By Sidonie Smith
Autobiographical writing is redefining the which means of narrative, because the fresh explosion of memoirs through writers akin to Frank McCourt, Mary Karr, Dave Eggers, and Kathryn Harrison indicates. yet what is curious about bringing those narratives into the classroom-in inventive writing, cultural stories, women's and ethnic stories, and social technological know-how and literature classes? How may perhaps teachers have interaction the philosophical, historic, social, and theoretical contexts of the rising box of autobiography stories? Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, gurus within the box, distill their diversified forays into existence writing in a concise but far-reaching evaluation of key words, concerns, histories, and texts in autobiography reviews. studying Autobiography is a step by step advent to the diversities of autobiography from fiction and biography; the parts of autobiographical acts; such center ideas as reminiscence, adventure, identification, corporation, and the physique; the textual and significant background of the sphere; and customers for destiny study. prepared as a effortless guide, it encompasses a thesaurus of key phrases, feedback for educating, and large basic and secondary bibliographies. Sidonie Smith is professor of English and director of women's stories on the collage of Michigan. Julia Watson is affiliate professor of comparative reports at Ohio kingdom college.
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Extra resources for Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives
Kaysen addresses the reader with the authority of her experience as a young woman who was incarcerated in a mental institution for two years in the 1960s. That experience is “documented” in one sense by her inclusion of twelve documents in her narrative concerning her admission, treatment, and release. Her experiential history as a resident of McLean Hospital (outside Boston) assures the reader that she knows whereof she speaks. But her project is a politically motivated one, not just an occasion to tell a lively and engaging story of “crazy” young women in the ’60s.
The stuff of autobiographical storytelling, then, is drawn from muliple, disparate, and discontinuous experiences and the multiple identities constructed from and constituting those experiences. Sometimes these models of identity are conflictual, as in the cases of Rousseau and Malcolm X. Sometimes narrators are aware of the conflicts and contradictions, sometimes not. Sometimes narrators thematize the conflictual nature of identity in the narrative; oftentimes they do not. Sometimes narrators explicitly resist certain identities.
Bakhtin 34 – AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SUBJECTS argued that consciousness—which also implies identity as a category of consciousness—is dialogical. ” Since social groups have their languages, each member of the group becomes conscious in and through that language. Thus autobiographical narrators come to consciousness of who they are, of what identifications and differences they are assigned or what identities they might adopt, through the discourses that surround them. And because of what Bakhtin calls “heteroglossia” in the social realm, the multiplicity of languages, words, and meanings that “mutually supplement one another, contradict one another and [are] interrelated dialogically” (292), the subject comes to consciousness through multiple identities and multiple voices.