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Act Like You Know
African-American Autobiography and White Identity
Crispin Sartwell
University of Chicago Press, 1998
Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Malcolm X—their words speak firmly, eloquently, personally of the impact of white America on the lives of African-Americans. Black autobiographical discourses, from the earliest slave narratives to the most contemporary urban raps, have each in their own way gauged and confronted the character of white society. For Crispin Sartwell, as philosopher, cultural critic, and white male, these texts, through their exacting insights and external perspective, provide a rare opportunity, a means of glimpsing and gaining access to contents and core of white identity.

There is, Sartwell contends, a fundamental elusiveness to that identity. Whiteness defines itself as normative, as a neutral form of the human condition, marking all other forms of identity as "racial" or "ethnic" deviations. Invisible to itself, white identity seeks to define its essence over and against those other identities, in effect defining itself through opposition and oppression. By maintaining fictions of black licentiousness, violence, and corruption, white identity is able to cast itself as humane, benevolent, and pure; the stereotype fabricates not only the oppressed but the oppressor as well. Sartwell argues that African-American autobiography perceives white identity from a particular and unique vantage point; one that is knowledgeable and intimate, yet fundamentally removed from the white world and thus unencumbered by its obfuscating claims to normativity.

Throughout this provocative work, Sartwell steadfastly recognizes the many ways in which he too is implicated in the formulation and perpetuation of racial attitudes and discourse. In Act Like You Know, he challenges both himself and others to take a long, hard look in the mirror of African-American autobiography, and to find there, in the light of those narratives, the visible features of white identity.
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African Rhythms
The Autobiography of Randy Weston
Randy Weston
Duke University Press, 2010
African Rhythms is the autobiography of the important jazz pianist, composer and band leader Randy Weston. He tells of his childhood in Brooklyn, his six decades long musical career, his time living in Morocco, and his lifelong quest to learn about the musical and cultural traditions of Africa.
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After Pomp and Circumstance
High School Reunion as an Autobiographical Occasion
Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi
University of Chicago Press, 1998
Menacing, nerve-racking, uncomfortably intrusive, the high school reunion has become a dreaded encounter with past and present for many Americans. It is a moment of both heightened self-awareness and public presentation, insisting that we account for ourselves, not merely to our own satisfaction, but to the satisfaction of others as well. For sociologist Vinitzky-Seroussi, the high school reunion presents an ideal forum in which to explore the ongoing construction of identity in American society, and, perhaps, to ascertain just how we have managed to make sense of our lives, from then to now.

As autobiographical occasions, reunions prompt us to examine our own life narratives, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and how we have come to be that person. But at the same time, they can threaten the integrity of those very stories, subjecting them to the scrutiny of others whose memories of the past and ourselves may be altogether different from our own. Reunions, then, engender a fragile community held together by the resources of a shared past, yet imperiled by the tensions of competing histories. Inevitably—for both those who attend and those who choose not to—the reunion forces a kind of biographical confrontation, an unavoidable and often pivotal engagement between a carefully constructed personal identity and the socially prevalent standards of success and accomplishment.

Though many see in today's culture the gradual demise of personal identity, Vinitzky-Seroussi's carefully researched study reveals something quite different— After Pomp and Circumstance explores a struggle we all experience: the desire to resolve the tension between public conceptions and internal understandings, to maintain a sense of continuity between past and present lives, and to lay claim to both an integrated self and a unified life history.
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Aged by Culture
Margaret Morganroth Gullette
University of Chicago Press, 2003
Americans enjoy longer lives and better health, yet we are becoming increasingly obsessed with trying to stay young. What drives the fear of turning 30, the boom in anti-aging products, the wars between generations? What men and women of all ages have in common is that we are being insidiously aged by the culture in which we live.

In this illuminating book, Margaret Morganroth Gullette reveals that aging doesn't start in our chromosomes, but in midlife downsizing, the erosion of workplace seniority, threats to Social Security, or media portrayals of "aging Xers" and "greedy" Baby Boomers. To combat the forces aging us prematurely, Gullette invites us to change our attitudes, our life storytelling, and our society. Part intimate autobiography, part startling cultural expose, this book does for age what gender and race studies have done for their categories. Aged by Culture is an impassioned manifesto against the pernicious ideologies that steal hope from every stage of our lives.
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Albrecht Dürer
Art and Autobiography
David Ekserdjian
Reaktion Books, 2023
An exploration of the life and works of German artist Albrecht Dürer and his self-obsession.
 
The Italian Renaissance birthed the modern sense of self, and no artist from the period compares with Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) in terms of the almost obsessive interest he displayed in his own life. Dürer’s works are filled with personal details from his day-to-day, his dreams, and his escapades. In this brief biography, David Ekserdjian explores Dürer’s life and times—his studies, travels, and influences—as well as his paintings, drawings, and prints. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in Renaissance or Northern European art.
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American Autobiography after 9/11
Megan Brown
University of Wisconsin Press, 2017
In the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, American memoirists have wrestled with a wide range of anxieties in their books. They cope with financial crises, encounter difference, or confront norms of identity. Megan Brown contends that such best sellers as Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and Tucker Max’s I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell teach readers how to navigate a confusing, changing world.
            This lively and theoretically grounded book analyzes twenty-first-century memoirs from Three Cups of Tea to Fun Home, emphasizing the ways in which they reinforce and circulate ideologies, becoming guides or models for living. Brown expands her inquiry beyond books to the autobiographical narratives in reality television and political speeches. She offers a persuasive explanation for the memoir boom: the genre as a response to an era of uncertainty and struggle.
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American Autobiography
Retrospect And Prospect
Paul John Eakin
University of Wisconsin Press, 1991

