Autobiographical Inscriptions: Form, Personhood, and the American Woman Writer of Color

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $2.48
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 98%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (13) from $2.48   
  • New (4) from $62.97   
  • Used (9) from $2.48   


As life-writing began to attract critical attention in the 1950s and 60s, theorists, critics, and practitioners of autobiography concerned themselves with inscribing—that is, establishing or asserting—a set of conventions that would define constructions of identity and acts of self-representation. More recently, however, scholars have identified the ways in which autobiographical works recognize and resist those conventions. Moving beyond the narrow, prescriptive definition of autobiography as the factual, chronological, first-person narrative of the life story, critics have theorized the genre from postmodern and feminist perspectives.

Autobiographical Inscriptions contributes a theory of autobiography by women writers of color to this lively repositioning of identity studies. Barbara Rodríguez breaks new ground in the field with a discussion of the ways in which innovations of form and structure bolster the arguments for personhood articulated by Harriet Jacobs, Zora Neale Hurston, Hisaye Yamamoto, Maxine Hong Kingston, Leslie Marmon Silko, Adrienne Kennedy, and Cecile Pineda.

Rodríguez maps the intersections of form and structure with issues of race and gender in these women's works. Central to the autobiographical act and to the representation of the self in language, these intersections mark the ways in which the American woman writer of color comments on the process of subject construction as she produces original forms for the life story.

In each chapter, Rodríguez pairs canonized texts with less well-known works, reading autobiographical works across cultural contexts and historical periods, and even across artistic media. By raising crucial questions about structure, Autobiographical Inscriptions analyzes the ways in which these texts also destabilize notions of race and gender. The result is a remarkable analysis of the seemingly endless range of formal strategies available to, adopted, and adapted by the American woman writer of color.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An incisive performance. With authority and a pungent critical eye, Barbara Rodriguez explores and contrasts the circuitous paths of women's autobiography springing from different cultural milieus. Like Diego Velazquez's "Maja" paintings, she looks at women looking at themselves in the mirror while the public observes. The result is a game of reflections that gives a dramatic revaluation of the word "face" and an important addition to gender and identity studies."-Ilan Stavans
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195123418
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1999
  • Series: W.E.B. Du Bois Institute Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Rodríguez is an assistant professor of African-American Literature at Tufts University. Born in Socorro, Texas, she was educated at the University of Notre Dame and Harvard University.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. "Everybody's Zora": Visions, Setting, and Voice in Dust Tracks on a Road
2. Commodities that Speak: Form and Transformation in Mary Rowlandson's Captivity Narrative and Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
3. In One Voice: The Autobiographical Act in Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and Hisaye Yamamoto's "The Legend of Miss Sasagawara"
4. Identity and Category Deconstruction in Leslie Marmon Silko's Storyteller and Adrienne Kennedy's People Who Led to My Plays
Conclusion: Making Face, Making Race: Prosopopoeia, Autobiography, and Identity Construction in Cecile Pineda's Face

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)