Lifewriting Annual arose from the ashes of Biography and Source Studies, a scholarly journal published from 1994 to 2004 by AMS Press, Inc., New York. In 2005 Thomas R. Smith became its editor, changed its direction somewhat and its name to Lifewriting Annual: Biographical and Autobiographical Studies. The first volume under this name was published in 2006. Volume 2 appeared in 2008 and Volume 3 in 2012. Carol DeBoer-Langworthy took over in 2013 and brought out Volume 4 in December 2015. Altogether, Lifewriting Annual appeared in print volume form from 2006-2017.
Lifewriting. We alone among publications use the spelling “lifewriting”—one word—to denote works that deal with the lifespan or periods in the life of a person, institution, object, or other entity. This slippery term is spelled as “life writing” or “life-writing” elsewhere, but we anticipate the way the English language morphs things together and prefer this composite term.
We stand out among the five publications sanctioned by The International Auto/Biography Association (IABA) for our inventive mix of styles and genres in each volume. We avoid articles devoted solely to theory, preferring to publish exemplars of the genre, along with reviews and articles about those exemplars. Theory, of course, is in everything, but in general we eschew articles solely dedicated to theoretical debates.
Our editors see LA as a platform for the interesting ways that various forms of lifewriting inform and interact with each other. A new feature is our Findings section. This replaces the former Crossings section, in which authors used more than one genre in an article, such as personal and epistolary forms. It is our observation that mixed-genre writing is now more universal and that scholars feel freer to position themselves within discussions of their scholarship.
Findings is our new forum for the presentation and brief discussion of noteworthy sources of lifewriting. Given the technical capacities of our new form of publication, we welcome visual as well as textual data, that is, descriptions and illustrations of lifewriting material meriting recognition and scholarly investigation by someone other than the discoverer. This forum is an opportunity to share accidental discoveries made while researching another topic, for instance. We invite libraries and archives to share information about their resources as well. This signals a return to the "source studies" of our predecessor publication.
Book Reviews are coordinated by Robert P. Ward of Brown University. We are happy to consider reviews of all recent and reissued publications of lifewriting, in both written and graphic formats.
Cover photo credit: An excerpt from "The Book of Margery Kempe" c. 1440, courtesy of the British Library, https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/the-book-of-margery-kempe