this special issue in relation to Haraway’s work, to autobiography studies, and to each other.Revisiting Catland in 2019: Situating Denizens of the Chthulucene
A response to “The Writer of the Companion-Species Manifesto Emails her Dog-People”
Donna Haraway, University of California, Santa CruzHaraway and Cyborgs
Life and the Technological: Cyborgs, Companions and the Chthulucene
Kate O’Riordan, University of Sussex
Haraway’s cyborg is a widely travelled figure with an important relation to life writing. This article traces the cyborg through modes of life writing, and routes through feminist science fiction and science studies. It examines attachments and anger, looking at the return of the alienated cyborg in recent accounts of Haraway’s work.
Modest_Witness in the Wire: Haraway, Predictive Algorithims, and Online Profiling –
Joel Haefner, Illinois Wesleyan University
Donna Haraway’s concepts of the cyborg and a modest_witness have renewed salience in today’s digital world, as online profiling, Big Data, and predictive personality algorithms alter human subjectivities as part of an identity feedback loop. These evolutions in turn trouble life writing theoretical constructs such as narration, authenticity, agency, automediality, and collaboration.
More Than Props: Metaphor, A Biological Imperative
Thyrza Nichols Goodeve, School of Visual Arts, New York City
This reflection on the 20th anniversary edition of Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleManÓMeets_OncoMouseÔ  (New York: Routledge, fall 2018) draws from the preface to “Nothing Comes Without Its World,” a collaborative conversation between Thyrza Nichols Goodeve and Donna J. Haraway in 2017.
Bound in the Spiral Dance: Haraway, Starhawk, and Writing Lives in Feminist Community
Joan Haran, University of Cardiff
This article uses the figure of the Spiral Dance to draw out biographical, theoretical, and political similarities and points of friction between Haraway and Starhawk. It suggests that Haraway’s assertion that she would rather be a cyborg than a goddess foreclosed possibilities in feminism that have taken decades to reconstruct.Hawaway and Animals
From the Autobiographical Pact to the Zoetrophic Pack
Cynthia Huff, Illinois State University
Using concepts drawn from Donna Haraway’s work, I propose the zoetrophic pack as a possible figuration to replace Philippe Lejeune’s autobiographical pact. Doing so helps refigure a foundational concept in autobiography studies by foregrounding nonhuman actants and troubling issues of representation, identity, and experience, all central to autobiography studies.
The Jollies: A Biographical Artwork about Primatologist Alison Jolly
Rachel Mayeri, Harvey Mudd College
The Jollies is a video about the late primate scientist Alison Jolly, narrated by lemurs, a langur monkey, and a dog, whose voices are Jolly’s colleagues, daughter, and Donna Haraway. The essay reflects on biographical artwork, gender in the history of primatology and science, and talking animals.
Survival Writing: Autobiography vs. Primatology in the Conservation Diaries of Alison Jolly
Margaretta Jolly, University of Sussex
Donna Haraway’s ecological visions frame this exploration of my mother Alison Jolly’s writings as a primatologist of ringtailed lemurs. My mother, I propose, chose auto/biographical modes to unsettle anthropomorphic and Western perspectives and to enhance conservation efforts in Madagascar. I find solace in this, and in Haraway’s ideas about survival as publisher of mum’s diaries after her death.Haraway and Genre
Genetic Prosopography and Caste: Natureculture in Contemporary India
Pramod Nayar, University of Hyderabad
Donna Haraway’s theorization of natureculture webs has enormous potential for reading collective biographies (prosopography) that involve genetic ‘roots’ and ‘routes.’ This essay examines the genetic prosopographic narratives revolving around caste identity in India and their imbrication of genetic ‘testimony’ and contemporary cultural identities.
Linea Nigra: Posthuman M/Others
Francesca Ferrando, New York University, Gisella Sorrentino , and Elena Cappanera
Delving in the post-dualistic reading of a posthuman pregnancy, three new mothers—a philosopher, a photographer and a video-maker—developed this project to express the deeper meaning of motherhood in the XXI century, inspired by the messages of (in alphabetic order): Hannah Arendt, Rosi Braidotti, and Donna Haraway.
Composite lives: Making-with our multispecies kin (Imagine!)
Stephen Abblitt, La Trobe University (Writing from Below)
Inspired by the companionist, compostist philosophies of Donna Haraway, this paper imagines a sympoietic life narrative which traverses life and lives (individual, social, biological, special, molecular, atomic…), demanding we engage in an emergent autobiomediated collaboration¬with other human, non-human and non-animal lives—making-with our multispecies kin. Imagine!
Registering the Self and the Registers of Self: Towards an Ethics of Collaborative Autobiography
Parvathy Das and Vinod Balakrishnan, National Institute of Technology
The paper proposes a model for the subject-collaborator relationship where Haraway’s diffraction and mutated modest witness are posited as the new registers of collaborative self formation. The paper examines situated ethics in the collaborative autobiographies of Nalini Jameela and Mayilamma.Teaching and Being Taught by Haraway
Haraway’s Material-Semiotic Knot: A Learning-Teaching Response for Creative-Critical Times
Alexis Harley, La Trobe University
“A Manifesto for Cyborgs” and The Companion Species Manifesto open wide discussions about identity, relationship, and what Haraway calls the material-semiotic knot. Haraway’s deconstruction of the semiotic/material binary implicates, this essay argues, a whole suite of binaries: content/form, representation/the represented, animal/plant, active/passive, teaching/learning, writing/reading, inside/outside. This essay and the classroom it is about how the studying of these texts and themes can involve a practice of material-semiotic knottedness, in turn putting pressure on the implicated binaries. Following Haraway’s lead, this essay and the classroom it is about explore how personal lived material experience is already knotted with how we read and make theory. They find their way to the mimosa, a plant and a figure (in Haraway’s sense) that helps with thinking through Haraway’s radical ontology.
Soils for Making Kin: Compost, Saudade, Com-bios
Katie King, University of Maryland
“Making Kin,” Haraway’s slogan for worldly flourishing, prepares a compost of life writings. These “soils” nurture four meditations: on serious jokes, on returns and repetitions of place and kinship, on friendship as a method of presence in absence, and on the political play of common goals with divergent motives.First, Last, Always Haraway
It Matters What Stories Tell Stories, It Matters Whose Stories Tell Stories
Donna Haraway, University of California, Santa Cruz
Aiming to craft symstories and symbiographies, the essay below proposes several short instances of compost writing. First, retelling another’s personal and family stories foregrounds the question of who owns stories, who has access to whose stories, who is safe enough to tell their stories, and who lives and dies as a result. Second, represented by the Crochet Coral Reef, earth stories propose reconfiguring organisms as holobionts to foreground collective becoming-with. Third, an Iñupiak computer game shows the complexity of collaborations for telling decolonial geostories in continuing times of rapid destruction and extinction. Finally, the author’s SF story proposes speculative fiction to strengthen the difficult search for multispecies reproductive justice.
Rev. of Autobiographical Writing in Latin America: Folds of the Self. Sergio Franco and translated by Andrew Ascherl Cambria Press, 2017. Ana Roncero-Bellido, Gonzaga University
Rev. of Facebook Society: Losing Ourselves in Sharing Ourselves. Roberto Simanowski. Trans. Susan H. Gillespie. Columbia University Press, 2018. John David Zuern, University of Hawaiʻi at MānoaNotes on Contributors


Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies
No.13, Autumn 2019
Center for Life Writing, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
Editor’s Note
Special Section: Interview
An Introduction to the Work of Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson
…………Sidonie Smith and Julia WatsonText Studies
A Summary of Biographies of “Contemporary Writers” in the 40 Years of Reform and Opening Up……Wei Xue  Quan Zhan
Self-Establishment through History——A Comment on Zhang Xinying’sThe First Halfof Shen Congwen’s Life (1902-1948)……Zhang Yang
“Fictional Truth” and the Construction of the Spiritual Image: A Study of Li Changzhi’s Biography
……Li Qiting
The Resistance to Suffering and the Increase of Life Value: On the Autobiographical Works by Disabled Contemporary Writers……Xue Haojie
Nature and Self-identity: A Case Study of The View from Castle Rock……Zhu YanAutobiography Studies
Out of the Bamboo Curtain: An Interpretation of the Consciousness of Modern Chinese Women fromDaughter of Confucius: A Personal History……Li Junhao Yin DexiangDiary Studies
The Stylistic Changes and the Exploration of Its Connotation in TheSequel of Wu Mi’s Diary
…………Huang Yanwei
Supplementary Studies on the Diary of Liu Kang……Ho Yi KaiHistory of Life Writing
The Power of Invention: Anne Hathaway in Shakespeare’s Biographies……Xu Qinchao
A Biography of the Time and an Autobiography of the Soul: A Study on Letters of Madame de Sévigné……Cao LeiSubject Studies
“The First and Most Lasting Intelligent Model”: On the Influence of Leslie Stephen on Woolf’s Creation……Jiao Hongle
Mark Twain’s Get-Rich-Quick Complex: From “The Tennessee Land” in Autobiography of Mark Twain……Xue Yufeng
Note on an Autobiographical Narrative in Franz Kafka’s Diary……Zhao ShankuiFilm Biography
Time Shaping Strategies and Biographee’s Identity Construction of Chinese Film Biography
……Fan LuluLife Writing Materials
Zhou Zuoren and the New Literary Education of Yenching University……Liu Ying Tang Zhihui
A Study on Zhou Zuoren’s Visit to Japan in 1934: Taking the Contact with Dojin Association as an Approach……Xu XiaohongFrom the Life Writer
On the Selection of Biographical Subjects and Exploration of Materials: The Presentation at the Life Writing Workshop Hosted at Nanjing University of Finance and Economics
……Han ShishanAcademic Info
Our Commitment to the Cause of Life Writing: A Summary of the Seven-Year Major Project
……Our Editor
The Presentist and Futurist Turns of Life Writing: Review of the PKU-KCL Joint Symposium
……Huang RongInstructions to ContributorsFrom the EditorFrom the Editor
This issue features many fresh and interesting topics in 20 papers.
Two U.S. scholars Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson brief on their efforts, through which a snapshot of American autobiographical studies in the recent 40 years is conveyed. What is particularly interesting to us is the eleven new topics of life narrative studies, i.e. autoethnography, automediality, trauma and testimony, empathetic identification and ethics, archives, relationality, self-translation and transnational identifications and identities, trans-writing, eco-autobiographical writing, racialization and ethnic identification, and biofiction in life narrative. Both the exact definitions and the topics require exploration to broaden our horizon and inspire our thinking.
The 40 years since the reform and opening-up have witnessed spectacular achievements in literary biography, of which Wei Xue and Quan Zhan have made a summary. One of Quan’s major achievements to China’s life-writing studies is his comprehensive conclusion of life-writing development from different perspectives and aspects, on the basis of his consistent and painstaking collection, reading and selection of voluminous life-writing works and his compilation, categorization and assessment. In so doing, his efforts facilitate understanding of the general development of contemporary China’s life writing and further researches. This paper sets a good example in the analysis of the background of literary biography popularity and its pros and cons.
To the extent that Zhang Xinying’s Shen Congwen is prominent in recent literary biographies, Zhang Yang’s “Self-Establishment through History” criticizes Zhang’s The First Half of Shen Congwen. Instead of merely focusing on this work, Zhang Yang also provides his understanding of Shen Congwen studies, comparison of different biographies of Shen Congwen and the exploration of biographical writing approaches. Her broad academic interests and active thinking as a young scholar deserve praise.
Li Changzhi is among the most significant Chinese biographers and literary critics in the 20th century, but the research on his biographies is far from mature. As a young MA candidate, Li Qiting reviews his biographies of Sima Qian and Li Bai despite all the challenges. Though there is room for improvement in her analysis and elaboration, her broad perspectives, quick wit and reasonable analysis are commendable.
Life writing features humanistic concern, while life writing of the disabled and patients focuses on this regard and spiritual inspiration. Xue Haojie reveals the theme of “the resistance to suffering and the increase of life value” in the four autobiographies of the disabled. Since many papers in this regard have been published in our journal, we call for your attention.
The concept of life writing has been explored in our journal repeatedly. With biography and autobiography as its core, life writing is a broader term. It is helpful to understand its connotation that Zhu Yan analyzes Canadian Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro’s The View from Castle Rock as a text in this category.
One biographical research on Republican figures is published in this issue. The awakening progress of feminine consciousness in the confrontation between Chinese and Western civilizations is delineated in the interpretation of Daughter of Confucius:A Personal History made by Li Junhao and Yin Dexiang. This biography is their recent discovery overseas and may function as a supplement to China’s history of modern life writing.
Diary is a long-standing form in China’s culture. Owing to the secrecy, however, few of them are available to the general public. This situation has changed recently. Two papers are concerned with diary texts in this issue and all the diarists are famous cultural figures, though their experience and purpose are quite different. Both scholars peruse the texts respectively to explore the historical value of private narratives and examine the diarists’ personality and life goals. Wu Mi is a famous professor of Chinese mainland. Huang Yanwei focuses on the mental world in The Sequel of Wu Mi’s Diary, his emotional catharsis in suffering, struggles, painstaking efforts and earnest expectation. Liu Kang is a fine art student leaving Shanghai for South China in the 1930s and lately becomes a prestigious artist in Southeast Asia with rare experience. Ho Yi Kai’s research on Liu’s diary is designed to sort up the rich records and discover its documentary value.
In the section of History of Life Writing, an interesting issue is raised in Xu Qinchao’s “The Power of Invention.” Taking Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway as an example, Xu argues that generations of Shakespeare have shaped a vivid female character of her out of few materials available through speculation and imagination, thus resulting in a more true-to-life character and experience of Shakespeare and a more in-depth interpretation of his dramas and sonnets. In this sense, Xu makes a supplement to the statement that “truth is the vitality of biography” and puts forward that “invention is also the vitality of biography”. Are the two statements in conflict with each other? We invite your discussion on this issue.
A Biography of the Time and an Autobiography of the Soul: A Study on Letters of Madame de Sévigné is also an object for history of life writing, for it records French upper-class life in the 17th century and is important materials of feminist movement history. Cao Lei stresses the “autobiography of the soul” in this paper and this work is unneglectable in the turn to autobiographical studies.
Three novelists are discussed in the section of Subject Studies. Virginia Woolf is not merely famous for the stream of consciousness novel, but one of the founders of Anglo-American modern life writing and life-writing theories. It is interesting how she combines the two different genres, which is partly accounted for by Jiao Hongle’s analysis of the influence of her father Leslie Stephen. Mark Twain mentioned “The Tennessee Land” purchased by his grandfather, which is identified by Xue Yufeng as the password to understanding Twain’s whole life and source of his “get-rich-quick complex” and “get-rich-quick narrative”. This is a reasonable and interesting interpretation. Through the comparison of different versions Kafka’s diaries and biographies, Zhao Shankui examines the life stories of some of the novelist’s family members and explores how they were converted to literary stories to reveal the process of his conception. It is a challenge to understand the biographical subject’s artistic world through the textual research of certain details, but Zhao’s efforts are a successful model.
A great many papers on the issue of narration in China’s film biography have been published in our previous issues. Fan Lulu examines narrative time and discovers “intercepting time” and “retrospective time” are two typical time-shaping strategies designed to embody the ethical intent of the director and play an essential role in constructing the biographee’s identity. This research is inspirational to textual biography.
Two researches on historical materials concern Zhou Zuoren. Tang Zhihui examines Zhou’s efforts and contribution in the new literature education at Yenching University, while Xu Xiaohong discusses the writer’s visit to Japan in 1934 and his relations with Dojin Association. The two contributors demonstrate their adeptness in collection and selection of materials and contribute to understanding such a complex figure as Zhou Zuoren.
“On the Selection of Biographical Subjects and Exploration of Materials” is a lecture by Han Shishan and elaborates on the fundamental issues in life writing frequently discussed by life writers and theorists. The unique value of this paper lies in Han’s well-informed discussion based on his rich writing experience and his humorous style.
Two papers are published in the section of “Academic Info”. One is a report of the accomplishment of the Major Project (“Compilation and Research of Overseas Life Writing on Modern Chinese People”) sponsored by National Social Sciences Fund, and it cost more than 20 experts over seven years’ grueling efforts. This report is a valuable record in the history of China’s life writing.
Huang Rong’s conference review briefs on the discussion of the issue “Presentist and Futurist Turns of Life Writing” by life-writing experts from Peking University and King’s College London. This report features both new materials of life-writing studies and assumptions of future life writing and is worth reading.June, 2019

