Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Tracing the Autobiographical

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Tracing the Autobiographical

Article excerpt

Marlene Kadar, Linda Warley, Jeanne Perreault and Susanna Egan (eds), Tracing the Autobiographical (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2005), 240 pp. Paper. $32.95. ISBN 0-8892-0476-4.

Tracing the Autobiographical focuses on self-representation in fragments of document and image. It stresses the scope rather than the limitations of the autobiographical and argues that the varieties of representation of the autobiographical are multiplying. Literatures from a wide variety of nations are discussed in order to suggest connections between national agendas and private/personal ones.

The twelve contributors argue that the language of autobiography can be traced in multiple media and unlikely documents, including memos, propaganda documents, deportation lists and reality TV. They focus on the complexity of the autobiographical voice that shapes or performs selfhood. The contributors discuss a wide range of media including digital media, the stage and art exhibits. The essays embrace feminist theories, poststructuralist and postcolonial theories of identity, language, agency and representation of the self. A key question is 'What do self, subject, agent, person, and identity mean, and how does that meaning get made?' (p. 4). The complexity of the relations between the self of the text, the writer and the reader are examined. This complexity is traced in non-traditional genres and is located in what the editors term 'echoes and murmurs' (p. 7) as well as in more traditional and authoritative declarations such as the memoir or short story. …

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