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European Journal of Life Writing
Number of Followers: 6  

  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 2211-243X
Published by VU e-Publishing Homepage  [3 journals]
  • Reassembling Documents of Life in the Archive

    • Authors: Maria Tamboukou
      Pages: 1 - 19
      Abstract: We usually perceive archives as the end of the active life of a document, a place where a document is deposited to be protected and preserved for the creation of future memories and histories. And yet archives are beginnings as much as they are ends: they give their documents a new life and particularly with the advent of digitisation, new and diverse forms of life; but they can also deprive their documents of a future life, by hiding them through mysterious cataloguing structures, complex classification practices or merely spatial arrangements. Apart from curators and archivists who create and organise archives, often hiding documents in them, researchers also create archival assemblages when they bring together documents from diverse archives and sources around the world. But researchers, like archivists, often hide the archival strategies or sources of their research, through their immersion in the power relations of knowledge production. In this paper I look at the creation of an archival assemblage from my research with documents of life written by French seamstresses, active in the feminist circles of the romantic socialist movements of the nineteenth century. What I argue is that as researchers we need to become more sensitive to the life of the documents of life we work with; simply put: we cannot engage with documents of life while ignoring the life of documents within the archive and beyond. This article was submitted to EJLW on January 16th 2016, and published on April 9th 2017

      PubDate: 2017-04-08
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.215
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • Bill: A Portrait of Discontinuties

    • Authors: Arthur Halliday
      Pages: 1 - 10
      Abstract: A dialogue and a reflection are offered as a way of structuring the author’s thoughts about the life and personality of a dead friend (the dialogue), and his reflection on why he wrote the first dialogue as he did. In particular, the dialogue seeks to present the dead man as confusing to ‘read’. The reflection considers how much attention is given in the first to different aspects of the friend’s life, and offers possible reasons for these choices. Reasons include the personal characteristics of the author highlighted by his friendship with the dead man, and the author’s wish to reflect obliquely something of the felt experience of being the dead man’s friend. This dialogue was submitted to EJLW on August 7th, and published on April 9th 2017. Arthur Halliday is a pseudonym.
      PubDate: 2017-04-08
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.200
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • Moscow Interdisciplinary Conference on Autobiography

    • Authors: Thomas Rollings
      Pages: 1 - 5
      Abstract: The conference devoted to “Autobiographical writings in an interdisciplinary research environment: people, texts, practices” was held on 1–2 June 2016 in Moscow at the National Research University The Higher School of Economics (HSE). The conference aimed to promote the study of first-person writings as the product of specific social practices and marked a modest step forward in the study of autobiography in Russia. This article was submitted to EJLW on October 21st 2016 and published on April 9th 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-04-08
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.210
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • Arbeit ist das halbe Leben…

    • Authors: Sarah Herbe
      Pages: 6 - 12
      Abstract:  Arbeit ist das halbe Leben…: Erzählungen vom Wandel der Arbeitswelten seit 1945 (“Working is Half your Life…: Telling the Transformations of the Working World since 1945”), Kinder – Küche – Karriere: Acht Frauen erzählen (“Kids – Kitchen – Career: Eight Women Tell their Stories”), and Eigene Wege: Eine Bergbäuerin erzählt (“My Own Ways: A Mountain Farmer Tells Her Story”) are among the most recent volumes of the series “Damit es nicht verlorengeht…” (translated as “Lest We Forget…” on the website of the Department of Economic and Social History of the University of Vienna), edited by the association for the “Dokumentation lebensgeschichtlicher Aufzeichnungen” (“Collection of Biographical Records”) in Vienna. Both the collection and the series were founded in 1983 by the historian Michael Mitterauer, two years after the re-launch of the Mass Observation project in the UK (Sheridan 27), with the aim to document and archive the everyday lives of Austrians. The collection holds autobiographical manuscripts by more than 3,000 people, most of them born in Austria after 1900 (see Müller 2009, 93–94). Many of the contributions were elicited with the help of calls for contributions (“Schreibaufrufe”) that aimed at collecting material on specific topics. Günter Müller, the curator of the collection, stresses the close cooperation of the association with those who respond to such calls: every single submission receives a detailed personal reply, and the respondents are assisted in their attempts to keep alive their memories and experiences for posterity.     This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on March 15th 2017 and published on April 27th 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-04-27
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.219
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • The Diary of Heinrich Witt. Edited by Ulrich Mücke, 10 volumes, Brill:
           Leiden, Boston 2016. (ISBN: 978-90-04-30726-1). Also available as e-book
           (ISBN 978-90-04-30724-7).