Instructions to Contributors


Life writing studies have moved onto the central stage in the academia and gained ever more attention both in and outside China. As the first scholarly journal in the field of China, the biannual journal Modern Life Writing Studiesintends to fill up the blank of life writing studies in China, provide a venue for scholars all over the world, attract and promote specialists in the field.
Aiming to keep abreast of the cutting edge of life writing research, Our journal seeks to, in modern views and perspectives, explore various topics of life writing in China and in the world, with almost 20 sections included, such as Interview, Comparative Biography, Theory Study, History of Life Writing, Text Study, Autobiography Study, Diary Study, Subject Study, Film Biography, Book Reviews, Life Writing Materials, From the Life Writer, etc.
Ever since its appearance in 2013, our journal has been well-received by scholars at home and abroad and fundedby a steady grant from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is exerting increasingly greater influence in academia with a due wide positive response. In 2017, our journal was included in CSSCI (Chinese Social Science Citation Index), and listed in the international academic literature or included in the annual annotated bibliography by world prestigious universities.
Our journal accepts both Chinese and English submissions. All the articles will be subject to anonymous peer review.Style
Submissions are welcome from both Chinese and international researchers. Simultaneous submissions are not accepted. English papers should be between 4,000 and 7,000 words of text in length (including notes), while English book reviews are about 2,500 words. Full-length articles take up most part of the journal, but short essays with originality and fresh ideas are also welcome.Submission Guidelines
All written submissions should be formatted according to the eighth edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. All submissions should include a 100-word abstract both in Chinese and English, keywords (less than 5), a 70–word biographical statement, and works cited. Please adhere to the following requirements:
•   Double spacing, Times New Roman, 12–point font
•   One-inch margins
•   Only Microsoft Word doc or docx files will be accepted
•  Citations should be provided in parenthetical reference followed by “Works Cited”.
•  Endnotes are preferred if there are any.Submissions should be emailed in Word format to the editor Each contributor will get two complimentary copies once his/her paper is published.Our journal is based at SJTU Center for Life Writing. We welcome suggestions and proposals, from which we believe our journal will surely benefit.



La vérité d’une vie La Vérité d’une vie Études sur la véridiction en biographie

Textes réunis par Joanny Moulin, Nguyen Phuong Ngoc & Yannick Gouchan Éditions Honoré Champion Bibliothèque de littérature générale & comparée n° 162 392 p., broché, 15,5 × 23,5 cm. ISBN 978-2-7453-5204-0. 40 €

Qui manquerait une porte ? Ainsi parlait Aristote de la vérité pour dire qu’elle est immanquable, alors que paradoxalement il est impossible de l’atteindre absolument. Ces études ont en commun de partir pragmatiquement du constat que le principal obstacle à une théorie de la biographie comme genre littéraire distinct est le préjugé moderne que tout est fiction, ou à tout le moins que toute écriture en relève nécessairement. Sitôt cette vérité énoncée, on voit bien que c’est une évidence et que pourtant elle est fausse. Ce paradoxe, qui est aussi celui du menteur, ouvre une brèche où s’engouffre comme un courant d’air la possibilité d’un regain de l’expérience esthétique littéraire. En effet, la biographie nous interpelle autrement que la fiction parce qu’elle est véridiction, parce qu’elle est volonté de dire vrai. En cela, elle est comme la vie une bataille toujours perdue d’avance, mais où se livrent parfois de beaux combats.


Lamees Al Ethari

Waiting for the Rain: An Iraqi Memoir

“In this memoir, Lamees Al Ethari traces her transition from an idyllic childhood in a large extended Iraqi family to the relative stability of an exilic family life in Canada. Through memory fragments, flights of poetry, diary entries, and her own art, the author reveals the trauma suffered by Iraqis, caused by three senseless wars, dehumanizing sanctions, a brutal dictatorship, and a foreign occupation. Finely observed, highly personal, and intensely moving, this account also gives testimony to the Iraqi people’s resilience and the humanity they manage to preserve in the face of adversity. It is the other voice, behind the news flashes.”




By Leigh Gilmore and Elizabeth Marshall
Fordham University Press, 2019

When more than 150 women testified in 2018 to the sexual abuse inflicted on them by Dr. Larry Nassar when they were young, competitive gymnasts, they exposed and transformed the conditions that shielded their violation, including the testimonial disadvantages that cluster at the site of gender, youth, and race. In Witnessing Girlhood, Leigh Gilmore and Elizabeth Marshall argue that they also joined a long tradition of autobiographical writing led by women of color in which adults use the figure and narrative of child witness to expose harm and seek justice. Witnessing Girlhood charts a history of how women use life narrative to transform conditions of suffering, silencing, and injustice into accounts that enjoin ethical response. Drawing on a deep and diverse archive of self-representational forms—slave narratives, testimonio, memoir, comics, and picture books—Gilmore and Marshall attend to how authors return to a narrative of traumatized and silenced girlhood and the figure of the child witness in order to offer public testimony. Emerging within these accounts are key scenes and figures that link a range of texts and forms from the mid–nineteenth century to the contemporary period. Gilmore and Marshall offer a genealogy of the reverberations across timelines, self-representational acts, and jurisdictions of the child witness in life writing. Reconstructing these historical and theoretical trajectories restores an intersectional testimonial history of writing by women of color about sexual and racist violence to the center of life writing and, in so doing, furthers our capacity to engage ethically with representations of vulnerability, childhood, and collective witness.

Witnessing Girlhood brilliantly analyzes the role of childhood to trauma narrative and reader empathy. Working against the cliché of the sentimentalized child, Gilmore and Marshall demonstrate with clarity and determination that the ‘white savior’ trope in life writing about trauma is not the ascendant mode. This book’s depth and quality emerge from the authors’ profound, long-standing investment in trauma studies and childhood.  

Katharine Capshaw, University of Connecticut

Witnessing Girlhood is a tour de force: demanding and authoritative. Gilmore and Marshall articulate a powerful analysis of representations of girls and women on the fraught subjects of domestic violence, rape culture, survivor and victim identity, and persistent concerns about intrinsic female vulnerability. Here is a necessary and eloquent feminist affirmation on issues of gender and violence. –

Gillian Whitlock, author of Soft Weapons and Postcolonial Life Narratives: Testimonial Transactions

Table of Contents

Introduction: Witnessing Girlhood | 1

1. Girls in Crisis: Feminist Resistance in Life Writing by Women of Color | 13

2. Gender Pessimism and Survivor Storytelling in the Memoir Boom:
Girl, Interrupted, Autobiography of a Face, and Nanette | 38

3. Visualizing Sexual Violence and Feminist Child Witness:
A Child’s Life and Other Stories and Becoming Unbecoming | 63

4. Teaching Dissent through Picture Books:
Girlhood Activism and Graphic Life Writing for the Child | 86

Epilogue. Twenty-First-Century Formations: Child Witness, Trans Life Writing, and Futurity | 101

Acknowledgments | 113

Notes | 115

Index | 141

Leigh Gilmore (Author)
Leigh Gilmore is Distinguished Visiting Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Wellesley College. She is the author of several books, including most recently Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives.

