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Journal Cover   European Journal of Life Writing
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  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
   ISSN (Print) 2211-243X
   Published by VU e-Publishing Homepage  [3 journals]
  • Teaching Life Writing Texts in Europe

    • Authors: Dennis Kersten, Anne-Marie Mreijen
      Abstract: Although courses on auto/biography and life writing are taught at different universities in Europe, and elements of contemporary life writing issues are addressed in different disciplines like sociology and history, life writing courses, as described in Teaching Life Writing Texts, are certainly not taught at all European universities. Also, quite a few teachers of life writing courses have to devise their own curricula and syllabi – as Richard Holmes demonstrated in  "The Proper Study?”, an essay on teaching auto/biography -  treading on unknown territory and unable to share their experiences with their colleagues. Apart from this, some life writing courses at European universities have had to make room for other courses when budgets are tight, as they are these days. Other university teachers struggle with the institutional framework they have to work in, operating in a specific faculty or masters programme context which poses limits as to which subjects to choose from and to discuss with the students. With these problems in mind, we thought it useful to share our experiences with other European teachers of life writing classes, and introduce a new cluster to the Journal of European Journal of Life Writing: “Teaching Life Writing in Europe.”In this cluster articles will be published which focus on the daily experience of teaching life writing classes, addressing questions like how to design a course about life writing that logically builds on and follows from your students’ knowledge, expertise and reading experience and does justice to current research as well.
      This article was submitted in December 2014 and published on 16 March 2015.
      PubDate: 2015-03-20
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • Beyond the Subject. New Developments in Life Writing

    • Authors: Tobias Heinrich, Monica Soeting
      Abstract: Following two successful conferences in Amsterdam in 2009 and in Tallinn in 2011, the third IABA Europe biennial conference, held from 31 October to 3 November 2013 in Vienna and hosted by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for the History and Theory of Biography, was entitled “Beyond the Subject. New Developments in Life Writing” and aimed at bridging the gap between historical forms of life writing and the most recent medial transformations in the genre of life writing, like personal websites, blogs and social networks as new spaces in the autobiographical public sphere. At the same time, the conference focused on auto/biographical practices that consciously undermine the traditional Western concept of the subject and develop alternative models of life writing.After the conference, participants were invited to submit articles based on their papers presented at the 2013 IABA Europe conference, to be published in the European Journal of Life Writing. In this section of the journal you will find more samples of the different topics that were addressed during the conference; the first six articles based on papers presented at the conference can be found in Volume III of the Journal. This article was submitted Decemeber 2014 and published on 16 March 2015.
      PubDate: 2015-03-16
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • ‘Inaccurate but Truthful’: Q&A with Screenwriter Peter

    • Authors: Julia Lajta-Novak, Werner Huber
      Pages: 1 - 15
      Abstract: In the spring of 2014, the University of Vienna in cooperation with the Ludwig Boltzmann institute for the history and Theory of Biography in Vienna organised an interdisciplinary lecture series “The Many faces of Biography”. This lecture series brought together scholars and practitioners of various historical and recent biographical forms, focusing on the specificities and challenges posed by different biographical media. one of them was peter Morgan, a major name in contemporary biographical film-making (and playwriting), noted for his characteristic dual-structure approach to writing lives for the screen. During one of the sessions of the lecture series he was interviewed by Julia novak and Werner Huber about some of his most famous work, such as The Deal (2003), The Queen (2006), Frost/Nixon (2008), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), and Rush (2013). in this Q&a he shed light on the principles guiding the screenwriter-biographer’s work, his conflicting responsibilities towards biographee and audience, and the biopic’s potential to impact on the fame and after-fame of historical and contemporary celebrities.

