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Friday October 22nd, 2010

“America’s Exhibit A” Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Living History and the Genres of Authenticity

Sidonie Smith, Martha Guernsey Colby Collegiate Professor of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan

Friday October 22, 2010, 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Sponsored by the Case Western Reserve University English Department and the Case Western Reserve University Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities

In the early 21st century, memoir culture, celebrity culture, and U.S. political culture have converged as Presidential wannabes publish memoir after memoir, thereby converting “a life” into money, message, and conduit for voter attachment. Hillary Clinton’s best-selling autobiography Living History (2003) implicitly announced her Presidential bid, mobilizing personal storytelling to convince readers that this Senator and feminist First Lady could be President. Dr. Smith explores how the genres of Clinton’s Living History produce, or not, the authenticity effect of a “real Hillary,” the convincing persona that is always at stake in the political field; and how both the narrating and narrated “Hillarys” do and undo the gendered idioms of political power.

Additional Information About Our Guest

Dr. Sidonie Smith is Martha Guernsey Colby Collegiate Professor of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, and President of the Modern Language Association of America. She has published widely in the areas of human rights, women’s studies, the study of autobiography, and feminist and postcolonial literature and theory. Her many books include Human Rights and Narrated Lives: The Ethics of Recognition (2004) and Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives, 2nd ed. (2010).