Elizabeth Marshall (Author)
Elizabeth Marshall is Associate Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University. She is the author of Graphic Girlhoods: Visualizing Education and Violence.

All info in the link:

I would like to announce the publication of my book, Principle and Pragmatism in the Liberation Struggle: A Political Biography of Selby Msimang (Cape Town, BestRed/HSRC Press, 2019)
Henry Selby Msimang was one of the great South Africans of the twentieth century. Born in 1886 in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg, he was a founding member, interpreter and assistant to the Secretary General of the African National Congress in 1912, a president of the pioneering Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) in the 1920s and 1930s, General Secretary of the All African Convention (AAC) in the 1930s, a member of the Natives Representative Council and provincial secretary of the Natal ANC in the 1940s and early 1950s, a prominent member of the Liberal Party in the 1950s and 1960s, and thereafter a founder and executive member of the Inkatha Yenkululeko Yesizwe in the 1970s.
Such a long and diverse political career would make any person noteworthy, but Msimang was also an intellectual figure of remarkable talent – a prolific author and writer, journalist and public debater – and a man, who despite great trials and tribulations, did not compromise his principles and fundamental values, his commitment to the struggle for freedom, justice and human rights. In short, the book deals with the universal subject of political decision-making and the complicated journey of individuals within political formations within the struggles for political liberation, human rights and social justice.
The book will be of particular interest to scholars of South African and southern African history.
Kind regards
Dr Sibongiseni Mkhize



Wilfrid Laurier University Press, September 2019 |  Hardcover : 9781771124232, 336 pages, September 2019

“Elegant as silk, tough as steel. ” – Lisa Moore

Author Sonja Boon’s heritage is complicated. Although she has lived in Canada for more than thirty years, she was born in the UK to a Surinamese mother and a Dutch father. Boon’s family history spans five continents: Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, South America, and North America. Despite her complex and multi-layered background, she has often omitted her full heritage, replying “I’m Dutch-Canadian” to anyone who asks about her identity. An invitation to join a family tree project inspired a journey to the heart of the histories that have shaped her identity. It was an opportunity to answer the two questions that have dogged her over the years: Where does she belong? And who does she belong to?

Boon’s archival research—in Suriname, the Netherlands, the UK, and Canada—brings her opportunities to reflect on the possibilities and limitations of the archives themselves, the tangliness of oceanic migration, histories, the meaning of legacy, music, love, freedom, memory, ruin, and imagination. Ultimately, she reflected on the relevance of our past to understanding our present.

Deeply informed by archival research and current scholarship, but written as a reflective and intimate memoir, What the Oceans Remember addresses current issues in migration, identity, belonging, and history through an interrogation of race, ethnicity, gender, archives and memory. More importantly, it addresses the relevance of our past to understanding our present. It shows the multiplicity of identities and origins that can shape the way we understand our histories and our own selves.

Available via Amazon, Indigo, Powell’s, Blackwells, Waterstones, and more.


“What the Oceans Remember is breathtaking in scope. Reaching across continents, oceans and histories, it shows us what it means to live in the shadow of freedom while unfree; how the colour of a person’s skin can determine if they are seen or invisible; how the word home can exclude; how the beauty of music can be a balm; how the invaluable quiet of an archive can quake with unearthed voices. Unrelentingly honest, sometimes harrowing, steeped in rich and startling insight, and conveyed in transparent prose – elegant as silk, tough as steel. ” – Lisa Moore, author of the story collection Something for Everyone

– Lisa Moore

“Timely, compelling and illuminating in equal measure, What the Oceans Remember, which scrutinizes the lives and legacies of several generations of slaves and indentured labourers in Suriname, also confronts the rights and responsibilities we bear in relation to our ancestors. In this ever-questioning memoir, Sonja Boon maps emotional registers and bureaucratic statistics as honestly as she navigates theoretical currents and ethical anxiety. Weaving desire, dreams, and personal memory into the historical record, Boon succeeds admirably in making silences speak and fragments cohere in a fine example of creative non-fiction. ” – Lydia Syson, author of Mr Peacock’s Possessions

– Lydia Syson

“What the Oceans Remember addresses the complex and complicit question ‘Where are you from?’ by taking readers on an extraordinary trip through continents and countries, and to cities and their archives, to help us understand how the stories of our ancestors tell us something about ourselves. Boon’s exploration of the seductive spaces of the archives and the crossing of various kinds of borders brings to mind the work of Saidiya Hartman (Lose Your Mother), Maggie Nelson (The Argonauts), and complements the work of writers like Sara Ahmed as well. ” – Minelle Mahtani, University of British Columbia, author of Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romanticization of Multiraciality, host and creator of Acknowledgements and Sense of Place

– Minelle Mahtani

Life Writing, Volume 16, Issue 4, December 2019 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

History and Autobiography: The Logics of a Convergence

This new issue contains the following articles:

Introduction History and Autobiography: The Logics of a Convergence
Jaume Aurell & Rocio G. Davis
Pages: 503-511 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1648198

Articles Confessions of a Conscript, Disclosures of an Historian: An Autohistoriographical Essay
Gary Baines
Pages: 513-526 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1633457

‘The History That Has Made You’. Ego-Histoire, Autobiography and Postcolonial History
Anna Cole
Pages: 527-538 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1633249

‘Accurate History and Facts’ or Memoir?: Unravelling the Weave of History and Life Narrative in the Black Hills
Laura J. Beard
Pages: 539-551 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1633247

History, Fiction, Autobiography: William Faulkner’s ‘Mississippi’
Lucy Buzacott
Pages: 553-566 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1633248

Microhistory Narratives, Alternative Epistemologies and Epistemic Credibility: A Comparative Study of Haifa Zangana’s City of Widows and Leilah Nadir’s Orange Trees of Baghdad
Shima Shahbazi
Pages: 567-582 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1633427

‘An Autobiographical Myth’: Recuperating History in Suniti Namjoshi’s Goja
Divya Mehta
Pages: 583-599 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1633495

Exploring Human Subjectivity: Barbara Taylor’s Autobiographies
Bernard Eric Jensen
Pages: 601-615 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1633250

Experience, Materiality and the Rules of Past Writing: Interrogating Reference
Kalle Pihlainen
Pages: 617-635 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1633251

Reviews Adventures of a Postmodern Historian: Living and Writing the Past
Robert A. Rosenstone, London, Bloomsbury, 2016, 224 pp., ISBN 9781474274227
Jaume Aurell
Pages: 637-640 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1430445

Theoretical Perspectives on Historians’Autobiographies: From Documentation to Intervention
by Jaume Aurell, New York and Abingdon, Routledge, 2016, xii + 279 pp., ISBN: 978-1-138-93440-5
Peter Burke
Pages: 641-643 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1427403



“DIARY 1944, a return ticket to the past” (non-fiction)

Carla van Beers

This book is about an anonymous diary found in a display cabinet in a second-hand shop in The Hague (The Netherlands). Dutch artist Carla van Beers was keen to unfold the hidden history of the diary written in 1944 somewhere in the English countryside. She started an investigation in 2017, finished her work in 2019 and has now released the book ‘Diary 1944, a return ticket to the past.’
You’ll find two narratives: the historical tale of life in rural England during the Second World War; and the tale of an artist’s quest as an urban Dutch detective on the diarist’s trail. Travelling to England, she found the farm where the diary had been written. Gradually she learned more about the life of the diarist and the problems people faced in the British countryside in Kent in 1944.

  • How to read and interpret an anonymous diary from 1944
  • How much information can we get back from the past
  • How to deal with differences in language, culture and time
  • Hypothesis: the diarist came to England before the first World War as a child of German immigrants.