The first four essays review the major historical periods of American autobiography, placing the classic texts of American autobiographical literature from Captain John Smith to Malcolm X in the illuminating context of lesser-known contemporary narratives.  Daniel B. Shea writes on colonial America, Lawrence Buell on the American Renaissance, Susanna Egan on the years after the Civil War, and Albert E. Stone on the twentieth century.
    The second part of American Autobiography  shows the diversity of voices, forms, audiences, and modes of identity in the literature of American autobiography.  Provocative essays by William Boelhower and Sau-Ling Cynthia Wong on immigrant autobiography discuss the changes in the sense of self that occur when strangers come to a strange land.  Arnold Krupat writes about how American Indians conceptualize the self and about the relationship between oral and written discourse.  William L. Andrews evaluates the strong body of critical theory that has grown up around African-American autobiography, showing how both the genre and its criticism have responded to contemporary historical pressures.  Carol Holly explores the model of personal identity that underlies nineteenth-century women’s autobiographies, and Blanche Gelfant examines the narrative and political strategies of Emma Goldman’s autobiography, especially her use of popular romance and melodrama. 
    The last essay offers a more personal perspective on contemporary autobiography:  a “dialogue” between Robert and Jane Coles about how they developed their method of eliciting first-person oral narratives for their famous Children of Crisis and Women of Crisis series.
    These essays raise  theoretical issues that are examined in Paul John Eakin’s incisive introduction:  How do we define a literary genre of protean shape and perplexing cultural multiplicity?  How do we approach the special problems created by documents that are both historical and literary texts, ones that pose difficult questions about truth and representation?  Most important, how is the canon of American autobiography to be constructed, and how is its history to be written?  Tracing that critical history, Eakin explains how changing ideas about “the mainstream” and “the marginal” have revitalized our retrospective view of American autobiography and opened up new and exciting prospects for today’s reader.

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Apology to Apostrophe
Autobiography and the Rhetoric of Self-Representation in Spain
James D. Fernandez
Duke University Press, 1992
Who writes "I"? To whom are autobiographies addressed? What kinds of readers are inscribed in autobiographical narratives? In Apology to Apostrophe, James D. Fernández's offers a lucid and powerful meditation on the nature of autobiographical writing through his investigation of the historical conditions and literary stagings of autobiographical writing in Spain.
As Fernández demonstrates, recent developments in critical theory provide new and fruitful approaches to autobiographical works that have long been neglected, misunderstood, or, in some cases, virtually unknown. Focusing primarily but not exclusively on nineteenth-century Spain, Fernández exposes a rhetorical tension that often occurs in autobiographical discourse, between self-justification, or "apology," and the transcendence of this worldly impulse, or "apostrophe." This tension, he argues, is of particular interest in the case of Spain, but not peculiar to that nation, and his attention to the theoretical nature of autobiography leads to insightfl considerations of many canonical European autobiographies, including those of Saint Augustine, Rousseau, Saint Teresa, and Cardinal Newman.
Considering Spanish autobiography in the context of first-person narrative in Europe and in the terms of current debates on the relationship between writing and selfhood, Apology to Apostrophe marks a significant advance in our historical understanding and critical discussion of the genre. The book will be of great value not only to Hispanists but also to those interested in autobiography and cultural history.
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Architexts of Memory
Literature, Science, and Autobiography
Evelyne Ender
University of Michigan Press, 2005
In this impressively interdisciplinary study, Evelyne Ender revisits master literary works to suggest that literature can serve as an experimental laboratory for the study of human remembrance. She shows how memory not only has a factual basis but is inseparable from fictional and aesthetic elements. Beautifully written in accessible prose, and impressive in its scope, the book takes up works by Proust, Woolf, George Eliot, Nerval, Lou Andreas-Salome, and Sigmund Freud, getting to the heart of essential questions about mental images, empirical knowledge, and the devastations of memory loss in ways that are suggestive and profound. Architexts of Memory joins a growing body of work in the lively field of memory studies, drawing from clinical psychology, psychoanalysis, and neurobiology as well as literary studies.

"An important, cogently argued, subtle and rich study of a topic of great interest."
--Mieke Bal, University of Amsterdam

"A work of literary studies positioned at the intersection of tradition and innovation. Evelyne Ender's book brings fashionable cultural concerns to bear on traditional literary texts-her superb pedagogical skills lure and guide the reader through the most difficult psychoanalytical concepts."
--Nelly Furman, Cornell University

Evelyne Ender is Professor of French Studies, University of Washington. She is the author of Sexing the Mind: Nineteenth-Century Fictions of Hysteria.
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The Art of Life
Studies in American Autobiographical Literature
By Mutlu Konuk Blasing
University of Texas Press, 1977

Autobiographical literature especially reveals the processes by which writers convert their own historical experience into fictional form and suggests how literary forms function in life. This volume defines an original theory of autobiographical writing and provides intriguing analyses of major American works of literature.

The Art of Life examines the transformation of history into literature in Walden, "Song of Myself," Henry James's Prefaces, The Education of Henry Adams, Paterson, and the poetry of Frank O'Hara. These works are approached as events in themselves and are analyzed as conversions of form and history, fiction and fact, and even aesthetics and politics. Thus the work of literature is set in the total experience of living, and the writer is seen not only as an artist but also as a person in a historical, political, and cultural environment. As well as a creator of literature, the writer is viewed as a social, psychological, and biological being.

