books about the academic study of memoir
November 15, 2009 6:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for book recommendations on the academic/literary study of memoirs. Thanks!
posted by katopotato to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Pamela Fox (English, Georgetown) has a new book out (Natural Acts, U Michigan Press) that discusses the autobiographies of women country music stars in a sophisticated literary critical way (presaged by an earlier article called "Recycled Trash: Gender and Authenticity in Country Music Autobiography" in American Quarterly - Volume 50, Number 2, June 1998, pp. 234-266.)
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:17 AM on November 15, 2009

Also: 1997, Auto/Ethnography: Rewriting the Self and the Social, Oxford, Berg. Reid R, Brown S., eds.

Google "autoethnography" for a lot more.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:19 AM on November 15, 2009

Heilbrun's Writing a Woman's Life.
posted by paduasoy at 8:57 AM on November 15, 2009

Richard Coe (literature) has a study of childhood memoirs, both famous and non-famous people, called When the Grass Was Taller. I think Yale UP put it out.
posted by Beardman at 1:27 PM on November 15, 2009

This is an article, not a book, and you probably already know about it: Pierre Bourdieu's 'L'illusion biographique'. That link goes to a downloadable version of the original French text, though presumably it's available in English translation, more likely in a book than in a journal. It's a much-cited piece among people who study biographies, auto or otherwise--check it on Google Scholar--and your question has reminded me to download it and get round to reading it properly myself, rather than skimming it (doesn't work with Bourdieu). Only three or four pages long, too, albeit big pages in two-column layout.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 3:58 PM on November 15, 2009

Hermione Lee, who has written biographical works on Willa Cather, Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf, has a recent book Biography: A Very Brief Introduction (OUP 2009) that might fit the bill. Visit her website to find information about this, plus interviews and other resources such as links to her Princeton lectures on 'life-writing'.
posted by davemack at 12:26 PM on November 16, 2009

I've not had sight of a copy, but I assume Sven Birkerts, Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again (Graywolf Press, 2008) might be the sort of thing you're looking for
posted by davemack at 4:27 PM on November 16, 2009

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