Curating Lives: The Ethics and Politics of Feminist Critical Biography


Project Summary:

A book manuscript in which I examine the concept of feminist critical biography as a method of reading biographical narratives, both visual and textual, at the intersections of gender, genre, ethics, and politics of personal, institutional, and cultural production. Looking at the biographer as a “curator” of a writer or artist’s life, I explore the rules of engagement with other people’s lives, and especially the differences between autobiographical and biographical strategies of writing and representation. As an intersubjective genre, biography is a cultural practice of recuperation and appropriation of the individual historical subject at the same time as it participates in the construction and preservation of collective public memory. I frame my analysis within larger questions of the aesthetic, epistemological, ethical, and ideological role of biography in contemporary culture. Working from an interdisciplinary conjunction of feminist autobiography studies, women’s history, art history, cultural studies, and popular culture, I cover different biographical genres and media, including literary biography, fictionalized biographical novel, biographical memoir, postmodern hybrid biography, biographical film documentary, and graphic biography.

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