Another season of Brown Bags begins today! As the series continues over Zoom, all are welcome to attend.
The series is entering its thiry-fourth year—well over 750 sessions have been held so far.
THE CENTER FOR BIOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAIʻI AT MĀNOA
BROWN BAG BIOGRAPHY
DISCUSSIONS OF LIFE WRITING BY & FOR TOWN & GOWN THURSDAYS, 12:00 NOON–1:15 PM HST • ONLINE VIA ZOOM
FALL 2021 SCHEDULE
September 16: “Footstepping, Perhapsing, and Bio-bits” Li Shan Chan, PhD student in English at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and 2021 Biography Prize winner Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the International Cultural Studies Program, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies and Asian Studies Zoom Meeting ID: 959 4518 4532 Password: 330127
September 23: “Spirit Beyond the Law: Radical Abolition from Olaudah Equiano to Colin Kaepernick” Hannah Manshel, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the International Cultural Studies Program, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, History, and Political Science Zoom Meeting ID: 986 0181 8734 Password: 380847
September 30: “Oral History of Okinawan Kibei/Nisei/Issei Women” Karen C. Oshiro, MEd, Assistive Technology Practitioner, Certified Aging in Place Specialist Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the School of Communications, the Center for Okinawan Studies, the Center for Oral History, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, History, Political Science, Anthropology, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Zoom Meeting ID: 959 4604 6252 Password: 212581
October 7: “Remembering Our Intimacies: Moʻolelo, Aloha ʻĀina, and Ea” Dr. Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the Hui ʻĀina Pilipili: Native Hawaiian Initiative, the School of Communications, the Center for Oral History, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, History, Political Science, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Zoom Meeting ID: 996 1558 1124 Password: 996097
October 14: “A Hybrid Memoir: A Reading and Discussion” Dr. Rajiv Mohabir, Assistant Professor of Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the Hindi-Urdu Language Program, the International Cultural Studies Program, the Center for South Asian Studies, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, Political Science, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Zoom Meeting ID: 971 5659 7266 Password: 385232
October 21: “In Time, A Writer” Stephanie Sang, PhD student in English and 2021 Biography Prize winner Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, Political Science, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Zoom Meeting ID: 915 3862 5616 Password: 052859
October 28: “An Ethics of Settler Decolonization in Hawaiʻi” Logan Narikawa, PhD candidate American Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the School of Communications, the Center for Oral History, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, History, Anthropology, and Political Science Zoom Meeting ID: 940 1700 6818 Password: 687351
November 4: “Learning What Makes My Heart Smile!” Dr. Virginia S. Hinshaw, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the School of Communications, and the Department of Political Science Zoom Meeting ID: 940 4661 6602 Password: 815666
November 18: “Becoming Foreign: Love and Writing Across the Cultural Divide” Heather Diamond, PhD in American Studies from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Cosponsored by Hamilton Library, the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, and the Department of Asian Studies Zoom Meeting ID: 984 1734 7287 Password: 769161
HONOLULU, HI, June 10, 2021 – Aloha pumehana. Guest editors Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Noʻu Revilla and the editorial team of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly are proud to present a special issue on the lifewriting strategies of the kiaʻi (protectors) who gathered at Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu in the summer of 2019 to defend Maunakea against desecration by the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).
This special issue features first-hand accounts, academic reflections, creative works, photography, and interviews with kiaʻi from the 2019 front lines and members of the media team.
“We Are Maunakea: Aloha ʻĀina Narratives of Protest, Protection, and Place” is now available on Project Muse. The entire issue can be accessed at this link:
Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly explores the theoretical, generic, historical, cultural, and practical dimensions of life writing. For further information, consult the website of the Center for Biographical Research at blog.hawaii.edu/cbrhawaii.
“Hulihia” refers to massive upheavals that change the landscape, overturn the normal, reverse the flow, and sweep away the prevailing or assumed. We live in such days. Pandemics. Threats to ʻāina. Political dysfunction, cultural appropriation, and disrespect. But also powerful surges toward sustainability, autonomy, and sovereignty.
The first two volumes of The Value of Hawaiʻi (Knowing the Past, Facing the Future and Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions) ignited public conversations, testimony, advocacy, and art for political and social change. These books argued for the value of connecting across our different expertise and experiences, to talk about who we are and where we are going.
