Autobiography as mediation and mitigation: Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation (1994) and Porochista Khahkpour's Sick (2018)

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This article argues that Elizabeth Wurtzel’s work has been undeservedly neglected by autobiography studies. It explores how autobiography functions as mediation and mitigation as Wurtzel attempts to communicate her experience of depression in Prozac Nation, with rich yet problematic results, and argues that Wurtzel’s refusal or difficulties with some key features of (American) autobiography mark her major contribution to the genre. The article also argues that the general understanding of Wurtzel as a ‘rule-breaker’ has merit but is only partly true, particularly as it extends to the frequent understanding of her as providing an empowering or feminist autobiographical example for women writers. Her complex influence is explored through a brief discussion of a contemporary autobiography of illness, Porochista Khakpour’s Sick.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-241
Number of pages21
JournalComparative American Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2021


  • America
  • Autobiography
  • gender
  • illness

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