“DIARY 1944, a return ticket to the past” is the fifth independently published book by historical research bureau “De Huisdetective” in The Hague, The Netherlands |
This book contains information from The National Archives in Kew.
English translation and cover art by Nisha Alberti |
More information: |

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
volume 42, number 2, 2019’s NoteArticlesWounded Cities: Topographies of Self and Nation in Fay Afaf Kanafani’s Nadia, Captive of HopeHager Ben DrissThis essay presses the boundaries of autobiography to the field of urban studies. Fay Afaf Kanafani’s Nadia, Captive of Hope: Memoir of an Arab Woman (1999) engages in the poetics and politics of the city. Kanafani’s story of her multiple displacements and dislocations is positioned in the flow of urban experiences. The text offers a montage of self and nation, and blurs the lines between the private and the public. This essay explores the archaeological, as well as the cartographic qualities of Kanafani’s work. While it reads the memoir as a metaphorical practice of autogeography, it draws on anthropological geography to investigate two major images related to urban spaces: the divided city and the gendered city.Playing a Life in Nina Freeman’s Automedia Game, CibelePhilip MileticThis essay establishes a framework for studying automedia games—games that have an automedia narrative/disclosure—through an analysis of Nina Freeman’s Cibele. Using this framework, I argue that Cibele challenges the misogyny of a gamer culture that has a “vision of digital culture [as] . . . disembodied and immaterial” (Losh), and instead presents the play of video games as embodied, material, affective, and relational.Reading, Writing, and Resistance in Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My NameSarita CannonIn her 1982 biomythography Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Audre Lorde explores how literacy can be a hegemonic tool of oppression, as well as how it can be transformed into an implement that furthers her development as a Black lesbian artist. Drawing on both the lessons of the American educational system and the linguistic legacy of African Diasporic women, Lorde creates her own discursive world, one that is marked by hybridity, multiplicity, playful subversion, and communal creation. She redefines literacy as a dialogic and recursive process of consuming and creating narratives within a woman-centered community.“Bad” Biography Exposed!: A Critical Analysis of American Super-PopOline EatonBiography has long played an important role within American life, and yet mass-market biographies remain underexamined. Theorizing so-called “popular biography” within twentieth-century American popular nonfiction and celebrity journalism, this article analyzes the genre’s conventions and its centrality to celebrity discourse.ReviewsThe Shadow in the Garden: A Biographer’s Tale, by James Atlas
Reviewed by Carl RollysonExperiments in Life-Writing: Intersections of Auto/Biography and Fiction, edited by Lucia Boldrini and Julia Novak
Reviewed by Alexandra EffeAmerican Autobiography after 9/11, by Megan Brown
Reviewed by Elisabeth Hedrick-MoserLetter to My Father: A Memoir, by G. Thomas Couser
Reviewed by Emily HipchenThe Selfie Generation: How Our Self Images Are Changing Our Notions of Privacy, Sex, Consent, and Culture, by Alicia Eler
Reviewed by Teresa BruśInvented Lives, Imagined Communities: The Biopic and American National Identity, edited by William H. Epstein and R. Barton Palmer
Reviewed by Eric M. ThauAn Artisan Intellectual: James Carter and the Rise of Modern Britain, 1792–1853, by Christopher Ferguson
Reviewed by Anna ClarkAutobiographical Writing in Latin America: Folds of the Self, by Sergio R. Franco
Reviewed by Francisco BrignoleGetting Personal: Teaching Personal Writing in the Digital Age, edited by Laura Gray-Rosendale
Reviewed by Madeleine SorapureThe Art of Confession: The Performance of Self from Robert Lowell to Reality TV, by Christopher Grobe
Reviewed by Lynda GoldsteinA History of Irish Autobiography, edited by Liam Harte
Reviewed by Taura NapierVictorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum, by Kathryn Hughes
Reviewed by Alison BoothDoña Teresa Confronts the Spanish Inquisition: A Seventeenth-Century New Mexican Drama, by Frances Levine
Reviewed by Jorge Cañizares-EsguerraClio’s Lives: Biographies and Autobiographies of Historians, edited by Doug Munro and John G. Reid
Reviewed by Jaume AurellThe Decolonial Mandela: Peace, Justice and the Politics of Life, edited by Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni
Reviewed by Nick Mdika TemboCreating Identity in the Victorian Fictional Autobiography, by Heidi L. Pennington
Reviewed by Anne ReusA History of Irish Working-Class Writing, edited by Michael Pierse
Reviewed by Muireann LeechCanadian Graphic: Picturing Lives, edited by Candida Rifkind and Linda Warley
Reviewed by Rocío G. DavisLife? or Theatre? (Leben? oder Theater?), by Charlotte Salomon
Reviewed by Julia WatsonThe Phenomenology of Autobiography: Making it Real, by Arnaud Schmitt
Reviewed by Bettina StummOn the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements: Selected Writings, by Ella Shohat
Reviewed by Joyce ZonanaBird-Bent Grass: A Memoir, in Pieces, by Kathleen Venema
Reviewed by G. Thomas CouserPrivate Lives Made Public: The Invention of Biography in Early Modern England, by Andrea Walkden
Reviewed by Julie A. Eckerle

Research Methodologies for Auto/Biography Studies, Eds Kate Douglas and Ashley Barnwell.

[Please note that the introduction is currently free if you click “Preview PDF” on the link above].

This collection of short essays provides a rigorous, rich, collaborative space in which scholars and practitioners debate the value of different methodological approaches to the study of life narratives and explore a diverse range of interdisciplinary methods. Auto/biography studies has been one of the most vibrant sub-disciplines to emerge in the humanities and social sciences in the past decade, providing significant links between disciplines including literary studies, languages, linguistics, digital humanities, medical humanities, creative writing, history, gender studies, education, sociology, and anthropology.

The essays in this collection position auto/biography as a key discipline for modelling interdisciplinary approaches to methodology and ask: what original and important thinking can auto/biography studies bring to discussions of methodology for literary studies and beyond? And how does the diversity of methodological interventions in auto/biography studies build a strong and diverse research discipline? In including some of auto/biography’s leading international scholars alongside emerging scholars, and exploring key subgenres and practices, this collection showcases knowledge about what we do when engaging in auto/biographical research. Research Methodologies for Auto/biography Studies offers a series of case studies that explore the research practices, reflective behaviours, and ethical considerations that inform auto/biographical research.


New and Experimental Approaches to Writing Lives, by Jo Parnell

Jo Parnell  (Editor), Caroline McMillen (Foreword), Hugh Craig (Introduction) and 12 more, Jo Parnell (contributor), Donna Lee Brien (Contributor), Michael Sala (Contributor), Kate Douglas (Contributor), Willa McDonald (Contributor), Sonya Huber (Contributor), David Walker (Contributor), Vanessa Berry (Contributor), Page Richards (Contributor), Jessica Wilkinson (Contributor), Amanda Norman (Contributor), Emma Newport (Contributor)

  • Hardcover: 236 pages

Publisher: Red Globe Press; 1st ed. 2019 edition (August 22, 2019)

With recent advances in digital technology, a number of exciting and innovative approaches to writing lives have emerged, from graphic memoirs to blogs and other visual-verbal-virtual texts. This edited collection is a timely study of new approaches to writing lives, including literary docu-memoir, autobiographical cartography, social media life writing and autobiographical writing for children. Combining literary theory with insightful critical approaches, each essay offers a serious study of innovative forms of life writing, with a view to reflecting on best practice and offering the reader practical guidance on methods and techniques. Offering a range practical exercises and an insight into cutting-edge literary methodologies, this is an inspiring and thought-provoking companion for students of Literature and Creative Writing studying courses on life writing, memoir or creative non-fiction. This book will also be useful to teachers and lecturers of life writing as well as practioners.

