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January 8, 2020
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An Autobiography of the Autobiography of Reading

The geopolitics of empire had already prepared me for thiscoloniality constructs outsides and insides—worlds to be chosen, disturbed, interpreted, and navigated—in order to live something like a real self.Internationally acclaimed poet and novelist Dionne Brand reflects on her early reading of colonial literature and how it makes Black being inanimate. She explores her encounters with colonial, imperialist, and racist tropes; the ways that practices of reading and writing are shaped by those narrative structures; and the challenges of writing a narrative of Black life that attends to its own expression and its own consciousness.

About the Author

Dionne Brand is a Canadian poet, novelist, and essayist. She has won many awards, including the Governor General's Award for Poetry, the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Trillium Book Award, the Pat Lowther Award for Poetry, the Toronto Book Award, the OCM Bocas Fiction Prize, and the Blue Metropolis Violet Literary Prize. Brand is Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph.


"An Autobiography of the Autobiography of Reading is exemplary and eye-opening. It reckons with coloniality and the narrative demands it makes in our lives and in our stories, examining canonical texts through close-reading strategies and reflexive thinking that are unparalleled in their clarity and rigour." [Full article at]—Shazia Hafiz Ramji, The Humber Literary Review"How ... do we begin to detoxify our reading practice in a way that lets the reader into the frame, away from the aegis of racism, xenophobia, and violence that layer our 'timeless' classics?"—Shivanee Ramlochan"Brand brings a poet's emotional lucidity to her recollections of growing up a voracious reader, and of the creeping realization that the literature she consumed as a Black woman was not written for her."—Miranda Martini, Alberta Views Magazine, October 2021"Born in 1953, nine years before Trinidad & Tobago gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1962, she is uniquely poised to critique empire, the literary canon being an imperial project.... In this lecture...Brand mapped its limits and questioned its capacity to contain us, when these books are so often hailed to effortlessly do just that."—Akilah White, The Book Slut, 05/12/2020"Like all of Brand's writings—her fiction, poetry, and essays—this book offers another compelling perspective on the possibilities of Black aesthetics and continues her crucial interventions that seek to overturn the epistemic violences engendered by colonial literature, reading, and archival practices.... Brand reflects on her early experiences of reading the colonial canon of writers like Thackeray and how encounters with colonialist tropes in effect render her—and other similar postcolonial othered subjects—invisible."—Nicole N. Aljoe, Modern Philology

Paperback / softback
72 Pages
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