In a world in crisis, what does Hawaiʻi’s experience tell us about how to build a society that sees opportunities in the turning and changing times? As islanders, we continue to grapple with experiences of racism, colonialism, environmental damage, and the costs of modernization, and bring to this our own striking creativity and histories for how to live peacefully and productively together. Steered by the four scholars who edited the previous volumes, TheValue of Hawaiʻi 3: Hulihia, the Turning offers multigenerational visions of a Hawaiʻi not defined by the United States. Community leaders, cultural practitioners, artists, educators, and activists share exciting paths forward for the future of Hawaiʻi, on topics such as education, tourism and other economies, elder care, agriculture and food, energy and urban development, the environment, sports, arts and culture, technology, and community life.
These visions ask us to recognize what we truly value about our home, and offer a wealth of starting points for critical and productive conversations together in this time of profound and permanent change.
The International Year in Review is a collection of short, site-specific essays on the year’s most influential publications in life writing. This year’s collection includes entries from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Curaçao, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Spain, the UAE, the UK, and the US.
“Life Writing When the World is Burning: The Year in Australia”
“Books on Women, the Chancellor, and a Nobel Laureate: The Year in Austria”
Wilhelm Hemecker and David Österle
“Eakin and Santiago—Contributions to Life Writing Scholarship: The Year in Brazil”
Sergio da Silva Barcellos
“Fictions, Fantasies, and Thought Experiments: The Year in Canada”
“Writing Cultural Celebrities: The Year in China”
“El caminante Alfredo Molano: El año en Colombia”
Gabriel Jaime Murillo-Arango
“A Critical Biography of Former Prime Minister Miguel Pourier: The Year in Curaçao”
Rose Mary Allen and Jeroen Heuvel
“Changing Social Conditions—Changing Auto/Biography: The Year in Denmark”
“Life Writing in Relational Modes: The Year in Estonia”
Leena Kurvet-Käosaar and Maarja Hollo
“Life Writing Genres on the Move: The Year in Finland”
“’The Absolute Genre’: The Year in France”
“De/Constructing Friedrich Hölderlin: The Year in Germany”
“Disappearing Worlds in Life Writing: The Year in Iceland”
“Bollywood Stars and Cancer Memoirs: The Year in India”
Pramod K. Nayar
“Scar Issues: The Year in Ireland”
“Villains Between History and Literature: The Year in Italy”
“Retelling the History of the Sengoku Period and the Era Name System: The Year in Japan”
“Embodied Subjects of Victimization: The Year in Korea”
“Voices Against Disavowal, Obscurantism, and Exclusion: The Year in Lebanon”
Sleiman El Hajj
“Mujeres comunistas: El año en México”
Gerardo Necoechea Gracia
“The Land of Letter-Lovers: The Year in the Netherlands”
“Mass-Listening and the Diaspora: The Year in Puerto Rico”
Ricia Anne Chansky
“Pain, Resilience, and the Agency Memoir: The Year in South Africa”
Nick Mdika Tembo
“Giving Voice to Silenced Others: The Year in Spain”
Ana Belén Martínez García
“Biography of a Tolerant Nation: The Year in the United Arab Emirates”
“‘The strange and often alien world of the past’: The Year in the United Kingdom”
“More Than Angry: The Year in the United States”
Annual Bibliography of Works about Life Writing, 2018–2019
Compiled by Janet J. Graham The most comprehensive annotated survey of critical and theoretical work about life writing.
We are pleased to announce that the most recent issue of Biography is now available on Project Muse. Biography 42.4, “Academic Freedom, Academic Lives,” is a cluster guest edited by Bill V. Mullen and Julie Rak and includes essays from Amanda Gailey, Malaka Shwaikh and Rebecca Ruth Gould, Elżbieta Klimek-Dominiak, and Theresa Smalec.
Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, vol. 42, no. 4, 2019
“Academic Freedom, Academic Lives: An Introduction”
Bill V. Mullen and Julie Rak
Academic freedom is currently highly public and highly contested terrain. What academic freedom actually means has become an urgent question, as alt-right activists have turned the tenets of academic freedom to their own ends, whether on college and university campuses, or through the actions of right-wing governments as they move to suppress dissent. We want to reclaim the concept of academic freedom for the left and for academic activism, not through a debate about the concept as an abstraction, but in connection to what we see as the radical potential of academic lives. Thinking of academic lives as interpretation and critique is a way to disrupt the current alt-right control of public discourse about freedom of speech.