      PubDate: 2015-07-06
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • Writing European Lives. Stefan Zweig as a Biographer of Verhaeren, Rolland
           and Erasmus

    • Authors: Marleen Rensen
      Pages: 1 - 29
      Abstract: ABSTRACTThe Jewish-Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (1881–1942) was a passionate biographer who wrote about the lives of many influential people in European literature and history. In some of these biographies the genre is consciously employed as a vehicle to express an idea of Europe and foster a sense of belonging to a common European culture. His life stories of Emile Verhaeren (1910), Romain Rolland (1921) and Erasmus (1934) illustrate particularly well how Zweig portrayed artists as emblematic Europeans. As a biographer, he mediated across cultures in order to highlight the transnational elements of their lives that link disparate cultures in Europe. As the practice of writing European lives affected Zweig’s sense of belonging to Europe, the portraits of Verhaeren, Rolland and Erasmus anticipated some of the central themes of his self-narration in Die Welt von Gestern. Erinnerungen eines Europäers (1942).
      This article was submitted on 7 June 2014 and publidhed on 10 June 2015.
      PubDate: 2015-06-10
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • Memory to Ink: Autobiography Project in Portugal

    • Authors: Marilyn S Zucker
      Pages: 1 - 12
      Abstract: This paper outlines a project centered on the teaching of Autobiography and Personal Narrative at the University of Lisbon. The course was an effort to ignite personal/collective empowerment through writing in a country where such writing has long been repressed by a variety of cultural imperatives. Students read autobiographical articles and book excerpts by well-known English language writers, read practically-oriented theoretical pieces, and wrote stories of their own lives prompted by their readings and discussions as they experienced and gained authority through authorship. Their growing self-advocacy registered as the course progressed, evidenced by the detail and reflection, authenticity and complexity of their written work.
      PubDate: 2015-03-20
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • From Diaries to Blogs: Cultural and Political Networking in Russian
           Autobiographical Practice.

    • Authors: Tatiana Saburova, Natalia Rodigina
      Pages: 1 - 16
      Abstract: We aim to reveal the transformations of the subject, structure, goals, and functions of autobiographical practice from diary to blog in Russia, its traditions and developments as a specific form of political and cultural networking. The proposed paper is based on the comparison of the diaries of Alexander Turgenev (1784-1845), historian and a journalist, and the blog of Boris Akunin (Georgii Chkhartishvili, 1956-), a writer, translator, historian. Turgenev’s diaries were published as “Chronicle of a Russian” in reputable literary magazines and political journals in the 1830-40s; they contributed to the formation of the intelligentsia and furthered cultural links between Russia and Europe. Akunin expresses his political views on his blog “Love of History”, posting autobiographical notes, travelogues, reflections, correspondence, and photographs. Juxtaposing the diary and blog promises to yield rich insights into Russian cultural practices over time. This article was submitted in May 2014 and published on 16 March 2015.
      PubDate: 2015-03-16
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • ‘Dozens who thought they knew her’: Finding Vivian Maier?

    • Authors: Clare Brant
      Pages: 1 - 6
      Abstract: It’s not very often that a story comes along to astonish and excite, but the tale of Vivian Maier[M1]  is one such, and of such interest that I would like to alert our life writing community. I describe it through the film version in which I encountered it, though reviewers and others redescribe that tale in condensed ways also of interest as biographical micronarratives. The least you might know is the film’s description by its maker: ‘Finding Vivian Maier is the critically acclaimed documentary about a mysterious nanny, who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that were hidden in storage lockers and, discovered decades later, is now among the 20th century’s greatest photographers. Directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, Maier’s strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never before seen photographs, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her.’ This article was submitted in August 2014 and published on 16 March 2015.
      PubDate: 2015-03-16
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • Waving at Soldiers

