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Biography 25.2 (2002) iii
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A number of valuable new resources for those of us interested in life writing have appeared in the past year. Margaretta Jolly's massive two-volume Encyclopedia of Life Writing: Autobiographical and Biographical Forms was published in August of 2001. Literally scores of critics and theorists familiar to students of autobiography and biography have contributed articles and bibliographies. More recently, the latest of Sidonie Smith's and Julia Watson's many contributions to our field, Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives has appeared from the University of Minnesota Press. It promises to become the brief yet thorough introduction, overview, and bibliographical guide that teachers and scholars of life writing have needed for years. And speaking of teaching, the Center for Biographical Research will shortly be announcing a publication project devoted to life writing pedagogy.
As I look over the geographical and disciplinary range represented by the critical works in this issue's Review section, or at the varieties of experience recorded in the biographies and autobiographies found in "Reviewed Elsewhere," however, I become more and more convinced of the complete impossibility of keeping up with things. Even projects undertaken by Biography and the Center often seem beyond me. In this issue, for instance, you will find a call for papers for our 2003 Special Issue on "Online Lives." Guest Editor John Zuern will do an excellent job, but I'm very much looking forward to reading the result, because I know for certain that at this moment I'm not personally qualified even to imagine what I'm going to learn from that issue. With Hawai'i Public Television, the Center is also co-producing Biography Hawai'i, a long-term television series devoted to exploring the social and cultural history of this place by telling the lives of individuals who have helped to set the directions this history has taken—or not taken. Though our Biopic special issue of two years ago gave me some idea of what video biography might involve—or endanger—it's been an interesting experience to bring life writing studies into the studio, or into an interviewee's home.
Years ago, a noted historian of language and science told me that he admired angels primarily because they didn't need to use file cards. (During some of his more arcane studies, he had learned that seraphs have photographic memories.) In his opinion, research was a skill developed in response to a lack. If you couldn't ever know a great deal, you could at least develop the tools necessary to find out what you had to know. Margaretta Jolly, Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson have provided us with valuable new places to look and learn. Through its reviews, its bibliographies, its online resources, and its publishing activities, the Center for Biographical Research will continue to point out or provide new places to look as well.