- Editors' Note
In last year's Editors' Note, we remarked that the number of entries in our Annual Bibliography had increased by almost 200, to 980. The trend continues: this year's Bibliography contains 1,111 individual entries for single-authored books, essays in special journal issues and edited collections, articles in journals, and doctoral dissertations.
The single most striking detail is the continued shift to edited collections as the principal venue for lifewriting criticism and theory. The number of single-authored books remains basically the same—127 last year, 125 this year. Dissertations have spiked somewhat—from 104 to 121. But 544 essays appeared in collections devoted to life writing—an increase of over a hundred from last year—while articles in regular issues of journals grew only slightly: from 298 to 321. We see a similar trend in Biography's own submissions, as our annual special issue calls for papers draw far more articles proportionally than the regular issues. What this suggests is that critics and theorists are either looking carefully for publishing opportunities focused on their area of life writing, or creating those opportunities themselves by editing such collections.
Though the number of annotated entries in this installment is impressive, it still represents only a fraction of what is actually being produced in our field. As many as 250 more entries could have been added if we had been able to get access to a particular journal or collection, and write an annotation. We found many promising titles, but could not provide a description of the contents. On the other hand, since more and more journals have internet presences, or appear on bibliographies in abstract or full text form, the contents are more widely distributed than previously. There are also more entries in this year's installment for materials in languages other than English—primarily French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Obviously, we are still only scratching the surface, but this will be a huge growth area in the future.
Despite our increasing reliance on the internet for compiling the bibliography, we have still not fully come to terms with it as a source for life writing criticism and theory. The current state of bibliography studies has something to do with this—for the most part, the tools available for seaching electronic journals, content web pages, and other internet sites are not yet the sharpest. (Google wasn't really designed with life writing studies in mind.) Where our Annual Annotated Bibliography will eventually draw its lines is also not yet [End Page v] certain, but the challenge is a formidable one. (Do we include the posted papers from conferences? How about student papers on personal home-pages? All are accessible.)
Despite these limitations, we believe that this Bibliography represents an important tool for researchers and students in the field, and the users of Project Muse, our principal online presence, seem to agree, since six of the fifteen most downloaded Biography articles are the annual installments of the bibliography, averaging between them roughly 165 hits a day. We hope you'll take a quick look through this year's installment. It's an annual reminder of just how diverse and rich the field of life writing continues to be. [End Page vi]