Simal, Begoña, ed. Selves in Dialogue: A Transethnic Approach to American Life
Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, NY 2011. Critical Approaches to Ethnic
American Literature 5. (ISBN: 978-90-420-3398-6 Paper, ISBN: 978-94-012-0685-3 EBook;
256 pp.).

Selves in Dialogue: A Transethnic Approach to American Life Writing constitutes an explicit
answer to the urgent call for a comparative study of American autobiography. This collection
of essays ostensibly intends to cut across cultural, “racial” and/or “ethnic” boundaries,
introducing the concept of “transethnicity” and arguing for its increasing validity in the everchanging
field of American Studies. Accordingly, the comparative analysis in Selves in
Dialogue is implemented not by juxtaposing essays that pay “separate but equal” attention to
specific “monoethnic” or “monocultural” traditions—as has been the usual strategy in booklength
publications of this sort—, but by critically engaging with two or more different
traditions in every single essay. Mixing rather than segregating. The transethnic approach
proposed in this collection does not imply erasing the very difference and diversity that
makes American autobiographies all the more thrilling to read and study. Group-specific
research of an “intra-ethnic” nature should and will continue to thrive. And yet, the field of
American Studies is now ready to indulge more freely, and more knowledgeably, in
transethnic explorations of life writing, in an attempt to delineate both the divergences and
the similarities between the different autobiographies written in the US. Because of its
unusual perspective, Selves in Dialogue can be of interest not only for specialists in life
writing, but also for those working in the larger fields of American Literature, Ethnic Studies
or American Studies.
Table of Contents
Begoña Simal: Selves in Dialogue: An Introduction
Jeffrey Gray: Identity Cards: Autobiography and Critical Practice
Ana Mª Manzanas: Self and Nation in Franklin’s Autobiography and Maxine Hong
Kingston’s The Woman Warrior
Rachel Ihara and Jaime Cleland: Ethnic Authorship and the Autobiographical Act: ZitkalaÅ
a, Sui Sin Far, and the Crafting of Authorial Identity
Brenda R. Smith: “We, Too, Sing America”: The Construction of American Subjectivity in
African American Migration and European Immigrant Autobiographies
Anna M. Brígido-Corachán: Native Journeys of Self-Figuration: N. Scott Momaday’s The
Way to Rainy Mountain and Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands / La Frontera
José Liste Noya: Memory in Motion: The “Double Narratives” of Paul Auster’s The
Invention of Solitude and Samuel R. Delany’s The Motion of Light in Water
David Río: Autobiographical Writing on Politics in the Sin State: Latina and Basque
American Perspectives
Aitor Ibarrola-Armendáriz: Puerto Rican and Dominican Self-Portraits and their Frames: The
“Autobiographical” Fiction of Esmeralda Santiago, Junot Díaz, and Julia Álvarez
Paula Torreiro Pazo: Living in the Taste of Things: Food, Self and Family in Diana Abu-
Jaber’s The Language of Baklava and Leslie Li’s Daughter of Heaven

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