In Australia, the link for the book to Macmillan International Higher education is

“Devoted to the Truth: Allama Amini, the Author of al-Ghadir” by Muhammad-Reza Fakhr-Rohani

I have written the first book-length English biography of Allama Abd al-Husayn Amini (d. 1970), a renowned Muslim scholar whose magnum opus, al-Ghadir (11 vols.), is famous in Shiite Islamic communities. My book bears the title “Devoted to the Truth: Allama Amini, the Author of al-Ghadir”. It is going to be released soon by the British publisher Sun Behind the Cloud in Birmingham, UK. Should you wish to know more about this title, you can contact either me ( or Mrs. Tehseen Merali, my British publisher whose contact email address is available on its website (
Dr. Muhammad-Reza Fakhr-Rohani


Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
Volume 42, Number 1, 2019
International Year in Review
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, Estonia, France, the Gulf Cooperation Council, India, Italy, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, South Africa, Spain, the UK, and two essays from the US, one on biography and one on memoir.Essays as Life Writing: The Year in Australia
Kylie CardellThe Tercentenary of Maria Theresa (1717–1780): The Year in Austria and Germany
Tobias HeinrichThe Brazilian “I/Eye” at the IABA Global Conference: The Year in Brazil
Sergio da Silva BarcellosMusicians’ Lives and National Identity: The Year in Canada
Alana BellIndependent Biographical Documentaries: The Year in China
Chen ShenTestigo de barbarie y resistencia: El año en Colombia
Gabriel Jaime Murillo-ArangoLife Writing’s Coming of Age: The Year in Estonia
Leena Kurvet-Käosaar and Maarja HolloThe Ghosts of World War II: The Year in France
Joanny MoulinSelves and Identities in the Arabian Gulf: The Year in the Gulf Cooperation Council
Szidonia HaragosWhat the Stars Tell: The Year in India
Pramod K. NayarBiographies from the Alps to Capri: The Year in Italy
Ilaria SerraEmergent Subjectivities: The Year in Korea
Heui-Yung ParkArchiving the Political, Narrating the Personal: The Year in Lebanon
Sleiman El HajjPolitics and Violence: The Year in Mexico
Gerardo Necoechea GraciaMediators as the Subject of Dutch Biography: The Year in the Netherlands
Hans Renders and David VeltmanVoices against Erasure, Loss, and Dehumanization: The Year in Palestine
Adam YaghiA Time of Great Biographies—Gombrowicz and Herbert: The Year in Poland
Paweł Rodak“No Coward Soul is Mine”: The Year in Portugal
Cláudia FariaAuto/Biography After Disaster: The Year in Puerto Rico
Ricia Anne ChanskyCultural Figures and the Biographical Turn: The Year in Romania
Ioana Luca“Born-Frees” on South Africa’s Memory Traps: The Year in South Africa
Nick Mdika TemboAuto/Biography and Conflict: The Year in Spain
Ana Belén Martínez García“The necessary disloyalty”: The Year in the UK
Tom Overton#MeToo and the Memoir Boom: The Year in the US
Leigh GilmoreAmerican Biography: The Year in the US
Carl RollysonAnnual Bibliography of Works about Life Writing, 2017–2018
Compiled by Aiko Yamashiro

Life Writing 2019 is now available online onTaylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:is now available online onTaylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:


The Personal is Political. Self-enunciation Strategies in Italian Second-wave Feminism
Walter Stefano Baroni
Pages: 329-344 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1469615
Reading Phoebe Gloeckner’s A Child’s Life and Other Stories at the Time of #MeToo
Olga Michael
Pages: 345-367 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1507416
Sites of Servant Memory in the English Country House: Frederick Gorst and the Gladstone Vase
Ellen O’Brien
Pages: 369-384 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1564216
Orality, Text and Witness in the Early Work of Tony Parker
Simon Featherstone
Pages: 385-396 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1522494
Writing an Illness Narrative and Negotiating Identity: A Kuwaiti Academic/Author’s Journey
Shahd Alshammari
Pages: 431-438 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1514240
Evoking the Female ‘Asexual’: Narrating the Silenced Self
Aoife Sadlier
Pages: 439-461 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1510288
Hawai‘i Jungle Writing: Where There is the Most Life
Stewart Manley
Pages: 463-475 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1470444
Memory Work: The Second Generation
by Nina Fischer, London, Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies, 2015, 262 pp., ISBN: 978-1-137-55761-2
Marta Bladek
Pages: 479-482 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1361781
Constance Maynard’s Passions: Religion, Sexuality, and an English Educational Pioneer, 1849–1935
by Pauline A. Phipps, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2015, 304 pp., ISBN 9781442650336
Angharad Eyre
Pages: 483-486 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1368104
Burying Autumn: Poetry, Friendship, and Loss
by Hu Ying, Cambridge, MA, United States and London, Harvard University Asia Center, 2016, 365 pp., ISBN 9780674737204
Jessica Siu-yin Yeung
Pages: 487-490 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1383844
Love and Liberation: Autobiographical Writings of the Tibetan Buddhist Visionary Sera Khandro
by Sarah H. Jacoby, NY, Columbia University Press, 2014, 456 pp., ISBN: 978-0-231-14768-2
Julia A. Galbus
Pages: 491-492 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1388944
Amalie Christine Jencken. 1785 to 1878. From Estonia to Ireland to Australia and Inbetween
translated by Victoria Moessner, New York, Page Pub. Co., 2016, 654 pp., ISBN 978-1-68348-887-3
Pamela S. Saur
Pages: 493-496 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2017.1406772
The Philosophy of Autobiography
edited by Christopher Cowley, The University of Chicago Press, 2015, 242 pp., ISBN 9780226267920
Julian Baggini
Pages: 497-501 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1511203
Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
Volume 42, Number 1, 2019
International Year in Review
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, Estonia, France, the Gulf Cooperation Council, India, Italy, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, South Africa, Spain, the UK, and two essays from the US, one on biography and one on memoir.Essays as Life Writing: The Year in Australia
Kylie CardellThe Tercentenary of Maria Theresa (1717–1780): The Year in Austria and Germany
Tobias HeinrichThe Brazilian “I/Eye” at the IABA Global Conference: The Year in Brazil
Sergio da Silva BarcellosMusicians’ Lives and National Identity: The Year in Canada
Alana BellIndependent Biographical Documentaries: The Year in China
Chen ShenTestigo de barbarie y resistencia: El año en Colombia
Gabriel Jaime Murillo-ArangoLife Writing’s Coming of Age: The Year in Estonia
Leena Kurvet-Käosaar and Maarja HolloThe Ghosts of World War II: The Year in France
Joanny MoulinSelves and Identities in the Arabian Gulf: The Year in the Gulf Cooperation Council
Szidonia HaragosWhat the Stars Tell: The Year in India
Pramod K. NayarBiographies from the Alps to Capri: The Year in Italy
Ilaria SerraEmergent Subjectivities: The Year in Korea
Heui-Yung ParkArchiving the Political, Narrating the Personal: The Year in Lebanon
Sleiman El HajjPolitics and Violence: The Year in Mexico
Gerardo Necoechea GraciaMediators as the Subject of Dutch Biography: The Year in the Netherlands
Hans Renders and David VeltmanVoices against Erasure, Loss, and Dehumanization: The Year in Palestine
Adam YaghiA Time of Great Biographies—Gombrowicz and Herbert: The Year in Poland
Paweł Rodak“No Coward Soul is Mine”: The Year in Portugal
Cláudia FariaAuto/Biography After Disaster: The Year in Puerto Rico
Ricia Anne ChanskyCultural Figures and the Biographical Turn: The Year in Romania
Ioana Luca“Born-Frees” on South Africa’s Memory Traps: The Year in South Africa
Nick Mdika TemboAuto/Biography and Conflict: The Year in Spain
Ana Belén Martínez García“The necessary disloyalty”: The Year in the UK
Tom Overton#MeToo and the Memoir Boom: The Year in the US
Leigh GilmoreAmerican Biography: The Year in the US
Carl RollysonAnnual Bibliography of Works about Life Writing, 2017–2018
Compiled by Aiko Yamashiro

Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies
No.12, Spring 2019
Center for Life Writing, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

