12-gilmore 4/9/01 3:16 PM Page 128 LIMIT-CASES: TRAUMA, SELF-REPRESENTATION, AND THE JURISDICTIONS OF IDENTITY LEIGHGILMORE One writes in order to become other than what one is. — Michel Foucault Somewhere around 1996, in the midst of a much-remarked-upon economic boom, another pocket of extraordinary vitality emerged in the United States. As the Dow soared high in a climate of speculation, memoir boomed. Signs of growth abounded: book reviewers ritualistically cited memoir’s ubiquity, more publishers expanded their lists to include memoir, more first books were marketed as memoir, and even academics, voted the group in high school least likely to cross over, tried their hands at personal criticism, as well as memoir proper. Even a crude analysis using the Worldcat database shows the number of new English language volumes categorized as “autobiography or memoir” roughly tripled from the 1940s to the 1990s. The growth pat- tern over that period was approximately linear, rising from fewer than 1500 in the 1940s to more than 3000 in the 1970s, to over 4000 between 1990 and 1996. Unlike the economic boom with which it coincided, the memoir boom’s primary themes were not wealth, prosperity, and the accumulation of capital by those already well-positioned
Biography – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Feb 1, 2001
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