    • Authors: Heather Richardson
      Pages: 7 - 18
      Abstract: For most writers the first experience of narrative comes from within the family. Facts, opinions, distortions and – very occasionally – truth, are shaped into family stories. A first-time memoirist such as myself has to acknowledge her own unreliability as a narrator, and must unpick real from false memory, the accidently misremembered from the downright lie. In this piece I chart the uncomfortable experience of remembering and writing about growing up during the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’, focusing on the life and death of my Aunt’s husband. He was a British soldier serving in Northern Ireland during the worst years of the Troubles in the early 70s and latterly a constable in the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). From their peculiar wedding in my parents’ front room to his death in a car crash five years later, exploring his story has confronted me with the long-denied impact of the Northern Irish conflict on my practice as a writer and teacher of creative writing.
      PubDate: 2015-07-19
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • I Problems; Blindness and Autobiography

    • Authors: Dennis Schep
      Pages: 17 - 35
      Abstract: The literary genre of autobiography dates back to the 18th century, when philosophy became a type of anthropology, archives and case histories strengthened the grasp of discourse over life, and modern authorship and hermeneutics led to new modes of reading and writing. Nietzsche and so-called French theory have put significant strain on this constellation in their shared critique of language, subjectivity and authorship – a critique that makes traditional autobiography all but impossible. Needless to say, this has stopped neither Nietzsche nor a number of postmodern theorists from writing their own autobiographical texts. Interestingly, blindness is a recurring figure in many of these texts; and in this article, I argue that this figure allows us to trace the generic upheaval generated by the problematization of the discursive constellation that fostered modern autobiographical writing. By means of a brief introduction into the history of optics and a close reading of Nietzsche's Ecce Homo and Cixous' 'Savoir,' I show that the malfunctioning eye is one of the figures employed to deinstitutionalize both the philosophical and the autobiographical tradition, allowing us to grasp what became of autobiography after philosophy pronounced the death of man, the subject, and the author.This article was submitted in May 2014 and published on 16 March 2015.

      PubDate: 2015-03-16
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • How Do Diaries Begin? The Narrative Rites of Adolescent Diaries in

    • Authors: Gergely Kunt
      Pages: 30 - 55
      Abstract: This paper examines the narrative tropes of Hungarian adolescent diaries written during and after World War II, primarily focusing on the rhetorical forms of beginning a diary that fall into two categories characteristic of adolescent diary-writing – beginning with an introduction describing the author and their environment, or beginning with a memoir in which the author summarizes the most important events of the period between their birth and the start of the diary. The paper also discusses how adolescents personified their diary books and intended those for their adult selves in the course of diary-writing as dialogue.
      PubDate: 2015-06-25
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • Eschewing the First Person: Post-Subjective Autobiography in Hubert Fichte
           and his Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit / History of Sensitivity

    • Authors: Robert Gillett
      Pages: 37 - 55
      Abstract: Despite the uncanny similarities between the known facts of Hubert Fichte's life and the events depicted in his works, opinion is still divided as to whether Fichte's work constitutes an autobiography or not. This is partly because, rather than adopting the classic first person or using the same name on the cover as in the inside of the book, Fichte gives his protagonists fictitional names: Detlev, Jäcki. The designation of many of his works as 'novels' does not help either. The thesis of this article is that in his literary works, Fichte deliberately drew on the events of his own life, and deliberately invoked the various genres and procedures of life writing in order to construct what I call 'post-subjective autobiography'. In putting forward this thesis, I demonstrate how, from his third novel onwards, Fichte is not writing from the position of a secure subject, but employing a whole range of devices to interrogate the subject of autobiography. And the conclusion is that this post-subjective autobiography is a únique aesthetic and ethical achievement which we would do well to emulate. This article was submitted in May 2014 and published on 16 March 2015.
      PubDate: 2015-03-16
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • “I did not mean to make away with the child, I did not know what I
           was about”: Autobiographical Traces of Infanticide in
           Eighteenth-Century Trial Records

