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Annual Bibliography of Works about Life Writing, 2011–2012

From: Biography
Volume 35, Number 4, Fall 2012
pp. 690-833 | 10.1353/bio.2012.0052

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Because the Titanic passenger list was incomplete
And no one saw me off in England
Or expected me in New York
I am dead, unmourned, lost to the sea.

—From “Alfred O. Nemo: Dead, Forgotten,” by Morton D. Rich

Empathy is one of the most beautiful things about human nature. But if we don’t recognize other people’s differences and their unique circumstances, we really don’t understand them.

—Marianne Noble

To play and create with one another, to share one’s aliveness with another, to feel one’s self grow, expand, and become because of one’s relation to another, to feel free to change and to welcome another’s capacity to change—what else could be so transformative.

—Kay Yount
Phyllis E. Wachter  

Phyllis Wachter, compiler of Biography’s annual bibliography for over twenty years, continues to teach and conduct life writing research.

Aiko Yamashiro  

Aiko Yamamoto is a PhD student in English at the University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa. She is studying literature of Hawai‘i and Oceania, decolonial theory and literature, and histories of ‘āina-based activism. She was raised in Kāne‘ohe.


Adler, Aurélie. Éclats des view muettes. Paris: Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2012.

Focuses on themes of anonymity in autobiography, autoportrait, and autofiction by Annie Ernaux, Pierre Michon, and Pierre Bergounioux.

Aftab, Tahira. Biti Kahani: Autobiography of Princess Shahr Bano Begam of Pataudi. New York: Oxford UP, 2012.

English translation of 1885 autobiography, first by a Muslim South Asian woman and one of the earliest in Urdu.

Ahmed, Asad Q. The Religious Elite of the Early Islamic Hijaz: Five Prosopographical Case Studies. Prosopographica et Genealogica 14. Oxford: Unit for Prosoprographical Research, Linacre College, Oxford, 2011.

“Sociopolitical trajectories” of five religious elite families provide insights into local politics, revolutionary movements, and the “logic of kinship ties and the nature of Arabo-Islamic genealogical literature.”

Aldrich, Robert. Gay Life Stories. London: Thames and Hudson, 2012.

Through over seventy biographical sketches, surveys the history and diversity of gay lives, ranging from ancient China and Egypt to the present.

Allen, Julia. Swimming with Dr Johnson and Mrs Thrale: Sport, Health and Exercise in Eighteenth-Century England. Cambridge: Lutterworth, 2012.

Uses Johnson’s and Thrale’s connections to swimming and other sports and physical activities to explore eighteenth-century medical discourses of health and exercise.

Anderson, Douglas. The Unfinished Life of Benjamin Franklin. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2012.

Focuses on the deliberate incompleteness of Franklin’s life writing, placing it in a tradition stretching from Bunyan to Tocqueville.

Anesko, Michael. Monopolizing the Master: Henry James and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2012.

Reception study of James tracks the struggles over constructing and controlling literary reputations, representations, and markets.

Anthony, Arthé A. Picturing Black New Orleans: A Creole Photographer’s View of the Early Twentieth Century. Gainesville, FL: UP of Florida, 2012.

Recuperates the lives of Florestine Perrault Collins and the Louisiana Creoles and African Americans she photographed between 1920 and 1949.

Arnold, Jeanne E., Anthony P. Graesch, Elinor Ochs, and Enzo Ragazzini. Life at Home in the Twenty-first Century: 32 Families Open their Doors. Los Angeles: UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, 2012.

Ethnoarchaeological investigation documenting what the material worlds of contemporary US families reveal about our social identities.

Aurell, Jaume. Authoring the Past: History, Autobiography, and Politics in Medieval Catalonia. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2012.

Traces the evolution of historical writing and autobiography in Catalan texts from the late twelfth to the late fourteenth centuries.

Bannet, Eve Tavor. Transatlantic Stories and the History of Reading, 1720–1810: Migrant Fictions. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011.

Focuses on the unstable worldviews emerging from evolving transatlantic reader responses to adventure, captivity, antislavery, servant, and freeman narratives.

Banville, John, Tracy Chevalier, Julian Fellowes, Alexander McCall Smith, Terry Pratchett, Sarah Singleton, Joanna Trollope, and Minette Walters. Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People. London: National Portrait Gallery, 2012.

Eight narratives expand on what can be constructed about the identities of sitters for portraits in the National Portrait Gallery.

Bate, Jonathan, and Dora Thornton. Shakespeare: Staging the World. New York: Oxford UP, 2012.

Focuses on objects such as a 1611 diary, a dagger, Henry V’s saddle and...

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