Chapters on the narcissistic economy of Walden, the mythicizing of history and personality in "Song of Myself," the self-conscious relation that makes the Prefaces of Henry James the autobiography of an artist. the comic perspective of The Education of Henry Adams, and the radical innovation of Paterson and O'Hara's poetry provide new readings of major American works. Each chapter contains some distinct critical insight which not only contributes to, but can be relished apart from, the book's overarching theoretical argument.

The Art of Life is a sophisticated theoretical discussion of autobiography with rich psychological, philosophical, and cultural ramifications.

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Artful Truths
The Philosophy of Memoir
Helena de Bres
University of Chicago Press, 2021
Offers a philosophical perspective on the nature and value of writing a memoir.
 
Artful Truths offers a concise guide to the fundamental philosophical questions that arise when writing a literary work about your own life. Bringing a philosopher’s perspective to a general audience, Helena de Bres addresses what a memoir is, how the genre relates to fiction, memoirists’ responsibilities to their readers and subjects, and the question of why to write a memoir at all. Along the way, she delves into a wide range of philosophical issues, including the nature of the self, the limits of knowledge, the idea of truth, the obligations of friendship, the relationship between morality and art, and the question of what makes a life meaningful.
 
Written in a clear and conversational style, it offers a resource for those who write, teach, and study memoirs, as well as those who love to read them. With a combination of literary and philosophical knowledge, de Bres takes the many challenges directed at memoirists seriously, while ultimately standing in defense of a genre that, for all its perplexities—and maybe partly because of them—continually proves to be both beloved and valuable. 
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As If
An Autobiography
Herbert Blau
University of Michigan Press, 2012

"From his childhood in the 'Jewish heart' of Brooklyn to his memorable production of Endgame in the 1960s, Herbert Blau's autobiography provides not only more of Blau's penetrating insights into dramatists like Beckett and into the complex cross-currents of the American experimental theatre of this turbulent period. It is also a rich, deeply felt and powerfully expressed chronicle of cultural change that goes far beyond specific theatrical productions to offer a valuable personal view of the years that did so much to shape the contemporary world, expressed by one of the theatre community's most original and articulate thinkers."
---Marvin Carlson, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York

"Herb Blau's memoir---of his life, but also of an era---captures what has always been important about his work. 'Blooded thought,' he taught us to call it---the embodied process of 'finding yourself divided, in the embrace of what's remembered.' His vivid account of childhood in a particular kind of American neighbourhood is complemented by reflection on his years in San Francisco when the theatre and the Cold War unfolded as mutual antagonists in his personal drama. Acute, insightful, and sometimes painful, it is also an intellectual page-turner."
---Janelle Reinelt, University of Warwick

"I read As If from cover to cover, engaged and powerfully moved by a familiar brilliance . . . Blau holds an utterly unique place in twentieth-century American theater, in American culture, and in theater theory and practice."
---Elin Diamond, Rutgers University

"Few theater practitioners have had comparable influence in American theater; few have endured such intoxicating highs and dispiriting lows; none, arguably, has reflected so deeply and sharply about so wide a spectrum of first-hand practical experience."
---Linda Gregerson, University of Michigan

"Masterful . . . a brilliant and touching book written with honesty and humility . . . In addition, it serves as an admirable introduction to Blau's theories, providing a context for his complex and sometimes difficult ideas."
---John Lutterbie, Stony Brook University

As If: An Autobiography traces the complex life and career of director, scholar, and theorist Herbert Blau, one of the most innovative voices in the American theater. From his earliest years on the streets of Brooklyn, with gang wars there, to the often embattled, now-legendary Actor's Workshop of San Francisco, the powerfully told story of Blau's first four decades is also a social history, moving from the Great Depression to the cold war, with fallout from "the balance of terror" on what he once described in an incendiary manifesto as The Impossible Theater.

Blau has always forged his own path, from his activist resistance to the McCarthy witch hunts to his emergence as a revolutionary director whose work included the controversial years at The Workshop, which introduced American audiences to major playwrights of the European avant-garde, including Brecht, Beckett, Genet, and Pinter. There is also an account here of that notorious production of Waiting for Godot at the maximum-security prison at San Quentin, which became the insignia of the Theater of the Absurd.

Blau went on from The Workshop to become codirector of the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center, and then founding provost of California Institute of the Arts, where he developed and became artistic director of the experimental group KRAKEN. Currently Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professor of the Humanities at the University of Washington, Blau has been visionary in the passage from theater to theory, and his many influential and award-winning books include The Dubious Spectacle: Extremities of Theater, 1976–2000; Sails of the Herring Fleet: Essays on Beckett; Nothing in Itself: Complexions of Fashion; To All Appearances: Ideology and Performance; The Audience; The Eye of Prey: Subversions of the Postmodern; and Take Up the Bodies: Theater at the Vanishing Point.

This richly evocative book includes never-before-published photographs of the author, his family and friends, collaborators in the theater, and theater productions.

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As Told By Herself
Women’s Childhood Autobiography, 1845-1969
Lorna Martens
University of Wisconsin Press, 2022
As Told by Herself offers the first systematic study of women's autobiographical writing about childhood. More than 175 works—primarily from English-speaking countries and France, as well as other European countries—are presented here in historical sequence, allowing Lorna Martens to discern and reveal patterns as they emerge and change over time. What do the authors divulge, conceal, and emphasize? How do they understand the experience of growing up as girls? How do they understand themselves as parts of family or social groups, and what role do other individuals play in their recollections? To what extent do they concern themselves with issues of memory, truth, and fictionalization?