    • Authors: Angelika Schaser
      First page: 13
      Abstract: A biography of Heinrich Witt authored by Christa Wetzel opens an impressive edition of Witt’s diary, written during the 19th century. Heinrich Witt, born in 1799 in Altona into a protestant merchant family, emigrated in his twenties to Peru where he spent most of his lifetime until his death in 1892. After school, the young Witt started a career as a merchant in Altona and was sent to England by his father in 1823, then left Europe to travel to Peru in 1824. First he acted for a trading company in London which started a new branch in Arequipa, Peru. In 1842 he went into business for himself, firstly dealt with wool and textiles, and focused on financial business from the 1860s onwards. This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on Janury 14th 2017 and published on April 29th 2017. 
      PubDate: 2017-04-29
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.220
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • Dear Diary: A Celebration of Diaries and their Digital Descendants. The
           Dear Diary exhibition, King’s College London, 2017

    • Authors: Rozemarijn Van de Wal
      Pages: 20 - 27
      Abstract: Diaries present a valuable source for historical research. They provide an insight into the lives of ordinary people, informing us about the everyday as well as the extraordinary in the context of changing times and societies. Diaries give us a personal perspective on public issues, an understanding of how people thought at a certain time and place, information almost unobtainable from other sources. However, diary writing is a genre at risk. Not only do diarists often disregard the value of their writings and make no plans or efforts for their future conservation, but the private nature of diaries often makes people hesitant about saving them for future generations. In addition, the advancement of the digital age is radically changing the genre. Traditionally associated with pen and paper, diaries are increasingly ‘written’ online or otherwise compiled through the use of digital methods. The internet is quite literally changing our lives as well as the practices of life-writing. This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on 8 August 2017 and published on 5 October 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-10-05
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.230
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • Finding a Tongue: Autobiography Beyond Definition

    • Authors: Juliane Prade-Weiss
      Pages: 20 - 39
      Abstract: The outset of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man presents a stage of life and language that is commonly evoked and, at the same time, systematically avoided in autobiographies as well as theoretical approaches to language: infancy. This textual strategy refers back to Augustine’s Confessiones, one of the most canonical autobiographies, reading it as a mainstay for an unconventional hypothesis: Rather that understanding infancy as an early stage of, or even before, language, Joyce expounds that the condition called infancy – the openness for receiving language while being unable to master it – accompanies all speech, be it childlike or eloquent. The article analyses Joyce’s text as one instance of a general paradox of autobiographical writing: initial aphasia. Setting out with birth or infancy, autobiographical texts precede articulate discourse. In Joyce, this paradox appears as starting point for a poetical – rather than theoretical – thinking about language, and language acquisition. This article was submitted on September 22nd 2015, and published on April 9th 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-04-08
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.217
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • Exploring the Nature of the Dialogical Self: The Young Widow Memoir

    • Authors: Katrin Den Elzen
      Pages: 40 - 61
      Abstract: This paper intends to contribute to the ongoing debate on identity construction by offering a textual analysis of two memoirs that depict the experience of young widowhood: Unremarried Widow by Artis Henderson (2014) and When it Rains by Maggie MacKellar (2010). I refer to the texts as young widow memoirs and identify them as a sub-genre of the grief memoir. Drawing on Paul Eakin’s concept of narrative identity and Hubert Hermans’ dialogical self theory, the analysis investigates how the memoirists use narrative to negotiate and represent the multiple subject positions and conflicting voices that arise out of the experience of young widowhood, and how they position selves which existed prior to their loss in relation to their post-loss selves. The memoirs under review are shown to rebuild a relatively stable sense of self out of the multiple voices of loss.   This article was based on a paper presented during the IABA-Europe Conference in 2015. The article was submitted on August 25th and published on April 13th 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-04-13
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.223
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • Coming to One's Senses: Diaries and the Materiality of Mourning in
           Sophie Calle's Rachel, Monique

    • Authors: Sonia Catherine Wilson
      Pages: 62 - 86
      Abstract: After a woman's death certain material objects, commonly referred to as 'personal effects', remain. Diaries are sometimes among these. This essay focuses on the trajectory taken by one mother's diaries in particular, examining the shifts in meaning effected by the circumstances in which they are passed on to the daughter and by their subsequent emergence into the daughter's work in 2012. Since her mother's death in 2006, the internationally established writer, photographer and installation artist Sophie Calle has staged a series of installations consisting of material markers of mourning. The diaries enter this installative series in 2012. This essay investigates how Calle's engagement with the diaries dialogues with existing cultural representations of The Mother's Diaries and explores the effects of their display on conventions of mourning and exhibiting practices. This article was submitted to EJLW on 29th of August 2015 and pubkished on 27th of April 2017. 
      PubDate: 2017-04-27
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.187
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • Recent Zones of Portraiture: The Selfie

