She Left Nothing in Particular: The Autobiographical Legacy of Nineteenth-century Women's Diaries
"Wink creates a book that will be indispensable to teachers and students of literature,
theory of autobiography, southern American history, women's studies, and American studies."--Suzanne Bunkers, Minnesota State University
"A great addition to the study of women's writings."--Mary D. Robinson, Armstrong State University
With searing irony, Virginia Woolf's story "The Legacy" describes a self-absorbed widower's all-too-typical response to the fifteen-volume diary left by his wife: he dismisses it as "nothing in particular." In contrast to that character's trivializing, contemporary feminist scholars have found diaries to be a rich resource for investigating the lives of "ordinary" women. No other documents reveal so completely what one scholar has called "life lived as a process."
In this book, Amy L. Wink offers a probing examination of diaries kept by nineteenth-century American women. Her sources include accounts by women who chronicled their lives on the Overland Trail, the journals of two women married sequentially to the same psychologically abusive man, and the diaries of Confederate women who used their writings to comprehend their emotional and spiritual responses to the turmoil of the Civil War. As Wink notes, such writings demonstrate not only what these women experienced but also how they dealt with and understood that experience.
Wink's analysis combines the contemporary arguments of theoretical postmodernism, which posits a decentered self constructed entirely of external forces, and practical psychology, which argues for individual self-understanding and self-conceptualization as a means to mental stability. The diary, Wink contends, reveals the flexibility of identity and how, through the act of writing, women have fortified and maintained their self-understanding as well as adapted and altered that understanding as circumstances dictated.
An impressive contribution to a growing body of scholarship, She Left Nothing in Particular sheds new light on the creative processes by which women, in the midst of change, have struggled to maintain their mental equilibrium and to answer the question, "How do I know who I am?"
The Author: Amy L. Wink earned her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University-College Station. She has been a visiting assistant professor at universities in Texas and Kansas and is currently an independent scholar. Her articles and reviews have appeared in a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, South Central Review, Studies in the Novel, and the NWSA Journal.
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WRITTEN INTO THE LANDSCAPE
NARRATIVES OF RESISTANCE
WHEN SHALL THIS WARFARE IN MY SOUL BE ENDED?
SOMETHING IN PARTICULAR
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