Stopping just before second-wave feminism brought an explosion in women's childhood autobiographical writing, As Told by Herself explores the genre's roots and development from the mid-nineteenth century, and recovers many works that have been neglected or forgotten. The result illustrates how previous generations of women—in a variety of places and circumstances—understood themselves and their upbringing, and how they thought to present themselves to contemporary and future readers. 
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The Astonishment Tapes
Talks on Poetry and Autobiography with Robin Blaser and Friends
Robin Blaser
University of Alabama Press, 2015
The edited transcript of revealing autobiographical audiotapes recorded by the groundbreaking poet Robin Blaser
 
Robin Blaser moved from his native Idaho to attend the University of California, Berkeley, in 1944. While there, he developed as a poet, explored his homosexuality, engaged in a lively arts community, and met fellow travelers and poets Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer. The three men became the founding members of the Berkeley core of what is now known as the San Francisco Renaissance in New American Poetry.

In the company of a small group of friends and writers in 1974, Blaser was asked to narrate his personal story and to comment on the Berkeley poetry scene. In twenty autobiographical audiotapes, Blaser talks about his childhood in Idaho, his time in Berkeley, and his participation in the making of a new kind of poetry. The Astonishment Tapes is the expertly edited transcript of these recordings by Miriam Nichols, Blaser’s editor and biographer.

In The Astonishment Tapes Blaser comments extensively on the poetic principles that he, Duncan, and Spicer worked through, as well as the differences and dissonances between the three of them. Nichols has edited the transcripts only minimally, allowing readers to make their own interpretations of Blaser’s intentions.

Sometimes gossipy, sometimes profound, Blaser offers his version on the inside story of one of the most significant moments in mid-twentieth century American poetry. The Astonishment Tapes is of considerable value and interest, not only to readers of Blaser, Duncan, and Spicer, but also to scholars of the early postmodern and twentieth-century American poetry.
 
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Authoring the Past
History, Autobiography, and Politics in Medieval Catalonia
Jaume Aurell
University of Chicago Press, 2012

Authoring the Past surveys medieval Catalan historiography, shedding light on the emergence and evolution of historical writing and autobiography in the Middle Ages, on questions of authority and authorship, and on the links between history and politics during the period. Jaume Aurell examines texts from the late twelfth to the late fourteenth century—including the Latin Gesta comitum Barcinonensium and four texts in medieval Catalan: James I’s Llibre dels fets, the Crònica of Bernat Desclot, the Crònica of Ramon Muntaner, and the Crònica of Peter the Ceremonious—and outlines the different motivations for the writing of each. 

For Aurell, these chronicles are not mere archaeological artifacts but rather documents that speak to their writers’ specific contemporary social and political purposes. He argues that these Catalonian counts and Aragonese kings were attempting to use their role as authors to legitimize their monarchical status, their growing political and economic power, and their aggressive expansionist policies in the Mediterranean. By analyzing these texts alongside one another, Aurell demonstrates the shifting contexts in which chronicles were conceived, written, and read throughout the Middle Ages.

The first study of its kind to make medieval Catalonian writings available to English-speaking audiences, Authoring the Past will be of interest to scholars of history and comparative literature, students of Hispanic and Romance medieval studies, and medievalists who study the chronicle tradition in other languages.

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The Autobiographical Documentary in America
Jim Lane
University of Wisconsin Press, 2002

Since the late 1960s, American film and video makers of all genres have been fascinated with themes of self and identity. Though the documentary form is most often used to capture the lives of others, Jim Lane turns his lens on those media makers who document their own lives and identities. He looks at the ways in which autobiographical documentaries—including Roger and Me, Sherman’s March, and Silverlake Life—raise weighty questions about American cultural life. What is the role of women in society? What does it mean to die from AIDS? How do race and class play out in our personal lives? What does it mean to be a member of a family? Examining the history, diversity, and theoretical underpinnings of this increasingly popular documentary form, Lane tracks a fundamental transformation of notions of both autobiography and documentary.

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Autobiographical Writing Across the Disciplines
A Reader
Diane P. Freedman and Olivia Frey, eds.
Duke University Press, 2003
Autobiographical Writing Across the Disciplines reveals the extraordinary breadth of the intellectual movement toward self-inclusive scholarship. Presenting exemplary works of criticism incorporating personal narratives, this volume brings together twenty-seven essays from scholars in literary studies and history, mathematics and medicine, philosophy, music, film, ethnic studies, law, education, anthropology, religion, and biology. Pioneers in the development of the hybrid genre of personal scholarship, the writers whose work is presented here challenge traditional modes of inquiry and ways of knowing. In assembling their work, editors Diane P. Freedman and Olivia Frey have provided a rich source of reasons for and models of autobiographical criticism.

The editors’ introduction presents a condensed history of academic writing, chronicles the origins of autobiographical criticism, and emphasizes the role of feminism in championing the value of personal narrative to disciplinary discourse. The essays are all explicitly informed by the identities of their authors, among whom are a feminist scientist, a Jewish filmmaker living in Germany, a potential carrier of Huntington’s disease, and a doctor pregnant while in medical school. Whether describing how being a professor of ethnic literature necessarily entails being an activist, how music and cooking are related, or how a theology is shaped by cultural identity, the contributors illuminate the relationship between their scholarly pursuits and personal lives and, in the process, expand the boundaries of their disciplines.

