Life Writing in the Long Run: A Smith & Watson Autobiography Studies Reader

Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson

This book gathers twenty-one essays by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson (TOC below) written in collaboration or solo and published over the last quarter-century.

It includes the introductions to their five edited collections; essays focused on such autobiographical genres as autoethnography, Bildungsroman, diary, digital life writing, genealogy, graphic memoir,human rights witnessing, manifesto; and essays engaging the key concepts of authenticity, performativity, postcoloniality, relationality, and visuality.

This collection captures decades of exciting developments in the field, making it indispensable reading for courses on modes and media of self-presentation in cultural, gender, and literary studies and feminist theory.

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Both as remarkable individuals, and as the most high- powered and influential team in life writing, Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson have been defining and moving the field forward for decades. If their landmark volume Reading Autobiography is the owner’s manual for autobiography studies, Life Writing in the Long Run serves the same function for their remarkable achievements as theorists, critics, and editors. An absolutely indispensable collection for present and future scholars, and a monument to the most consistently productive, innovative, and generous scholars I know.

—Craig Howes, Director, Center for Biographical Research; Co-Editor, Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly

Many of these essays have entered the lexicon of criticism in the field of life narrative: the rumpled bed of autobiography, the metrics of authenticity. Smith and Watson are an assemblage, a generative force that has always been slightly ahead of the curve: setting the pace, with a practical bent for toolkits and maps, a prescient sense of getting a life and de/colonizing the subject and, in the long run, an enduring passion for the pleasures of life narrative.

—Gillian Whitlock, Professor, University of Queensland


Acknowledgments and Permissions xi A Personal Introduction to Life Writing in the Long Run xvii

Part I: Theoretical Frameworks

  1. Introduction: Situating Subjectivity in Woen’s Autobiographical Practices, from Women,
    Autobiography, Theory: A Reader (1998) 3
  2. The Rumpled Bed of Autobiography: Extravagant
    Lives, Extravagant Questions (2001) 89
  3. Witness or False Witness? Metrics of Authenticity, I-Formations, and the Ethic of Verification
    in Testimony (2012) 111

Part II: Everyday Lives and Autobiographical Storytelling

  1. Introduction to Getting a Life:
    Everyday Uses of Autobiography (1996) 165
  2. Ordering the Family: Genealogy as
    Autobiographical Pedigree (Watson 1996) 191
  3. Virtually Me: A Toolkit about Online
    Self-Presentation (2014) 225

Part III: Enabling Concepts

  1. Performativity, Autobiographical
    Practice, Resistance (Smith 1995) 261
  2. The Spaces of Autobiographical
    Narrative (Watson 2007) 283
  3. The Autobiographical Manifesto: Identities,
    Temporalities, Politics (Smith 1991) Print and e-book only 305

Part IV: Visualized Lives

  1. Introduction: Mapping Women’s Self-Representation
    at Visual/Textual Interfaces, from Interfaces: Women, Autobiography, Image, Performance (2002) 345
  2. Autographic Disclosures and Genealogies of Desire
    in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home (Watson 2008) 393
  3. Re-citing, Re-siting, and Re-sighting Likeness:
    Reading the Family Archive in Drucilla Modjeska’s
    Poppy and Sally Morgan’s My Place (Smith 1994) 435
  4. Human Rights and Comics: Autobiographical
    Avatars, Crisis Witnessing, and Transnational
    Rescue Networks (Smith 2011) 467

Part V: Women’s Life Writing in the United States

  1. Introduction: Living in Public, from Before They Could Vote: American Women’s Autobiographical Writing, 1819–1919 (2006) 485
  2. Cheesecake, Nymphs, and ‘We the People’: About

    1900 in America (Smith 1994) Print and e-book only 517

  3. Strategic Autoethnography and American Ethnicity Debates: The Metrics of Authenticity in When I Was Puerto Rican (Watson 2013) Print and e-book only 545
  4. ‘America’s Exhibit A’: Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Living History and the Genres of Political Authenticity (Smith 2012) 577

Part VI: Global Circuits, Political Formations

  1. “Introduction: De/Colonization and the Politics of
    Discourse in Women’s Autobiographical Practices,”
    from De/Colonizing the Subject: The Politics of Gender
    in Women’s Autobiography (1992) 605
  2. Memory, Narrative, and the Discourses of Identity
    in Abeng and No Telephone to Heaven (Smith 1999) 629
  1. Narratives and Rights: Zlata’s Diary
    and the Circulation of Stories of Suffering
    Ethnicity (Smith 2006) 657
  2. Parsua Bashi’s Nylon Road: The Visual Dialogics
    of Witnessing in Iranian Women’s Graphic
    Memoir (Watson 2016) 681