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Auto/biography in Canada

Critical Directions

Edited by Julie Rak
Subjects Life Writing, Biography & Autobiography, Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature
Series Life Writing Hide Details
Paperback : 9780889204782, 264 pages, May 2005
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554587711, 264 pages, August 2009
Ebook (PDF) : 9780889209213, 264 pages, January 2006

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Auto/biography in Canada: Critical Directions, edited by Julie Rak
Introduction—Widening the Field: Auto/biography Theory and Criticism in Canada | Julie Rak
Generations of the Holocaust in Canadian Auto/biography | Susanna Egan and Gabriele Helms
The Modern Hiawatha: Grey Owl’s Construction of His Aboriginal Self | Albert Braz
“This is my memory, a fact”: The Many Mediations of Mothertalk: Life Stories of Mary Kiyoshi Kiyooka | Sally Chivers
Auto/biographical Jurisdictions: Collaboration, Self-Representation, and the Law in Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman | Deena Rymhs
Biographical versus Biological Lives: Auto/biography and Non-Speaking Persons Labelled Intellectually Disabled | Ann Fudge Schormans
A Transfer Boy: About Himself | Ljiljana Vuletic and Michel Ferrari
Creativity, Cultural Studies, and Potentially Fun Ways to Design and Produce Autobiographical Material from Subalterns’ Locations | Si Transken
Playing at Pretending: Difference and Conformity in Queer Canadian Autobiography | Andrew Lesk
Writing Lives in Death: Canadian Death Notices as Auto/biography | Laurie McNeill
(Un)tying the Knot of Patriarchy: Agency and Subjectivity in the Autobiographical Writings of France Théoret and Nelly Arcan | Barbara Havercroft
Auto/Bio/Fiction in Migrant Women’s Writings in Québec: Régine Robin’s La Québécoite and L’immense fatigue des pierres | Yuko Yamade
“The ensign of the mop and the dustbin”: The Maternal and the Material in Auobiographical Writings by Larua Goodman Salverson and Nellie McClung | Wendy Roy
Albert Braz is an assistant professor of comparative literature at the University of Alberta, specializing in Canadian literature in its inter-American contexts. He is the author of The False Traitor: Louis Reil in Canadian Culture (2003).
Sally Chivers is an assistant professor of Canadian studies and English at Trent University. She is the author of From Old Woman to Older Women: Contemporary Culture and Women’s Narrative (2003). Her current research interests include Canadian cultural depictions of aging and disability.
Susanna Egan teaches in the department of English at UBC, and has written on various aspects of autobiography. Her most recent book is Mirror Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography.
Michel Ferrari, associate professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology, is interested in the relations between moral identity and ethical expertise. More generally, his research explores the relations between personal identity and the development of particular forms of expertise these identities require.
Ann Fudge Schormans is a doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. Ann’s involvement with people with intellectual dis/Abilities spans her professional career as a social worker in both the Community Living and Child Welfare sectors, as well as foster and adoptive parents.
Barbara Havercroft, associate professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, has published extensivley on recent French, Québécois, and German autobiographical writings, on feminism and post-modernism, and on literary theory. The author of Oscillation and Subjectivity: Problems of Enunciation in the Novels of Robbe-Grillet, Sarraute, and Johnson (forthcoming, University of Toronto Press), she is completing a book on gender and genre in contemporary life writing.
Gabriele Helms tuaght in the Department of English at UBC until her death in December 2004. She has published on auto/biography and Canadian literature; she is the author of Challenging Canada: Dialogism and Narrative Techniques in Canadian Novels (2003). The essay collection Auto/biography in Canada: Critical Directions is dedicated to her memory.
Andrew Lesk has published on Sinclair Ross, Leonard Cohen, John Glassco, Jack Hodgins, Chinua Achebe, queer theory, and the public function of universities. He has given papers on Todd Haynes, Shyam Selvadurai, Rider Haggard, Willa Cather, gay studies and homophobia, the culture industry, and Hollywood film. He teaches Canadian literature at the University of Toronto.
Laurie McNeill is currently on a SSHRC post-doctorla fellowship at the University of Michigan. She has published on World War II civilian internment diaries from the South Pacific, and on web-diaries as life writing.
Julie Rak is an associate professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. Her recent publications include essays about auto/biography in Canadian and international journals and book collections, and the book Negotiated Memory: Doukhobor Autobiographical Discourse (University of British Columbia Press, 2004).
Deena Rymhs is an assistant professor of English at St. Francis Xavier University. She has just completed her dissertation on the experience of incarceration in First Nations writing. Her work has appeared in Canadian Literature, Essays on Canadian Writing, Genre, and Studies in American Indian Literature.
Wendy Roy is an assistant professor of English at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research is on Canadian women’s life writing, especially travel writing, and she has previously published articles on Margaret Laurence, Anna Jameson, and Carol Shields.
Si Transken has a doctorate in equity studies from the University of Toronto and is now completing an MA in First Nations studies and creative writing at UNBC. She also teaches at the University of Northern British COlumbia. Her courses include Women and Social Policy, Family Counseling, and Social Work with Victims of Abuse. She has had work published in books such as Feminist Utopias, Care and Consequence, Caring Communities, and Equity and Justice. Her poetry has been published in Canadian Women’s Studies, Azure, and Reflections on Water.
Ljiljana Vuletic is a doctoral candidate in applied cognitive science at the University of Toronto. For the past twenty years, she has been involved in working on assessment and interventions with children with autism. Her main research interests are cognitive development and early identification of children with autism.
Yuko Yamade received a PhD Littérature at L’Université de Montréal. She previously taught at L’Université de Montréal and the University of Florida. She is currently doing postdoctoral research at Meiji University in Tokyo, Japan, and specializes in migrant women’s writings in Japan, Germany, France, and Quebec.


Auto/biography in Canada: Critical Directions widens the field of auto/biography studies with its sophisticated multidisciplinary perspectives on the theory, criticism, and practice of self, community, and representation. Rather than considering autobiography and biography as discrete genres with definable properties, and rather than focusing on critical approaches, the essays explore auto/biography as a discourse about identity and representation in the context of numerous disciplinary shifts. Auto/biography in Canada looks at how life narratives are made in Canada .
Originating from literary studies, history, and social work, the essays in this collection cover topics that range from queer Canadian autobiography, autobiography and autism, and newspaper death notices as biography, to Canadian autobiography and the Holocaust, Grey Owl and authenticity, France Théoret and autofiction, and a new reading of Stolen Life, the collaborative text by Yvonne Johnson and Rudy Wiebe.
Julie Rak’s useful “big picture” introduction traces the history of auto/biography studies in Canada. While the contributors chart disciplinary shifts taking place in auto/biography studies, their essays are also part of the ongoing scholarship that is remaking ways to understand Canada.


These two volumes [Auto/biography in Canada: Critical Directions and Tracing the Autobiographical] from Wilfrid Laurier University Press introduce an exciting and substantial body of new work in autobiography studies.... In Canada now, the leading scholarly researchers in this field are at work collaboratively, and they are both surveying and shaping a field that is increasingly diverse, cross-disciplinary, and in multimedia forms.... Rak's ... intention ... is to exceed the boundaries of literary criticism

- Gillian Whitlock, Canadian Literature, 196, Spring 2008, 2008 August

[E]ngaging and sophisticated, providing fascinating methodological and theoretical prospects and directions for auto/biography studies

- Eva C. Karpinski, University of Toronto Quarterly, Letters in Canada 2005, Volume 76, number 1, Winter 2007, 2008 January