The Private Self: Theory and Practice of Women's Autobiographical Writings / Edition 1

The Private Self: Theory and Practice of Women's Autobiographical Writings / Edition 1

by Shari Benstock
     
 

ISBN-10: 0807842184

ISBN-13: 9780807842188

Pub. Date: 10/07/1988

Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press

This collection of twelve essays discusses the principles and practices of women's autobiographical writing in the United States, England, and France from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. Employing feminist and poststructuralist methodologies, the essays examine a wide range of private life writings—letters, journals, diaries, memoirs, pedagogical

Overview

This collection of twelve essays discusses the principles and practices of women's autobiographical writing in the United States, England, and France from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. Employing feminist and poststructuralist methodologies, the essays examine a wide range of private life writings—letters, journals, diaries, memoirs, pedagogical texts, and fictional and factual autobiographies. The concepts of theory and practice—as opposing and mutually exclusive methodologies, as focal points for conflicting interpretations, and finally as complementary approaches to the study of literature—are central to this collection.

The Private Self explores the links between the historical devaluation of women's writings and the cultural definitions of women that have constrained their writing practices and excluded them from the canon of traditional autobiographical texts. Collectively, these essays expose the cultural biases that derive from notions of selfhood defined by a white, masculine, and Christian experience. In an effort to revise our prevailing concept of autobiography, these essays deal with differences of race, class, religion, sexual orientation, and gender.

Discussed here are writings by more than two dozen women including Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Alice James, Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Forten Grimke, Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, Sophie Kovalevsky, Anais Nin, Hilda Doolittle, and Simone de Beauvoir. The work of these writers reveals a split between public and private self-representations, and it is the notion of a private self expressed through women's autobiographical writings that forms the link among all the essays.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807842188
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
10/07/1988
Edition description:
1
Pages:
326
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 9.00(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsvii
Introduction1
Part ITheories of Autobiography7
1.Authorizing the Autobiographical10
2.Women's Autobiographical Selves: Theory and Practice34
3.My Statue, My Self: Autobiographical Writings of Afro-American Women63
4.Simone de Beauvoir: Aging and Its Discontents90
5.Invincible Mediocrity: The Private Selves of Public Women114
6.Eighteenth-Century Women's Autobiographical Commonplaces147
Part IIAutobiographical Practices173
7.Female Rhetorics177
8.Pedagogy as Self-Expression in Mary Wollstonecraft: Exorcising the Past, Finding a Voice192
9.Representing Two Cultures: Jane Austen's Letters211
10.Dorothy Wordsworth's Journals: Putting Herself Down230
11.Charlotte Forten Grimke and the Search for a Public Voice254
12."Wider Than the Sky": Public Presence and Private Self in Dickinson, James, and Woolf272
Note on the Contributors305
Index309

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