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Biography 24.4 (2001) iv-v

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Editor's Note

In this issue, you will find the latest installment of our annual Bibliography of Life Writing. At over 850 annotated entries, it represents a surge in the critical literature--and undoubtedly, in our journal's gathering capabilities. In any case, the size and scope of the Bibliography strongly suggests that we are in a productive, almost overwhelming period in the history of life writing studies.

The Books section is somewhat smaller this year--62 works, down from last year's high of 97--partially I suspect because we have shifted a number of edited volumes to Collections. Even so, the growth in the Collections, Dictionaries, Edited Volumes, Annuals, and Special Issues section is surprising. While only 13 volumes appeared in this category last year, 43 volumes appear this time. On average, these collections contain 11 or 12 essays, resulting in over 460 individual articles--200 more than in the Articles and Essays section, which has itself increased from 194 to 245. By any measure, then, most of the work in life writing is taking place in special issues and essay collections.

The Dissertations section is less broadly representative than any other category, because the entries come exclusively from American and Canadian institutions. (DAI is Dissertations Abstracts International only in name; I would welcome hearing from people willing to provide entries for dissertations from Great Britain, China, France, Germany, Australia, South Africa, and elsewhere.) Even so, some features do stand out. Seventy-two of the 82 listed dissertations are on autobiographical subjects, and over half (42) deal with narratives written by and about women. The significant number on African-American, African Caribbean, and indigenous American, Canadian, and Australian subjects should also be noted.

Some themes or trends do emerge from this year's Bibliography. Interest is definitely increasing in travel writing; in Islamic, Middle Eastern, and African subjects; in hagiography of all kinds, and in all cultures; in 18th and 19th century American topics, and in ethical issues (Wilkimirski and MenchĂș have clearly caught people's attention.) Media topics, autoethnography, memory and narrative studies, testimonio, and life writing in the social sciences all appear prominently, as do studies of the life stories of indigenous peoples, and of Native Americans in particular. Among the edited collections, I should also mention the remarkable diversity of the critical work, here only glimpsed at, currently being produced in France. [End Page iv]

The previous four installments of the Bibliography have been loaded into a searchable database. As soon as this year's entries have been added--no small task--the entire database will be available online. Watch for more news about what we believe will be another major research resource for theorists, scholars, and students of life writing.