Biography: Fiction, Fact and Form

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Practical Advice on Writing the Biographical Novel

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Ira Bruce Nadel. The popular success of George Crail.

Bibliographic Information

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Project MUSE Mission Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. Contact Contact Us Help. Increasingly, however, scholars broaden from such aesthetic debates to consider the social, political, and psychological work of life narrative. Readers will therefore find that this article pushes out from the literary to encompass a capacious field of inquiry that includes social scientists interested in narrative or biographical methods, and interdisciplinary studies of personal storytelling in the contexts of human rights activism or, conversely, of the late capitalist trade in celebrity or exotic lives and digital cultures of self-publication.


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For literary critics, therefore, biography and autobiography are now generally appreciated as two genres within a bigger field of life writing, life narrative, or life story about self-other relations, although they remain touchstones for those interested in how life experience can be aestheticized. Life narrative is found in all places and historical periods and encompasses many aspects of everyday speech as well as writing.

It is therefore difficult to produce a definitive criticism, and the texts listed here divide between those with a more literary and a more sociological focus. From a literary or cultural-studies perspective, Smith and Watson provides the most condensed overview and builds on an important body of joint work by these North American scholars, particularly on the global, postcolonial, and feminist face of much life writing.

Biography: Fiction, Fact and Form - AbeBooks - Ira B. Nadel:

Jolly remains the most internationally comprehensive guide, with analytical surveys and bibliographies of life narrative in all major continents and countries, from classical periods to the early 21st century. Broughton , an anthology that provides a selection of key critical interventions, also features an excellent introduction in which the author interprets the shifting critical emphasis from the life to the self.

Plummer approaches life stories from this redemptive point of view, as a sociologist in what the author defines as a radical humanist tradition, and also a gay man who has studied as well as lived the coming-out story. Harrison , also written by a sociologist, is an edited collection that points out the growth in narrative and biographical research methods for social scientists.

Life narrative is inherently suitable for teaching both as method and topic with unique pulling power and accessibility. Fuchs and Howes , another edited collection of essays, is extremely useful for any would-be teachers, offering case studies, lesson plans, and syllabi, including from South Africa and Chad. Chansky and Hipchen offers carefully edited and organized selected essays tracing key debates in a one-stop volume that marks the multidisciplinary, multimediated direction of the field. Limited bibliographic details for this show that, as of yet, such initiatives and English-language-based scholarship are not sufficiently integrated.

Broughton, Trev Lynn ed. London: Routledge, Four-volume anthology of important critical texts from the 18th century onward, with an incisive introduction.


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Chansky, Ricia Anne, and Emily Hipchen, eds. Routledge Literature Readers. London and New York: Routledge, Fuchs, Miriam, and Craig Howes, eds.

here Teaching Life Writing Texts. Containing over forty-four short articles on teaching specific texts or genres, some with lesson plans, this work is a practical and inspiring teaching resource. Internationally focused. Harrison, Barbara, ed. Life Story Research. London: SAGE, Four volumes on methodological approaches within the social sciences in which research foregrounds the individual. Useful for related fields nursing, criminology, cultural studies. Jolly, Margaretta, ed. London: Fitzroy Dearborn, First and still only encyclopedia in English on life writing and life narrative.

Two large volumes include entries on important writers, genres, and subgenres. Entries encompass, for example, confession, obituary, and gossip; portraits; surveys of national and regional traditions from all continents and periods; and themes such as shame, adolescence, time, and self. Marcus, Laura.


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