The following books grow from special issues or essay clusters published in a/b: Auto/Biography Studies or are emergent from projects undertaken by The Autobiography Society.

ab reader

The Routledge Auto|Biography Studies Reader. Ed. Ricia A. Chansky, Emily Hipchen.

Review copies here!

Beginning with a foreword by Sidonie Smith and a general introduction to the collection, the book is then divided into three sections―Foundations, Transformations, and Futures―each with its own introduction. Significant themes weave throughout the sections, including canonicity; genre, modality, and interdisciplinarity; reclamation of texts; disability and the contested body; trauma; agency, silence, and voicing; celebrity culture; digital lives; subjects in the margins; postcolonialism; posthumanism; and, ecocriticism. Attention has also been given to a variety of methodological approaches, such as archival research, genealogical study, DNA testing, autoethnography, testimonio, and oral history, among others.

Praise for The Routledge Auto/Biography Studies Reader: The Reader’s credentials are impeccable, with a foreword by Sidonie Smith, contributions from key figures in the field such as James Olney, and the inclusion of other seminal work including Paul de Man’s “Autobiography as De-Facement.” This is, then, a diverse and far-reaching approach to the topic: comics crop up in more than one chapter, and the book is able to boast a wide range of methodologies and themes, including interdisciplinarity, disability, agency, celebrity, and even genealogical approaches and DNA testing. This is a highly enjoyable and engaging study which takes in a variety of contrasting texts.” Forum on Modern Language Studies

Lamore coverReading African American Autobiography: Twenty-First-Century Contexts and Criticism. Ed. by Eric Lamore. Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 2017. 

This timely volume embraces and interprets the increasingly broad and deep canon of life narratives by African Americans. The contributors discover and recover neglected lives, texts, and genres, enlarge the wide range of critical methods used by scholars to study these works, and expand the understanding of autobiography to encompass photography, comics, blogs, and other modes of self-expression. This book also examines at length the proliferation of African American autobiography in the twenty-first century, noting the roles of digital genres, remediated lives, celebrity lives, self-help culture, non-Western religious traditions, and the politics of adoption. The life narratives studied range from an eighteenth-century criminal narrative, a 1918 autobiography, and the works of Richard Wright to new media, graphic novels, and a celebrity memoir from Pam Grier. This book builds upon the special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, “The Futures of African American Autobiography” (27.1), which Lamore guest edited in 2012.

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 Michael 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).