Understanding the archival fonds as autobiographical text through three discourses


Over the last few decades, textual criticism has shifted its focus away from the reconstruction of final authorial intentions in favour of exposing the multiplicity of intentions concurring in the formation of literary texts. A similar shift in focus can be tracked in the theoretical literature on lifewriting exploring the nature of autobiographical texts. There, the notion that such texts function as sites for the revelation of a unified authentic self has been displaced by an understanding of them as sites for the construction of multiple selves. Both these shifts resonate, in turn, with a growing body of archival literature investigating the multiple layers of agency implicated in the construction of archival fonds. Drawing on the insights of textual criticism, lifewriting scholarship and the archival theory of arrangement, this article considers the ways in which personal fonds in general and writers’ fonds in particular may be understood as autobiographical texts.


Archival arrangement; Personal archives; Textual criticism; Lifewriting.

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