Biography Vol. 40 No. 2 (Spring 2017)

From Writing Through Crisis: Time, History, Futurity in German Diaries of the Second World War in this issue. Loose-leaf diary pages from the Deutsches Tagebucharchiv in Emmendingen. Photograph by Kathryn Sederberg.

This quarter’s Biography opens with a tribute to Barbara Harlow, including this reflection on her life and work by UH Press author S. Shankar:

Photograph of Barbara Harlow in her home in Austin, Texas. Reprinted by permission of the photographer, Tarek El-Ariss.

Barbara Harlow was not a life writing scholar but she was a scholar of life writing. What I mean by this is that Barbara did not situate her work primarily in the field of life writing. Rather, she located it in Ethnic and Third World Studies—to invoke the name of the concentration she helped found in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin, where she taught for most of her career. At the same time, a regard for life writing genres is evident everywhere in her work—the book she was working on when she died was a biography of South African radical Ruth First; before that came the book After Lives: Legacies of Revolutionary Writing; and an entire chapter is devoted to life writing in Resistance Literature, her first published book. In that chapter, devoted to prison memoirs, she writes: “These memoirs are to be distinguished too from conventional autobiography inasmuch as the narratives are actively engaged in a re-definition of the self and the individual in terms of a collective enterprise and struggle” (120). So much of her critical work on life writing espouses the spirit of this statement.

— Remembering Barbra Harlow: Resistance and Life Writing by S. Shankar

Read the Editor’s Note and the entire section titled “In Remembrance: Barbara Harlow (1948-2017)” for free at Project MUSE.

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About the Journal

For over thirty years, Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly has explored the theoretical, generic, historical, and cultural dimensions of life-writing.

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