The current popularity of memoir verifies the common belief that we each have a story to tell. And we do...especially women. Memoirs are not only representations of women’s personal lives but also of their desire to repossess important parts of our culture, in which women’s stories have not mattered.
Beginning with her own motivations for writing memoirs, Helen M. Buss examines the many kinds of memoir written by contemporary women: memoirs about growing up, memoirs about traumatic events, about relationships, about work. In writing memoirs, these women publicly assert that their lives have mattered. They reshape the memoir, a form as old as the middle ages and as young as today, into a social discourse that blends the personal with the political, the self with the significant other, literature with history, and fiction with autobiography and essay. Buss urges readers to use their reading experience to help themselves understand and write the significance of their own lives.
Repossessing the World is the first book-length critical inquiry into women’s use of a form that has often been dismissed as less important than autobiography, less professional than the novel, and less intellectual than the formal essay. Buss demonstrates that the memoir makes its own art, not only through selective borrowing from these genres but also through the unique way that the tripartite narrative voice of the memoir constructs the personal and public experience of the memorist as significant to our cultural moment.
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Table of ContentsTable of Contents for
Repossessing the World: Reading Memoirs by Contemporary Women by Helen M. Buss Acknowledgements An Autobiocritical Preface: Writing As a Memoirist Chapter 1: Introduction: Memoir As a Life-Writing Discourse Chapter 2: Memoir with an Attitude: One Reader Reads The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts Chapter 3: Identity As a Balancing Act: Memoirs’ Practice of Non-Sacrficial Ritual of Self-Performance Chapter 4: Dancing with Our Mothers: Reading and Writing Memoirs As a Mother and a Daughter Chapter 5: “Scenes of Language”: Trauma and the Search for Form in Women#8217;s Memoirs Chapter 6: Joining Heart and Head: Contemporary Academic Women’s Uses of the Memoir Form Conclusion: Repossessing a Relational Autonomy That Resists Appropriation Works Cited Index