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.
About the author
Julie Rak is a Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. She holds an Eccles Fellowship at the British Library for 2017-2018 and is also a Killam Professor at the University of Alberta for 2017-28. She is the University of Alberta nominee for the Royal Society of Canada 2018 Lorne Pierce Medal for excellence in Canadian literature scholarship. The author of Boom! Manufacturing Memoir for the Popular Market (2013) and Negotiated Memory: Doukhobor Autobiographical Discourse (2004), Julie has contributed as an editor to many volumes of critically-acclaimed work. With Hannah McGregor, she is the co-author of the Counter-Letter against UBCAccountable, and she sponsors the letter and signatures on a website, accompanied by resources about the controversy. Julie was born on traditional Haudenosaunee territory in New York State, and grew up in Delmar, NY, the traditional territory of the Kanien'kehaken (Mohawk). She currently lives and works on Treaty 6 and Metis territory in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Charting the Canadian development of life writing studies, these essays in Auto/biography in Canada: Critical Directions offer crucial new theoretical and critical perspectives. Julie Rak's introduction is a model of its genre, perceptively surveying the field to resituate existing criticism and persuasively theorize new directions. The contributors' methodological approaches serve as a highly productive paradigm for how to read certain auto/biographies. Engaging, lucid, and critically sophisticated, this book makes a significant contribution to the study of auto/biography.
Julie Rak evidently set herself the task of connecting with scholars in the social sciences who are using narrative research methods, and the result is the publication here of essays that have resounding implications for how we, in several intersecting fields, think about what constitutes a good life and what counts as competent communication to others about our lives....One can look [to Rak's introduction] for a systematic mapping of auto/biography studies as a scholarly field (historical and current) and for an explicit engagement with the overlap between autobiography studies and cultural studies as political projects. A model of clarity and comprehensiveness, this introduction will be a valuable starting point for advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate students, and an important sounding-board for the next wave of scholarship on auto/biography in Canada.
Chimo, Fall 2006
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.
Canadian Literature, 196, Spring 2008
[E]ngaging and sophisticated, providing fascinating methodological and theoretical prospects and directions for auto/biography studies.
University of Toronto Quarterly, Letters in Canada 2005, Volume 76, number 1, Winter 2007
Other titles by Julie Rak
Gender in Mountaineering Nonfiction
Life Among the Qallunaat
CanLit in Ruins
Manufacturing Memoir for the Popular Market
Not Drowning But Waving
Women, Feminism, and the Liberal Arts
The Life and Writing of Nello “Tex” Vernon-Wood in the Canadian Rockies, 1906-1938
Doukhobor Autobiographical Discourse