Autobiography is a long-established literary modality of self-exposure with commanding works such as Augustine’s Confessions, Rousseau’s book of the same title, and Salvador Dalí’s paradoxical reformulation of that title in his Unspeakable Confessions. Like all genres with a distinguished career, autobiography has elicited a fair amount of critical and theoretical reflection. Classic works by Käte Hamburger and Philippe Lejeune in the 1960s and 70s articulated distinctions and similarities between fiction and the genre of personal declaration. Especially since Foucault’s seminal essay on "Self Writing," self-production through writing has become more versatile, gaining a broader range of expression, diversifying its social function, and colonizing new media of representation. For this reason, it seems appropriate to speak of life-writing as a concept that includes but is not limited to classic autobiography. Awareness of language’s performativity permits us to read life-writing texts not as a record but as the space where the self is realized, or in some instances de-realized. Such texts can build identity, but they can also contest ascribed identity by producing alternative or disjointed scenarios of identification. And they not only relate to the present, but may also act upon the past by virtue of their retrospective effects in the confluence of narrator and witness.
The Routledge Auto/Biography Studies book series publishes outstanding new work from preeminent scholars and emerging voices in autobiography, biography, life writing, life narrative, and identity studies. This series is an interdisciplinary project that maintains interest in all forms of auto/biographical narrative analysis related to understanding varied constructions of the self. While centered in literary studies and the larger field of the humanities, books in this series engage with scholars and theories from such disciplines as anthropology, biology, linguistics, pedagogy, psychology, and sociology, among others. The emphasis on exploring the innovative authors, genres, and methodologies of auto/biographical narratives appeals to scholars, students, and practitioners alike. Emerging from Routledge’s longstanding commitment to auto/biography studies, this series makes a substantial contribution to the burgeoning global study of lives and life stories.