Memoir Writing as praxis of Self-Making and Cultural-Making
While I initially became excited about discovering the life of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, also known as Job Ben Solomon, I was disappointed that his story was mediated through Thomas Bluett. Why this bothered me, I am not entirely sure. Yet, it raises critical questions about the authentication of storytelling with the storyteller is not of the same race, gender, ethnicity, ability, or context. It also raises questions about the authorizations of whiteness in the authentication of black literature. It’s as if the white narrator or sponsor is authenticating the experience and the “truth.”
Apart from these questions, I lift concerns for the class to discuss memoir as a genre and the function of memoir writing that participates in self-making and culture-making. From this reading this week, I have reimagined memoir as a space to confront the global forces of colonialism and racism. Mainly, Job [presented by Bluett] represents black interiority, which further defines black human subjectivity and establishes archival permanence through writing and publishing.
What authenticates and authorizes memoirs and slave narratives?
How do memoirs help articulate black interiority and subjectivity?