The Diary

The Diary

The Epic of Everyday Life
Edited by Batsheva Ben-Amos and Dan Ben-Amos
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/01/2020
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-04698-7
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The diary as a genre is found in all literate societies, and these autobiographical accounts are written by persons of all ranks and positions. The Diary offers an exploration of the form in its social, historical, and cultural-literary contexts with its own distinctive features, poetics, and rhetoric. The contributors to this volume examine theories and interpretations relating to writing and studying diaries; the formation of diary canons in the United Kingdom, France, United States, and Brazil; and the ways in which handwritten diaries are transformed through processes of publication and digitization. The authors also explore different diary formats, including the travel diary, the private diary, conflict diaries written during periods of crisis, and the diaries of the digital era, such as blogs. The Diary offers a comprehensive overview of the genre, synthesizing decades of interdisciplinary study to enrich our understanding of, research about, and engagement with the diary as literary form and historical documentation.

Author Bio

Batsheva Ben-Amos is Adjunct Professor of Comparative Literature in the College of Professional and Liberal Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a practicing clinician and has written about Holocaust diaries. Dan Ben-Amos is Professor of Folklore and Comparative Literature in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. He is author of numerous titles, including Folklore Genres, and volumes 1–3 of Folktales of the Jews.


""This book is an important contribution to pedagogy and knowledge. With its capaciousness and its surprises, it is much like a diary itself—adhering to a particular form, but also pressing against its conventions.""

Lara Kriegel, Associate Professor of History and English; Director, Victorian Studies Program; Co-Editor, Victorian Studies, Indiana University

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Table of Contents


Introduction / Batsheva Ben-Amos and Dan Ben-Amos

Part I: Diary Theories

1. The Practice of Writing a Diary / Philippe Lejeune and Catherine Bogaert, translated by Dagmara Meijers-Troller

2. Feminist Interpretations of the Diary / Kathryn Carter

3. The Diary Among Other Forms of Life Writing / Julie Rak

Part II: The Creation of a Diary Canon

4. British Diary Canon Formation / Dan Doll

5. The Diary in France and French-Speaking Countries / Michel Braud, translated by Dagmara Meijers-Troller

6. The American Diary Canon / Steven E. Kagle

7. Personal Writings and the Quest of National Identity in Brazil / Sergio da Silva Barcellos

Part III: The Transformation of the Manuscript

8. The Difficult Publication History of the Diaries of Anne Frank / Suzanne L. Bunkers

9. Digitized Diary Archives / Desirée Henderson

Part IV: The Travel Diary

10. British and North American Travel Writing and the Diary / Tim Youngs

11. Travel Diaries in Australia / Agnieszka Sobocinska

12. Travel Diaries in Imperial China / James M. Hargett

Part V: The Private Diary

13. The Contemporary Personal Diary in France / Françoise Simonet-Tenant, translated by Dagmara Meijers-Troller

14. Writing the Self, Writing History in Palestine / Kimberly Katz

15. Sharing Secrets in Nineteenth-Century America / Marilyn Ferris Motz

16. The Literary Author as Diarist / Elizabeth Podnieks

Part VI: The Diary in Political Conflict

17. The American Civil War: Confederate Women's Diaries / Kimberly Harrison

18. The Archive as a Diary of Resistance: Hendrik Witbooi, Nama Revolutionary, 1884-1905 / Elizabeth Baer

19. Diary and Narrative: French Soldiers in World War I / Leonard V. Smith

20. The Stalin-Era Diary / Jochen Hellbeck

21. On Holocaust Diaries / Batsheva Ben-Amos

22. Estonian Women's Deportation Diaries / Leena Kurvet-Kosaar

Part VII: Online Diaries

23. From Puritans to Fitbit: Self-Improvement, Self-Tracking, and How to Keep a Diary / Kylie Cardell

24. Online Diaries and Blogs / Jill Walker-Rettberg

25. A Journey through Two Decades of Online Diary Community / Lena Buford

26. Geocities and Diaries on the Early Web / James Baker