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Journal Cover   European Journal of Life Writing
  [3 followers]  Follow
  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
   ISSN (Print) 2211-243X
   Published by VU e-Publishing Homepage  [3 journals]
  • Introduction to "Beyond the Subject. New Developments in Life

    • 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 IA BA Europe conference, to be published in the European Journal of Life Writing. In this section of the journal you will find samples of the different topics that were addressed during the conference. This article was submitted on September 1st, 2014, and published on November 3rd, 2014.
      PubDate: 2014-11-03
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Bibliography

    • Authors: Ioana Luca
      Abstract: Bibliography
      PubDate: 2014-08-01
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • “Thou liv’st to all that Read”: Reading the Paratext of
           William Cartwright’s Comedies, Tragi-Comedies, With other Poems
           (1651) as Early Modern Life Writing

    • Authors: Sarah Herbe
      Pages: 1 - 18
      Abstract: This essay proposes to read the paratext of books published in seventeenth-century as a form of multi-perspective, multi-generic, and multi-modal of life writing, since information on the author is not only provided in chronological “Life of the Author” narratives, but by all elements of the paratext. Drawing on the paratext of William Cartwright’s Comedies, Tragi-Comedies, With other Poems, published posthumously in 1651, it is shown how conventional paratextual strategies are combined with individualising “biographemes” (R. Barthes) to create a multi-faceted presentation of the author, in which the reader’s role to reconstruct the author’s life emerges as central. This article was submitted on June 1st 2014 and published on November 3rd 2014
      PubDate: 2014-11-03
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Deportation, Memory and the Self in Dalia
           Grinkevičiūtė’s Memoirs A Stolen Youth, A Stolen
           Homeland and Lithuanians by the Laptev Sea

    • Authors: Audrone Raskauskiene
      First page: 1
      Abstract: The present discussion adresses the issue of deportation, displacement, memory and the self in Dalia Grinkevičiūtė’s Lietuviai prie Laptevų jūros: Atsiminimai, miniatiūros, laiškai, written in 1949–50, first published in 1997 and in 2002 translated as A Stolen Youth, a Stolen Homeland, and in the second version of the memoirs, Lietuviai prie Laptevų jūros, written in 1974, in 1990 translated as Lithuanians by the Laptev Sea. At the age of fourteen, Dalia Grinkevičiūtė (1927-1987) was deported from Lithuania to Siberia during the mass deportations of 1941 and spent almost 10 years in Yakut Republic. Considering Grinkevičiūtė’s life experience writing memoirs may be understood as a means of composing or re-creating the self. At the same time, this re-creating of the self through narrative becomes a healing process to that wounded by the tragic experiences of deportation and exile. If we refer to Lacan, relating self to the others brings a healing effect. According to such scholars as Kohut, Hartmann, Modell, and Kernberg, a sense of self depends on the negotiations of self defined against and in relation to others, where the “other” takes the form of an object of various emotions. For many of these scholars, creativity, especially writing, performs the function of restoring or re-creating a sense of self and re-negotiating self-object relations. The idea of writing as re-creation of the self, can be related to autobiographical writing where this is quite explicit.
      PubDate: 2014-03-21
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Writing the Lives of the Poor

    • Authors: Timothy Ashplant
      First page: 1
      Abstract: The conference 'Writing the Lives of the Poor' arose out of a joint Anglo-German research project, “Pauper Letters and Petitions for Poor Relief in Germany and Great Britain,1770–1914”, funded by the UK’s Arts & Humanities Research Council,and directed by Prof. Steven King (University of Leicester) and Prof.Dr. Andreas Gestrich (Director, German Historical Institute London. These narratives comprise letters and petitions written by paupers seeking some form of relief. In describing the circumstances which led them to appeal for help, the authors construct autobiographical vignettes. The project aims to construct an online, edited corpus of such texts, which survive in considerable numbers in British and German archives.
      PubDate: 2014-03-14
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Love Plus Anarchy

    • Authors: Heathcote Williams
      First page: 1
      Abstract: Here’s something to offend everyone – which should make us think about grounds of taking offence. In an invitation to self-reflect, Heathcote Williams' poems ask more of readers than usual: it’s part of what makes them so interesting for life writing.
      PubDate: 2014-02-14
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Speaking the Self, Narratives on Srebrenica

    • Authors: Odile Heynders
      First page: 1
      Abstract: In this article, various life narratives documenting the fall of the Srebrenica enclave in July 1995 will be discussed and analyzed. The fundamental question underlying the reading of these narratives is ‘How do separate stories construct the memory of a European locus, offering an understanding of a geopolitical space as build on interchangeable voices’? The larger context within which this paper is written is my research on the symbolization of Europe: to get a grip on the European reality and culture we need to analyze and interpret narratives in the light of and with regard to the historical facts, their impact, and the collective and suppressed memories involved.  
      PubDate: 2014-01-17
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Review authorized biography Angela Merkel

