Writing/reading a life: The rhetorical practice of autobiography

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This essay examines how the introduction/preface to a non-fiction text is constructed as autobiographical practice - a sort of 'introduction-as-memoir'. The use and autobiographical effects of rhetorical tropes (stake inoculation, metaphor and binary oppositions) are examined in the introduction that prefaces Massacre myth (Moran, 1999), a polemic account of the 1926 police massacre of Aborigines that was the catalyst for Australia's 'History Wars'. Using the analytical methods of deconstruction, I tease out how language, structure and a (seemingly) objective account of historical virtues are recruited to the project of autobiography, and illuminate the role of language in the construction of the authorial subject (and Others), and show how these are entangled with broader social, political and epistemological issues. The analysis underlines the dialogic relationship between text, reader and society, and the instability of truth claims and the authorial subject of autobiography. Copyright © 2006 Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-115
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006


Halse, C. (2006). Writing/reading a life: The rhetorical practice of autobiography. Auto/Biography, 14(2), 95-115.


  • Autobiographies
  • Rhetoric
  • Massacres
  • Police
  • Native peoples
  • History

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