Books released prior to 2017

Biofiction, defined as literature that names its protagonist after an actual historical figure, first became popular in the 1930s, but over the last forty years it has become a dominant literary form. Prominent writers such as J.M. Coetzee, Joyce Carol Oates, Russell Banks, Julia Alvarez, Peter Carey, Hilary Mantel, Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, Colum McCann, and MichLackey coverael Cunningham have authored spectacular biographical novels which have won some of the world’s most prestigious awards for fiction. However, in spite of the prominence of these authors, works, and awards, there has been considerable confusion about the nature of biofiction. This collection of process pieces and academic essays from authors and scholars of biofiction defines the nature of the aesthetic form, clarifies why it has come into being, specifies what it is uniquely capable of signifying, illustrates how it pictures the historical and critiques the political, and suggests potential directions for future studies. This book builds upon Lackey’s essay cluster on biofictions in a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 31.1.

Chansky coverAuto/Biography across the Americas: Transnational Themes in Life Writing. Ed. Ricia Anne Chansky. Routledge, 2016.

Auto/biographical narratives of the Americas are marked by the underlying themes of movement and belonging. This collection proposes that the impact of the historic or contemporary movement of peoples to, in, and from the Americas―whether chosen or forced―motivates the ways in which identities are constructed in this contested space. Such movement results in a cyclical quest to belong, and to understand belonging, that reverberates through narratives of the Americas. The volume brings together essays written from diverse national, cultural, linguistic, and disciplinary perspectives to trace these transnational motifs in life writing across the Americas. This book grows from the 2013 symposium, “Auto/Biography across the Americas: Reading beyond Geographic and Cultural Divides,” convened by the editors of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Auto/Biography in the Americas: Relational Lives. Ed. Ricia A. Chansky. Routledge, 2016.

Auto/Biography in the Americas: Relational Lives brings together scholars from disparate geographic regions, cultural perspectives, linguistic frameworks, and disciplinary backgrounds to explore what connects narrated lives in the Americas. By interweaving scholarship on Afro-diasporic subjectivities, gendered narratives, lives in translation, celebrity auto/biographies, and pedagogical approaches to teaching auto/biographical narratives, this volume argues that connections between the contrasting locations of the Americas may be found in a shared history of diasporic movement that causes a heightened awareness of the need to belong and to thereby define the self in relation to others. This book grows from the special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, “Auto/Biography across the Americas” (30.1).

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 10.31.33 PMInvented Lives, Imagined Communities: The Biopic and American National Identity. Ed. William H. Epstein, R. Barton Palmer. SUNY, 2016.

How Hollywood biopics both showcase and modify various notions of what it means to be an American. Biopics—biographical films that focus on the lives of famous and notorious figures from our national history—have long been one of Hollywood’s most popular and important genres, offering viewers various understandings of American national identity. Invented Lives, Imagined Communities offers the first full-length examination of US biopics, focusing on key releases in American cinema while treating recent developments in three fields: cinema studies, particularly the history of Hollywood; national identity studies dealing with the American experience; and scholarship devoted to modernity and postmodernity. This book grows from the special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, “Biopics and American National Identity,” 26.1 (2011).