“Hypatia Redux: Three Stories of Silencing Academic Women”
Three stories of academic women reveal how political factions in different political settings—Church apologists in the Age of Enlightenment, Red Scare demagogues in the Cold War, and white nationalists in the Trump era—have used gender deviance as justification for marking boundaries around who gets to speak and teach. The murder of Hypatia of Alexandria attracted renewed attention in the eighteenth century when ideologues focused on her sexual morality to challenge or affirm the authority of the Church. Luella Mundel, an art professor in West Virginia, was fired and publicly castigated as a vulgar communist sympathizer by conservative politicians during the second Red Scare. Courtney Lawton, a lecturer and PhD student in English at the University of Nebraska, was removed from the classroom and targeted by hate swarms and politicians after she participated in a campus protest in 2017. The cases explore how free speech and academic freedom work as embodied power rather than universally available rights.
“The Palestine Exception to Academic Freedom: Intertwined Stories from the Frontlines of UK-Based Palestine Activism”
Malaka Shwaikh and Rebecca Ruth Gould
This autobiographical co-authored essay explores how hate speech wounds within the logic of the Palestine exception, whereby Israel-critical speech is subjected to censorship and silencing that does not affect other controversial speech. Three months after the UK government’s “adoption” of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism in 2016, we were subjected to a series of attacks in the media, in the public sphere, and in our workplaces in connection with our Palestine-related activism and criticisms of Israeli policies from years earlier. The crackdown on academic freedom that has overtaken UK universities since 2017 has been widely condemned, but rarely has this story been told from the vantage point of those who were targeted and censored. We document here in detail how the Palestine exception to free speech and academic freedom has damaged academic freedom within the UK and silenced Palestinian voices.
“Blank Pages for Nida Sajid”
“Gender Studies and Women’s Equality as Orwellian ‘Thoughtcrimes’?: The Threat of Self-Censorship and Polish Academic Autobiographical Resistance”
Given the significant increase of recent threats by the far right against Polish gender studies scholars, this article focuses on the life narratives of Polish academics who have been intimidated because of their research. It argues that the danger of substituting self-censorship for free inquiry can be partially prevented by acts of academic autobiographical resistance. It has developed not in book-length memoirs, but in various life narratives, such as acts of self-presentation through extended biographical interviews, personal essays, open letters of protest, online accounts of witnessing, and the visual arts. Such an approach involving common autobiographical acts in multiple media best enacts both intellectual and affective forms of academic resistance to widespread misrepresentations of gender studies.
“Coercive Intimacy: Reflections on Public and Private Backlash Against #MeToo”
In this paper, I use the term “coercive intimacy” to analyze seemingly consensual exchanges and/or relationships that nonetheless originate in contexts where there is a fundamental power imbalance. In other words, someone with more power (economic, cultural, or sociopolitical) has the ability to give something desirable to someone with significantly less power. In reflecting on the overt and subtle abuses of power that underlie the exchange of “intimacy” for other kinds of commodities and means of advancement, I also examine the forms of backlash I faced for reviewing an art show that represented a woman’s experiences of sexual misconduct in academia.
“Self-Publication, Self-Promotion, and the Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave”
This article sketches the early history of self-publication by African American authors and focuses on the life and work of the formerly enslaved William Grimes, who published two editions of his Life in the antebellum period. A savvy self-promoter, Grimes appropriated the ballad “Old Grimes is Dead” and marketed himself as “Old Grimes” to garner customers for his barbering and clothes cleaning business and sell copies of his book. These efforts helped Grimes realize a measure of success as a businessman and author, but the unintended consequences resulting from his self-promotion and marketing strategies highlight some of the challenges attending entrepreneurial self-publication by African American writers.
“Listening to the Grandmother Tongue: Writers on Other-Languaged Grandparents and Transcultural Identity”
This article considers Patricia Hampl’s A Romantic Education (1981) and John Hughes’s The Idea of Home (2004) as third-generation “language migrant” memoirs. The texts evoke a dual sense of strangeness and familiarity in childhood experiences with migrant grandparents who spoke another language. Although cultural transmission appears more tenuous here than in second-generation migrant narratives, these two memoirs suggest that the transcultural remains defining of third-generation migrant lives.
