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Reading AutobiographyA Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives, Second Edition$
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Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780816669851

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816669851.001.0001

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In the Wake of the Memoir Boom

In the Wake of the Memoir Boom

(p.127) 5 In the Wake of the Memoir Boom
Reading Autobiography

Sidonie Smith

Julia Watson

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines some emergent forms of life writing that have recently gained prominence. These include the new-model national narrative; narratives of rights, testimony, incarceration, and reconciliation; embodiment stories of gender and sexuality, gastrography, and “conscious aging”; narratives of grief, mourning, and reparation; narratives of breakdown and breakthrough, illness, impairment, vulnerability, addiction, and recovery; autoethnography; ecobiography; and the celebrity self-advertisements of movie stars, sports heroes, and military leaders. This examination exposes how autobiographical acts take place at cultural sites where discourses intersect, conflict, and compete with one another, as narrators are pulled and tugged into complex and contradictory self-positionings through a performative dialogism. In these acts the terms of the narrator-audience relationship are renegotiated as writers and practitioners develop new rhetorics of identity and strategies of self-presentation for being heard as different subjects and subjects in difference.

Keywords:   life writing, new-model national narrative, testimony, incarceration, reconciliation, gastrography, autoethnography, ecobiography, performative dialogism

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