- Editors’ Note
Each year, the Bibliography of Works about Life Writing provides us with a snapshot of where the field seems to be at the moment—and one we can profitably compare with previous photos in our album. One thing is certain: writing about life writing continues to increase, and this year quite markedly, as 1,400 entries last year have turned into 1,497 this year. The growth seems to be relatively uniform across forms of publication. The number of single author books has actually decreased slightly—from last year’s 179 to this year’s 171—but there has been a definite increase in essays found in special issues or edited collections—from 762 entries in 75 collections in 2011 to 814 in 70 collections in 2012. The articles and essays in regular issues of journals have also risen from 395 to 427, and the number of dissertations has rebounded quite substantially—from last year’s very low 65 to 85 this year.
For the most part, this annotated bibliography remains Anglo-centric, but we have expanded the foreign language coverage. Appearing in this installment are entries for five books, 83 essays in nine special issues or edited collections, 23 articles, and three dissertations published in French, German, and Spanish. We’re hoping to expand this coverage, but we realize that this will necessarily entail recruiting editors working in languages other than in English, and in life writing fields whose research gets published in a range of languages.
Ashgate and Palgrave Macmillan are still leading the way in publishing individual studies and collections. And it’s also clear that the geographical and disciplinary range of life writing studies is expanding. There seem to be many more titles dealing with earlier historical periods—another refutation of the well-worn commonplace that autobiography started in France in the eighteenth century, and basically stayed in Europe and America. And as noted in previous year-end summaries, there are many more studies emerging from qualitative research in the social sciences, and from oral history projects conducted in a wide range of disciplines.
Our annual annotated bibliography of critical resources in life writing remains the largest in the field, and our reports from our electronic distributors indicate that these bibliographies are the most consulted sections of Biography. We hope to continue expanding this resource in the years ahead. [End Page iii]
It gives us great pleasure to announce that the Biography 34.1 Special Issue on (Post)Human Lives received the Council of Editors of Learned Journals Award for Best Special Issue of 2012 at the Modern Language Association Convention in Boston. Co-edited by Gillian Whitlock and G. Thomas Couser, the collection contains essays by Tully Barnett, Leigh Gilmore, Louis van den Hengel, Cynthia Huff and Joel Haefner, Rosanne Kennedy, Laurie McNeill, Andy Mousley, Michelle Peek, Sidonie Smith, and Julia Watson.
At the Awards Ceremony, CELJ commented that the issue “deals with what it means to be human today when technology, medical advances, and longer life spans put to question traditional understandings. This issue, physically and intellectually attractive and replete, will engage readers in discussions about prosthetics, robots, artificial life, science fiction and a whole escort of related topics.”
This special issue was the result of a seminar held in Honolulu in August of 2011 specifically for the purpose of bringing together the selected contributors to hear and respond to each others’ papers. The result is a special issue in which the essays genuinely seem to be talking to each other, and we’re very glad that the Council of Editors of Learned Journals saw fit to give us this award—the most prestigious offered in journal editing, and in the most competitive category. And many thanks again to guest editors Gillian Whitlock and G. Thomas Couser, and to all of the contributors.
Two more special issues developed through the same seminar process will be featured in our Winter 2013 and Winter 2014 issues. [End Page iv]