Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellow in the Humanities
2011—2012 Forum on Adaptations
Public Lives, Intimate Archives: Queer Biographical Practices in British Women's Writing, 1928-1978
My dissertation argues that biography became the primary site of generic activism for queer women's writing in mid-century Britain. For Virginia Woolf, Vera Brittain, Hope Mirrlees, and Sylvia Townsend Warner, the biographical acts of their late careers carried the promise of substantial pedagogical impact, and I argue that they became increasingly committed to biography as a genre in which to critique the marginalization of non-normative genders, sexualities, desires, and friendships. If biography investigates, charts, records, and memorializes individual lives, then the formal structure and generic conventions of biography are directly related to the types and ways of life that are understood as normal—or even possible—for future readers. For these writers, disrupting, adapting, and reshaping the formal conventions that marginalize feminist and queer life stories became an urgent ethical process.