Memoir: An Introduction

Overview


Each year brings a glut of new memoirs, ranging from works by former teachers and celebrity has-beens to disillusioned soldiers and bestselling novelists. In addition to becoming bestsellers in their own right, memoirs have become a popular object of inquiry in the academy and a mainstay in most MFA workshops. Courses in what is now called "life writing" study memoir alongside personal essays, diaries, and autobiographies. Memoir: An Introduction proffers a succinct and comprehensive survey of the genre (and its...
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Memoir: An Introduction

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Overview


Each year brings a glut of new memoirs, ranging from works by former teachers and celebrity has-beens to disillusioned soldiers and bestselling novelists. In addition to becoming bestsellers in their own right, memoirs have become a popular object of inquiry in the academy and a mainstay in most MFA workshops. Courses in what is now called "life writing" study memoir alongside personal essays, diaries, and autobiographies. Memoir: An Introduction proffers a succinct and comprehensive survey of the genre (and its many subgenres) while taking readers through the various techniques, themes, and debates that have come to characterize the ubiquitous literary form. Its fictional origins are traced to eighteenth-century British novels; its early American roots are examined in Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography and colonial captivity narratives; and its ethical conundrums are considered via the imbroglios brought on by the questionable claims in Rigoberta MenchĂș's I, Rigoberta, and more notoriously, James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. Alongside these more traditional literary forms, Couser expands the discussion of memoir to include film with what he calls "documemoir" (exemplified in Nathaniel Kahn's My Architect) and graphic narratives like Art Spiegelman's Maus.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Couser intelligently and capaciously introduces memoir for the general reader." --American Book Review

"Deft, rigorous, and remarkably wide-ranging, Couser's volume is a superb example of accessible scholarship. It will serve as an ideal introduction to memoir for students, a clarifying and stimulating text for scholars, and a splendidly engaging introduction to life writing and other narrative genres for the general reader." --Richard Freadman, author of Threads of Life: Autobiography and the Will

"I have been working in the field of life writing for over fifteen years and can honestly say I learned a great deal from Memoir: An Introduction. It is extremely readable, impressive, and really quite fascinating, even to one who knows the debates well." --Margaretta Jolly, editor of The Encyclopedia of Life Writing

"[A] useful, compact volume...Recommended." --Choice

"This contribution to memoir scholarship incorporates and fuses much of [Couser's] previous scholarship. Memoir is a significant and timely intervention into current debates around truth and representation. Its conversational style makes Memoir an engaging and thoughtprovoking read." --Literature in North Queensland

"G. Thomas Couser's book is a tremendous achievement, covering the contemporary American memoir in a rich and thorough way. Encompassing the many genres, surprising history, and ethical perils of the form, MEMOIR is sure to become one of those much thumbed-through books that sits in every writing teacher's office--and on every memoirist's desk." --Rachel Simon, New York Times bestselling author of Riding The Bus With My Sister

"Couser intelligently and capaciously introduces memoir for the general reader." --Thomas Larson, American Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199826926
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/2/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 821,521
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

G. Thomas Couser is the author of several books on life writing, including Signifying Bodies, Vulnerable Subjects, and Altered Egos. He lives in Connecticut.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction
1. What Memoir Is, and What Memoir Isn't
2. Memoir and Genre
3. Memoir's Forms
4. Memoir's Ethics
5. Memoir's American Roots
6. Contemporary American Memoir
7. The Work of Memoir Works Cited Index

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