CFP: [American] Personal Narrative and Political Discourse (Special Issue of Biography 8/15/2009)

full name / name of organization: 
Craig Howes
contact email: 

Call for Papers. Special Issue of _Biography_ 32.1 (Winter 2010).
“Personal Narrative and Political Discourse.” Guest Editor: Sidonie Smith.

The 2008 U.S. presidential election was remarkable in part for the role
played by the published life narrative and its refractions through old and
new media. A race that started out as a referendum on war and became
focused on the economy was largely about neither. As Rick Davis, John
McCain’s campaign manager, announced in early September: “This election is
not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people
take away from these candidates.” Central to that composite view were the
identity narratives through which candidates figured themselves as
desirable and electable. In this historic election, voters, journalists,
pundits, campaign operatives, and candidates engaged in an extended
national debate about the uses and abuses, mediations and meanings of
autobiographical performances and published life narratives.
For a special issue on "Personal Narrative and Political Discourse," we
seek essays exploring this conjunction of autobiographical discourse and
political discourse, life writing and national/transnational political
cultures. They can mine this conjunction in the US context or in other
global contexts. They can focus on contemporary political cultures or
earlier historical periods. They can explore remediations of life stories
through multiple routes of circulation, multiple audiences, and multiple
formats. They can read this conjunction through heterogeneous theoretical
lenses. The following topics are meant to be suggestive, not prescriptive:

questions of authenticity and ghost writing • un/representative lives in
modernity or postmodernity • formidable figures • “faux” lives and
“earnest” lives, “right” lives and “left” lives • autobiographical
discourse as/and political strategy • new genres, old genres of life story
as political action • stories and activisms • digital politics, digital
subjects, digital narrations • re-mediating lives and contested politics •
framing and re-framing life stories in national political campaigns or
transnational activism • cultures of “talk” and the politics of life
narration • the “time” of the nation and the shape of life narration •
personal story, national trauma • sectional politics, intersectional lives
• racialized politics, ethnic identities, political fables • gendered acts,
stories, and discourse • autobiographical acts as collaborative politics •
autobiographical discourses of constituent, citizen, netizen,
countryman/woman, global citizen • life narration and the politics of
positionality: political leader, candidate, national leader,
statesman/woman, world leader • inheritances, legacies, reconstructions,
and revivals: narration before and after • the politics of “truth” and
autobiographical acts • life writing as change agent of/in politics

TO SUBMIT: Manuscripts should be double spaced, and ideally between 3,000
and 8,000 words. A double-blind submission policy will be followed; the
author’s name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript, but an
accompanying cover letter should contain the author’s name and address.
Consultation on manuscript ideas is welcome. Ideas and submissions may be
sent by email to, or in paper form to

Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, Center for Biographical
Research, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, 1800 East-West Road #325,
Honolulu, HI 96822 USA.

Deadline for receipt of completed papers: 15 August 2009.

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Received on Sat Jan 10 2009 - 20:54:26 EST