The "I" in biography: the role of first-person point of view when writing the lives of others

Hanel, R (2018) The "I" in biography: the role of first-person point of view when writing the lives of others. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

Abstract

This thesis contains both a creative and a critical component. In the critical component, my research explores the ways in which contemporary American biographers use first-person narration in their work. My focus is on questions of technique, particularly the selection of personal details, the moments in which the "I" appears, the consistency of the "I", and the narrator's voice. I closely examine three works that use the first-person approach in different ways: Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Susan Griffith's short biography/memoir "Our Secret", which appears in A Chorus of Stones. The creative component is titled The Unlikely Terrorist: Camilla Hall and the Symbionese Liberation Army, a book-length biography in which I include first-person narration. The book explores the life of Camilla Hall, a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, which was a radical domestic terrorist group active in the United States from 1973-1975. An important outcome of this research has been an increase in my understanding of the methods biographers use when inserting themselves into the stories of others. My critical research has shaped my creative writing, and I hope, will contribute to current scholarship about the place of first-person narration in biography.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: biography, nonfiction, first-person narration, point of view, narrative voice, Jon Krakauer, Rebecca Skloot, Susan Griffin, creative writing, creative practice, Camilla Hall, Symbionese Liberation Army, 1970s
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2018 10:07
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2018 10:07
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