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Writing Intimate Lives: Mediations in Biographical Praxis

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Abstract

The essential provocation is this: that the biographer is not to be reduced to a simple symptomal subject, ‘but rather that we hear in his [and her] voice what is “unreal”, i.e. intractable’. Like Roland Barthes in A Lover’s Discourse, I have decided to give myself over to the experientiality and intimacy of the biographer’s work, to allow myself to be guided not by conventional thinking but by ‘amorous feeling’. Drawing on my experience of researching and writing a biography – a text that has come to take the shape of an assemblage of Barthesian figures– this paper will argue that, like the lover’s discourse, the biographer’s discourse need not be extraneous or merely a symptom of the research process, but instead has the potential to illuminate the affective power of biographical praxis itself, thereby expanding its field of significance.

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