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Contesting Childhood: Autobiography, Trauma, and Memory

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Overview


The late 1990s and early 2000s witnessed a surge in the publication and popularity of autobiographical writings about childhood. Linking literary and cultural studies, Contesting Childhood draws on a varied selection of works from a diverse range of authors├╣from first-time to experienced writers. Kate Douglas explores Australian accounts of the Stolen Generation, contemporary American and British narratives of abuse, the bestselling memoirs of Andrea Ashworth, Augusten Burroughs, Robert Drewe, Mary Karr, Frank McCourt, Dave Pelzer, and Lorna Sage, among many others.

Drawing on trauma and memory studies and theories of authorship and readership, Contesting Childhood offers commentary on the triumphs, trials, and tribulations that have shaped this genre. Douglas examines the content of the narratives and the limits of their representations, as well as some of the ways in which autobiographies of youth have become politically important and influential. This study enables readers to discover how stories configure childhood within cultural memory and the public sphere.

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Editorial Reviews

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly

"Douglas offers a rich trove of insights into how versions of childhood are sold to fulfill a range of political purposes, both progressive and regressive, and how speaking through the voice of the traumatized child makes it difficult to tell the difference."
Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly

"Douglas offers a rich trove of insights into how versions of childhood are sold to fulfill a range of political purposes, both progressive and regressive, and how speaking through the voice of the traumatized child makes it difficult to tell the difference."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813546643
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 1/21/2010
  • Series: The Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies
  • Pages: 236
  • Sales rank: 1,189,689
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Douglass is a senior lecturer in the department of English, creative writing, and Australian studies at Flinders University, South Australia. She is the coeditor of Trauma Texts.
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Table of Contents

Introduction Constructing Childhood, Contesting Childhood 1

1 Creating Childhood: Autobiography and Cultural Memory 19

2 Consuming Childhood: Buying and Selling the Autobiographical Child 43

3 Authoring Childhood: The Road to Recovery and Redemption 67

4 Scripts for Remembering: Childhoods and Nostalgia 84

5 Scripts for Remembering: Traumatic Childhoods 106

6 Ethics: Writing about Child Abuse, Writing about Abusive Parents 131

7 The Ethics of Reading: Witnessing Traumatic Childhoods 150

Conclusion: Writing Childhood in the Twenty-first Century 170

Notes 181

Works Cited 195

Index 211

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