How Exactly To Write An Autobiography For College
Autobiography therefore centers on the life span of a singular individual within its particular historical context, retracing the “genetic personality development launched in the understanding of a complex interplay between I-and-my-world” (Weintraub 1982: 13). In this sense, it may be seen to represent the “full convergence of most the factors constituting this modern view associated with self” (XV). Its central figure is the fact that of a romantic self-constitution, grounded in memory.As memory informs autobiography, self-consciously reflected upon since Augustine (Book XX, Confessions), the boundaries between fact and fiction are inevitably straddled, as Goethe’s title Dichtung und Wahrheit (Poetry and Truth) ([1808–31] 1932) aptly implies. In the face of the unavoidable subjectivity (or fallibility) of autobiographical recollection, the imaginative dimension of memory, and therefore autobiography’s quality as verbal/aesthetic fabrication, has come to your fore. In this respect, the real history of autobiography being a literary genre is closely interrelated with corresponding types of autofiction/the autobiographical novel, with no clear dividing lines, even though autobiographical fiction tends to leave “signposts” of its fictionality to be found by the reader (Cohn 1999).college biography essay examples In any case, autobiography’s temporal linearity and narrative coherence has often proved prone to deliberate anachronisms and disruptions—programmatically so in Nabokov (1966). Indeed, by the early 20th century there was an increasing scepticism concerning the risk of a cohesive self emerging through autobiographical memory.
Modernist writers experimented with fragmentation, subverting chronology and splitting the subject (Woolf 1985, published posthumously; Stein 1933), foregrounding visual and scenic/topographical components, highlighting the role of language (Sartre  2002), conflating auto- and heterobiography or transforming life into fiction ( e.g. Proust [1913–27] 1988).From its critical beginnings, then, autobiography has been inextricably from the critical history of subjectivity. In his monumental study of 1907, Misch explicitly surveyed the real history of autobiography being a expression associated with trajectory of subjective consciousness ( 1950: 4). He therefore acknowledged the historical specificity of kinds of autobiographical self-reflection. With his idea of autobiography as “a special genre in literature” and also at the same time “an original interpretation of experience” (3–4), Misch aligned with the hermeneutics of Dilthey, who considered autobiography the supreme type of the “understanding of life.” Such understanding involves selection due to the fact autobiographical self takes from the endless moments of experience those elements that, in retrospect, appear relevant with respect to the entire life course. The past is endowed with meaning within the light associated with present. Understanding, according to Dilthey, also involves fitting the average person parts into a whole, ascribing interconnection and causality ( 2002: 221–22). Autobiography therefore constructs an individual life course being a coherent, meaningful whole. Regardless if autobiography’s facet of re-living experience, of rendering incidents because they were experienced at that time, is taken into consideration, the superior ‘interpreting’ position of this narrative present remains paramount, turning past occasions into a meaningful plot, making sense (Sinn) of contingency.Hermeneutics continued to dominate the theory of autobiography, lagging behind its poetic methods. Gusdorf defined autobiography as “a sort of apologetics or theodicy of the individual being” (1980: 39), yet shifted the emphasis notably by prioritizing its literary over its historical function.
Anglo-American theories of autobiography similarly tended to focus on this kind of poetical norm of autobiography being a literary work dedicated to “inner truth” (Pascal 1960), with Rousseau’s/Goethe’s autobiography due to the fact familiar generic model. “Any autobiography that resembles modern autobiographies in structure and content may be the modern sort of autobiography”; these are “works like the ones that modern readers instinctively be prepared to find once they see Autobiography, My Life, or Memoirs printed over the back of a volume” (Shumaker 1954: 5). Whether hermeneutics- or New Criticism-inspired, the real history of autobiography as“art” (Niggl 1988: 6) sometimes appears to culminate around 1800, while its more immediate forerunners are frequently located in the Renaissance or earlier (e.g. Petrarch  2005; Cellini [1558–66] 1995). With regard to the main role associated with autobiographer as subject of his work, Starobinski argued that his/her singularity ended up being articulated by way of idiosyncratic style (1970,  1983).Only within the wake associated with various social, cultural and linguistic turns of literary and cultural theory because the 1970s did autobiography lose this normative frame. Counting on Freud and Riesman, Neumann established a social psychology-based typology of autobiographical kinds. Aligning different modes of narrative with different conceptions of identity, he distinguished between your external orientation of res gestae and memoir, representing the average person as social type, in the one hand, in place of autobiography featuring its focus on memory and identity (1970: esp. 25), on the other hand. Only autobiography aims at personal identity whereas the memoir can be involved with affirming the autobiographer’s spot in the world.More current research has elaborated in the problem of autobiographical narrative and identity in mental terms (Bruner 1993) as well as from interdisciplinary angles, probing the inevitability of narrative as constitutive of personal identity ( e.g. Eakin 2008) within the wake of “the twin crisis of identity and narrative within the twentieth century” (Klepper 2013: 2) and exploring types of non-linearity, intermediality or life writing in the new media (Dünne & Moser 2008).
