This essay historicizes the emergence of the term autotheory as the signifier of a mode of autobiographical writing and reading based primarily on intersubjective histories and relational ontologies. Instead of trying to define autotheory as a neatly circumscribed “subgenre” of autobiography, it argues that the term stands for a contemporary disturbance in the entire autobiographical field—a disturbance that, thanks in large part to the queer and feminist genealogies that inform it, helps disrupt the close association of autobiography and the prizing of ontological certainty and reorients the autobiographical pursuit of (self-)recognition away from the scripts of neoliberal individualism and toward the self’s more radical and formative intersubjectivity.

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