- Editors’ Note
This year’s Bibliography of Works about Life Writing confirms several trends we’ve been noting in the field over the past few years. The number of entries, which though impressive, still only represents a fraction of the critical work on life writing produced in many fields and many languages, has remained relatively stable. This year’s bibliography contains 1,400 entries, an increase of 50 over last year. Perhaps the most surprising shift, given widespread declarations about the death of the monograph, is the increase in the number of single author volumes—from 140 to 179. The most significant trend, which we’ve been noting for a number of years, is the number of essays appearing in special issues of journals and edited book collections. Once again, such contributions represent more than half of the published work in life writing—762 articles, in 75 collections. Essays appearing in the regular issues of journals remained constant—395 last year, 395 this year.
The number of dissertations on life writing topics continues to plunge, but this is both deceptive and suggestive. In 2009, we recorded roughly 140 completed PhDs. In 2010, the number was 90. This year? 64. The main reason for this fluctuation is that the dissertation information was taken exclusively from ProQuest’s Dissertations and Theses database, which focuses on US and Canadian institutions, and is dependent on which institutions report their graduate degree information—and when they do so, in relation to when we compile the bibliography. Still, a close look at the books and articles listed in this year’s bibliography does seem to indicate that a substantial amount of the work currently being published deals with European, Asian, and African topics, and quite often in languages other than English. Furthermore, as noted last year, a substantial and growing proportion of new work in life writing is qualitative research conducted in the fields of education, oral history, sociology, psychology, ethnography, and history of science. While literary studies are still quite prominent, the field of life writing simply looks and sounds very different from ten years ago, thanks largely to cultural studies, an increase in interdisciplinary work, and an increasing reliance on interviewing and studies of life histories in many areas of research.
I would also like to note that Aiko Yamashiro has served as the co-compiler for this year’s Bibliography. A PhD candidate in English at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, she also prepared the comprehensive author, title, and subject index for the first thirty-three years of Biography: An Interdisciplinary [End Page iii] Quarterly that appeared in our 33.4 (Fall 2011) issue. Aiko is an editorial assistant at the Center for Biographical Research; she is already making important and valuable contributions to our field, and we thank her for her work.
In other news, we are pleased to announce the publication of Peopling of the Americas: Currents, Canoes and DNA (Nova Science, 2011), the latest book by Barbara Bennett Peterson, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Hawai‘i and a long-time contributing reviewer to our Reviewed Elsewhere section. Dr. Peterson serves as Series Editor for the Nova Science book series First Men, America’s Presidents.
In addition, we would also like to say farewell with thanks to Douglas Hilt, University of Hawai‘i Emeritus Professor of European Languages and Literatures, another valued contributor to Reviewed Elsewhere, and a book reviewer for Biography over the years.
Finally, we would like to apologize to Victor Marsh, the author of Mr. Isherwood Changes Trains: Christopher Isherwood and the Search for the “Home Self ” (Melbourne: Clouds of Magellan, 2010). The review of his book, which appeared in Biography 34.2 (Spring 2012), provided an incorrect first name. [End Page iv]