The field of life writing as narratives of self—or of numerous types of self—has thus become significantly broader, transcending the classic type of autobiographical identity qua coherent retrospective narrative. Yet whatever its theoretical remodelling and practical rewritings, regardless if often subverted in practice, the close nexus between narrative, self/identity, while the genre/practice of autobiography is still considered paramount. The underlying assumption concerning autobiography is the fact that of a close, even inextricable connection between narrative and identity, with autobiography the prime generic site of enactment. Furthermore, life narrative has even been promoted in modernity to a “general cultural pattern of knowledge” (Braun & Stiegler eds. 2012: 13). (While these approaches tend to address autobiographical writing practices claiming to be or considered non-fictional, their relevance reaches autofictional kinds.)Next to narrative and identity, the role of memory in (autobiographical) self-constructions has been addressed (Olney 1998), in particular adopting cognitivist ( e.g. Erll et al., eds. 2003) and psychoanalytical (Pietzcker 2005) angles as well as elaborating the neurobiological foundations of autobiographical memory (Markowitsch & Welzer 2005). From the perspective of ‘natural’ narratology, the experiential facet of autobiography, its dimension of re-living and reconstructing experience, has been emphasized (Löschnigg 2010: 259).With memory being both a constitutive faculty and a creative liability, the character of the autobiographical subject has also been revised when it comes to psychoanalytical, (socio‑) mental and on occasion even deconstructive categories (e.g. Holdenried 1991; Volkening 2006). ‘Classic autobiography’ has turned into a small historical event whose foundations and principles happen increasingly challenged and subverted with respect to poetic practice, poetological reflection and genre theory alike.
Even inside a less radical theoretical frame, chronological linearity, retrospective narrative closure and coherence as mandatory generic markers have already been disqualified, or at the least re-conceptualized as structural tools ( e.g. Kronsbein 1984). Autobiography’s generic scope now includes such kinds due to the fact diary/journal as “serial autobiography” (Fothergill 1974: 152), the “Literary Self-Portrait” as a far more heterogeneous and complex literary type (Beaujour  1991) while the essay ( e.g. Hof & Rohr eds. 2008). While autobiography has therefore gained in formal and thematic diversity, autobiographical identity appears a transitory phenomenon at most useful. In its most radical deconstructive twist, autobiography is reconceptionalized being a rhetorical figure—“prosopopeia”—that ultimately produces “the illusion of reference” (de Man 1984: 81).
