Un-Censoring the Self: Photography in Autobiography is a book project that studies how photographic and autobiographical narrative techniques come together in contemporary life writing to promote alternative models of personal identity. The project is funded by a SSHRC Standard Research Grant.
Un-Censoring the Self: Photography in Autobiography examines the inclusion of photographic images in twentieth-century autobiographical narratives where subjects confront most directly the difficulty of asserting self when faced with the compelling mosaic of images and stories that make up personal identity. Starting from the premise that self-conception and self-expression frequently occur at the interface of image and text, I will demonstrate that the coming together of photography and autobiography can and has given expression to the un-censoring of self- that is, to individual, but highly suggestive challenges to the existing terms informing the self and its representation and, more importantly, to individual formulations (both visual and verbal) that break away from the effacement of self such terms entail. An un-censored self is one that claims agency over its unique identity, that refuses to fit into stifling definitions of normalcy, and that breaks boundaries of representation through the very act of representation to voice its transgressions. Hence, a central aim of Un-Censoring the Self is to demystify the notion that photography and autobiography police identity. It demonstrates that the union of these two media creates a unique narrative space where alternative conceptions of personal identity can be expressed and new and highly contradictory models of subjectivity instated.
This project is in the initial stages of writing.