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Vol. 1 No. 1 (2019): The Salzburg Seminar and Its Legacies in American Studies

First-Person Documentary Film and Self-Life Narration

December 4, 2019


In lieu of an abstract, here is the first paragraph of this forum contribution:

My contribution to this forum on life writing contemplates life narrative practices in documentary film and proposes two theses that also bear relevance for other fields and media under discussion here. Firstly, it problematizes the concepts of autobiography and life writing for their applicability to (documentary) film, arguing with Alisa Lebow for a notion of "first person film."[1] Secondly, it contends that representations of the self in documentary film are more appropriately comprehended as a discourse rather than a genre.


  1. Bruzzi, Stella. New Documentary: A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge, 2006.
  2. Corner, John. "Performing the Real: Documentary Diversions." Television and New Media 3, no. 3 (2002): 255–269.
  3. Lane, Jim. The Autobiographical Documentary in America. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.
  4. Lebow, Alisa. The Cinema of Me: The Self and Subjectivity in First Person Documentary. London: Wallflower Press, 2012.
  5. Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. Bloomingdale: Indiana University Press, 2010.
  6. Rosenstone, Robert A. "The Historical Film as Real History." Film-Historia 5, no. 1 (1995).
  7. Smith, Sidonie, and Julia Watson. Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life-Narratives. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
  8. Stories We Tell. Directed by Sarah Polley. Toronto, ON: Mongrel Media, 2012.

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