    • Authors: Marieke Oprel
      Pages: 7 - 11
      Abstract: With Angela Merkel favoured to win the German election again, several political books about the German chancellor were published during 2013. Both in Germany and abroad, observers puzzled over the reasons for the on-going success of Mrs. Merkel, the scientist from East Berlin who became an internationally honoured stateswoman. One book stood out because of the label ‘authorized biography’ on the cover: Angela Merkel. The Chancellor and her world, written by Stefan Kornelius. Whether Merkel asked Kornelius, head of the international section of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, to write a book about her political career and vision, or just commented and approved a book Kornelius had written independently, is not mentioned. However, the fact is that Kornelius’ book is the first biography for which Merkel gave her consent. The question is: what new light does this authorized biography shed on the person behind the politician? This article was first published in EJLW on 14 October 2014.

      PubDate: 2014-10-14
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Narratives of Survival and the Politics of Memory

    • Authors: Vieda Skultans
      First page: 11
      Abstract: Narratives of survival illustrate a number of converging theoretical issues of importance for life-history writing. On the one hand, personal memory strives for connection with shared structures of thought: little stories seek to attach themselves to big stories. On the other hand, nation building shapes personal memory to serve its political grand narratives. In the interstitial space room must be found for the articulation of the experience of little individuals.
      PubDate: 2014-04-18
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Illness Narrative and Self-Help Culture – Self-Help Writing on
           Age-Related Infertility

    • Authors: Anita Wohlmann
      Pages: 19 - 41
      Abstract: Both self-help books and illness narratives are motivated by an impulse to overcome a crisis and, simultaneously, to help others who suffer from similar conditions. In doing so, authors of self-help and illness narratives move in between polar opposites: they have both individual and collective motives, they have a desire to overcome uncertainty and achieve control and they negotiate the authority of experience versus the authority of expertise. This paper has two objectives: (1) It describes the intersections of illness life writing and self-help culture and traces the thematic, cultural and historical similarities. (2) It analyzes a selection of four autobiographical, U.S.-American self-help books on age-related infertility published between 1987 and 2009. In juxtaposing these books with research perspectives from self-help criticism and medical humanities, the paper suggests that the authors blur the boundaries between patient and expert in their attempts to achieve control over what is ultimately uncontrollable – the body. The paper closes with a reflection on how scientific discourses and the Quantified Self-movement influence self-help narratives on illness.  This article was submitted on June 1st, 2014 and published on November 3rd 2014.
      PubDate: 2014-11-03
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • When “Mixing Memory and Desire”: Imaginative Revisions and the
           Productive Power of Nostalgia in Rebecca Brown’s Oughtabiographies

    • Authors: Lies Xhonneux
      First page: 23
      English: This essay focuses on the “oughtabiographies” of the contemporary lesbian writer Rebecca Brown, which function as imaginative vehicles with which the author (re)writes her own past the way it should have been. Thus her work will be seen to extend the realm of longing – usually reserved for the future – into the past, thereby highlighting the role of desire and the value of “narrative truth” in personal history writing. Moreover, Brown’s active reworkings of her personal past allow for a critical reappraisal of the concept of nostalgia, which is usually dismissed as conservative or passive.
      Dutch: Dit essay bespreekt de “oughtabiographies” van de hedendaagse lesbische schrijfster Rebecca Brown, waarin deze auteur haar eigen verleden herschrijft tot wat het had moeten zijn. Zo toont Browns werk de invloed van verlangens – die normaal gezien tot het domein van de toekomst behoren – op (het denken over) het verleden, en benadrukt het het belang van “narrative truth” in de context van persoonlijke geschiedschrijving. Bovendien laat Browns actieve herwerking van haar verleden een kritische herwaardering toe van het concept nostalgie, dat vaak als conservatief of passief wordt afgeschilderd.
      PubDate: 2014-01-17
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • The Online Self: Memory and Forgetting in the Digital Age

    • Authors: Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir
      Pages: 42 - 54
      Abstract: Online self-expression has proliferated in the last decade or so to such an extent that more people now than ever before engage in some sort of autobiographical activity. Social networking sites are the main gateways for this expression and their framework and rules and restrictions influence the type of narrative told there. This essay examines this given framework, the role of memory and forgetting in this process and how the story is told in words and images. What is remembered and forgotten online and in turn our digital traces must influence our sense of identity. Constantly telling one’s story in words and pictures online opens up new autobiographical practices, some of which in one way or another hark back to earlier practices, such as the diary or the use of the family album in autobiography, others are strictly the result of the new technology. What influence this will have in the long term is difficult to envisage, as the future use of these traces seems to be out of our control. THis article was submittted on May 1st, 2014 and punblished on November 3rd, 2014.
      PubDate: 2014-11-03
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Early Russian Autobiography: Old Texts, New Readings

