Performing Autobiography

Narrating a Life as Activism

Authors: Powell, Katrina

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  • Engages with the theories of autobiography scholars, adhering to notions of fluid identities and extending our understanding of rhetorical constructions of selfQuestions what we mean by activism and the act of writing a life as an activist actDemonstrates how performative processing is an ethically responsible approach to archival practices that questions what gets privileged in our archiving practices

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About this book

Performing Auto/biography: Narrating a Life as Activism analyzes the rhetorical strategies employed in five authors’ auto/biographical texts, examining their representations of identities and the public implications of writing individual identity. Exploring the ways race, class, culture, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality might affect the form(s) in which writers choose to write (e.g., memoir, fictional autobiography, poetry),  questions how autobiographers challenge notions of genre, truth, and representation. This builds on the argument that constructing identity is a Performing Autobiography performance, one that can simultaneously use and subvert traditional notions of rhetoric and genre. By examining the auto/biographical texts of Zora Neale Hurston, Audre Lorde, Dorothy Allison, Joyce Johnson, and Shirley Geok-lin Lim together, the book theorizes self-representation and genres as rhetorical performances, and therefore their texts can be seen as “performative auto/biography”—transgressive archives where readers are asked to consider their own identities and act accordingly. In doing so, this book contributes to growing theories in feminist rhetorics and auto/biography studies, arguing that these performative genres advocate for life narratives as political and social activism.


About the authors

Katrina M. Powell is Professor of Rhetoric and Writing and Founding Director of the Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies at Virginia Tech, USA. She is the author of The Anguish of Displacement: The Politics of Literacy in the Letters of Mountain Families in Shenandoah National Park (2007) and Identity and Power in Narratives of Displacement (2015). 


Reviews

‘Scholars interested in auto/biography studies will find this absorbing analysis of the life narratives of five 20th century women authors a ground-breaking mustread. Professor Powell uncovers an archive of untold stories of writers engaging in performative acts of “decreation,” that is, dismantling hegemonic identities and power structures in order to redefine themselves in unexpected language, forms, and locations. Her subjects explore unrecognized expressions of social activism and call on other women to do the same.’

- Hildy Miller, Professor of English, Portland State University, USA


'Through her analysis of the varied work of five women writers, Katrina Powell highlights the interactive and performative nature of life writing, reading, representation, and mentorship—and illuminates the ways autobiography can create social change. Her interdisciplinary approach encourages readers to reconsider the boundaries that separate not only genres and disciplines but also individuals and groups. Performing Autobiography asks readers to expand their understanding of what counts as autobiography, archives, and activism.'

- Melissa A. Goldthwaite, Professor of English at Saint Joseph's University, USA

Table of contents (8 chapters)

Table of contents (8 chapters)
  • Introduction: Intersections of Genre, Gender, Performance, and Rhetoric

    Pages 1-20

    Powell, Katrina M.

  • Theorizing Rhetorics of Identity to Create Rhetorical Performativity as an Analytic

    Pages 21-42

    Powell, Katrina M.

  • Zora Neale Hurston’s Craft and a Griot’s Refusal to Conform

    Pages 43-69

    Powell, Katrina M.

  • Audre Lorde’s Intellectual Body: Scripting an Embodied Activism

    Pages 71-96

    Powell, Katrina M.

  • Self-Representation, Genre, and Performativity: Dorothy Allison’s Performances Across Genres

    Pages 97-126

    Powell, Katrina M.

Buy this book

eBook $69.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-030-64598-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $89.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-030-64597-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Institutional customers should get in touch with their account manager
  • Covid-19 shipping restrictions
  • Usually ready to be dispatched within 3 to 5 business days, if in stock
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Performing Autobiography
Book Subtitle
Narrating a Life as Activism
Authors
Copyright
2021
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG
eBook ISBN
978-3-030-64598-4
DOI
10.1007/978-3-030-64598-4
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-030-64597-7
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XII, 209
Topics