Biographical Misrepresentations of British Women Writers: A Hall of Mirrors and the Long Nineteenth Century, edited by Brenda Ayres
Reviewed by Meritxell Simon-Martin
Medical Humanities in American Studies: Life Writing, Narrative Medicine, and the Power of Autobiography, by Mita Banerjee
Reviewed by Sam Allen Wright
Undocumented Migrants in the United States: Life Narratives and Self-Representations, by Ina Batzke
Reviewed by Ina C. Seethaler
Modernist Lives: Biography and Autobiography at Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press, by Claire Battershill
Reviewed by Miriam Fuchs
Homes and Haunts: Touring Writers’ Shrines and Countries, by Alison Booth
Reviewed by Lee Jackson
Modernity and Autobiography in Nineteenth-Century America: Literary Representations of Communication and Transportation Technologies, by James E. Dobson
Reviewed by Susan Shelangoskie
Writers’ Biographies and Family Histories in 20th- and 21st-Century Literature, edited by Aude Haffen and Lucie Guiheneuf
Reviewed by Robert Kusek
British Autobiography in the 20th and 21st Centuries, edited by Sarah Herbe and Gabriele Linke
Reviewed by Monica Soeting
Narratology beyond the Human: Storytelling and Animal Life, by David Herman
Reviewed by Cynthia Huff
Discursive Intersexions: Daring Bodies between Myth, Medicine, and Memoir, by Michaela Koch
Reviewed by Megan Walker
German Women’s Life Writing and the Holocaust: Complicity and Gender in the Second World War, by Elisabeth Krimmer
Reviewed by Christine Nugent
Portraits from Life: Modernist Novelists and Autobiography, by Jerome Boyd Maunsell
Reviewed by Dennis Kersten
Women’s Narratives and the Postmemory of Displacement in Central and Eastern Europe, edited by Simona Mitroiu
Reviewed by Tomas Balkelis
Witnessing Torture: Perspectives of Torture Survivors and Human Rights Workers, edited by Alexandra S. Moore and Elizabeth Swanson
Reviewed by Annie Pohlman
Memories of Lincoln and the Splintering of American Political Thought, by Shawn J. Parry-Giles and David S. Kaufer
Reviewed by Elizabeth Rodrigues
Food and Masculinity in Contemporary Autobiographies: Cast-Iron Man, by Nieves Pascual Soler
Reviewed by Alice L. McLean
Literature and the Rise of the Interview, by Rebecca Roach
Reviewed by Jeffrey J. Williams
The Biographical Turn: Lives in History, edited by Hans Renders, Binne de Haan, and Jonne Harmsma
Reviewed by Carol DeBoer-Langworthy
The Power of the Steel-Tipped Pen: Reconstructing Native Hawaiian Intellectual History, by Noenoe K. Silva
Congratulations to the co-winners of this year’s Biography Prize–Aiko Yamashiro and Amy Carlson!
Aiko was awarded the prize for her dissertation, “Nā Hua Ea & Building Decolonial Community (writing poetry with ‘āina and each other).” The judges found her work to provide the kind of community history that too often goes unattended. They were impressed by how, in doing so, she lovingly honors the work of poet/organizers who play such an important part in making Hawai’i a place of vitality where decolonial love can flourish.
Amy was awarded the prize for her dissertation, “Reading Mediated Identities: Auto/Biographical Agency in the Material Book, Museum Space, Social Media Platforms, and Archives.” The judges found her work to be beautifully written, persuasive, important, and contributory in how it brings together life writing and archival/library studies, and extremely well conceptualized. They found it an absolute pleasure to read and can imagine how useful it will be for students of Cultural Studies in Asia/Pacific.
“Introduction to Biographic Mediation: On the Uses of Personal Disclosure in Bureaucracy and Politics”
This special issue explores biographic mediation as a tool to analyze technical demands for personal disclosure that affect earnings and overexposure to policing. Biographic mediation refers to institutional documentation of personal information to make decisions about who gets what and why, alongside public critiques and calls to action that feature personal narratives. The issue engages the dialectic between bureaucracy and politics, where institutional paperwork and public perception of applicants interact, making the case for exploring less visible linkages between paperwork and politics to better understand how biographic data operates within a political economy. Contributors include scholars and activists working to redefine the scope of rights that are narrowed on paper, while drawing attention to mechanisms for surveillance operating through biographic forms.