Contributors:

Kwame Anthony Appiah
Ruth Behar
Merrill Black
David Bleich
James Cone
Brenda Daly
Laura B. DeLind
Carlos L. Dews
Michael Dorris
Diane P. Freedman
Olivia Frey
Peter Hamlin
Laura Duhan Kaplan
Perri Klass
Muriel Lederman
Deborah Lefkowitz
Eunice Lipton
Robert D. Marcus
Donald Murray
Seymour Papert
Carla T. Peterson
David Richman
Sara Ruddick
Julie Tharp
Bonnie TuSmith
Alex Wexler
Naomi Weisstein
Patricia Williams

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Autobiography and Decolonization
Modernity, Masculinity, and the Nation-State
Philip Holden
University of Wisconsin Press, 2008
Philip Holden reveals deeply gendered connections between the writing of individual lives and of the narratives of nations emerging from colonialism. Autobiography and Decolonization is the first book to give serious academic attention to autobiographies of nationalist leaders in the process of decolonization, attending to them not simply as partial historical documents, but as texts involved in remaking the world views of their readers.
            Holden examines Mohandas K. Gandhi’s An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Marcus Garvey’s fragmentary Autobiography,Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford’s Ethiopia Unbound, Lee Kuan Yew’s The Singapore Story, Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, Jawaharlal Nehru’s An Autobiography, and Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana:The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah.
            Holden argues that these examples of life writing have had significant influence on the formation of new, and often profoundly gendered, national identities. These narratives constitute the nation less as an imagined community than as an imagined individual. Moving from the past to the promise of the future, they mediate relationships between public and private, and between individual and collective stories. Ultimately, they show how the construction of modern selfhood is inextricably linked to the construction of a postcolonial polity.
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Autobiography and Letters of a Spanish Nun
María Vela y Cueto
Iter Press, 2016

When María Vela y Cueto (1561–1617) declared that God had personally ordered her to take only the Eucharist as food and to restore primitive dress and public penance in her aristocratic convent, the entire religious community, according to her confessor, “rose up in wrath.” Yet, when Vela died, her peers joined with the populace to declare her a saint. In her autobiography and personal letters, Vela speaks candidly of the obstacles, perils, and rewards of re-negotiating piety in a convent where devotion to God was no longer expressed through rigorous asceticism. Vela’s experience, told in her own words, reveals her shrewd understanding of the persuasive power of a woman’s body.

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Autobiography and Other Writings
Ana de San Bartolomé
University of Chicago Press, 2008
Ana de San Bartolomé (1549–1626), a contemporary and close associate of St. Teresa of Ávila, typifies the curious blend of religious activism and spiritual forcefulness that characterized the first generation of Discalced, or reformed Carmelites. Known for their austerity and ethics, their convents quickly spread throughout Spain and, under Ana’s guidance, also to France and the Low Countries. Constantly embroiled in disputes with her male superiors, Ana quickly became the most vocal and visible of these mystical women and the most fearless of the guardians of the Carmelite Constitution, especially after Teresa’s death.

Her autobiography, clearly inseparable from her religious vocation, expresses the tensions and conflicts that often accompanied the lives of women whose relationship to the divine endowed them with an authority at odds with the temporary powers of church and state. Last translated into English in 1916, Ana’s writings give modern readers fascinating insights into the nature of monastic life during the highly charged religious and political climate of late-sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century Spain.
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Autobiography and Selected Letters, Volume I
Autobiography. Letters 1-50
Libanius
Harvard University Press, 1992

A professing pagan in an aggressively Christian empire, a friend of the emperor Julian and acquaintance of St. Basil, a potent spokesman for private and political causes—Libanius can tell us much about the tumultuous world of the fourth century.

Born in Antioch to a wealthy family steeped in the culture and religious traditions of Hellenism, Libanius rose to fame as a teacher of the classics in a period of rapid social change. In his lifetime Libanius was an acknowledged master of the art of letter writing. Today his letters—about 1550 of which survive—offer an enthralling self-portrait of this combative pagan publicist and a vivid picture of the culture and political intrigues of the eastern empire. A. F. Norman selects one eighth of the extant letters, which come from two periods in Libanius's life, 355–365 and 388–393 CE, letters written to Julian, churchmen, civil officials, scholars, and his many influential friends. The Letters are complemented, in this two-volume edition, by Libanius's Autobiography (Oration 1), a revealing narrative that begins as a scholar's account and ends as an old man's private journal.

Also available in the Loeb Classical Library is a two-volume edition of Libanius's Orations.

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Autobiography and Selected Letters, Volume II
Letters 51-193
Libanius
Harvard University Press, 1992

A professing pagan in an aggressively Christian empire, a friend of the emperor Julian and acquaintance of St. Basil, a potent spokesman for private and political causes—Libanius can tell us much about the tumultuous world of the fourth century.

Born in Antioch to a wealthy family steeped in the culture and religious traditions of Hellenism, Libanius rose to fame as a teacher of the classics in a period of rapid social change. In his lifetime Libanius was an acknowledged master of the art of letter writing. Today his letters—about 1550 of which survive—offer an enthralling self-portrait of this combative pagan publicist and a vivid picture of the culture and political intrigues of the eastern empire. A. F. Norman selects one eighth of the extant letters, which come from two periods in Libanius's life, 355–365 and 388–393 CE, letters written to Julian, churchmen, civil officials, scholars, and his many influential friends. The Letters are complemented, in this two-volume edition, by Libanius's Autobiography (Oration 1), a revealing narrative that begins as a scholar's account and ends as an old man's private journal.

Also available in the Loeb Classical Library is a two-volume edition of Libanius's Orations.

