This chapter argues that comparative analyses of autobiographical works by ethnic writers typically fail to consider the extent to which minority autobiographies emphasize issues of authorship and artistry. Examination of the autobiographical writing of two early-twentieth-century writers—the Native American writer ZitkalaŠa and the Chinese American writer Sui Sin Far—suggests that both writers sought to present themselves in their autobiographical texts as legitimate American authors, and not only as complex ethnic subjects. Although their autobiographic essays do not conform to typical narratives of the acquisition of literacy, both writers emphasize early experiences of storytelling and childhood encounters with art in order to construct unique yet fully intelligible identities as ethnic American authors. Their shared preoccupation with issues of artistry thus points to a promising area for further investigation into inter-ethnic American life writing.

In: Selves in Dialogue