Skip to main content

Module Reading List

So Where do you come from? Selves, Families, Stories, 2021/22, Semester 2
Dr Jay Prosser
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue
On this page:

Set Texts

Maxine Hong Kingston, The woman warrior : memoirs of a girlhood among ghosts (Picador, 1981)

Saidiya Hartman, Lose your mother : a journey along the Atlantic slave route (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008)

Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: a search for six of six million (Harper Perennial, 2008)

Isabel Allende, Paula (Flamingo, 1996)

Kathyrn Harrison, The kiss : a secret life (Fourth Estate, 1997)

Edmund White, A Boy's Own Story (Picador; New Edition, 2002)

Top of page

Secondary Texts

N.B. Criticism on set texts not included; there is also plenty of additional material via the libraries on Holocaust memoirs, African American autobiography, Chinese American autobiography, gay autobiography etc. 

Autobiography Theory

Lauren Berlant and Jay Prosser, ‘Life Writing and Intimate Publics: A Conversation with Lauren Berlant, Biography : an interdisciplinary quarterly. ISSN: 0162-496234.1 (2011): 180-18

Cathy Caruth, Unclaimed experience : trauma, narrative, and history (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins UP, 1996)

Adriana Cavarero, Relating narratives : storytelling and selfhood, translated and with an introduction by Paul A. Kottman (London: Routledge, 2000)

Ricia Anne Chansky and Emily Hipchen, The Routledge auto/biography studies reader ISBN: 9781138904781 (pbk.) : £34.99; 9781138904767 (hbk.) : £95.00 (Routledge, 2016)

G. Thomas Couser, Memoir : an introduction (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011)

Helena de Bres, Artful Truths: The Philosophy of Memoir (Chicago: Chicago UP, 2021)

Paul John Eakin, ed. , The ethics of life writing (Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell UP, 2004)

Paul John Eakin, Fictions in autobiography : studies in the art of self invention (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1985)

Paul John Eakin, How our lives become stories : making selves (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1999) Chapter 1 available as an Online Course Reading in the VLE

Paul John Eakin, Living autobiographically : how we create identity in narrative (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2008)

Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub, Testimony : crises of witnessing in literature, psychoanalysis, and history (New York: Routledge, 1992)

Leigh Gilmore, The limits of autobiography : trauma and testimony (New York: Cornell UP, 2002) Chapter 1 available as an Online Course Reading in the VLE

Leigh Gilmore, Tainted witness : why we doubt what women say about their lives ISBN: 9780231177146 hardcover alkaline paper; 0231177143 hardcover alkaline paper; 9780231543446 electronic book (New York: Columbia UP, 2017)

Maurice Halbwachs, On collective memory, Lewis A Coser ed. and trans. (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1992)

Marianne Hirsch, Family frames : photography, narrative, and postmemory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997)

Marianne Hirsch, The Generation of postmemory : writing and visual culture after the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012)

Marianne Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory Poetics Today v. 29,1 (Spring 2008), 103-128 (online). Available as an Online Course Reading in the VLE.

Marianne Hirsch and Nancy K Miller, Rites of return : diaspora poetics and the politics of memory  (Columbia University Press, 2011) Introduction pp. 1-20    

Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer, Ghosts of home : the afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish memory ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010)

Margaretta Jolly, ed., Encyclopedia of life writing : autobiographical and biographical forms (London : Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001)

Philippe Lejeune, On autobiography (Theory and History) , ed. Paul John Eakin (Minneapolis: Unviersity of Minnesota Press 1989). Especially the two essays on the autobiographical pact.

Hebert Leibowitz, Fabricating lives : explorations in American autobiography (New York: Directions, 1991)

Paul de Man, 'Autobiography as De-Facement' in De Man, The rhetoric of romanticism (New York: Columbia UP, 1984) Available as an Online Course Reading in the VLE

Nancy K. Miller, Bequest and Betrayal : Memoirs of a Parent's Death (New York: Oxford UP, 1996)

Nancy K. Miller ‘The Entangled Self: Genre Bondage in the Age of the Memoir.’  PMLA.. 122.2 (2007): 537-548.