    • Authors: Teresa Bruś
      Pages: 87 - 100
      Abstract: In the “age of the selfie” (Jerry Saltz), we gauge the self as active. This paper proposes to engage the selfie as a dominant and enlarging practice of assertion and performance of lived existence.  I align the selfie with the snapshot, making a point about their extraordinary cultural force and productivity determined by their distinctive economies and technical bases as well as cultural statuses.  An expression of our desire to be visible in the social world, the selfie, I argue, is a sub-genre of portraiture which exposes and “proliferates” our face as an activity promising interaction. In the “post-face” phase of our culture this performative face is a surface of the visual present, always in the making.
      This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on May 24th 2016, and published on July 12th 2017.

      PubDate: 2017-07-12
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.227
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • Tiny symbols tell big stories. Naming and concealing masturbation in
           diaries (1660-1940)

    • Authors: Leonieke Vermeer
      Pages: 101 - 134
      Abstract: Symbols, encryptions and codes are a way to hide sensitive or highly personal content in diaries. This kind of private language is an important feature of diary practice, regardless of time and place, but it has barely been studied yet. This article highlights symbols for masturbation in diaries from the mid-seventeenth until the early twentieth century. These symbols are interpreted not as ‘silence’, but as disguising, narrative strategies. They form an integral part of the text and should be studied as such. The central question is how authors, by employing disguising strategies (such as symbols) in diaries position themselves within and against public discourses on masturbation. The main body of sources consists of six diaries from different national contexts. The discourse against masturbation which developed from the beginning of the eighteenth century was an international (western) affair. In medical treatises and pedagogical manuals for parents, masturbation became a ‘total illness’: a life-threatening activity that would lead to near-certain (and gruesome) death. Diary writing functioned as a medium to register and control this secret vice. But the diaries also show ways to change or resist this dominant discourse. The symbols for masturbation reflect some crucial aspects of diary writing: the diary as a memory device, between private experience and public discourses. This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on February 2nd 2017, and published on July 12th 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-07-12
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.209
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • The Spaces of Citizenship: Mapping Personal and Colonial Histories in
           Contemporary Italy in Igiaba Scego’s La Mia Casa È Dove Sono (My Home
           is Where I Am)

    • Authors: Eleanor Paynter
      Pages: 135 - 153
      Abstract: As Italy has changed from emigration country to immigration destination, the growing body of literature by migrant and second generation writers plays an important role in connecting discourses on race and national identity with the country’s increasing diversity and its colonial past. This essay investigates the 2010 memoir La Mia Casa È Dove Sono (My Home is Where I Am) by Igiaba Scego, the daughter of Somali immigrants, as life writing that responds to these changing demographics and, more broadly, to the migration trends affecting contemporary Europe. The self Scego constructs through her narration integrates her Roman identity and Somali background as the narrative returns colonial history to Italian public discourse and public space. I argue that by narrating the personal and historical in the context of Roman monuments and neighborhoods, Scego’s memoir challenges and redefines who can be “Italian,” modeling a more inclusive Italianità. I discuss the memoir in terms of its use of collective memory and its development of a narrative “I” that claims a position within a collective identity while challenging the exclusionary tendencies of that very group. This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on June 8th, 2016, and published on July 17th, 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-07-17
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.193
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • Ethics and Dialogue in Autobiography: The Cases of Vitomil Zupan and Lojze

    • Authors: Andreas Leben
      Pages: 154 - 173
      Abstract: Vitomil Zupan (1914–1987), a former partisan and political prisoner, and Lojze Kovačič (1928–2004) who was exiled as a German speaking child with his family from Switzerland to Yugoslavia, rank among the most outstanding autobiographers in modern Slovene literature. After a brief theoretical discussion on ethics and a dialogue on autobiographical discourse, the paper discusses the intersections and dialogical interplay between the real author, the writer, the narrator, the characters and the reader in their writings since the 1970s, taking into account the background of their personal experiences and the political, ideological and social conditions represented in their texts. As they pursued different concepts of self-representation, special emphasis is placed on ethical issues that derive from the autobiographical genre, respectively, from the specifics of the ethics of the told and the ethics of the telling as well as on the significance of ethical questions within the aesthetics of their writing. This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on April 16th, 2016, and published on July 17th, 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-07-17
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.224
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • To Leave Your Kindred and Your Father’s House. Contemporary Dutch
           Christian Border Narratives

