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Biographical Dispatches on a Freedom Writer

This essay presents the idea of James Baldwin as a freedom writer, the organizing idea of my biography in progress. As a freedom writer, Baldwin was a revolutionary intellectual, an essayist and novelist committed unfailingly to the realization of racial justice, interracial political equality, and economic democracy. While the book is still in process, this short essay narrates autobiographically how I came to meet and know Baldwin’s work, explains in critical fashion my work in relation to existing biographies, and reflects interpretively my thoughts-in- progress on this fascinating and captivating figure of immense historical and social consequence.

James Baldwin Review
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James Baldwin and the Broken Silences of Black Queer Men

James Baldwin writes within and against the testimonial tradition emerging from the Black Church, challenging the institution’s refusal to acknowledge the voices and experiences of black queer men. Baldwin’s autobiographical novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, creates a space for Baldwin’s testimony to be expressed, and also lays the foundation for a tradition of black queer artists to follow. In the contemporary moment, poet Danez Smith inhabits Baldwin’s legacy, offering continuing critiques of the rigidity of conservative Christian ideologies, while publishing and performing poetry that gives voice to their own experiences, and those of the black queer community at large. These testimonies ultimately function as a means of rhetorical resistance, which not only articulates black queer lives and identities, but affirms them.  

James Baldwin Review
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James Baldwin and the Ethics of Trauma

This essay proposes that we turn to James Baldwin’s work to assess the cost of, and think alternatives to, the cultures of traumatization whose proliferation one witnesses in contemporary U.S. academia. Beginning with some recent examples, the essay briefly places these cultures into a genealogy of onto-ethics whose contemporary forms arose with the reconfiguration of diasporic histories in the idioms of psychoanalysis and deconstructive philosophy in 1990s trauma theory. Baldwin speaks to the contemporary moment as he considers the outcome of trauma’s perpetuation in an autobiographical scene from “Notes of a Native Son.” In this scene—which restages Bigger Thomas’s murderous compulsion in Native Son—he warns us against embracing one’s traumatization as a mode of negotiating the world. In foregoing what Sarah Schulman has recently called the “duty of repair,” such traumatized engagement prevents all search for the kind of “commonness” whose early articulation can be found in Aristotle’s query after “the common good” (to koinon agathon). With Baldwin, the present essay suggests the urgency of returning to the question of “the common good”: while mindful of past critiques, which have observed in this concept’s deployment a sleight-of-hand by which hegemonic positions universalize their interests, we should work to actualize the unfinished potential of Aristotle’s idea. Baldwin’s work on diasporic modernity provides an indispensable archive for this effort.

James Baldwin Review

Despite the imperative for change in a world of persistent inequality, racism, oppression and violence, difficulties arise once we try to bring about a transformation. As scholars, students and activists, we may want to change the world, but we are not separate, looking in, but rather part of the world ourselves. The book demonstrates that we are not in control: with all our academic rigour, we cannot know with certainty why the world is the way it is, or what impact our actions will have. It asks what we are to do, if this is the case, and engages with our desire to seek change. Chapters scrutinise the role of intellectuals, experts and activists in famine aid, the Iraq war, humanitarianism and intervention, traumatic memory, enforced disappearance, and the Grenfell Tower fire, and examine the fantasy of security, contemporary notions of time, space and materiality, and ideas of the human and sentience. Plays and films by Michael Frayn, Chris Marker and Patricio Guzmán are considered, and autobiographical narrative accounts probe the author’s life and background. The book argues that although we might need to traverse the fantasy of certainty and security, we do not need to give up on hope.

New writers, new literatures in the 1990s
Editors: Gill Rye and Michael Worton

The 1990s witnessed an explosion in women's writing in France, with a particularly exciting new generation of writer's coming to the fore, such as Christine Angot, Marie Darrieussecq and Regine Detambel. This book introduces an analysis of new women's writing in contemporary France, including both new writers of the 1990s and their more established counter-parts. The 1990s was an exciting period for women's writing in France. The novels of Louise Lambrichs are brilliant but troubling psychological dramas focusing on the traumas that inhabit the family romance: incest, sterility, the death those we love and the terrible legacy of mourning. The body of writing produced by Marie Redonnet between 1985 and 2000 is an unusually coherent one. The book explores the possibility of writing 'de la mélancolie' through focusing on the work of Chantal Chawaf, whose writing may be described as 'melancholic autofiction', melancholic autobiographical fiction. It places Confidence pour confidence within Constant's oeuvre as a whole, and argues for a more positive reading of the novel, a reading that throws light on the trajectory of mother-daughter relations in her fiction. Christiane Baroche was acclaimed in France first as a short-story writer. Unable to experience the freedom of their brothers and fathers, beur female protagonists are shown to experience it vicariously through the reading, and the writing of, narratives. Clotilde Escalle's private worlds of sex and violence, whose transgressions are part of real lives, shock precisely because they are brought into the public sphere, expressed in and through writing.

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Actresses, female performers, autobiography and the scripting of professional practice

autobiographical writing. Fifteen years her senior, Ada Reeve (1874–1966), who had also spent a substantial proportion of her career working as a Gaiety Girl and in musical comedy, titled her late autobiography Take It for a Fact (Reeve, 1954), with a similar pointed reference to her sense of agency and ­18 The social and theatrical realm authority in the writing of her own professional life story. Reeve, with a characteristic lack of charm, orders us to read her reminiscences as a ‘record’ of fact, even though they were written in a moment of almost desperate nostalgia

in Stage women, 1900–50
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The life and times of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

penetrating, revealing, and at times, pathetic autobiography in the history of Western literature, namely Les Confessions. Having antagonised his former friends among the Encycloplédistes, the Genevan authorities, the Catholic Church, and just about everyone else, Rousseau did himself few favours by writing his Confessions – and his other autobiographical writings, Dialouges: Rousseau juge de Jean-Jacques (1776), Les rêveries du promeneur solitaire (1778), and his letters to the French censor Malesherbes in 1762. As Byron noted about Rousseau, in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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the Aberdaron period contribute increasingly toward a sustained project in autobiography. My suggestion here is not that Thomas begins a project in poetic autobiography after moving to Aberdaron, but more that, for Thomas, poetry, by its very definition, is autobiography. The poems written after the move to Aberdaron illustrate a significant acceleration and intensification of that autobiographical instinct. In this first chapter my technique will be to explore the idea of poetry as autobiography using Thomas’s poem ‘This To Do’, but also introducing the work of a

in R. S. Thomas
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and Paul Berry and Mark Bostridge, whose meticulous research on the life of Vera Brittain has made it possible for historians to offer deeper analyses of the significance of her autobiographical writing.28 This work also owes a debt to writers such as Margaret Higonnet, Angela Smith, and Janet Watson, who explored nurses’ writings among those of other women.29 It extends their work by deepening the focus on nurses; it offers new insight into well-known nurse authors, and explores the work of previously neglected authors. Most of the 4 Introduction published

in Nurse Writers of the Great War
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Chantal Chawaf ’s melancholic autofiction

described as ‘melancholic autofiction’, melancholic autobiographical fiction. We know from interviews and publicity notices accompanying Chawaf ’s texts that she was born during a bomb explosion in Paris in  in which her parents were killed and she was extracted from her dying mother’s womb by Caesarian section.2 Since Chawaf ’s first novel Retable/La Rêverie (), which features a melancholic orphan whose parents were killed in a bomb explosion in the Second World War, her novels have repeatedly returned to fictionalised scenes of parental death.3 This chapter deals

in Women’s writing in contemporary France