1st Edition

The Seductions of Biography

Edited By David Suchoff, Mary Rhiel Copyright 1996

    The Seductions of Biography is an important volume which sheds new light on a flourishing literary form, the biography. In postmodern culture, new methods and intentions emerge, as well as new obstacles, towards our understanding of biography as a genre. This book provides a thorough exploration of this genre, from a wide range of postmodern perspectives. The Seductions of Biography brings together a number of essays which reflect in culturally critical as well as autobiographical terms on current themes and practices of contemporary biography. Issues addressed by these essays focus on the postmodern dilemma itself--as new voices from excluded communities make themselves heard in biographical works, the decentralization of new issues, such as gender, ethnicity, and sexuality, becomes problematic. Contributors question the responsibilities a biographer has, both to the subject and the public, and consider also questions of morality and taste; for example, is it fair to use private tapings made by your subject's analyst? And how much do we really need to know about Eleanor Roosevelt's sex life? The impact of sexuality on our reading of public figures is addressed, as well as other issues which explore the popular and provocative nature of biography. Interdisciplinary and wide-ranging in scope, The Seductions of Biography will appeal to biographers, historians, cultural critics, and the vast population of avid biography readers. Contributors: Kwame Anthony Appiah, Clark Blaise, Marilyn L. Brownstein, Blanche Wiesen Cook, John D'Emilio, Jeffrey Louis Decker, Michael Eric Dyson, Diana Fuss, Marjorie Garber, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Hayden Herrera, Maurice Isserman, Barbara Johnson, William S. McFeely, Diane Wood Middlebrook, Richard J. Powell, Phyllis Rose, Doris Sommer, Marita Sturken, Sherley Anne Williams, Jean Fagan Yellin

    Introduction, Mary Rhiel, David Suchoff; Part I MASS MEDIA,Introduclion, K. Anthony Appiah; Chapter 1 BISEXUALITY AND CELEBRITY, Marjorie Garber; Chapter 2 PERSONAL STORIES AND NATIONAL MEANINGS, Marita Sturken; Chapter 3 INVENTING AND INTERPRETING MALCOLM X, Michael Eric Dyson; Part II PRIVATE LIVES, PUBLIC FIGURES; Chapter 03 Introduction, William S. McFeely; Chapter 4 READING THE SILENCES IN A GAY LIFE, John D'Emilio; Chapter 5 OUTING HISTORY, Blanche Wiesen Cook; Chapter 6 MICHAEL HARRINGTON, Maurice Isserman; Part III CHANGING THE SUBJECT; Chapter 04 Introduction, Betty Sasaki; Chapter 7 TWO PAINTINGS BY WILLIAM H. JOHNSON, Richard J. Powell; Chapter 8 RECONSTRUCTING ENTERPRISE, Jeffrey Louis Decker; Chapter 9 FRIDA KAHLO, Hayden Herrera; Part IV WHOSE LIFE IS IT, ANYWAY?; Chapter 05 Introduction, Barbara Johnson; Chapter 10 TELLING SECRETS, Diane Wood Middlebrook; Chapter 11 CONFESSIONS OF A BURNED-OUTlncidents IN THE LIFE OF HARRIET JACOBS, Jean Fagan Yellin; Chapter 13 TAKING A LIFE, Doris Sommer; Part V POSTMODERNISM AND THE POSSIBILITY OFIntroduction, Marjorie Garber; Chapter 14 TELLING THE TELLER, Sherley Anne Williams; Chapter 15 CATASTROPHIC ENCOIINTERS, Marilyn L. Brownstein; Chapter 16 YOUR NEAREST EXTT MAY BE BEHIND YOU, Clark Blaise;


    David Suchoff is Assistant Professor of English at Colby College. Mary Rhiel is Associate Professor of German at the University of New Hampshire.