Hertha Sweet Wong's Picturing Identity Book Launch: Picturing Identity: Contemporary American Autobiography in Image and Text

Reading - Nonfiction | September 19 | 5:30-7 p.m. | UC Berkeley Campus, 2430 Bancroft Way, UC Press Books

 Hertha Sweet Wong, Professor and Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities, Berkeley English

 Department of English

In this book, Hertha D. Sweet Wong examines the intersection of writing and visual art in the autobiographical work of twentieth- and twenty-first-century American writers and artists who employ a mix of written and visual forms of self-narration. Combining approaches from autobiography studies and visual studies, Wong argues that, in grappling with the breakdown of stable definitions of identity and unmediated representation, these writers-artists experiment with hybrid autobiography in image and text to break free of inherited visual-verbal regimes and revise painful histories. These works provide an interart focus for examining the possibilities of self-representation and self-narration, the boundaries of life writing, and the relationship between image and text.

Wong considers eight writers-artists, including comic-book author Art Spiegelman; Faith Ringgold, known for her story quilts; and celebrated Indigenous writer Leslie Marmon Silko. Wong shows how her subjects formulate webs of intersubjectivity shaped by historical trauma, geography, race, and gender as they envision new possibilities of selfhood and fresh modes of self-narration in word and image.

 jennyholland@berkeley.edu