Academic journal article MELUS

Preliminaries

Academic journal article MELUS

Preliminaries

Article excerpt

All of the essays in this issue address the autobiographical text as literature, not merely as historical artifact or matter-of-fact document. Some are concerned with historical and cultural issues; others are richly comparative in their attention to themes; still others consider matters of language and rhetoric. Our authors share both an interest in and respect for the complexities of life stories and a sophistication of theoretical approaches.

Robin Riley Fast, in her essay "Brothers and Keepers and the Tradition of the Slave Narrative," examines how John Wideman's autobiographical text revises--"echoes and modifies"--the characteristics of the slave narrative. She argues that the relationship between the narrator and his brother parallels and reconstructs the relationship between typical nineteenth century slave narrators and their ghost writers and editors.

"On Home Ground: Politics, Location and the Construction of Identity in Four American Women's Autobiographies," by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, considers autobiographical texts by Annie Dillard, Eva Hoffman, Audre Lorde, and Gloria Anzaldua. By focussing on the theme of "home" in these texts, she shows some ways in which the similarities and differences among these writers reveals cultural as well as individual experience.

In her essay "Collaboration or Colonialism: Text and Process in Native American Women's Autobiographies," Kathleen Mullen Sands studies the problematic subject of collaboration in autobiographical writing. She is concerned with showing the benefit as well as the limitations of a post-colonial view of the relation between Native American autobiographers and their white amanuenses and editors.

Deborah Thompson's essay, "The Fiction of Postmodern Autobiography: Adrienne Kennedy's People Who Led to My Plays and Deadly Triplets, "explores the range of relations indicated by the playwright's autobiographical texts. Issues raised include race, gender, and genre. Thompson demonstrates Kennedy's complex relationship to the narrative gestures of postmodernism that are discernible in her work.

In his essay "David Kherdian and the Ethno-autobiographical Impulse: Rediscovering the Past, "Lorne Shirinian studies the "tradition of Armenian-North American writing [that] includes both autobiography and memoirs" that connect the Genocide of 1915 to the experience of immigrant Americans. His primary texts are poems and essays by the distinguished Armenian-American poet David Kherdian, who, Shirinian argues, "writes and rewrites Armenian-North American culture" as he writes and rewrites his life. …

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