    • Authors: Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar, Krina Huisman
      Pages: 174 - 196
      Abstract: In this article the authors analyse a collection of essays written by young Dutch people who grew up in the Reformed Liberated Church, a small Christian denomination in the Netherlands. Traditionally, this church is characterised by its inwards nature: members strive to live their lives within the confinements that the church and its institutions stipulate. This has changed over the last few decades and the essays attest to the effects these changes have had on individual lives. We discuss the underlying narrative structure of their accounts and how the authors negotiate different lifestyles and interpretations of the Christian faith on either side of the borders that demarcate the Reformed Liberated tradition. We discuss if – and how – the essays work towards an outcome of ‘discordant concordance’ (Ricœur) where narrative identities remain whole, despite relatively drastic border crossings in the course of the lives that formed them. We address how these stories give insight into how people use the stories they tell to define what needs to be remembered and forgotten when we cross borders. Finally, we discuss the relevance of these essays and our analysis of them for our understanding of today’s globalised and multicultural societies in which many are in a permanent state of transition. This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on February 17th and published on August 28th 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-08-28
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.228
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • “A woman should not be so cheap” The Prostitute as a Constructed Other
           in Estonian Post-Soviet Life Stories

    • Authors: Riikka Taavetti
      Pages: 197 - 217
      Abstract: This article discusses the construction of the female prostitute figure in Estonian life stories on love and sexuality that were collected in 1996. As prostitution was mentioned in the questions posed in the call for writings, more than half of the 61 respondents discussed their attitudes as well as experiences concerning prostitution. The writers portray prostitution as a stable phenomenon that is needed in society; one that cannot be eradicated but should be controlled. Additionally, prostitution is connected to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and particularly to AIDS. The image of prostitution constructed in the writings carries ethicised meanings as it is exoticised as well as portrayed as something inherently Estonian. The main point in this article is that the figure of the female prostitute was constructed as an ‘other’ in the life stories, a sexual outsider who is needed in the society but who is nonetheless perceived as essentially different from the writers themselves. The contributors used this othering in their writing to construct their selves as well as the concept of acceptable heterosexuality.This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on August 17th 2016, and published on August 28th 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-08-28
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.199
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • Salt Fish and Molasses: Unsettling the Palate in the Spaces Between Two

    • Authors: Gina Snooks, Sonja Boon
      Pages: 218 - 241
      Abstract: Food stories play an integral role in the ways that we imagine ourselves, both intimately in the context of home and family, and politically, in the context of the nation-state. But while food is intricately woven into the politics of place, it also crosses boundaries, gaining new meanings in the process. In this paper, we consider the transnational food histories that link the geographically distant but colonially-linked regions of Newfoundland and Suriname. Our collaborative autoethnographic inquiry examines the role that salt fish and molasses have played in our respective bodily memories and experiences. Central to our inquiry is a single question: What happens when salt fish – Newfoundland’s greatest export product – meets molasses, the sticky treacly by-product of the colonial Caribbean’s sugar cane refining process; that is, what happens when our palates meet' Engaging a decolonial lens, our collaborative work suggests the necessity of moving beyond culinary nostalgia towards the complexity of an “unsettled palate” that acknowledges the legacies of our shared transnational histories and the ongoing effects of colonialism and slavery. In the process, we critically reflect upon the ways in which we are each implicated in these histories, albeit in different ways. This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on March 3rd 2017 and published on October 17th 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-10-17
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.213
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
  • “Distinguished Ladies” and the Doctrine of Womanhood:
           Auto-surveillance and Autoperformance in Diamela Eltit’s E. Luminata

    • Authors: Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle
      Pages: 242 - 261
      Abstract: Phillipe Lejeune reminds us that “[i]n spite of the fact that autobiography is impossible, this in no way prevents it from existing” (132-3). Nowhere is this paradox more evident than in a history of women’s writing about their lives under dictatorship in which the impossible autobiographical act is not only complicated by the linguistic and narratological confines of self-portraiture, but is also impeded by the oppressive surveillance and censorship of totalitarianism. Although the autobiographical voice is, perhaps, the most powerful device for offering testimony of human rights violations under the absolute power of dictatorship, it is also the most impossible because it is the least likely to see print. And yet, impossible autobiographies written under curfew, in captivity, and other repressive circumstances of dictatorship, prove to adapt and replicate in resilient forms of resistance to tyranny in spite of their own impossibility. They give way to forms of autobiographical inscription that are not only outlaws of genre and convention but also public offenses punishable by death. This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on October 19th 2015 and published on October 17th 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-10-17
      DOI: 10.5463/ejlw.6.229
      Issue No: Vol. 6 (2017)
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