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Hazel E. Barnes

Since any autobiography is necessarily personal and since I have recently written one, I will rephrase the question in my title: “Who is the subject of my autobiography?” If I say, “Hazel Barnes,” the answer is unchallengeable but not illuminating. If I say, “I am,” we fall into a morass. To critique that “I am” would be to take on all of the problems of postmodernism. I wish that I had added a subtitle so that the whole would read, “Who is the Subject of Autobiography? A Sartrean Response.” Or better, “The Response of a Sartrean.” This way I would be on firmer ground, though many interesting questions would remain. Let us assume that I have done so.

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Writing Women's Lives: Auto/Biography, Life Narratives, Myths and Historiography

An International Symposium, 19–20 April 2014, Istanbul

Francisca de Haan

The Istanbul Women’s Library and Information Center Foundation, on occasion of its twenty-fourth anniversary, together with Yeditepe University organized the international symposium “Writing Women’s Lives: Auto/Biography, Life Narratives, Myths and Historiography,” which took place at Yeditepe University on 19–20 April 2014.

The symposium coordinators were Birsen Talay Keşoğlu, Vehbi Baysan, and Şefik Peksevgen, assisted by eleven more members of the Organizing Committee, including Aslı Davaz, director of the Istanbul Women’s Library.

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Sonia R. Kruks

“I think that to watch others in their solitude grappling with what comes to them, making it into themselves, and giving it back to the world as something that was not there before is to see the very image of what each of us is. It is to experience the least common denominator of our inwardness” (xvi). These observations, drawn from the “apologia” with which Hazel Barnes begins her venture, encapsulate her vision of existentialism, as well as her views on the purposes of autobiography and literature more broadly. Her vision is, of course, indebted to the philosophy of Sartre, but is not identical to his. For Barnes gives Sartre’s existentialism back to the world with her own distinctive mark on it, as less agonistic and more concerned with human connectivity.

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Melissa Dearey, Bethanie Petty, Brett Thompson, Clinton R. Lear, Stephanie Gadsby, and Donna Gibbs

The main aim of this essay is to explore prisoner life writing within the specific, richly and multiply dependent context of teaching and learning undergraduate criminology at an English university, from the authorial viewpoint of a teacher and her students as budding criminologists and coauthors. This article seeks to redress a continuing resistance to life history approaches in criminology, despite the discipline being formally devoted to the understanding of the meaning and experience of imprisonment in all its forms and consequences. What follows is a reflection on what students had to say on the fascinating subject of prisoner auto/biography and its place in popular and expert discourses on crime, criminality, and punishment, contextualised within the academic discipline of criminology.

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Autobiography, Journalism, and Controversy

Freya Stark's Baghdad Sketches

Mary Henes

This article examines Freya Stark's life-writing over a forty-year period in order to shed light on her experience of Baghdad from 1929 to 1933. The article focuses on Stark's resistance to expected feminine norms of the British community, and contextualizes her experience alongside that of Gertrude Bell and Stefana Drower. Stark's experiences, and those of Drower, reveal the ways in which British women resisted the mundane expatriate lifestyle, and gained a great deal of cultural understanding though their interaction with Iraqis. Furthermore, the article discusses Stark's work at the Baghdad Times, a literary apprenticeship that also led to the publication of Baghdad Sketches. The article not only highlights the plurality of autobiographical presentation characteristic of Stark's oeuvre, but also reveals how Stark refashioned her experiences throughout her life, taking into account her changing status and the different political and cultural climates in which the works were published.

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Margaret McCarthy

German popular filmmakers who participated in the Denk ich an Deutschland series brought a range of conflicting impulses to their meditations on Germany, including the universalizing tendencies of popular culture, together with the personal and political strains often present in documentary films. With varying degrees of success, each director agitates national identity via an idiosyncratic selfhood, a process which in turn expands our notions of Germany beyond generic convention. The best of the five films discussed in this essay—directed by Doris Dörrie, Fatih Akin, Katja von Garnier, Sherry Hormann, and Klaus Lemke—feature their creators' struggle to box themselves out of a larger collective identity. By modeling their own existential Bildung, they chip away at an otherwise implacable German identity and provide a psychic service for Germans potentially more salutary than the way Hollywood films sustain American identity.

