'Enough about you, let's talk about me'. Recent autobiographical writing

Spring 1987

Recent autobiographical writing has incorporated strategies derived from social history, psychoanalysis and existentialism to provide different angles of insight into the subject, the ‘I’. Works by Ronald Fraser, Carolyn Steedman and Peter Fuller are examined in detail for the ways they employ these approaches. Debts to Freudian case studies (for example, ‘Dora’) and Marxist analysis are identified and the relationship between ‘life’ and ‘story’ is discussed. Ultimately, the presence of a social-historical or psychoanalytical framework does not guarantee a greater degree of self-awareness or self-reflection in such texts - and may indeed function as a kind of decoy, in so far as it tends to occlude the fact that the ‘I’ of autobiography is not merely socially and psychologically determined, but also a literary and rhetorical construct.

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