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American Autobiography after 9/11

Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography
William L. Andrews, Series Editor


Memoir as a response to trauma both personal and collective

In the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, American memoirists have wrestled with a wide range of anxieties in their books. They cope with financial crises, encounter difference, or confront norms of identity. Megan Brown contends that such best sellers as Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and Tucker Max’s I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell teach readers how to navigate a confusing, changing world.

This lively and theoretically grounded book analyzes twenty-first-century memoirs from Three Cups of Tea to Fun Home, emphasizing the ways in which they reinforce and circulate ideologies, becoming guides or models for living. Brown expands her inquiry beyond books to the autobiographical narratives in reality television and political speeches. She offers a persuasive explanation for the memoir boom: the genre as a response to an era of uncertainty and struggle.


Megan Brown Megan Brown is an associate professor of English at Drake University and the author of The Cultural Work of Corporations.




“A rich and compelling reading of the post-9/11 cultural moment through the subjectivities represented by this non-traditional selection of autobiographies.”

“Demonstrates how several American life-writing subgenres have reflected and responded to national and personal anxieties after 9/11. This accessible and well-argued book is an essential resource for understanding contemporary memoir.”
—G. Thomas Couser, Hofstra University


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American Autobiography after 9/11
Larger images

January 2017
LC: 2016014712 PS
176 pp. 6 × 9
1 b/w photo

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Casebound $64.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-31030-1
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