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Today's Presentation on Autobiography
I wanted to let you know in advance, the specific autobiographies I am going to discuss with you today. They are 1) A Woman Soldier's Own Story by Xie Bingying (2001 edition) and 2) A Woman in Berlin by an anonymous author (2005 edition). We now know the author of the German autobiography was a journalist, Marta Hillers. Both of these were originally published in the author's native language, Bingying's in the 40s and Marta's in the 50s.
These are the questions I hope to discuss after my presentation:
1) Does each author have an authentic female gaze or is that gaze so impacted by males as to be quite distorted?
2) Is the German autobiography more post-modern than modern? I know little about literary post-modernism but the tone is pervasively ironic and sarcastic. This is not the case in Bingying's autobiography.
3) To what extent do you think these books are comparable in both a historic and literary sense? Do you know other autobiographies that you think would serve as a better basis of comparison?
This is an on-line source that you can go to for some advance reading on A Woman in Berlin:
These are the sources which I have used other than the two autobiographies in case you want to explore them:
1) Janet Ng, The Experience of Modernity: Chinese Autobiography of the Early Twentieth Century (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2003).
2) Jing M. Wang, When "I" Was Born: Women's Autobiography in Modern China (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008).
3) Haiyan Lee, Revolution of the Heart: A Genealogy of Love in China, 1900-1950 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007).
See you this afternoon, Meredith
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