Publications by List Members

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


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 Rollyson

Experiments in Life-Writing: Intersections of Auto/Biography and Fiction, edited by Lucia Boldrini and Julia Novak
Reviewed by Alexandra Effe

American Autobiography after 9/11, by Megan Brown
Reviewed by Elisabeth Hedrick-Moser

Letter to My Father: A Memoir, by G. Thomas Couser
Reviewed by Emily Hipchen

The Selfie Generation: How Our Self Images Are Changing Our Notions of Privacy, Sex, Consent, and Culture, by Alicia Eler
Reviewed by Teresa Bruś

Invented Lives, Imagined Communities: The Biopic and American National Identity, edited by William H. Epstein and R. Barton Palmer
Reviewed by Eric M. Thau

An Artisan Intellectual: James Carter and the Rise of Modern Britain, 1792–1853, by Christopher Ferguson
Reviewed by Anna Clark

Autobiographical Writing in Latin America: Folds of the Self, by Sergio R. Franco
Reviewed by Francisco Brignole

Getting Personal: Teaching Personal Writing in the Digital Age, edited by Laura Gray-Rosendale
Reviewed by Madeleine Sorapure

The Art of Confession: The Performance of Self from Robert Lowell to Reality TV, by Christopher Grobe
Reviewed by Lynda Goldstein

A History of Irish Autobiography, edited by Liam Harte
Reviewed by Taura Napier

Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum, by Kathryn Hughes
Reviewed by Alison Booth

Doña Teresa Confronts the Spanish Inquisition: A Seventeenth-Century New Mexican Drama, by Frances Levine
Reviewed by Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra

Clio’s Lives: Biographies and Autobiographies of Historians, edited by Doug Munro and John G. Reid
Reviewed by Jaume Aurell

The Decolonial Mandela: Peace, Justice and the Politics of Life, edited by Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni
Reviewed by Nick Mdika Tembo

Creating Identity in the Victorian Fictional Autobiography, by Heidi L. Pennington
Reviewed by Anne Reus

A History of Irish Working-Class Writing, edited by Michael Pierse
Reviewed by Muireann Leech

Canadian Graphic: Picturing Lives, edited by Candida Rifkind and Linda Warley
Reviewed by Rocío G. Davis

Life? or Theatre? (Leben? oder Theater?), by Charlotte Salomon
Reviewed by Julia Watson

The Phenomenology of Autobiography: Making it Real, by Arnaud Schmitt
Reviewed by Bettina Stumm

On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements: Selected Writings, by Ella Shohat
Reviewed by Joyce Zonana

Bird-Bent Grass: A Memoir, in Pieces, by Kathleen Venema
Reviewed by G. Thomas Couser

Private Lives Made Public: The Invention of Biography in Early Modern England, by Andrea Walkden
Reviewed by Julie A. Eckerle


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 Gilmore

American Biography: The Year in the US
Carl Rollyson

Annual 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 Faria

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Biography: The Year in the US
Carl Rollyson

Annual 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.