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Life-Writing

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Title of host publicationRoutledge Companion to Victorian Literature
DateAccepted/In press - 31 Dec 2019
PublisherRoutledge
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Victorian life-writings do a great deal more than narrate lives or describe selves. Life-writers intervened in and helped to shape contemporaneous debates about the meaning and constitution of selfhood; they posed questions about the nature of individualism and individuality; they explored the cultural uses of publicity, privacy, intimacy and sociability; they investigated the production and commodification of identity; they sometimes even experimented with ideas of an embodied self. Focussing mainly on autobiographical rather than biographical writing, and offering Harriet Martineau’s practice as a case study, this essay first outlines early approaches to the genre, before identifying some recent critical currents.

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