Tracing the Autobiographical

Tracing the Autobiographical

Tracing the Autobiographical

Tracing the Autobiographical


The essays in Tracing the Autobiographical work with the literatures of several nations to reveal the intersections of broad agendas (for example, national ones) with the personal, the private, and the individual. Attending to ethics, exile, tyranny, and hope, the contributors listen for echoes and murmurs as well as authoritative declarations. They also watch for the appearance of auto/biography in unexpected places, tracing patterns from materials that have been left behind. Many of the essays return to the question of text or traces of text, demonstrating that the language of autobiography, as well as the textualized identities of individual persons, can be traced in multiple media and sometimes unlikely documents, each of which requires close textual examination. These "unlikely documents" include a deportation list, an art exhibit, reality TV, Web sites and chat rooms, architectural spaces, and government memos, as well as the more familiar literary genres- a play, the long poem, or the short story.

Interdisciplinary in scope and contemporary in outlook, Tracing the Autobiographical is a welcome addition to autobiography scholarship, focusing on non-traditional genres and on the importance of location and place in life writing.

Read the chapter "Gender, Nation, and Self-Narration: Three Generations of Dayan Women in Palestine/Israel" by Bina Freiwald on the Concordia University Library Spectrum Research Repository website.


Jeanne Perreault and Marlene Kadar

Tracing the Autobiographical brings to the forefront of critical thought innovations in our current understanding of the genre of autobiography. the power of this collection rests in the variety of reading practices of the authors, whose questions about identity community and history extend beyond the reach of autobiography as most of us know it. We chose the title Tracing the Autobiographical because we seek the traces of autobiographical self-representation in fragments of document and image, or we outline their possibilities by considering the implications of images, documents, and practices that may be read as autobiographical. It is not our wish to stress the limits of autobiography, but rather the scope of the autobiographical. Nor is it our objective to focus on the exclusions of autobiography as many have done so well before us. Instead, we underline the inimitable potential for autobiography and its renovations to address the life of the individual, the lives of groups of individuals, or some self-representational aspect of the individual or her group. No matter what we do to autobiography, it continues to flourish in one form or another. the authors thus share a crucial starting point: that the varieties of representation of the autobiographical are multiplying, and in spite of troubled contexts or specious features, need to be examined as seriously as their predecessors.

The authors work with the literatures of several nations to suggest connections between broad agendas, such as national ones, and the personal, the private, the individual. Feminism has been for each of us an informing perspective, one that makes itself known in both the questions we ask and how we ask them. We do not, however, claim this as a feminist project per se, as that would indicate a degree of specific political accord we have not sought. Instead, traces of the autobiographical relentlessly inform, or allow us to revisit and critique, disciplinary and historical ques-

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