Autobiography is a long-established literary modality of self-exposure with commanding works such as Augustine’s Confessions, Rousseau’s book of the same title, and Salvador Dalí’s paradoxical reformulation of that title in his Unspeakable Confessions. Like all genres with a distinguished career, autobiography has elicited a fair amount of critical and theoretical reflection. Classic works by Käte Hamburger and Philippe Lejeune in the 1960s and 70s articulated distinctions and similarities between fiction and the genre of personal declaration. Especially since Foucault’s seminal essay on "Self Writing," self-production through writing has become more versatile, gaining a broader range of expression, diversifying its social function, and colonizing new media of representation. For this reason, it seems appropriate to speak of life-writing as a concept that includes but is not limited to classic autobiography. Awareness of language’s performativity permits us to read life-writing texts not as a record but as the space where the self is realized, or in some instances de-realized. Such texts can build identity, but they can also contest ascribed identity by producing alternative or disjointed scenarios of identification. And they not only relate to the present, but may also act upon the past by virtue of their retrospective effects in the confluence of narrator and witness.

chapter |14 pages


ByJoan Ramon Resina

chapter 1|15 pages

Jean Améry

Between Critical Reason and Despair
ByEnzo Traverso

chapter 2|12 pages

The Novel as Life Writing

Fiction and Testimony in Jorge Semprún and Imre Kertész
ByAntonio Monegal

chapter 3|19 pages


Robert Walser’s Snow Images 1
ByMartin Roussel

chapter 4|14 pages

Assumed Identity

Writing and Reading Testimony through and as Anne Frank 1
ByLaurie McNeill

chapter 5|16 pages

Autobiographical Inscription and the Identity Assemblage

BySidonie Smith

chapter 6|16 pages

Lines of Flight

Self-Writing and the Assembled Body in Kirmen Uribe’s Bilbao-New York-Bilbao
ByWilliam Viestenz

chapter 7|11 pages

How to Stay Alive in Your Own Story—Ulysses in Dante and Homer

ByJan Söffner

chapter 8|23 pages

Life in the Dream

Freud’s Self-Display through Screen Cultural Memories
ByJoan Ramon Resina

chapter 9|16 pages

Writing Oneself as Another—Writing Another as Oneself

Julia Kristeva and Teresa of Ávila
ByJenny Haase

chapter 10|15 pages

Painting Faces

A Swedish Portraitist and His Native American Subjects in 18th-Century North America
ByLinda Haverty Rugg

chapter 11|19 pages

The Afterlife of a Disaster

Everest 1996 Memoirs as Gendered Testimony
ByJulie Rak

chapter 12|12 pages

Self-Writings and Egodocuments

Personal Memoirs in Catalonia (16th–19th Centuries)
ByOscar Jané