Emptying the Attic: The Family Archive in Transition

Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The genre of autobiography makes for a compelling platform from which to view the changing nature of remembrance, memory and narrative. Autobiography has in the past often described the author's encounter with the family archive, often a limited archive which at most provides the authors with letters, photographs, and diaries. Authors might revisit and reconstruct the family archive in their texts. This is a feature of autobiographical texts which draws attention to the writing moment, to the future oriented nature of the texts, and to the attempts the authors make, when searching for or trawling through the family archive, at discovering and reworking the past for the future. In the present day we are faced with profound changes to this archive through its digitization. There the emphasis is by default on preserving and remembering, possibly leading to an over-abundance of archival material the autobiographer has to grapple with. This paper will address the different challenges this technology poses to the politics and performance of memory in its trajectory from textual representation of the dispersed and limited family archive to the continuous recording and preservation we engage in with our daily self-expression on social media.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLife Writing
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Other keywords

  • digitization
  • Family archive
  • memory
  • self-expression


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