Annual Bibliography of Works about Life Writing, 2003-2004

Article excerpt

If it is true that everyone has a past of his or her own, it nonetheless
happens that some, those who remember having lived fragments of their
past with others, can sense they have shared at least this memory with
them.
--Marc Auge

Identity--who we are, where we come from, what we are--is difficult to
maintain.... [W]e are the "other," an opposite, a flaw in the geometry
of resettlement, an exodus.
--Edward Said

I've walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray
--Stanley Kunitz

BOOKS

Agnew, Vijay. Where I Come From. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2003.

This memoir of an Indian woman professor's life illustrates the ways in which identity is socially constructed by recalling some labels that were applied to her at different stages during her thirty years in Canada as a "foreign student."

Alexander, Jeffrey C., Ron Eyerman, Bernhard Giesen, Neil J. Smelser, and Piotr Sztompka. Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity. Berkeley: U of California P, 2004.

Applies a strongly constructivist approach to trauma in which different social narratives vie for influence; includes case studies of the Holocaust, US slavery, and 9/11.

Armstrong, Mary. Seven Eggs Today: The Diaries of Mary Armstrong, 1859 and 1869. Ed. Jackson Webster Armstrong. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2004.

Diaries of the wife of a butcher/farmer from north of Toronto, with an extensive introduction providing historical and generic context.

Auge, Marc. In the Metro. Trans. Tom Conley. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2003.

Takes riders below Paris in a work that is both ethnography and personal narrative.

Barbour, John. The Value of Solitude: The Ethics and Spirituality of Aloneness in Autobiography. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2004.

Explores how positive and negative experiences of solitude have been interpreted as religiously significant by Augustine, Petrarch, Montaigne, Gibbon, Rousseau, Thoreau, Merton, and Auster.

Bennett, John, and Susan Rowley. Uralurait: An Oral History of Nunavut. Montreal: McGill-Queen's UP, 2004.

Draws on over 300 oral histories of Inuit elders, from early exploration accounts to recent community-based projects, to present a history and ethnography of the Inuit.

Beverley, John. Testimonio: On the Politics of Truth. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2004.

Includes a new, substantive introduction to a collection of four of Beverley's most influential essays on testimonio.

Birkett, Dea. Off the Beaten Track: Three Centuries of Women Travelers. London: National Portrait Gallery, 2004.

Volume accompanying NPG exhibit: sixty portraits of women travelers, along with photographs and paintings made by the women, and photographs of their material archives.

Blew, Mary Clearman. Writing Her Own Life: Imogene Welch, Western Rural Schoolteacher. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 2004.

A niece's attempt to piece together an aunt's life utilizing years of daily diary jottings raises issues relating to the inheritance of family stories and texts.

Booth, Alison. How to Make It as a Woman: Collective Biographical History from Victoria to the Present. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2004.

In tracing the history of all-female prosopographies, decodes how these group biographies construct and attempt to guide female subjectivity.

Boule, Jean Pierre. HIV Stories: The Archaeology of AIDS Writing in France, 1985-1998. Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2002.

Maps the social, political, national, and historical frameworks of AIDS discourse in France.

Brancaforte, Elio Christoph. Visions of Persia: Mapping the Travels of Adam Olearius. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2004.

Explores the writings, maps, and engravings by a German who traveled in the 1630s through Muscovy to the Safavid court of Shah Safi in Isfahan. …