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The Female Autograph

Theory and Practice of Autobiography from the Tenth to the Twentieth Century

These original essays comprise a fascinating investigation into women’s strategies for writing the self—constructing the female subject through autobiography, memoirs, letters, and diaries. The collection contains theoretical essays by Donna Stanton, Sandra Gilbert, and Susan Gilbert, and Susan Gubar; chapters on specific issues raised by women’s autographs, such as Richard Bowring’s study of tenth-century Japanese diaries or Janel Mueller’s on The Book of Margery Kempe; and annotated autobiographical fragments, including texts by Julia Kristeva, by a woman who became a czarist cavalry officer, and by a contemporary Palestinian poet. There are also chapters on the seventeenth-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi; Mme de. Sévigné; Mendelssohn’s sister, Fanny Hensel; the black minister Jarena Lee; Virginia Woolf; and Eva Peron. The result is a "conversation" between writers and critics across cultural and temporal boundaries. Stanton’s essay plays off Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. Kristeva begins with a reading of de Beauvoir, while a self-published French woman writes to defend the joys of family life against the author of Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter.

251 pages | 12 halftones | 6.00 x 9.00 | © 1987

Biography and Letters

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

The Subject and the Signature: Theories of Practice
1. Autogynography: Is the Subject Different?
Domna C. Stanton
2. Ceremonies of the Alphabet: Female Grandmatologies and the Female Authorgraph
Sandra Caruso Mortola Gilbert and Susan Dreyfuss David Gubar
Toward an Archaeology of Pre-Texts: The Case of Japan, England, and Spain
3. The Female Hand in Heian Japan: A First Reading
Richard Bowring
4. Autobiography of a New ’Creatur’: Female Spirituality, Selfhood, and Authorship in "The Book of Margery Kempe"
Janel M. Mueller
5. To Restore Honor and Fortune: "The Autobiography of Leonor López de Córdoba"
Amy Katz Kaminsky and Elaine Dorough Johnson
Agencies of the Letter in the Seventeenth Century: Gentileschi and Sévigné
6. Artemisia Gentileschi: The Artist’s Autograph in Letters and Paintings
Mary D. Garrard
7. Giving Weight to Words: Madame de Sévigné’s Letters to Her Daughter
Elizabeth C. Goldsmith
(Re)claiming the Symbolic: Nineteenth-Century Soldier, Minister, Musician, and Lawyer
8. "My Childhood Years": A Memoir by the Czarist Cavalry Officer, Nadezhda Durova
Mary Fleming Zirin
9. Neither Auction Block nor Pedestal: "The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee, a Coloured Lady"
Frances Smith Foster
10. Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Musician in Her Brother’s Shadow
Marcia J. Citron
11. Women as Law Clerks: Catharine G. Waugh
Nancy F. Cott
Emblematic Places: Twentieth-Century Texts of the First and Third Worlds
12. The Female Sociograph: The Theater of Virginia Woolf’s Letters
Catharine R. Stimpson
13. Of Sparrows and Condors: The Autobiography of Eva Perón
Marysa Navarro
14. "Difficult Journey—Mountainous Journey," The Memoirs of Fadwa Tuqan
Donna Robinson Divine
Contemporary French Inscriptions of the Self
15. Women and Autobiography at Author’s Expense
Philippe Lejeune
16. My Memory’s Hyperbole
Julia Kristeva
About the Authors

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