    • Authors: Yury Zaretskiy
      Pages: 44 - 62
      Abstract: The article discusses research perspectives in the study of Russian pre-modern first-person writings that are commonly called autobiographies. Its first part starts with definitions of what is “early russian” and “autobiographical,” briefly introduces six texts, gives a condensed review of the approaches to the study of these texts by literary and cultural historians from 1950s to the present, and concludes with suggestion of some new perspectives to their analysis. The article argues that re-questioning of early Russian autobiographical writings is prompted by some recent important changes in the humanities and social sciences and by some insights from historians and literary scholars who study first- person texts of the Western tradition. The second part of the article is a case- study that examines one autobiographical text, The Life (Zhitie) of monk epifanii (' – 1682) and focuses on one topic: representation of the hero/author’s pain and healing. The analysis of this representation is conducted in relation to concrete social and political contexts of the text. The study concludes that con- textualizing pre-modern first-person narratives as social activities embedded in historically specific reality helps in better understanding of their meanings. 
      Abstract in Russian
      Ранняя русская автобиография: Старые тексты, новые прочтения В статье рассматриваются перспективы изучения древнерусских сочинений от первого лица, которые обычно называют автобиографиями. Ее первая часть начинается с определения понятий «древнерусские» и «автобиографические» затем дает краткие характеристики шести текстов, содержит сжатый обзор подходов к изучению этих текстов историками литературы и культуры с 1950-х гг. по настоящее время и завершается предложением возможных новых направлений их исследований. В статье утверждается, что новые вопросы к древнерусским автобиогра-фическим сочинениям диктуются недавними важными переменами в социальных и гуманитарных науках, а также результатами, полученными историками ...
      PubDate: 2014-06-20
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Documenting Diaspora: Multiperspectivity in Sandhya Suri's
           Auto/Biographical Film "I for India"

    • Authors: Gabriele M. Linke
      Pages: 55 - 74
      Abstract: Yash Pal Suri, a young Indian doctor, went to the UK in 1965 to complete his medical training. He equipped himself and his family back in India with a camera, tape recorder etc. so that they could film episodes of their lives and exchange 'cine-letters,' which they did for about 40 years. In 2005, Suri's daughter, Sandhya Suri, created a 70-minute documentary from her family's filmed stories and other sources, selecting and arranging the various scenes and voices recorded and combining them with clips from historical TV programmes as well as interviews and short scenes filmed between 2003 and 2005 in India and England. She re-constructs her transnational family's life story as embedded it in a complex set of factors and influences. Sandhya' documentary is, on various levels, both biographical (hers of her family, and family members talking about each other) and autobiographical (her presence in the film and family members talking about themselves), and these perspectives are deeply entangled. By emphasising her family's failed attempt to re-settle in India, she complicates the story of cultural integration. The result is a reconstruction of this diasporic life narrative from various angles and along the various axes of diasporic relations, especially those with home (India) and the host society, describing the position of the diasporic subject as in-between and continuously shifting. This article was submitted on June 1st, 2014 and published on November 2nd, 2014.
      PubDate: 2014-11-03
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • How I Lost My Memory and Never Got It Back

    • Authors: Domnica Radulescu
      Pages: 55 - 59
      Abstract: This piece is a cross over memoir writing / short story that could also qualify as exilic writing. It emerges from my own experience of immigration and exile to the United States and in particular it tells the story of my last day in my native country of Romania before my escape in 1983. It also recounts  the wrenching episode of my passing through customs and leaving my country forever on a plane to Rome. The essay is about memory, the trauma of exile and the troubled journey of recerating myself as an immigrant straddling two different countries and cultures.
      PubDate: 2014-06-20
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • 1969: Stories into Music

    • Authors: Andrew Kupfer
      Pages: 60 - 70
      Abstract: For composers on both sides of the rock/classical divide, the music of the late 1960s is inseparable from personal history.
      PubDate: 2014-07-25
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • A Threefold Hybridity. Picturebook art fantasies as life writing

    • Authors: Ingrid van der Heyden, Helma van Lierop
      Pages: 63 - 81
      Abstract: Picturebook art fantasies about the life and work of famous artists are usually studied from an art education perspective, but they are also interesting from the point of view of life writing, because of their hybridity on three levels: the combination of fact and fiction, the synergy between text and images and their attractiveness for both child and adult readers. In this article two picturebooks are examined on this threefold hybridity, one about Wassily Kandinsky and one about Piet Mondrian. Both books are part of a series of picturebooks, initiated by the Municipal Museum in The Hague and Dutch children’s book publisher Leopold. It is argued that the postmodern experimentation with the form which is characteristic of life narratives for adults, can also be observed in children’s literature. The biographies of Kandinsky and Mondrian make use of novelistic techniques and the interplay between words and images to tell about the life and work of these two visual artists. The many allusions in text and images to the art and the poetics of the two painters show that these picturebooks are a challenging form of life writing for both adults and children.  
      PubDate: 2014-10-03
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Am I Doing the Right Thing?