Special Section: Interview
The Biographer’s Art: Interview with Richard Holmes……Tang Xiumin
Special Section: The Study of Shen Congwen’s Life Writing
The Affectionate Paintings: On Shen Congwen’s Letters in His Later Years…….Liang Qingbiao
Living beyond the Suffering by Constructing the Self: The Selection in the Writing of Congwen’sAutobiography……..Ding Qianhan
Theory Studies
Experimenting on Biography:The Poetic History and Artistic Reality in Nabokov’s Literary Biography……..Jia Ying
The Generic Dilemma and Breakthrough: Taking David Lodge’s Biographical Novels as an Example…….Cai Zhiquan
Peritexts in David Lodge’s Author, Author, and A Man of Parts: From the Perspective of Genette’s Theory of Paratexts ……..Chen Wenyu
Perfect Autobiography……..Mao Xu
Comparative Biography
Into the Complex Soul: Features of Su Manshu Biography……..Mu Jiangwei
Text Studies
Biography As Travel Writing:A Study of George Morrison’s An Australian in China
  ………Zhang Wenru  Cui Yaxiao
The Identity Discourses in Lisa See’s Family Memoir On Gold Mountain: A Family Memoir of Love, Struggle and Survival………Chu Fumin
TheLife Narrative Examined from the Perspective of Space Theory:The Case of Fang Wei’s A Biography of Wang Xiaobo……..Wang Buxin
History of Life Writing
On the Contribution of the Periodicals in the Republican Period to Chinese Modern Biography ………Chen Hanying  Yu Yang  Yu Zhanghua
The May Fourth New Culture Movement and Chinese Modern Biography……..Xu Jingpin
“Literature of Necessity”: On the Utility of the African Slave Narrative…….Zheng Chunguang
The Relationship between the Sage Biography and the Local Chronicles……..Li He
Subject Study
42, a Fatal Age: A New Clue to the Enigma of Gogol…….Xu Xiaoyu
Book Review
The Princess’s Diary and the Princess Diarist: A Review of The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher……..Li Xiaolong Wang Mengjie
Film Biography
Looking at Film Biography from the Perspective of Performance Framework…..Zhou Qianwen
Female Intellectuals’ Media Writing in Feminist Films:A Comparative Studyof theHannah Arendt andThe Golden Era……Yang Shihua()
Academic Info
2018 Life Writing Workshop: A Dialogue among the Biographer, the Scholar and the Reader: A Report……Shao Yi
Instructions to Contributors
From the Editor

Instructions to Contributors

Life writing studies have moved onto the central stage in the academia and gained ever more attention both in and outside China. As the first scholarly journal in the field of China, the biannual journal Modern Life Writing Studies intends to fill up the blank of life writing studies in China, provide a venue for scholars all over the world, attract and promote specialists in the field.
Aiming to keep abreast of the cutting edge of life writing research, Our journal seeks to, in modern views and perspectives, explore various topics of life writing in China and in the world, with almost 20 sections included, such as Interview, Comparative Biography, Theory Study, History of Life Writing, Text Study, Autobiography Study, Diary Study, Subject Study, Film Biography, Book Reviews, Life Writing Materials, From the Life Writer, etc.
Ever since its appearance in 2013, our journal has been well-received by scholars at home and abroad and fundedby a steady grant from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is exerting increasingly greater influence in academia with a due wide positive response. In 2017, our journal was included in CSSCI (Chinese Social Science Citation Index), and listed in the international academic literature or included in the annual annotated bibliography by world prestigious universities.
Our journal accepts both Chinese and English submissions. All the articles will be subject to anonymous peer review.

Submissions are welcome from both Chinese and international researchers. Simultaneous submissions are not accepted. English papers should be between 4,000 and 7,000 words of text in length (including notes), while English book reviews are about 2,500 words. Full-length articles take up most part of the journal, but short essays with originality and fresh ideas are also welcome.

Submission Guidelines
All written submissions should be formatted according to the eighth edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. All submissions should include a 100-word abstract both in Chinese and English, keywords (less than 5), a 70–word biographical statement, and works cited. Please adhere to the following requirements:
•   Double spacing, Times New Roman, 12–point font
•   One-inch margins
•   Only Microsoft Word doc or docx files will be accepted
•  Citations should be provided in parenthetical reference followed by “Works Cited”.
•  Endnotes are preferred if there are any.

Submissions should be emailed in Word format to the editor Each contributor will get two complimentary copies once his/her paper is published.

Our journal is based at SJTU Center for Life Writing. We welcome suggestions and proposals, from which we believe our journal will surely benefit.

From the Editor
–To Our Young Contributors

This issue features an interview with the British biographer Richard Holmes, who is highly esteemed not merely in Europe and America, but also enjoys wide reputation in China for his biographies of Romanticists, notably Shelley, and scientists and his theoretical works on biography. As a professor of Biographical Studies, he excels in summarizing his rich writing experience, as demonstrated in the interview. For instance, “Good biographies…are obviously so varied in style, approach and temperament that it would be difficult to define any essential common ground between them. Nonetheless, I think the ability to fall in love with your subject, and out of love again where necessary, is probably fundamental to the writer of any good biography.” This calls our attention to the very key of biographical writing.
This issue witnesses the special section “The Study of Shen Congwen’s Life Writing”, which includes two papers. Shen has long remained the focus in the academic community, while the interest in him has extended from his fiction to a great variety of other genres, including his life writing. Liang Qingbiao has conducted a research on Shen’s letters after 1949, dubbing them as “the affectionate paintings.” Through the analysis of the readiness, tranquility and thoughts in them and the perception of the “tender beauty of his soul ,” Liang produces a role model in an aesthetic research on autobiography. Based on the knowledge of Shen’s works, Ding Qianhan identifies Shen’s selection of both his adolescent images and his experience periods in the autobiography through a perusal of the first edition of Congwen’s Autobiography and the comparison with the works before and after it. This is attributed to “living beyond the suffering by Self-construction” through her exploration of Shen’s spiritual world.
All the four papers in Theory Study are concerned with the innovation to auto/biography. Since the origins of modern biography, efforts have been constantly made to break free of fetters of conventional boundaries and to establish new forms. For example, the Russian American writer Vladimir Nabokov breaks biography conventions which tend to be prosaic style and linear narration, integrates different genres into the text,interpret the subject’s life or explore his/her mind with the subject’s work. With four of his works of different types, Jia Ying conducts an in-depth analysis of Nabokov’s concepts on truth, history, and his biographical pursuit.
Since the publication of Orlando by Virginia Woolf in 1928, some Anglo-American authors have made every efforts to integrate biography with novels for over a century. Biographical novel is a genre of major influence in recent years, typified by David Lodge’s Author, Author, and A Man of Parts. Two papers focus on the two works. Cai Zhiquan argues that the biographical novel embodies the elements of biography, novel and literary criticism and crosses non-fiction, fiction and literary research. He suggests that this genre enjoys equal status to biography and is a new pattern of life writing. Chen Wenyu analyzes the peritexts in the two biographical novels and discovers that they reduce the distance between the author and the reader. These two papers are complementary to each other.
When it comes to the field of autobiography, Mao Xu designs a “perfect” autobiographical structure, i.e. Perfect Autobiography to regulate the autobiographical form. The Structuralist approach to autobiography in late 20th century is based on the discovery of various models. Mao employs three-act movie theory to propose the model of “well-made auto/biography.” The term “well-made” is borrowed from drama theory of western Europe in the 19th century. Can it be transplanted to autobiography? Mao only puts forward his hypothesis and this value lies not in practical terms but in thought-provoking effect, as does Structuralism for the generic models it designs.
In History of Life Writing, two of the four papers focus on Chinese modern life writing, a hot researchfield. Few researchers are, however, interested in biography in periodicals in China’s Republican Period. “On the Contribution of the Periodicals in the Republican Period to Chinese Modern Biography” is a brilliant paper coauthored by Chen Hanying, Yu Yang and Yu Zhanghua, who refer to a great number of Republican periodicals for a vast collection of biographical works and data. Their painstaking collation, assortment and comments have injected new momentum into the research on Chinese modern life-writing history. Xu Jingpin examines the development of Chinese modern biography and concludes that it is an echo of and a tribute to the New Cultural Movement. The May Fourth New Cultural Movement exerted profound impact on Chinese modern biography in terms of themes, content and literary forms. Meanwhile, the appearance of modern biography was also a driving force to the spread of literary revolution and promoted the top-down cultural enlightenment. The two papers materialize a better understanding of Chinese modern life writing on a micro and a macro scale respectively.
Through his research on African slave narrative, a special sub-genre in the history of American life writing, Zheng Chunguang identifies it as a literature of necessity, which plays an essential role in the history and real life of African Americans. Li He explores the “sage biography” in ancient China and argues that they are not the equivalent of the chronicles despite all the connections and similarities. The two papers alert readers to the fact that many fields and details are still neglected in the study of life-writing history.
The three papers in Text Study are conducive to the reading and interpretation of three influential biographies. George Morrison’s An Australian in China documents his travel in China in 1894. Through an analysis of Morrison’s writing approach of “biography as travel writing,” the paper co-authored by Zhang Wenru and Cuiyaxiao argue that the author focuses on people rather than the scenery and holds no biases but writes about whatever he saw in an objective way. The success of this travel writing has not only reversed his fate but leaves his imprint on history. Chu Fumin’s paper on On Gold Mountain: A Family Memoir of Love, Struggle and Survival examines Chinese Americans’ appeal in ethnicity, politics and gender from the perspective of the biographer’s identity discourses. Wang Buxin’s analysis of Fang Wei’s A Biography of Wang Xiaobo restores the biographer’s writing mode in different cultural spaces to improve our understanding of Wang Xiaobo.
In the section of “Subject Study,” Xu Xiaoyu’s “42, a Fatal Age” is an interesting paper, in which he discovers that Gogol die at the age of 42, recurring in three of his works. From this new clue to solve “the enigma of Gogol,” Xu discovers that it is associated with such themes as love and marriage in Gogol’s works and reveals the sexual psychology in his unconsciousness. This conclusion may be controversial, but Xu is well versed in close reading, reminding us of what is advocated by Leon Edel the great biographer, “The method I am proposing for biography is related to the methods of Sherlock Holmes and also to those of Sigmund Freud.”
There are also a few other intriguing papers. In the section of “Comparative Biography,” Mu Jiangwei’s “Into the Complex Soul” conducts a comparative research on over 30 Su Manshu biographies and highlights the complex character of the poet subject whose singularity is most distinctive. The section of “Book Review” meets an essay co-authored by Li Xiaolong and Wang Mengjie who review Carrie Fisher’s autobiography from the perspective of the translation of the book’s title, i.e. the princess’s diary or the princess diarist. The buildungsroman theme is commented in a succinct and refreshing style.
Two papers are concerned with film biography. Zhou Qianwen employs the “performance framework” to examine the shift from textuality to performance, while Yang Shihua compares two film biographies of female subjects respectively directed by two female film makers from China and Germany. He reveals the differences in material selection, narration, form and content. Both papers arrive at the theory based on the analysis of a specific text.
“Life Writing Workshop: A Dialogue among the Biographer, the Scholar and the Reader” was co-hosted in Nanjing by Shanghai Jiao Tong Universityt Center for Life Writing, and Nanjing University of Finance and Economics at the end of 2018. Shao Yi provides a detailed coverage on this workshop in the section of “Academic Info.” Any of your advice concerning our future workshops is welcome and highly valued.