Nancy K. Miller, But enough about me : why we read other people's lives (New York: Columbia UP, 2002), HD.

Nancy K. Miller, ‘ But Enough About Me, What Do You Think of My Memoir? ’ Yale journal of criticism., 13.2 (2000): 421-436 

Nancy K Miller and Jason Tougaw (eds)., Extremities : trauma, testimony, and community  (U of Illinois P, 2002), esp. introduction. HD Introduction available as an Online Course Reading in the VLE

Nancy K. Miller, in conversation with Saidiya Hartman, Eva Hoffman, and Daniel Mendelsohn,' in Hirsch and Miller, Rites of Return: diaspora poetics and the politics of memory (Columbia University Press, 2011), 107-123    

Toni Morrison, 'The Site of Memory,' Inventing the truth : the art and craft of memoir ISBN: 0395901502, ed. William Zinsser (Boston: Houghton MIfflin, 1998) Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva    

Jay Prosser, Light in the dark room : photography and loss (Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2004)

Jay Prosser, Second skins : the body narratives of transsexuality (New York: Columbia UP, 1998)

Jennifer Schuessler, ‘Frank McCourt and the American Memoir,’ The New York times. ISSN: 0362-4331 (July 25, 2009), online: _r=2&ref=weekinreview

Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, eds. , Getting a life : everyday uses of autobiography ISBN: 0816624909 (pb); 0816624895 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996)

Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Reading autobiography : a guide for interpreting life narratives  (Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2001)

Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, ‘The Rumpled Bed of Autobiography: Extravagant Lives, Extravagant Questions,’ Biography : an interdisciplinary quarterly. ISSN: 0162-4962. 24.1 (2001): 1-14

Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, eds., Women, autobiography, theory : a reader (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998)

Gillian Whitlock, Postcolonial life narratives : testimonial transactions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

Ben Yagoda, Memoir : a history (Penguin, 2009)

William Zinsser, Inventing the truth : the art and craft of memoir (Boston: Houghton Milfflin, 1998)


Biography : an interdisciplinary quarterly. ISSN: 0162-4962

Life writing.

Memory Studies


Who Do You Think You Are?

Manuals for Writing Memoirs and Family History

Judith Barrington, Writing the memoir : from truth to art (Portland, Oregon: Eighth Mountain Press, 2002)

Deborah Cass, Writing your family history : a practical guide (Marlborough: CRowood Press, 2004)

Alison Chisholm and Brenda Courtie, How to write about yourself : a practical guide to using your life experiences in autobiography, articles, stories and poetry (London: Allison & Busby, 1999)

Sally Cline and Carole Angier, The Arvon book of life writing : writing biography, autobiography and memoir (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992)

Lois Daniel, How to write your own life story : the classic guide for the nonprofessional writer (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1997)

Vivian Gornick, The situation and the story : the art of personal narrative (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001)

Ursula K. Le Guin, Steering the craft : exercises and discussions on story writing for the lone navigator or the mutinous crew (Portland, Oregon: Eighth Mountain Press, 1998)

David Hey, Oxford companion to family and local history [electronic resource] (Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2008). online

Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir (2016)    

Carl H. Kluas, A self made of words : crafting a distinctive persona in nonfiction writing (University of Iowa Press, 2013)

Deena Metzger, Writing for your life : a guide and companion to the inner worlds (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992)

George Pelling, Beginning your family history (Newbury: Countryside Books in association with the Federation of Family History Societies, 1998)

Public Record Office, Getting started in family history (Richmond, Surrey: Public Record Office, 2000)

 Bill Roorbach, Writing life stories : how to make memories into memoirs, ideas into essays, and life into literature (Writer's Digest Books; 2008)

Michelle Tea, Against Memoir: Complaints, confessions and criticisms (And Other Stories, 2019)

William Germano, On Revision: The only writing that counts (Chicago University Press, 2021)