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Autobiography in Early Modern Spain
Nicholas Spadaccini and Jenaro Talens, EditorsIntroduction by Nicholas Spadaccini and Jenaro Talens
University of Minnesota Press, 1991

Autobiography in Early Modern Spain was first published in 1991. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Autobiography in Early Modern Spain Nicholas Spadaccini and Jenaro Talens, Editors

Introduction. The Construction of the Self: Notes on Autobiography in Early Modern Spain

Nicholas Spadaccini and Jenaro Talens

Chapter 1. Narration and Argumentation in Autobiographical Discourse Antonio Gomez-Moriana

Chapter 2. A Clown at Court: Francesillo de Zuniga's Cronica burlesca George Mariscal

Chapter 3. A Methodological Prolegomenon to a Post-Modernist Reading of Santa Teresa's Autobiography

Patrick Dust

Chapter 4. Golden Age Autobiography: The Soldiers Margarita Levisi

Chapter 5. The Picaresque as Autobiography: Story and History Edward Friedman

Chapter 6. The Historical Function of Picaresque Autobiographies: Toward a History of Social Offenders

Anthony N. Zahareas

Chapter 7. Fortune's Monster and the Monarchy in Las relaciones de Antonio Perez Helen H. Reed

Chapter 8. The Woman at the Border: Some Thoughts on Cervantes and Autobiography Ruth El Saffar

Chapter 9. Poetry as Autobiography: Theory and Poetic Practice in Cervantes Jenaro Talens

Appendix Curriculum vitae

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
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Autobiography of a Wound
Brynne Rebele-Henry
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018

Winner of the AWP 2017 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry

In ancient fertility carvings, artists would drill holes into the woman’s body to signify penetrability, which is the basis of Autobiography of a Wound: allowing those wounds and puncture marks to speak through the fertility figures. The wounds are chronicled through letters and poems addressed to F (F stands for the fertility carvings themselves, which are being addressed as one unified deity), and A (Aphrodite, who is being referenced as a general deity of womanhood, a figurine that reappears throughout the poems, and a symbol that is referenced or portrayed in almost every fertility figurine or carving). Autobiography of a Wound reconstructs the narrative surrounding female pathos and the idea of the hysteric girl.

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Autobiography of a Yaqui Poet
Refugio Savala; Edited by Kathleen M. Sands
University of Arizona Press, 1980
This is the major literary achievement of a sensitive, gifted man. The author is a Yaqui Indian, a railroad gandy dancer who sees beauty in iron spikes and rail clamps as well as in twilight-purple mountains and glossy-leafed cottonwood trees. In the seventy years following his flight from the Yaqui-Mexican wars in Sonora, Savala became a talented poet and loving recorder of his people's cultural heritage. A large sampling of his original works appears in the interpretations section of this book. Together with the beautifully written autobiography, they offer a unique view of Arizona Yaqui culture and history, railroading in the American West, and the personal and artistic growth of a Native American man of letters.
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Autobiography of an Androgyne
Ralph Werther and Edited by Scott Herring
Rutgers University Press, 2008
First printed in 1918, Ralph Werther's Autobiography of an Androgyne charts his emerging self-understanding as a member of the "third sex" and documents his explorations of queer underworlds in turn-of-the-century New York City. Werther presents a sensational life narrative that begins with a privileged upper-class birth and a youthful realization of his difference from other boys. He concludes with a decision to undergo castration. Along the way, he recounts intimate stories of adolescent sexual encounters with adult men and women, escapades as a reckless "fairie" who trolled Brooklyn and the Bowery in search of working-class Irish and Italian immigrants, and an immersion into the subculture of male "inverts." This new edition also includes a critical introduction by Scott Herring that situates the text within the scientific, historical, literary, and social contexts of urban American life in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Tracing how this pioneering autobiography engages with conversations on immigration, gender, economics, metropolitan working-class culture, and the invention of homosexuality across class lines, this edition is ideal for courses on topics ranging from Victorian literature to modern American sexuality.
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Autobiography of an Aspiring Saint
Cecilia Ferrazzi
University of Chicago Press, 1996
Charged by the Venetian Inquisition with the conscious and cynical feigning of holiness, Cecelia Ferrazzi (1609-1684) requested and obtained the unprecedented opportunity to defend herself through a presentation of her life story. Ferrazzi's unique inquisitorial autobiography and the transcripts of her preceding testimony, expertly transcribed and eloquently translated into English, allow us to enter an unfamiliar sector of the past and hear 'another voice'—that of a humble Venetian woman who had extraordinary experiences and exhibited exceptional courage.

Born in 1609 into an artisan family, Cecilia Ferrazzi wanted to become a nun. When her parents' death in the plague of 1630 made it financially impossible for her to enter the convent, she refused to marry and as a single laywoman set out in pursuit of holiness. Eventually she improvised a vocation: running houses of refuge for "girls in danger," young women at risk of being lured into prostitution.

Ferrazzi's frequent visions persuaded her, as well as some clerics and acquaintances among the Venetian elite, that she was on the right track. The socially valuable service she was providing enhanced this impresssion. Not everyone, however, was convinced that she was a genuine favorite of God. In 1664 she was denounced to the Inquisition.

The Inquisition convicted Ferrazzi of the pretense of sanctity. Yet her autobiographical act permits us to see in vivid detail both the opportunities and the obstacles presented to seventeenth-century women.
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The Autobiography of B. H. Roberts
Gary J. Bergera
Signature Books, 1990
 In this exciting and readable autobiography, one of the most colorful figures of the American frontier recounts his poverty-stricken childhood, his rowdy adolescence in Rocky Mountain mining camps, his unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Congress, and his stormy career in one of the leading councils of the Mormon church. Polygamy, women’s suffrage, prohibition, and separation of church and state occupy center stage in the unfolding drama of Brigham Henry Roberts’s controversial life.

