Annual Bibliography of Works About Life Writing, 2008–2009
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Annual Bibliography of Works About Life Writing, 2008–2009

Memoir begins not with event but with the intuition of meaning—with the mysterious fact that life can sometimes step free from the chaos of contingency and become story.

—Sven Birkerts

Memory has multiple truths, so to judge a memory by only limited criteria amounts to cutting entangled threads with scissors. If we do this, we will lose the threads of the memory.

—Hyunah Yang


Adams, Katherine. Owning Up: Privacy, Property, and Belonging in U.S. Women’s Life Writing. New York: Oxford UP, 2009.

Nineteenth century life writing by and about US women writers reveals an emerging discourse of privacy opposing increasing forces of market capitalism and commodification.

Angelou, Maya. Letter to My Daughter. New York: Random House, 2008.

Angelou reflects that she “gave birth to one child, a son,” but that she has “thousands of daughters” of every racial and ethnic background.

Atkins, Kim. Narrative Identity and Moral Identity: A Practical Perspective. New York: Routledge, 2008.

This book “takes as its guiding theme two philosophical questions: ‘Who am I?’ and ‘How should I live?’ These questions cannot be considered in isolation from each other.”

Azoulay, Ariella. The Civil Contract of Photography. Brooklyn: Zone, 2009.

Explores the political and ethical status of photography by focusing on the power relations that sustain and make possible photographic meanings.

Bal, Mieke. Loving Yusuf: Conceptual Travels from Present to Past. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2009. [End Page 696]

Different tellings of the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife complicate our readings of the story, and shed light on the processes of canonization.

Banco, Lindsay. Travel and Drugs in Twentieth-Century Literature. Routledge: New York: 2009.

Interlocking representations of travel and drugs show how metaphors of mobility help conceptualize the experience of intoxication.

Barnard, Teresa. Anna Seward: A Constructed Life. Burlington: Ashgate, 2009.

Unpublished letters and manuscripts complicate Seward’s carefully constructed narrative of her life.

Barnett, Paul. Finding the Historical Christ. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009.

Combs the book of Acts, the four canonical Gospels, and the writings of Josephus, Tacitus, and Pliny for the historical figure Christians later worshipped.

Beard, Laura J. Acts of Narrative Resistance: Women’s Autobiographical Writings in the Americas. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2009.

Through paired life narratives by women from different countries and traditions, focuses on testimonio, metafiction, and the family saga as the story of a nation.

Beizer, Janet. Thinking through the Mothers: Reimagining Women’s Biographies. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2009.

Shows how biographers of women who write about earlier women rehearse and rewrite relationships to their own mothers.

Belli, Robert F., Frank P. Stafford, and Duane F. Alwin. Calendar and Time Diary Methods in Life Course Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2009.

Shows how to use diary methods and calendars to conduct life history research.

Benedict XVI. The Fathers of the Church: From Clement of Rome to Augustine of Hippo. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009.

Thirty-six short accounts place early church fathers in their own and in contemporary contexts.

Benton, Michael. Literary Biography: An Introduction. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

Introduces current issues, controversies, conventions, and directions in life writing, while demonstrating how biographical context can enrich the study of authors.

Bernard-Donals, Michael. Forgetful Memory: Representation and Remembrance in the Wake of the Holocaust. Albany: SUNY P, 2009.

Argues that contemporary representations of the Holocaust in memoirs and other literary genres, films and photographs, museums, and political discourse exist at the intersection of remembrance and oblivion. [End Page 697]

Birkerts, Sven. The Art of Time in Memoir: Then Again. Saint Paul: Grawyolf, 2008.

For Birkerts, when memories start “coming in loud and clear” and seem to fall “into some new alignment” so as to take on meaning, the story that is memoir starts to emerge.

Blaak, Meroen. Literacy in Everyday Life: Reading and Writing in Early Modern Dutch Diaries. Trans. Beverley Jackson. Egodocuments and History 2. Leiden: Brill, 2009.

Analyzes four early modern Dutch diaries whose authors document their daily lives and recount their reading.

Blocker, Jane. Seeing Witness: Visuality and the Ethics of Testimony. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2009.

Critiques the implicit authority of witnessing to...