Other notable/recent family memoirs

Donald Antrim, The afterlife (London, Little, Brown, 2007). US

Lisa Appignanesi, Losing the dead : A Family Memoir (London: Vintage, 2000)

Alan Bennett, A life like other people's (London: Faber, 2009)

John Burnside, A lie about my father (London: Cape, 2006)

Gabriel García Márquez, Living to tell the tale, trans. Edith Grossman (London: Cape, 2003)

Roxane Gay, Hunger : a memoir of (my) body ISBN: 9781472153791 (pbk.) (Corsair, 2017)

Afua Hirsch, Brit(ish) : on race, identity and belonging ISBN: 9781784705039 (pbk.) : £8.99 (London: Vintage, 2018)

Michael Holroyd, Mosaic : a family memoir revisited (London: Little, Brown, 2004)

Sebastian Hope, Hotel Tiberias : a tale of two grandfathers (London: Harper, 2004)

Kerry Hudson, Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns (London: Penguin, 2019)

Gabriel Josopovici, A life (London: European Jewish Publication Society, 2001)

John Lanchester, Family romance : a memoir (London: Faber, 2007)

Patricia Lockwood, Priestdaddy : a memoir ISBN: 9780141984599 (pbk.) : £9.99 (London: Penguin, 2017)

Hilary Mantel, Giving up the ghost : a memoir (London: Harper, 2004)

Armistead Maupin, Logical family : a memoir ISBN: 9781784161040 (pbk.) : £9.99 (Doubleday, 2017)

Daniel Mendelsohn, An odyssey : a father, a son and an epic ISBN: 9780007545124 (hbk.) : £18.99 (London: William Collins, 2017)

Andrew Miller, The Earl of Petticoat Lane (London: Arrow, 2006)

Nancy K. Miller, What they saved : pieces of a Jewish past (University of Nebraska Press, 2011)

Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family (London: Vintage, 1993)

Amos Oz, A tale of love and darkness (Mariner, 2005)

Chris Packahm, Fingers in the Sparkle Jar: A Memoir (Ebury, 2016)

Francine du Plessix Gray, Them : a memoir of parents (New York: Penguin, 2005). US

Philip Roth, Patrimony (New York: Vintage, 1996) US

Vikram Seth, Two lives (London: Harper, 2006)

Anthony Shadid, House of stone : a memoir of home, family, and a lost Middle East ISBN: 9781847087362; 1847087353; 1847087361 (London: Granta, 2013)

Gary Shteyngart, Little failure : a memoir (London: Hamish Hamilton, 2014)

Peter Singer, Pushing time away : my grandfather and the tragedy of Jewish Vienna (New York: Harper, 2003)

J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis(New Yorker: Harper, 2016)

Edmund de Waal, The hare with amber eyes : a hidden inheritance (London: Vintage, 2011)

Tara Westover, Educated (Windmill Books, 2018)

Edmund White, Inside a pearl : my years in Paris (London: Bloomsbury, 2014)

Jay Prosser, Empire's Loving Strangers, selected publications to date from:

‘Sim Koh-Wei, My Jewish Grandmother,’ Biography : an interdisciplinary quarterly. ISSN: 0162-4962, 28.1, 130-137, 2005.

‘Babylon Baghdad Bombay,’ Moving worlds. ISSN: 1474-4600. 5.2, 32-50, 2006.

‘My Grandfather’s Voice: Jewish Immigrants from Baghdad to Bombay,’ Life writing., 4.1, 103-110, 2007.

'The Baghdadi Jew and his ChineseMistress,' in Zsófia Bán and Hedvig Turai: Exposed memories : family pictures in private and collective memory. Budapest: AICA International Association of Art Critics, Hungarian Section, 2010.

‘Singing with the Taxi Driver: From Bollywood to Babylon,’ in Rites of return : diaspora poetics and the politics of memory eds. Marianne Hirsch and Nancy K. Miller, New York, Columbia University Press, 2011

This list was last updated on 19/01/2022