Biography, vol. 35, no. 3 (2012)

Biography vol. 35, no. 3 coverEDITORS’ NOTE


Documenting the Undocumented: Life Narratives of Undocumented Immigrants
Marta Caminero-Santangelo, 449

This essay argues that Underground America, a collection of first-person narratives of undocumented immigrants, advances the premise that the immigrants it represents are already part of the US “nation,” and that their claim to human rights ought therefore to be recognized on the grounds of national belonging.

Unknown Knowns: State Secrets and Family Secrets
Molly Pulda, 472

Three applications of memoir theory and reception—the ethics of betrayal, the calibration of transparency, and the unknown knowledge called “nescience”—illuminate the public reaction to state secrets, from the Pentagon Papers to WikiLeaks. The correlations between family secrets and state secrets yield new ways to understand the workings of secrecy in contemporary culture.

The Biographies of J. Robert Oppenheimer: Desert Saint or Destroyer of Worlds
Lindsey Michael Banco, 492

This article compares biographies of J. Robert Oppenheimer using analyses of the desert trope to argue that some biographical practices, drawing on Romantic conceptions of artists and scientists, reinforce scientific privilege and notions of omniscience. Other Oppenheimer biographies, however, highlight the uncertainty, interpretability, and unpredictability of the biographical enterprise to question scientific privilege.

Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage, by Vincent Carretta
Reviewed by Tracey L. Walters, 516

West African Narratives of Slavery: Texts from Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Ghana, by Sandra E. Greene
Reviewed by Benjamin N. Lawrance, 519

Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Šimaitė, by Julija Šukys
Reviewed by Katherine R. Jolluck, 522

Das Familiengedächtnis der Wittgensteins. Zu verführerischen Lesarten von (auto-)biographischen Texten, by Nicole L. Immler
Reviewed by Sarah Anna Szeltner, 524

The Fuggers of Augsburg: Pursuing Wealth and Honor in Renaissance Germany, by Mark Häberlein
Reviewed by Donald J. Harreld, 528

Bernini: His Life and His Rome, by Franco Mormando
Reviewed by Thomas Patrick Wisniewski, 529

Excerpts from recent reviews of biographies, autobiographies, and other works of interest, 536