The Female Autograph: Theory and Practice of Autobiography from the Tenth to the Twentieth Century
edited by Domna C. Stanton
University of Chicago Press, 1987
Cloth: 978-0-226-77120-5 | Paper: 978-0-226-77121-2
Library of Congress Classification CT25.F45 1987
Dewey Decimal Classification 920.72

These original essays comprise a fascinating investigation into women's strategies for writing the self—constructing the female subject through autobiography, memoirs, letters, and diaries. The collection contains theoretical essays by Donna Stanton, Sandra Gilbert, and Susan Gilbert, and Susan Gubar; chapters on specific issues raised by women's autographs, such as Richard Bowring's study of tenth-century Japanese diaries or Janel Mueller's on The Book of Margery Kempe; and annotated autobiographical fragments, including texts by Julia Kristeva, by a woman who became a czarist cavalry officer, and by a contemporary Palestinian poet. There are also chapters on the seventeenth-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi; Mme de. Sévigné; Mendelssohn's sister, Fanny Hensel; the black minister Jarena Lee; Virginia Woolf; and Eva Peron. The result is a "conversation" between writers and critics across cultural and temporal boundaries. Stanton's essay plays off Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. Kristeva begins with a reading of de Beauvoir, while a self-published French woman writes to defend the joys of family life against the author of Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter.

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