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The Death of Maternity?

Simone de Beauvoir's A Very Easy Death

Christie McDonald

Contrasting the view of motherhood in Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex with the description of her mother's illness and death in A Very Easy Death, this essay examines the revelation of feelings previously unexplored in the relationship to her mother. Faced with a life-shattering experience, Beauvoir revisits issues not only about motherhood and maternity from her philosophical and sociological study, but her own feelings about her mother and disturbing ways in which doctors and families withheld knowledge from the dying in the mid-twentieth century.

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John F. Whitmire

Sartre's Les Mots has given rise to widely divergent competing readings in the philosophical literature, which tend to view it either as a simple continuation of his earlier, radical libertarianism, or as part of an alleged wholesale renunciation of the position we find in his early texts. I argue that most of these readings ignore the very real tensions in Words between the freedom of consciousness and the weight of circumstances. I further argue that Les Mots is a performative text whose double writing (originally composed 1954-1957; rewritten 1963) demonstrates for us that, whereas we cannot simply renounce our past and the original meanings mediated to us in childhood through our families, we do have the power to take it up in ways that skew those meanings in somewhat different directions. No matter what we do, however, the blurred outlines of those original meanings will always remain.

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Alexis Chabot

In , Sartre elevates the premature death of his father to the rank of a providential event which, by depriving him of a Super-Ego and relieving him of any legacy, consigned him to contingency and condemned him to be free. In this way, Sartre derives his uniqueness from this happy lack, this salutary void, i.e. a negated father, and casts himself in the role of an Aeneas liberated from the weight of his Anchises. Fatherless son, Sartre was nonetheless condemned to return incessantly to a father who was destined to remain imaginary. The omnipresence of paternal figures in his oeuvre, from “Childhood of a Leader” to by way of and , is the expression of a double project, as systematic as it is paradoxical: to incarnate the Father, interrogate him and place him centre-stage—as he does with Flaubert's father—in order to eliminate all the better, through an unrelenting prosecution, that of which the Father is, in Sartre's view, the crystallization: the past, inheritance, the temptation of inauthenticity, the alienation of freedom by a foreign power. The Sartrean Father reveals in a privileged way the heart-rending paradoxes of freedom.

French Dans Les Mots, J.-P. Sartre hisse la mort précoce de son père à la hauteur d'un événement providentiel qui, le privant de Surmoi et le délestant de tout héritage, le livra à la contingence et le condamna à être libre. Ainsi Sartre tire sa singularité de ce manque heureux, de ce vide salutaire, un père nié, et se dépeint en Enée libéré du poids de son Anchise. Fils sans père, Sartre n'en fut pas moins condamné à revenir sans fin à ce père voué à demeurer imaginaire : l'omniprésence des figures paternelles dans son œuvre, de L'Enfance d'un chef à L'Idiot de la famille, en passant par Le Scénario Freud et Les Séquestrés d'Altona, est l'expression d'un double projet, aussi systématique que paradoxal : incarner le Père, l'interroger et le mettre en scène - ainsi du père de Flaubert -, pour mieux liquider, par une mise en procès permanente, ce dont la figure du Père est, à ses yeux, la cristallisation : le passé, l'héritage, la tentation de l'inauthenticité, l'aliénation de la liberté par une puissance étrangère. Le Père sartrien se révèle dès lors comme le révélateur privilégié des paradoxes déchirants de la liberté.

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“This Is My Story”

The Reclaiming of Girls’ Education Discourses in Malala Yousafzai’s Autobiography

Rosie Walters

In 2014, the year she turned 17, Malala Yousafzai released a second version of her autobiography, rewritten for her own generation, detailing her fight for girls’ education. In it, she reflects on her childhood in the Swat Valley in Pakistan