112th Annual Conference - Riverside Convention Center, California
Friday, October 31 - Sunday, November 2, 2014

This page is about the 2014 conference. For 2015 conference info, go to PAMLA 2015.

Critical Memoir: A Recovery from Codes

Sarah Heston, University of Missouri, Columbia

"Critical Memoir: A Recovery from Codes" considers how life writing by academic theorists can be included in memoir to redefine the history and preoccupations for the genre away from the self and autodiegetic narratives and toward an articulation of absence through multi-authored texts.


“Critical Memoir: A Recovery From Codes” seeks to redefine the history and themes of Western memoir by considering a terrain that scholars of memoir refuse to consider altogether: life writing by the practitioners of academic theory. By placing work by Jacques Derrida alongside memoir’s most famous authors, Augustine and Rousseau, we find that memoir relies on ambiguity more than certainty to wrestle with understanding what it means to be absent. Undone is the accepted point of view from memoir scholars that the genre is a form of life writing that presumes the existence of an identifiable self. Thus to acknowledge that life writing by theorists is memoir is also to acknowledge that memoir scholars must reconsider the very beginnings of the genre in the West, from Augustine the religious progenitor to Rousseau the secular transformer, as well as their own concerns with the self.

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