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Official Documents Bibliography


Baisnee, Valerie. Gendered Resistance: The Autobiographies of Simone de Beauvoir, Maya Angelou, Janet Frame, and Marguerite Duras. Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1997.
The author investigates the autobiographical works of four prolific women writers to examine the ways in which they choose to portray their own lives in their writings.

Beauvoir, Simone de. Memoirs of a dutiful daughter; translated by James Kirkup. Cleveland: World Pub. Co., 1959.

Bjorkland, Diane. Interpreting the Self: Two Hundred Years of American Autobiography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
This study sets out four models of self-understanding as they are revealed in American autobiography. Bjorkland analyzes these models as “dialogues with history,” and sources for data in the social and behavioral sciences.

Caplan, Pat. African Voices, African Lives: Personal Accounts from a Swahili Village. London: Routledge, 1997.
This is an ethnography of a Swahili family in Tanzania with whom the author has been friends for thirty years. It explores the changes in their lives over that period of time.

Clinton, Hillary Rodham. Living History. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003.

Crapanzano, Vincent. Tuhami: Portrait of a Moroccan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.
This ethnography of a Moroccan man focuses on his psycho-social perceptions in response to his society.

Davis, Susan. Patience and Power: Women’s Lives in a Moroccan Village. Cambridge: Schenkman, 1983.

Denizin, Norman K. Interpretive Biography. London: Sage Publications, 1989.
Denizen discusses how biographical texts are written and read, focusing on the gathering and interpretation of lives and the discovery of epiphanic moments in a life.

Dwyer, Daisy. Images and Self-Images: Male and Female in Morocco. New York: Columbia University Press, 1978.

Eickelman, Dale F. “Traditional Islamic Learning and Ideas of the Person in the Twentieth Century” in Kramer, Martin, ed., Middle Eastern Lives: The Practice of Biography and Self-Account,35-39. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1991.
Eickelman explores examples of self-images of Muslim men of learning to distinguish between the individual and the person (the individual is the mortal human being, while the person reflects cultural influence). He discusses the concept of tarjama, an autobiography that includes genealogy and qualifications of the writer and is written in the third person to indicate credibility.

Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, edited by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler; translated by Susan Massotty. New York: Doubleday, 1995.

Goodson, Ivor F. and Pat Sikes. Life History Research in Educational Settings: Learning from Lives. Philadelphia: Open University Press, 2001.
This study considers the process of developing life stories and techniques, epistemology, social context, ethics, and dilemmas in the process of producing life stories. In the chapter on epistemology, consideration of life history from the perspectives of the life storyteller and the life historian are of particular interest.

Gibson, Althea. I Always Wanted to Be Somebody. New York: Harper, 1958.

Griaule, Marcel. Conversations with Ogotemmeli: An Introduction to Dogon Religious Ideas. London: Oxford University Press, 1965.
This classic anthropological study began with the search for a personal account and resulted in the full-blown philosophy of the West African Dogon people, narrated by a Dogon elder, Ogotemmeli. Ogotemmeli felt the people’s philosophy of life was more important for a foreigner to hear than his own, small life story.

Kadar, Marlene, ed. Essays on Life Writing: From Genre to Critical Practice (Buffalo, NY: University of Toronto Press, 1992).
This collection of essays deals with the wide range of genres that constitute life writings: autobiography, journals, memoirs, letters, testimonials (including court testimony), oral accounts, fiction and poetics. Many of these are unintentional testimonies that are interpreted by scholars as personal accounts.

Kenyon, Gary M. and William L. Randall. Restorying Our Lives: Personal Growth Through Autobiographical Reflection. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997.
This study is premised on the idea that every individual not only has a story to tell, but is a living story. Using story as the metaphor for life, the authors discuss the process of telling and retelling about our lives. They note that stories change in the act of preserving them in written form and that stories vary depending on what historical moment in that person’s life is reflected in the story. More importantly, they emphasize the fact that at any given moment each individual contains many stories; the one you are hearing is but one portion of that person’s experience.

Kramer, Martin, ed. Middle Eastern Lives: The Practice of Biography and Self-Account. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1991.
This volume includes eight studies by scholars of the Muslim and Jewish Middle East. They discuss the idea of self-awareness and its documentation in these cultural contexts, the enduring legacy of personal account in this world region (dating back to Assyria and early Persia), and the relationship of personal account to political history.