    • Authors: Sonja Boon
      Pages: 56 - 76
      Abstract: In this essay, I am interested in the possibilities of maternal autobiography in court documents. I focus specifically on the trial records of mothers charged with infanticide between 1700 and 1800. Drawing on the Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913, I consider these narratives both through the lenses of legal and social histories of infanticide, and in relation to Marlene Kadar et al.’s notion of “autobiographical traces,” fragmentary stories that emerge when pieces of individual lives are stitched together with the historical, social and political context in which they emerged. The fragments I explore in this essay include not only the limited textual interventions of the accused mothers themselves, as they took the stand to speak in their defense, but also their silences and erasures. In addition to this, I consider the autobiographical potential of these women’s actions and behaviours, as witnessed and deposed by those called to the stand. Finally, I consider the stories of self that emerge from the reproductive and maternal body; that is, I am interested in the ways that bodily stories and understandings inevitably complicate textual and behavioural narratives. 
      PubDate: 2015-06-25
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • Beyond the Subject: Anglo-American Slave Narratives in the Netherlands,

    • Authors: Marijke Huisman
      Pages: 56 - 84
      Abstract: In recent years life writing scholars have increasingly linked the autobiographical genre to human rights causes, such as abolitionism. This article aims to historicize and contextualize the presupposed connection between human rights and the human subject of autobiographical discourse by focusing on the cultural mobility of Anglo-American slave narratives. Tracing their presence in the Netherlands since the late eighteenth century, it is demonstrated that slave narratives were considered of no value to Dutch abolitionism and Dutch debates on slavery and its legacy until very recently. Publishers and readers did, however make sense of slave narratives as sensational, gothic literature. Furthermore, the narratives were appropriated by Dutch fundamentalist Protestants advocating the nation’s emancipation from its state of spriritual “slavery”. Only when secularization converged with post-colonial migration patterns new interpretations stressing Black experience, agency, and subjectivity came to the fore in the Netherlands. Inspired by African-American rhetoric, Afro-Dutch migrants appropriated slave narratives in order to break the public silence on the Dutch history of slavery. This article was submitted in June 2014 and published in April 2015.
      PubDate: 2015-04-09
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • Celebrity, Scriptedness and Alleged Sexual Violence in Ghost-Written
           Autobiographies by Julian Assange and Samatha Geimer

    • Authors: Edward Saunders
      Pages: 85 - 107
      Abstract: This article explores issues relating to the way scripts of sexual violence are employed or rejected in auto/biographical writing. It addresses ghost-written autobiographical responses to two famously unresolved cases of alleged male–female rape: those of Julian Assange and Roman Polanski. In both cases, the alleged perpetrator was a famous man and the allegation of rape has not conclusively been proven in court. The article looks at rape as a narratological problem beyond the definition or symbolic meaning of the crime, and contrasts the narration from the perspective of an alleged perpetrator (Assange) with that of a victim (Samantha Geimer), addressing the way the act of sexual violence becomes a point of orientation in the lives of both – perhaps disproportionately so. In both cases, the management of the autobiographical account through the use of ghost-writers focuses attention on the constructed nature of the  life narrative. In cases relating to famous men, reflecting the impact of media reporting is a necessary counterpart to the consideration of the auto/biographical text. This article was submitted to the EJLW on 7 July 2014 and published on 2 May 2015.
      PubDate: 2015-05-02
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
  • Re-imagining a Nation: The Australian Dictionary of Biography Online

    • Authors: Paul Longley Arthur
      Pages: 108 - 124
      Abstract: This essay investigates how the digital medium has recently enabled radical
      changes in the ways that national biography can be generated and engaged
      with. It takes the position that national biography, whether or not it sets out to
      do so, reflects how a nation views itself. The Australian Dictionary of Biography
      (ADB) has been produced continuously for more than 50 years, and has cumulatively generated a story of a nation. The nature of that collective narrative, however, is not easy to discover. Now, as a result of the ADB’s recent adoption of digital formats, the potential for analysis of the biographies it contains has expanded exponentially, offering unprecedented research opportunities for investigating in new ways how the idea of nation itself has evolved in Australia.
      PubDate: 2015-06-25
      Issue No: Vol. 4 (2015)
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