Feminism and Autobiography: Texts, Theories, Methods

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Tess Cosslett, Celia Lury, Penny Summerfield
Psychology Press, 2000 - Social Science - 265 pages
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This work features essays by leading feminist scholars from a variety of disciplines on the developments in autobiographical studies. The central questions addressed include whether autobiography is a genre, and if so what it consists of, and whether autobiography is the product of an internal urge, or of external forms and pressures. The collection is structured around the inter-linked concepts of genre, inter-subjectivity and memory. Whilst exemplifying the very different levels of autobiographical activity going on in feminist studies, the contributions chart a movement from autobiography as genre to autobiography as cultural practice, and from the analysis of autobiographical texts to a preoccupation with autobiography as method. The detailed introduction situates the essays in the collection within the history of feminist engagements with the autobiographical.
 

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Contents

stories of another self
25
From selfmade women to womens madeselves? Audit
40
Textualisation of the self and gender identity in the lifestory
61
a discussion of Sylvia Plaths
76
PART II
89
audience identity and self in black womens
107
autobiographical inheritance
128
Matrilineal narratives revisited
141
narratives of Caribbean migrant women
154
slavery and AfricanAmerican womens
169
telling lifestories
183
Autobiographical times
201
Circa 1959
220
Autobiography and the actual course of things
241
Index
257
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About the author (2000)

Cosslett teaches at Lancaster University.

For a long time I have had two main areas of research interest: sociology of culture and feminist theory. My contributions to a sociology of culture draw upon the findings of a series of funded empirical research projects, exploring contemporary developments in the culture industry with a special focus on changing cultural forms. Following the publication of the jointly authored book on The Global Culture Industry: The Mediation of Things (with Lash, Polity, 2007), I am developing my research interest in the question of cultural change through my participation in a 20-partner EU-funded interdisciplinary network on A Topological Approach to Cultural Dynamics . This network which draws on recent developments in philosophy and mathematical thinking to address questions of cultural and social change, space and intensity is part of what has been called a topological turn in cultural theory. My ideas on what this might mean are developed in recent and forthcoming publications including the Introduction to a Special Issue of the European Journal of Social Theory on What is the empirical?, co-edited with Lisa Adkins and an article on Brands as assemblage: assembling culture to appear in the journal Cultural Economy (forthcoming). It will also inform the book (co-edited with Nina Wakeford) on Inventive Methods, (Routledge). I continue to be interested in brands and branding (Brands: the logos of the global cultural economy, 2004 as I have found them illuminating objects to think with as well as problematic objects to live with/out. I am enthusiastic about the new MA in Brands, Communication and Culture that is just starting at Goldsmiths (organised by Dr Liz Moor in Media and Communications, but with the involvement of myself and others in Sociology). My contributions to feminist theory primarily concern the issue of gender as a kind of becoming (Prosthetic Culture, Feminism and Autobiography) and the changing significance of gender as a social and natural category (Global Nature, Global Culture). I have participate in the annual conferences and workshops linked to the MA Gender, Culture and Media.

Penny Summerfield is Professor of Modern History at the University of Manchester. Corinna Peniston-Bird is Lecturer in History at the University of Lancaster.

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