Lejeune, Phillippe. “Teaching People to Write Their Life Story,” in On Autobiography, 216-31. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1989.
Lejeune explores the question of why and how one goes about selecting aspects of a life to recount.

Lewis, Bernard. “First-Person Account in the Middle East” Middle Eastern Lives: The Practice of Biography and Self-Account, edited by Martin Kramer, 20-34. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1991.
Bernard Lewis notes that the genre of first-person account in the Middle East dates back at least as far as 1991 BCE (Amenemhat of Egypt) and 1275 BCE (Hittite king Hatusilis) who recorded their accomplishments for posterity. Lewis discusses the impetus for autobiographies by men of learning, royalty, and religious figures. They sought to record their lives in the categories of “what I did,” “what I saw,” and “what I thought.”

Mernissi, Fatima. Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Childhood. Reading: Addison Wesley, 1994.

Milani, Farzaneh. “Veiled Voices: Women’s Autobiographies in Iran” in Women’s Autobiographies in Contemporary Iran, edited by Afsaneh Najmabadi, 1-16. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard Middle Eastern Mongraphs XXV, 1990.
Milani explains the irony of Muslim women’s autobiographies, which require revealing what is concealed. The ideal in Islam involves concealing what is revered (the body, the privacy of the home), so to write a personal account is to diminish by expression what should remain private: thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Munson, Jr., Henry, Rec., Trans., ed. The House of Si Abd Allah: The Oral History of a Moroccan Family. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984.
Munson has recorded interviews with members of this Moroccan family who recount their perceptions of 20th-century history and talk about family members from the late 19th century to the present. His discussion of methodology in recording oral history is especially useful.

Najmabadi, Afsaneh, ed. Women’s Autobiographies in Contemporary Iran. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard Middle Eastern Mongraphs XXV, 1990.
This Harvard monograph consists of four studies of Muslim women’s autobiographies, with a focus on Iranian culture and the limitations there for women’s free expression of the self.

Ostle, Robin, Ed de Moor and Stefan Wild, eds. Writing the Self: Autobiographical Writing in Modern Arabic Literature. London: Saqi Books, 1998.
The 24 essays in this collection address the genre of autobiography in the context of Arab culture. Three of the essays deal specifically with women’s works.

Oufkir, Malika. Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail. New York: Hyperion, 1999.

Romero, Patricia, ed. Life Histories of African Women. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Ashfield Press, 1991.
This collection of seven brief life histories of African women spans the continent and several centuries of history. Some of these essays are based on interviews focused on women’s life stories while others are life histories reconstructed from archival materials.

Shostak, Marjorie. Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman. New York: First Vintage Books, 1983.

Smith, Mary. Baba of Karo, a Woman of the Moslem Hausa. New York: Praeger, 1964.
While Smith’s husband was interviewing traditional Hausa men in northern Nigeria in the late 1950s, she sat down to talk with an old Hausa woman named Baba who had lived through the British colonial occupation of Nigeria. This is the account of Baba’s experience living in rural Nigeria and seeing her traditional way of life affected by the arrival of the British. Her responses to Mary Smith’s questions frame the discussion, which is focused on domestic and political issues in a particular time and place.

Soyinka, Wole. The Man Died: Prison Notes of Wole Soyinka. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.

Thomson, Alistair. “Life Histories, Adult Learning and Identity” and Mary Lea West, and Linden, “Life Histories, Adult Learning and Identity” in The Uses of Autobiography, edited by Julia Swindells, 163-76, 177-86. Bristol, PA.: Taylor and Francis, 1995.
This two-part essay investigates perceptions about education from the points of view expressed in life histories, with a focus on adult learning, motivation, and decision-making in the pursuit of education.

Vansina, Jan. Oral Tradition: A Study in Historical Methodology. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1965.
This classic text on field methodology in African history is wholly applicable to the assessment of personal accounts anywhere in the world. It addresses the varieties of testimonies a researcher encounters, such as: intentional, unintentional, hearsay, symbolic, stereotypical, idealized, fixed, and free. Vansina discusses the distortions that commonly occur as human beings struggle with the confluence of memory and historical context, endeavoring to reconstruct their lives and make sense of their times.

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