Acts of Narrative Resistance
Women's Autobiographical Writings in the Americas
Laura J. Beard
This exploration of women's autobiographical writings in the Americas focuses on three specific genres: testimonio, metafiction, and the family saga as the story of a nation. What makes Laura J. Beard’s work distinctive is her pairing of readings of life narratives by women from different countries and traditions. Her section on metafiction focuses on works by Helena Parente Cunha, of Brazil, and Luisa Futoranksy, of Argentina; the family sagas explored are by Ana María Shua and Nélida Piñon, of Argentina and Brazil, respectively; and the section on testimonio highlights narratives by Lee Maracle and Shirley Sterling, from different Indigenous nations in British Columbia. In these texts Beard terms "genres of resistance," women resist the cultural definitions imposed upon them in an effort to speak and name their own experiences. The author situates her work in the context of not only other feminist studies of women's autobiographies but also the continuing study of inter-American literature that is demanding more comparative and cross-cultural approaches. Acts of Narrative Resistance addresses prominent issues in the fields of autobiography, comparative literature, and women's studies, and in inter-American, Latin American, and Native American studies.
Laura Beard's Acts of Narrative Resistance is a provocative and important intervention into theorizing women's autobiography in the Americas. Her comparative reading of Latin American women's life writing and Native Canadian narratives of the last three decades reframes theories grounded in the dominant Euro-American model and foregrounds hybrid autofictional forms such as the family saga, the testimonial, and metafiction. And Beard's focus on practice in and out of the classroom makes this study refreshingly useful for courses that take up resistance, whether in art or in life."
Laura J. Beard is Professor and Chair of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures at Texas Tech University.