Picturing Identity

Contemporary American Autobiography in Image and Text

By Hertha D. Sweet Wong

280 pp., 7 x 10, 68 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4070-9
    Published: June 2018
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-4071-6
    Published: May 2018
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5355-4
    Published: May 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4069-3
    Published: June 2018

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In this book, Hertha D. Sweet Wong examines the intersection of writing and visual art in the autobiographical work of twentieth- and twenty-first-century American writers and artists who employ a mix of written and visual forms of self-narration. Combining approaches from autobiography studies and visual studies, Wong argues that, in grappling with the breakdown of stable definitions of identity and unmediated representation, these writers-artists experiment with hybrid autobiography in image and text to break free of inherited visual-verbal regimes and revise painful histories. These works provide an interart focus for examining the possibilities of self-representation and self-narration, the boundaries of life writing, and the relationship between image and text.

Wong considers eight writers-artists, including comic-book author Art Spiegelman; Faith Ringgold, known for her story quilts; and celebrated Indigenous writer Leslie Marmon Silko. Wong shows how her subjects formulate webs of intersubjectivity shaped by historical trauma, geography, race, and gender as they envision new possibilities of selfhood and fresh modes of self-narration in word and image.

About the Author

Hertha D. Sweet Wong is associate professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.
For more information about Hertha D. Sweet Wong, visit the Author Page.


“Providing a fresh perspective on artist/writers from the famous to the lesser-known, Wong’s far-reaching study is sure to pique interest as it treats image and text where they overlap and displace each other. Essential reading for life-writing scholars and art historians alike.”—Emily Hipchen, editor, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies

Picturing Identity stands as an essential text from an astute critic and scholar. Wong sheds light on previously unseen connections that illuminate the striking and evocative interplay between word and image, the verbal and the visual.”—Craig Howes, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa