#MeToo: A Testimonial Imperative and A Collective Autobiography


Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships




This project focuses on the vast body of online #MeToo testimonials as a form of collective autobiography, a form whose voice and rhetorical contours have yet to be delineated. This project suggests that #MeToo has created a distinctive narrative community where individuals take part in a larger cultural story comprised of and amplified by many voices. #MeToo is driven by a “testimonial imperative” that asks victims of sexual harassment or abuse to contribute to an autobiographical act authored less by “I” than by “we.” And for its contributors, this plural mode carries affordances and limitations that this project unpacks. A key element, for instance, is the way that some voices may get lost in #MeToo’s emphasis on a single first-person plural narrative community. In spite of the traditionally amplifying role of autobiography for stories of marginalized groups, #MeToo may highlight the dynamics of legibility, power, and privilege.