By Professor Kate Douglas
Drawing on trauma and reminiscence reports and theories of authorship and readership, Contesting Childhood bargains observation at the triumphs, trials, and tribulations that experience formed this style. Douglas examines the content material of the narratives and the bounds in their representations, in addition to a few of the ways that autobiographies of youngster became politically very important and influential. This examine permits readers to find how tales configure adolescence inside of cultural reminiscence and the general public sphere.
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Extra info for Contesting Childhood: Autobiography, Trauma, and Memory
The book, which details Godby Johnson’s abusive childhood and his subsequent battle with AIDS, is suspected to be a hoax written by his supposed adoptive 22 contesting childhood mother, Vicki Johnson. Helen Demidenko (also known as Helen Dale and Helen Darville) posed as a Ukrainian immigrant in promoting her supposedly autobiographical novel The Hand That Signed the Paper (1993). Binjamin Wilkomirski, in his autobiography of childhood Fragments (1995), constructed a false identity as a Holocaust survivor.
Fraser’s autobiography adopts a similar approach: The government, through the Welfare, has always controlled my life in some shape or form. They did so all through my childhood and even now they control my life, because of what they have done to me—and not just to me, but to all the Aboriginal people in Australia. The nonAboriginal people of Australia may sometimes wonder why Aboriginal people seem so dependent on government handouts. Well, for 200 years, what else did we have? Our independence was taken away, our dignity was destroyed and our country stolen from us, along with the murder of untold thousands of our people.
Again, this telling reveals more about contemporary preoccupations with memory, and more particularly the relationship between childhood memories and the adult self, than it does about the actual past as it happened. Like Karr and others in the United States, late twentieth-century British autobiographers worked within and against dominant histories to insert alternative accounts of childhood into cultural memory. Michael Erben suggests that one of the preoccupations of late twentieth-century British autobiography was the experiences of women from working-class backgrounds, citing autobiographies such as Carolyn Steedman’s Landscape for a Good Woman, Gillian Rose’s Love’s Work, and Ann Oakley’s Man and Wife (48).