Autobiography and Childhood

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“Autobiography” derives from the Greek terms autos (self), bios (life), and graphein (writing), and is most commonly understood as a cultural text in which a person represents their own life. The practice has long been associated with the written word: well-known, published books in which significant people record their remarkable lives. Traditionally, autobiography has been characterized by so-called “great men,” usually white and European, recounting their lives as they approach their later years. However, cultural change in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries—particularly second-wave feminism, decolonization, globalization, the rise of technology, and mass and digital media—have changed “self-life-writing” radically. The development of alternative types of first-person and life storying, including memoir, documentary, reality television, blogs, vlogs, and diverse and ever-emerging forms of social media (e.g., YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok), has consistently brought new voices and subjects into the public sphere. Life narration, in its various forms, has become a diverse, global genre. It is now steeped in the various written and oral traditions in which people have told stories about their lives for thousands of years and across myriad locations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Bibliographies
Subtitle of host publicationChildhood studies
EditorsHeather Montgomery
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameOxford Bibliographies
PublisherOxford University Press


  • autobiography
  • childhood
  • life narrative
  • life writing


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