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Biography 25.4 (2002) iii
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In this issue you will not only see that the Reviewed Elsewhere feature has returned, with abstracts now closer to the time of the reviews' original publication, but also the latest installment of our Annual Bibliography of Life Writing. As I did last year, I will make a few comments on some numbers, and what they might suggest.
To begin with, the totals in the bibliography will be a bit misleading, since this year's installment actually covers a shorter period than last year's. Because the Fall 2001 issue went to press several weeks later than this year's will, it contained a substantial number of the late fall publications that ordinarily would have appeared in the 2002 installment. This difference probably accounts for the apparent drop in separate entries: this year's bibliography contains 674, as opposed to last year's 850.
Surprisingly, though, the number of book by individual authors is up—from last year's 62 to this year's 91. Articles by individual authors have also increased slightly, from 245 to 280. The big shift has taken place in the Edited Volumes, Annuals, and special Issues category. The number of such collections has dropped from 43 to 32. More significantly, the number of individual essays has plummeted, from last years 460 to this year's 242. (Dissertations dropped as well: from 82 to 59).
What might these numbers mean? First, that a great deal of work is continuing to be produced in the field of life writing. Second, that collections of essays, and perhaps books in general, are getting smaller: fewer articles are appearing on average in the volumes or special issues. And third, that we have not yet moved into recording the resources increasingly available on the net, without any previous presence in a book or a journal.
That move, I strongly suspect, will not only increase the numbers significantly, but change our understanding of what it will mean to do research in life writing.