Lives in the mirror. Education in women’s autobiographical writing. Introduction

Antonella Cagnolati


The Seventies witnessed a renewed scientific interest in the literary genre of autobiography, even by researchers in disciplinary areas not strictly philological or literary. But, if often autobiographical narrative is used as a legitimation of a personal choice – especially in ethical and political realm – in the most recent works, the resurgence of “women’s pages” and the concomitant successful researches by scholars in different fields (history, education, and literature) have made their way to a reformulation of the value of the autobiography itself, not only as a meta-historical issue led to the formation of a national identity, but increasingly as a powerful key to introspection. Once women have become masters in this literary genre, autobiographies have become instruments to capture the inner self and categories have largely diverted to a more intimate life, in a space apart to better hear themselves. Interest in the autobiographies was born under this gender difference: descending into the abyss of the female autobiographical writings can illuminate parts of real life, guess censorship, look closely at the passing of everyday experience. The writer’s life is moving in this complex space, a place where desires for personal fulfillment usually fight against family responsibilities and social engagements, with traditional educational models and new projects for the future. Acting in this context is not simple, nor easy, because sometimes the strategies that women still represent are defined as coercive, more as resignations than options. The autobiographies analyzed in the essays that follow, give us examples of rebellion and revolt – more or less openly – put into action not to resign to inequality, especially when not only social rules refer to ways and times exclusively male, but when this injustice is seen in its full tragic sense. Then, rebellion in deeds and words is unavoidable and necessary.

Received: 27/05/2013 / Accepted: 20/06/2013

How to reference this article

Cagnolati, A. (2014). Vidas en el espejo. La educación en la escritura autobiográfica de las mujeres. PresentaciónEspacio, Tiempo y Educación, 1(1), pp. 15-30. doi:


Autobiography; Women; Writings; Education; Gender difference



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ISSN: 2340-7263

DOI prefix: 10.14516/ete


FahrenHouse: Salamanca, Spain

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