113th Annual Conference - Portland, Oregon
Friday, November 6 - Sunday, November 8, 2015

Autobiography I: Autobiographic Feminisms

Session Chair: 
Tanya Heflin, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Session 10: Sunday 8:30-10:00am
Skyline III (PH-ET)
Topic Area: 


  1. Jen McDaneld, University of Portland
    In this paper I historicize the contemporary impulse in U.S. feminism toward life writing through the autobiography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Attention to Stanton's construction of a unique temporality in this work highlights her radical politics and provides a basis for a genealogy of feminist activist autobiography. I argue that first-wave autobiography such as Stanton's provides an opportunity to consider how feminist memoir as a literary subgenre might disrupt not only conventional temporalities of U.S. feminism, but also U.S. literary history.
  2. Tracee Howell, University of Pittsburgh, Bradford
    I argue that Vera Caspary's The White Girl is not only a critical addition to passing narratives of the 20th century, but a transgressive text that challenges the limits of genre and authorial identity, and as Vera Caspary writes in her autobiography, "gives truth to fiction”.
  3. Lorna Martens, University of Virginia
    Attentive to memory theory, many twentieth-century autobiographers echo the distrust of memory that psychoanalysis and psychology made fashionable.  But Proust’s idea of the recovery of the past through involuntary memory also found followers.  This paper discusses British and Anglo-Irish childhood autobiographies written by women from 1935 on that explore adult memories of childhood memories along Proustian lines.  I focus in particular on Muriel St. Clare Byrne’s original, prescient memory study in Common or Garden Child (1942).
  4. Janet Boyd, Fairleigh Dickinson University
    It was Gertrude Stein who wrote The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas but Toklas herself wrote The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book. This culinary autobiography offers recipes, original and otherwise, amidst recollections about the circumstances through which these recipes were acquired or enjoyed. It is a cook book to be read for its montage of narrative, dalliances in genre, variety of recipes, deceptively simple charm, and for how Toklas subtly blurs the distinctions between the domestic sphere and that of war and conquest.
Session Cancelled: