Autobiography and Life Writing

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    The Universal Autobiographer: The Politics of Normative Readings.
    (Australian Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology, 2002) Douglas, Kate
    In Australia, autobiographies occupy a cultural space which commonly sees them marked as socially valuable, functional texts. Autobiographies are thought to be concerned with the dominant concerns of our time, representing individuals who, through their strength and resilience, become universalised exemplars for the wider community. In this paper Dr Douglas examines the implications of reading an autobiographical narrative through such established autobiographical standards and models. She discusses the socio-literary positioning of one contemporary indigenous Australian autobiography, Donna Meehan’s "It is no Secret" (published in 2000), through its production and circulation. This reading reveals one way in which contemporary autobiographies are affected by the prevalence of normative readings. These normative readings result in this autobiography being read primarily through two frames: 1. the figure of the innocent child and 2. the successful, resilient, writer who overcame adversity to author this autobiographical work. Dr Douglas addresses the ways in which the political act of autobiography, in this instance, indigenous autobiography, is affected by mainstream publishing’s more general commodification of autobiographical narratives, which in turn creates sanctioned positions for writing and reading these texts.
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    Cyber-Commemoration: Life Writing, Trauma and Memorialisation. [abstract].
    (2006) Douglas, Kate
    In this paper, Kate Douglas explores one of the ways in which life narratives of trauma are circulating in contemporary Australian cultural landscapes: through the internet. Using the example of the Bali bombings, Dr Douglas wants to consider the role internet media have played in traumatic remembering and commemoration. Like many (actual) commemorative sites, these websites foreground life narratives in their representation of the traumatic event: testimonies from first- and second-person witnesses, photographs, poems and letters that assume significance beyond the individual. These narratives function as metonyms for survivors’ experiences.
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    "Blurbing" Biographical: Authorship and Autobiography
    (University Press of Hawaii for the Biographical Research Center, 2001) Douglas, Kate
    In the community that consumes autobiographical writing, how is the author positioned, and what are the implications of this positioning? One method for exploring the author construct and its impact upon readership is the initial point of introduction and consumption of the material autobiographical text: the book jacket. Book jackets provide the glue binding author and text together; they are the site where the author's biography meets with marketing and criticism. This is especially acute in autobiographies, where the constructed author is such an integral part of a book's reception. Despite its public visibility, however, book publicity, and its particular significance to discussions of authorship, is one issue that has remained mostly unexamined.