The story-book adventures of Roberts’s life made him a household name during his lifetime. His impassioned speeches incited riots, his reasoned writings defined and codified religious beliefs, and his candid disclosures of Utah history brought him both respect and censure. He is best remembered today as a largely self-educated intellectual. Several of his landmark published works are still in print more than fifty years after his death. His life story, told here in his own words and published for the first time, may well stand as his greatest, most enduring achievement.

For many today, B. H. Roberts is the quintessential Mormon intellectual of the twentieth century. But his theological writings came late in life and his historical views were more subjective than definitive. His autobiography, on the other hand, is a forthright account of the events and acquaintances that contributed to his unique faith and intellectual independence. Troubled by the memory of being abandoned as a child, and of the abusive care of quarrelling and intemperate foster-parents, he survived a stormy youth of poverty and neglect. He describes his nearly ten years as a missionary to the southern United States, his subsequent tenure as an outspoken member of the First Quorum of Seventy, his public opposition to women’s suffrage, and his controversial bid for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Mormon polygamist.

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The Autobiography of Citizenship
Assimilation and Resistance in U.S. Education
Cooper, Tova
Rutgers University Press
At the turn of the twentieth century, the United States was faced with a new and radically mixed population, one that included freed African Americans, former reservation Indians, and a burgeoning immigrant population.  In The Autobiography of Citizenship, Tova Cooper looks at how educators tried to impose unity on this divergent population, and how the new citizens in turn often resisted these efforts, reshaping mainstream U.S. culture and embracing their own view of what it means to be an American. 

The Autobiography of Citizenship traces how citizenship education programs began popping up all over the country, influenced by the progressive approach to hands-on learning popularized by John Dewey and his followers. Cooper offers an insightful account of these programs, enlivened with compelling readings of archival materials such as photos of students in the process of learning; autobiographical writing by both teachers and new citizens; and memoirs, photos, poems, and novels by authors such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Jane Addams, Charles Reznikoff, and Emma Goldman. Indeed, Cooper provides the first comparative, inside look at these citizenship programs, revealing that they varied wildly: at one end, assimilationist boarding schools required American Indian children to transform their dress, language, and beliefs, while at the other end the libertarian Modern School encouraged immigrant children to frolic naked in the countryside and learn about the world by walking, hiking, and following their whims. 

Here then is an engaging portrait of what it was like to be, and become, a U.S. citizen one hundred years ago, showing that what it means to be “American” is never static.
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The Autobiography of Daniel Parker, Frontier Universalist
Daniel Parker
Ohio University Press, 2021

A vastly informative and rare early-American pioneer autobiography rescued from obscurity.

In this remarkable memoir, Daniel Parker (1781–1861) recorded both the details of everyday life and the extraordinary historical events he witnessed west of the Appalachian Mountains between 1790 and 1840. Once a humble traveling salesman for a line of newly invented clothes washing machines, he became an outspoken advocate for abolition and education. With his wife and son, he founded Clermont Academy, a racially integrated, coeducational secondary school—the first of its kind in Ohio.

However, Parker’s real vocation was as a self-ordained, itinerant preacher of his own brand of universal salvation. Raised by Presbyterian parents, he experienced a dramatic conversion to the Halcyon Church, an alternative, millenarian religious movement led by the enigmatic prophet Abel Sarjent, in 1803. After parting ways with the Halcyonists, he continued his own biblical and theological studies, arriving at the universalist conclusions that he would eventually preach throughout the Ohio River Valley.

David Torbett has transcribed Parker’s manuscript and publishes it here for the first time, together with an introduction, epilogue, bibliography, and extensive notes that enrich and contextualize this rare pioneer autobiography.

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The Autobiography of Harry S. Truman
Edited with a New Introduction by Robert H. Ferrell
University of Missouri Press, 2002
The Autobiography of Harry S. Truman is a compilation of autobiographical writings composed by Truman between 1934 and 1972. Taken directly from his own manuscript material, the volume presents the thoughts and feelings of the man himself. The book touches on details in Truman’s life from his days as a boy until graduation from Independence High School in 1901 to the vice presidency of the United States and beyond. There is also a memorandum written by Truman about the Pendergast machine in Kansas City telling how it was possible to work with the machine and not be soiled by it. The Autobiography concludes with some of the retired president’s thoughts about politics and the purposes of public life.
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The Autobiography of Maud Gonne
A Servant of the Queen
Maud Gonne
University of Chicago Press, 1995
Maud Gonne is part of Irish history: her founding of the Daughters of Ireland, in 1900, was the key that effectively opened the door of twentieth-century politics to Irish women. Still remembered in Ireland for the inspiring public speeches she made on behalf of the suffering—those evicted from their homes in western Ireland, the Treason-Felony prisoners on the Isle of Wright, indeed all those whom she saw as victims of imperialism—she is known, too, within and outside Ireland as the woman W. B. Yeats loved and celebrated in his poems.
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Autobiography of My Hungers
Rigoberto González
University of Wisconsin Press, 2019
In the second of his trio of acclaimed memoirs, Rigoberto González looks at his past through a startling lens: hunger. A childhood of neglect, adolescent yearnings, and adult desire for a larger world, another lover, a different body—all are explored by González in a series of heartbreaking and poetic vignettes.

