Exemplary Lives and the Omnipresence of Autobiography

By Anna Gács.

Published by The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article reviews the past three decades of autobiography studies in the context of the expansion of the autobiographic corpus. After distinguishing two interpretations of the omnipresence of autobiography, it moves on to describe through a couple of examples how scholarly discourse has addressed the proliferation of self-narratives and the problem of the examplariness of the lives narrated. Beside autobiography studies, a field rooted in literary scholarship, it also renders the influential criticism of the interpenetration of the intimate and the public, an argument suggesting that the cultural significance of autobiography has been utterly shaken. In the end the article quotes Laurent Berlant’s concept of “intimate publics,” and argues that this notion has been inspiring for autobiography studies because it offers a complex framework for the interpretation of the current obsession with self-narratives.

Keywords: Autobiography Studies, History of the Public Sphere, Intimate Public, Celebrity Culture, Commercial Confession, Commercial Autobiography

The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review, Volume 11, pp.61-71. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 507.246KB).

Dr. Anna Gács

Associate Professor, Institute for Art Theory and Media Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary

Anna Gács is an associate professor at the Institute for Art Theory and Media Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary. Formerly she worked as the Hungarian lector at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College of London. Her research interest covers contemporary literature and culture, digitalization and literary culture, literary and media theory, autobiographic practices in contemporary culture.