What is meant by autobiography as history and "herstory?"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Speaking in the broadest possible of senses, the idea in play here is that the narratives used to constitute historiography have to include an understanding of women's roles and functions as a part of the narrative.  The notion of autobiography empowers a sense of the subjective in the historiographic process, ensuring that the collection of what constitutes "history" is a reflection of the individual perception of reality.   Feminist literary critics seek to expand the notion of autobiography as encompassing both history and "herstory," the idea that historical understanding and dialectic must balance out its narration with the inclusion of women and their roles in constructing said narrative.  In this, the notion of the autobiography can encompass history, but must also seek to embrace and include the discussion of historical development with an emphasis on women's efforts and women's purposefulness in the dialectic.  If autobiographies are accepted as history, this means that a subjective telling of events is being understood as part of the historical collection process.  In this, the natural inclusion is to also bring in the idea of women's roles in this, as subjectivity is already being sanctioned and approved with the autobiographical nature of the genre.  For the feminist literary critic that stresses some type of gender representation, the notion of historical collection being subjective can also incorporate a gender- based approach, making history and "herstory" equally viable in the autobiographical notion of the literary good.