“Biographic Mediation and the Formerly Incarcerated: How Dissembling and Disclosure Counter the Extended Consequences of Criminal Convictions”
When formerly incarcerated people seek access to resources and opportunities upon release they are often met with biographic mediation processes that weaponize stigma, as the demand for disclosure re-adjudicates criminality upon them. Performing dissemblance and managing disclosure are two ways in which the formerly incarcerated counter the violence inherent in the carceral rationality of governance that works to break or keep broken, disabled, and therefore easily controlled, formerly incarcerated people. As this essay shows, weaponized stigma, while effective, is not absolute.
“A Complaint Biography”
Originally appearing as a blog entry on Sara Ahmed’s public research site, Feminist Killjoys, this essay understands paperwork as a tool to both address and deflect complaints, with the file appearing as an object made to manipulate time and exhaust energy. By interviewing people who have engaged the complaint process, Ahmed develops a means of tracking tensions in the act of reporting, incorporating silences and the effect of time on decisions to withdraw complaints—to “get on with life.” Creating a working vocabulary from the interviews themselves, Ahmed proposes alternative forms of listening and accountability that exceed the reputation-management functions of university protocols. In this essay, Ahmed models a listening technique that takes place outside of the grievance protocol while reflecting on it publicly.
“Lives on the Line: An Interview with Aly Wane”
Aly Wane interviewed by Ebony Coletu
In this interview, Ebony Coletu speaks with Aly Wane, an undocumented immigrant and human rights organizer. Wane reflects on his own path to activism and how personal disclosure became a central part of his practice. Turning away from exceptional narratives tailored for national inclusion, Wane emphasizes the need to recuperate the criminalized remainder left out of immigration reform proposals. He contributes to a theory of biographic mediation by using his own story to interrogate the ways racial profiling, violence, and deportation operate together, marking the limits of “papers” as a form of protection. With specific attention to Black and indigenous experiences in the United States and the ongoing resource of Black feminism, he argues that citizenship cannot be the horizon for migrants’ rights organizing if it justifies mass incarceration, selective recognition, and patriarchy as a model of power.
“The Securitate File as a Record of Psuchegraphy”
Working primarily with Securitate files, currently stored at the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives (CNSAS), located in Bucharest and Popesti-Leordeni, Romania, this essay explains the various terror mechanisms the Securitate, Romania’s secret police during the country’s communist period, employed in order to gain recruits and employ them as part of its surveillance network. This article discusses the following two concepts—psuchegraphy and dossierveillance—described herein as two terror methods applied by the Securitate to obtain informers and compel them to collaborate.
“‘Has someone taken your passport?’: Everyday Surveillance of the Migrant Laborer as Trafficked Subject”
Annie Isabel Fukushima
This article examines the role of the missing passport in human rights discourse about migrants who experience violence in the form of human trafficking. Fukushima argues that the passport and mechanisms of documentation that emerge in human trafficking survivor accounts are central to legal and social appeals for recognition. Through a scavenger methodology, the essay analyzes the “missing passport” in campaign materials, a survivor memoir (Shyima Hall), and court testimonies in U.S. v. Kil Soo Lee, Rana v. Islam, Lipenga v. Kambalame, Gurung v. Malhotra, U.S. v. Firas Majeed et al., and U.S. v. Wood. Ultimately, Fukushima explores how the question “has someone taken your passport?” discursively and socially compels the everyday person to participate in surveillance, thus witnessing transnational migrant laborers through the racializing and policing logic of biographic mediation that furthers neighborly suspicion.
“Guidelines for Squatting: Concerned Citizens of North Camden, 1978–1990”
Concerned Citizens of North Camden (CCNC), a multiracial activist group in Camden, New Jersey, used genres of organizational writing, from pamphlets to housing applications, to circulate and develop its practices, from squatting to a community land trust. CCNC developed a counter-bureaucracy to pressure policy reforms that included the least-resourced residents of North Camden. Throughout, CCNC carefully used biographic mediation—from their identification as “concerned citizens,” to a fixed sense of neighborhood affiliation and belonging, all designed to communicate across bureaucratic information networks that held the economic potential to alleviate the lived conditions of homelessness and push against discourses of demolition and blight.
“Frames of Witness: The Kavanaugh Hearings, Survivor Testimony, and #MeToo”
This article argues that three frames of witness competed in the 2018 Kavanaugh hearings: the life story of Supreme Court nominee—now Justice—Brett Kavanaugh that was fashioned for the nomination process, the survivor testimony of Christine Blasey Ford that interrupted it, and the cultural frame of #MeToo in which her testimony and his repudiation of it were heard, which includes the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearing and the accompanying pattern of erasing Black women as they bear witness. With reference to Judith Butler’s work on grievability, “Frames of Witness” identifies the potential affiliation of #MeToo discourse with other protest movements in order to underline how vulnerable subjects cross into testimonial spaces and find, or fail to find, a hearing.
“Call My Name: Using Biographical Storytelling to Reconceptualize the History of African Americans at Clemson University”
Rhondda Robinson Thomas
Biographical storytelling can be an effective means for higher education institutions like Clemson University, which was built by a predominately African American convict workforce on John C. Calhoun’s Fort Hill Plantation, to reclaim complicated public narratives that are informed by the history of slavery and its legacies enacted in Jim Crow policies and practices. Thomas examines how biographic mediation enables the extraction of details from historical records that were created to commodify or criminalize people of African descent who are inextricably intertwined with institutional histories for the creation of life histories. The author asserts that biographic accountability can lead to the development of a multifaceted approach to acknowledging and commemorating Black labor as a critical component of the building and sustaining of higher education institutions, while offering descendants the documentation they need to make a case for redress and reparations.
“Mirror Memoirs: Amita Swadhin on Survivor Storytelling and the Mediation of Rape Culture”
Amita Swadhin interviewed by Ebony Coletu
Ebony Coletu interviews Amita Swadhin, the founder of Mirror Memoirs, a national storytelling and organizing project featuring the narratives, healing, and leadership of LGBTQI+ people of color who survived child sexual abuse. Recently, they completed sixty audio interviews for a growing archive that brings storytelling to bear on our understanding of how institutional spaces designated for “help” sustain child sexual assault. Working through the theme of this special issue, Swadhin reflects on biographic mediation as a mechanism operating within Mirror Memoirs, explaining how the collection of “inconvenient” stories about survivorship can help transform institutional practices of profiling that disappear the most vulnerable targets of violence.
“The Consumption of Adoption and Adoptees in American Middlebrow Culture”
Interested in how the media engages instances of fraud within adoption, as well as how adoptees negotiate the practices that led to their adoptions, this essay explores the reunion of Korean adoptee twins Samantha Futerman and Anaïs Bordier. The author analyzes the depiction of the twins’ reunion in the documentary Twinsters (2015) and Futerman and Bordier’s reflections in their co-authored memoir. Central to this analysis is how biographic mediation functions—demands for personal disclosure affect public perception of adoption and adoptees’ reflections of their adoption experiences—to shape the documentary’s arc, and how it affects what information is disclosed in the memoir. Operating simultaneously is how adoption agencies and institutions mediate their adoption records, and what is shared to both adoptees in adulthood and adoptive parents during the adoption process.
“(Un)Reasonable, (Un)Necessary, and (In)Appropriate: Biographic Mediation of Neurodivergence in Academic Accommodations”
Using neuroqueerness as a heuristic as well as a form of situated auto/biographical knowledge, this article considers the biographic mediation of disability in the academic workplace. Ultimately, what is at stake when disability makes itself visible to the institution is not so much whether the provision of extra administrative assistance or noise-mitigating equipment is affordable. It is, instead, this: what do disabled lives mean? The main sites of biographic mediation of disability in the academic workplace are diagnosis; the formalized process of disclosure and verification in the university accessibility bureaucracy; and the enactment and framing of any granted accommodation. Each site is the ground for battles over agency enacted through the solicitation, management, and framing of disabled life stories. Biographic mediation of disability in the academic workplace works to contain and control difference in such a way as to leave intact the fundamentally ableist set of values, practices, and built environments that constitute the institution known as “the university.”
Wounded Cities: Topographies of Self and Nation in Fay Afaf Kanafani’s Nadia, Captive of Hope
Hager Ben Driss
This 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, Cibele
This 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 Name
In 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-Pop
Biography 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.
The 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 Life Narratives, 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