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Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand
The Renowned Missouri Bushwhacker
Kirby Ross
University of Arkansas Press, 2016
Most Civil War historians now agree that the guerrilla conflict shaped the entire war in significant ways. Some of these “bushwhackers”—Nathan Bedford Forrest, William Clarke Quantrill, John Singleton Mosby—have become quite infamous. Illiterate Sam Hildebrand, one of Missouri’s most notorious guerrillas—often compared to “Rob Roy,” and the subject of dime novels—was one of the few to survive the war and have his story taken down and published. Shortly after this he was killed in a barroom brawl. “I make no apology to mankind for my acts of retaliation; I make no whining appeal to the world for sympathy. I sought revenge and I found it; the key of hell was not suffered to rust in the lock while I was on the war path.” —Sam Hildebrand Hildebrand’s reign of terror gave the Union army fits and kept much of the Trans-Mississippi, especially Missouri, roiling in the 1860s. Over seven years of fighting he and his men killed dozens of soldiers and civilians, whites and blacks; he claimed to have killed nearly one hundred himself. He was accused of many heinous acts. The historical significance of Hildebrand’s story is substantial, but his bloody tale is eminently readable and stands quite well on its own as a cold-blooded portrait of a violent time in American history. Like the nightmarish and depraved world of the Kid in Cormac McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian, Hildebrand’s world is truly ruthless and his story is brutally descriptive in its coolly detached rendering of one man’s personal war. Published in 1870, Hildebrand’s autobiography has long been out of print and has been a rare and highly prized acquisition among Civil War
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Autobiography of Silas Thompson Trowbridge M.D.
Silas Thompson Trowbridge. Introduction by John S. Haller Jr. and Barbara Mason
Southern Illinois University Press, 2004

Autobiography of Silas Thompson Trowbridge M.D. is a remarkable account of nineteenth-century medicine, politics, and personal life that recovers the captivating experiences of a Civil War–era regimental surgeon who was also a president of the Illinois State Medical Society and a United States consul in Mexico. First published in 1872 by Trowbridge’s family and even printed on a family-owned press, only a handful of copies of the initial publication survive. In this first paperback edition, Trowbridge’s memoirs are reprinted as they originally appeared.

Indiana-born Trowbridge moved to Illinois in his early twenties. A teacher by trade, he continued that career while he began the study of medicine, eventually starting a medical practice near New Castle, which he later moved to Decatur. Though respected by the community, Trowbridge lacked an authentic medical degree, so he enrolled in a four-month course of medical lectures at Rush Medical College in Chicago. Autobiography describes the atmosphere of the medical school and delineates Trowbridge’s opinions on the lack of quality control in medical colleges of the day.

Although three years of study and two annual terms of sixteen weeks were the actual requirements for the degree, Trowbridge was allowed to graduate after a single course of lectures and completion of a twenty-page thesis due to his previous experience. He then married a young widow and returned to Decatur, where he began a partnership with two local physicians and inaugurated a county medical society. In addition to practicing medicine, he was known and respected for regulating it, too, having supported legislation that would legalize dissection and prohibit incompetent persons from practicing medicine.

In 1861, Trowbridge began service as a surgeon of the 8th Illinois Volunteer Infantry commanded by Colonel Richard J. Oglesby. Autobiography describes his experiences beginning in Cairo, Illinois, where the infantry was involved in several expeditions and where Trowbridge made his “debut at the operating table.” Revealing a litany of surgical duties, replete with gruesome details, these war-time recollections provide a unique perspective on medical practices of the day. Likewise, his commentaries on political issues and his descriptions of combat serve to correct some of the early written histories of the war’s great battles.

After receiving an honorable discharge in 1864, Trowbridge returned to Decatur to resume his partnership with Dr. W. J. Chenoweth and devote himself to surgery. His reminiscences recount several difficult surgeries, his efforts to reorganize the county medical society (which had collapsed during the war), and his communications to the Illinois legislature to set higher qualifications for practicing physicians. He was later elected president of the Illinois State Medical Society and appointed by President Grant United States Consul to Vera Cruz on the eastern coast of Mexico, where he studied and challenged the treatment of yellow fever. The autobiography ends in 1874 with a six-day family vacation and the marriage of his daughter to a merchant of Vera Cruz.

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Autobiography, Volume 1
1907-1937, Journey East, Journey West
Mircea Eliade
University of Chicago Press, 1990
"Here finally are Eliade's memoirs of the first thirty years of his life in Mac Linscott Rickett's crisp and lucid English translation. They present a fascinating account of the early development of a Renaissance talent, expressed in everything from daily and periodical journalism, realistic and fantastic fiction, and general nonfiction works to distinguished contributions to the history of religions. Autobiography follows an apparently amazingly candid report of this remarkable man's progression from a mischievous street urchin and literary prodigy, through his various love affairs, a decisive and traumatic Indian sojourn, and active, brilliant participation in pre-World War II Romanian cultural life."—Seymour Cain, Religious Studies Review
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front cover of Autobiography, Volume 2
Autobiography, Volume 2
1937-1960, Exile's Odyssey
Mircea Eliade
University of Chicago Press, 1988
"Here finally are Eliade's memoirs of the first thirty years of his life in Mac Linscott Rickett's crisp and lucid English translation. They present a fascinating account of the early development of a Renaissance talent, expressed in everything from daily and periodical journalism, realistic and fantastic fiction, and general nonfiction works to distinguished contributions to the history of religions. Autobiography follows an apparently amazingly candid report of this remarkable man's progression from a mischievous street urchin and literary prodigy, through his various love affairs, a decisive and traumatic Indian sojourn, and active, brilliant participation in pre-World War II Romanian cultural life."—Seymour Cain, Religious Studies Review
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