Autobiography: The Art of Self-Definition
This essay arises out of my teaching on a course on Women’s Writing offered as an optional special study to third-year undergraduates at Manchester Polytechnic. The initial focus of the course is on autobiography, in the belief that this genre facilitates discussion of some issues we think are seminal to our appraisal of women’s writing. The autobiographies chosen were by twentieth-century women writers, whose historical placing and cultural setting separated them. Texts included Zora Neale Hurston’s Dust Tracks on a Road1 and Buchi Emecheta’s Head Above Water.2 The issues raised, and which will be addressed in this essay, were: (a) Do women’s autobiographies have pre-occupations that are particular to all women? (b) How does racial awareness shape self-definition? (c) How does this relate to the writer’s concept of class? (d) What conclusions could be drawn about gender socialisation? (e) How did we relate to the issues raised? (f) How did we evaluate the texts as literature?
KeywordsBlack Woman Tribal Community Romantic Love Woman Writer Historical Placing
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- 2.B. Emecheta, Head above Water ( London: Fontana, 1986 ).Google Scholar
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