De Man therefore challenges the very foundations of autobiography in that it is stated to create its subject by way of rhetorical language rather than represent the subject. Autobiography operates in complicity with metaphysical notions of self-consciousness, intentionality and language as a way of representation.Whereas de Man’s deconstruction of autobiography turned into of little lasting impact, Lejeune’s theory associated with “autobiographical pact” has proven seminal. It rethinks autobiography as an institutionalized communicative act where author and reader enter into a particular ‘contract’—the “autobiographical pact”—sealed by the triple reference of the same proper name. “Autobiography (narrative recounting the life span associated with author) supposes that there is identity of name between your author (such as s/he figures, by name, in the cover), the narrator associated with story while the character who’s being talked about” ( 1988: 12; see Genette  1993). The author’s proper name refers to a singular autobiographical identity, identifying author, narrator and protagonist as one, and therefore ensures the reading as autobiography. “The autobiographical pact may be the affirmation within the text of the identity, referring back in the ultimate analysis to your name associated with author in the cover” (14). The tagging associated with generic status operates by way of paratextual pronouncements or by identity of names; on the other hand, nominal differentiation or content clues might point to fiction as resolved by Cohn (1999).While Lejeune’s approach reduces the problem of fiction vs non-fiction to a simple matter of pragmatics, he acknowledges its very own historical restrictions set by the “author function” (Foucault  1979) along with its inextricable ties to your middle-class subject. As an ideal type, Lejeune’s autobiographical pact varies according to the emergence associated with modern author within the long 18th century as proprietor of their own text, guaranteed by modern copyright and marked by the title page/the imprint. In this sense, the real history of modern autobiography as literary genre is closely attached to the real history of authorship while the modern subject and vice versa, much due to the fact scholarship on autobiography has emerged contemporaneously utilizing the emergence associated with modern author (Schönert → Author).In various ways, then, autobiography has proved susceptible to be to “slip[ping] away altogether,” failing to be identifiable by “its own proper kind, terminology, and observances” (Olney ed. 1980: 4). Some critics have even pondered the “end of autobiography” ( e.g. Finck 1999: 11).
With critical hindsight, the classic paradigm of autobiography, featuring its tenets of coherence, circular closure, interiority, etc., is exposed being a historically limited, gendered and socially exclusive event (and certainly one that erases any clear dividing line between factual and fictional self-writings).As its classic markers were rendered historically obsolete or ideologically suspicious (Nussbaum 1989), the pivotal role of class (Sloterdijk 1978), and especially gender, as intersectional identity markers within particular historical contexts came into existence highlighted, opening innovative critical perspectives on techniques of subject formation in ‘canonical’ texts as well as broadening the field of autobiography studies. While ‘gender sensitive’ studies initially sought to reconstruct a specific female canon, they addressed the problem of a distinct female voice of/in autobiography as more “multidimensional, fragmented” (Jelinek ed. 1986: viii), or later undertook to explore autobiographical selves in terms of discursive self-positionings alternatively (Nussbaum 1989; Finck 1999: esp. 291–93), tying in with discourse analytical redefinitions of autobiography being a discursive regime of (self-)discipline and regulation that evolved out of changes in communication media and technologies of memory throughout the 17th and 18th centuries (Schneider 1986). Later, issues of publication, canonization while the historical nexus of gender and (autobiographical) genre became subjects of investigation, bringing into view historical notions of gender while the particular conditions and methods of communication inside their generic and pragmatic contexts ( e.g. Hof & Rohr eds. 2008). The real history of autobiography has come to be more diverse and multi-facetted: thus alternative ‘horizontal’ modes of self, where identity is dependant on its contextual embedding by means of diarial modes, came to your fore. With respect to texts by 17th-century autobiographers, the idea of “heterologous subjectivity”— self-writing via currently talking about another or others—has been suggested (Kormann 2004: 5–6).If gender studies exposed autobiography’s individualist self being a phenomenon of male self-fashioning, postcolonial theory further challenged its universal credibility. While autobiography ended up being long considered a exclusively western genre, postcolonial approaches to autobiography/ life writing have notably expanded the corpus of autobiographical writings and supplied a perspective which will be critical of both the eurocentrism of autobiography genre theory while the principles of selfhood in operation ( e.g. Lionett 1991).
In this context, too, the question has arisen as to just how autobiography can be done for people who have no sound of the own, who cannot speak for themselves (see Spivak’s ‘subaltern’). Such ‘Writing ordinary lives’, usually aiming at collective identities, poses particular issues: sociological, ethical as well as aesthetic (see Pandian 2008).Following the spatial turn, the concept of ‘eco-autobiography’ also carries potentially wider theoretical significance. By “mapping the self” (Regard ed. 2003), eco-biography designates a specific mode of autobiography that constructs a “relationship between your natural setting and the self,” often aiming at “discover[ing] ‘a new self in nature’” (Perreten 2003), with Wordsworth or Thoreau ( 1948) as frequently cited paradigms. Phrased in less Romantic terms, it locates life courses and self-representations in particular places. In a wider sense, eco- or topographical autobiographies undertake to put the autobiographical subject in terms of spatial or topographical figurations, bringing into play space/topography being a pivotal moment of biographical identity and therefore potentially unsettling autobiography’s anchorage over time.