Ever since our journal was founded, the body of our contributors has undergone a fundamental change. The percentage of young contributors, particularly doctoral candidates, is continually on the rise and reaches up to nearly a half. Therefore, we would like to deliver a few words to young scholars:
You are welcome to contribute to our journal, young friends! As a young discipline, life writing studies provides an open arena for you to bring your potentials into full play. You have brought new blood to our journal, as well as new momentum, topics, concepts and perspectives. Your papers are highly appreciated.
Nonetheless, we have two suggestions to you. Up till now the vast majority of submissions from young scholars address literary biography. It is true that modern biography finds its origins in literary biography, e.g. autobiography of Yu Dafu, Shen Congwen, Hu Shi and Guo Moruo in China and Boswell’s Life of Johnson and The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau in the West. To the extent that literary biography is an essential sub-genre of life writing and it has no much difficulty to access to the writers’s materials, it is understandably easy to research on the genre. But We must also remeber that biography enjoys a broad range and large varieties. Take the example of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, a great number of winners and finalists owe their success to their biography of heavy-weight historical figures and historical biographies seem to be most applauded by readers. It is universally acknowledged that life writing can never be amputated from its context and life writing studies are no intelligence games in the ivory tower. Hence, we support your research on excellent literary biography, but it is more desirable to expand your horizons.
Our journal advocates a rigorous and truth-seeking style of writing. We are expecting to see submissions in compliance with academic standards, free of minor errors in such fields as abstract, keywords, translation, length of quotes and full text, coherence, etc. These standards are not difficult to meet with. Improvement in these respects will mean less unnecessary burden on the part of the journal and more chance for the acceptanc of your paper. Thank you!

January, 2019

The Book of Sarah by Sarah Lightman 
(Myriad Editions and Penn State University Press)
The Book of Sarah is missing from the bible, so artist Sarah Lightman sets out to make her own: questioning religion, family, motherhood and what it takes to be an artist in this quietly subversive visual autobiography from NW3.
Drawings of an imaginary Hampstead bible, a baby monitor,  the local landscape of Ellerdale Road and the outside of St Paul’s Girls’ School: books and streets, buildings and objects fill this bildungsroman set in North West London. Sarah Lightman has been drawing her life since she was a 22-year-old undergraduate at The Slade School of Art. The Book of Sarah traces her journey from modern Jewish orthodoxy to a feminist Judaism, as she searches between the complex layers of family and family history that she inherited and inhabited. While the act of drawing came easily, the letting go of past failures, attachments and expectations did not. It is these that form the focus of Sarah’s astonishingly beautiful pages, as we bear witness to her making the world her own.
Praise for The Book of Sarah
“So many of us are given an identity by our tribes and families that doesn’t quite fit for us and it is quite hard sometimes to find our way to who we want to be and how we want to live. This courageous graphic memoir will resonate with anyone who has grappled with this, or wants to.”
Philippa Perry
“In Lightman’s skillfully layered visual memoir, the biblical matriarch is summoned “out of the shadows” by her namesake. She is given renewed voice, reanimated and heard through Lightman’s own story.”
Victoria Aarons, Trinity University
“Through a delicate interweaving of images (ranging from the architectural, loose outlines, fractured repetitions and empty spaces) and text, the reader becomes immersed in this deeply considered reflection of gender and cultural identity. In its spirit of perpetual enquiry, it is an intensely Jewish book; but the questions it asks, about being and belonging, speak to the wider concerns of twenty-first century life.”
Ruth Gilbert, University of Winchester
“I love The Book of Sarah. This is a deeply layered work, from the elegant, evocative writing to the diverse range of materials—charcoal, oil paint, and watercolor as well as graphite pencil. The Book of Sarah is a memoir that is rich with revelations for the reader to uncover.”
Samantha Baskind, Cleveland State University
“An astounding work of insight and clarity, so eloquently expressed, especially the family’s long-standing tradition of stifling ambition, autonomy and independence – thereby thwarting so much potential – that it almost broke me.  It will resonate with so many, helping to show them that they’re not alone.”
Stephen Holland, Page 45
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: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1548260Pacts, Paratext, and Polyphony: Writing the Authorised Biography of Robert Wyatt
Marcus O’Dair
Pages: 279-294 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2019.1548265Reviews Writing Feminist Lives: The Biographical Battles Over Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, and Simone de Beauvoir
Ina C. Seethaler
Pages: 297-300 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1440877Dylan’s Autobiography of a Vocation: A Reading of the Lyrics 1965-1967
Muireann Leech
Pages: 301-304 | DOI: 10.1080/14484528.2018.1512032In 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.