    • Authors: Maurizio Ascari
      Pages: 72 - 87
      Abstract: This article describes the genesis of Faded Letters, a novel that is rooted in real facts, notably, tracing the fate of Antonio Ascari, who was deported to Germany in 1944 as a forced labourer and died in Lublin in 1945, while fleeing from Germany with other Italian prisoners.
      PubDate: 2014-07-25
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Patrimony, Solitude and Obligation: Prodigal Sons and Absent Fathers

    • Authors: Isabel Duran Gimenez-Rico
      Pages: 75 - 99
      Abstract: As a contribution to the verifiable moment that auto/biographical explorations of the father are undergoing in the first two decades of the 21st century, my paper focuses on four authors whose relational memoirs "go beyond the subject." In particular, I focus on a comparative analysis of three hybrid texts -Paul Auster's The Invention of Solitude (1982), Philip Roth's Patrimony (1991), and Richard Rodriguez's Days of Obligation: an Argument with my Mexican Father (1992)-, and I include a parallel reading of Dutch author Henri J. M. Nouwen's spiritual journey The Return of the Prodigal Son (1992). My transnational, transethnic reading of these very disparate versions of what has been called "patremoir" (Andre Gerard, 2012) or "patriography" (Couser, 2011) will explore how these authors mix their own portrait with the extended portrait of their (real or metaphoric) father, applying different myths, borrowing forms and strategies from literary antecedents, transgressing norms of familial secrecy and privacy, but -in the end- paying homage to their paternal legacy.  This article was submitted on December 15th 2013 and first published on November 26th.
      PubDate: 2014-11-26
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Identity and Writing in the Diaries of Plath and Woolf: Defining,
           Abjectifying, and Recovering the Self

    • Authors: Christie Mills Jeansonne
      Pages: 82 - 102
      Abstract: The ordering, de-abjectifying function of language is often harnessed by the diary writer: re-living and re-writing a fictive self through diary writing allows the writer control and understanding of the self which has experienced and then changed in the interval of time between the event, the recording, and the rereading. The diaries of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf lend credence to this possibility of recovering abject identity through language. Their diary accounts of mental illness wield mastery over their experiences and emotional responses by choosing to recount them (or not). My paper seeks to reveal how Plath’s and Woolf’s distancing and retelling does not simply divide their selves (the pre- and post- trauma selves, the physical and textual selves), but allows them a greater range of movement, enabling mediation and reconciliation of many self-identities from the past, present, and future, and granting the authority to narrate their own continuums of becoming. This article was first published in the EJLW on 13 October 2014.
      PubDate: 2014-10-13
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Literary (Creative Nonfiction) Docu-Memoir: A Different Way of Writing a

    • Authors: Jo (Joan-) Annette Parnell
      Pages: 87 - 104
      Abstract: Pioneered by the British writer Tony Parker, literary docu-memoir is a rare form that involves the creative nonfiction writer interviewing and audio-taping ordinary people for their unusual life experience as the resource material for a literary production. In everyday conversation, people use a language of their own making to make sense of their experiences for themselves and the person they are talking to. The literary docu-memoir brings out a deeper level of meaning in the speech and the reflections of ordinary people as elicited by the docu-memoirist. In this paper l offer a working definition, and discuss how I evolved the form adapted from that of Parker to fit my own work on care leavers. There are urgent ethical issues in relation to making public distressing episodes from the subjects' lives, and for the writer in relation to readers. In a fictionalised documentary, how does the writer make clear where the boundary lies between fiction and fact, and verbatim and edited testimony? There are also literary questions: How much should the researcher appear in the narrative? How to use the powerful raw material, and recreate the subject’s experience, in a way that readers can access the essence of that experience?
      This article was submitted to the EJLW on 14 August 2014 and published on 29 October 2014.
      PubDate: 2014-10-29
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Communicative Identity in the Eighteenth Century; Johann Wilhelm Ludwig
           Gleim's Epistolary Network and the Cult of Friendship

    • Authors: Tobias Heinrich
      Pages: 100 - 122
      Abstract: In recent years the field of ‘life writing’ has been shaped by critical approaches that have abandoned traditional notions of the singular, self-governing individual in favor of a multiple and processual concept of the subject which under- stands the self as socially determined. A key role is played by an engagement with the technological and medial requirements – the material basis – of the subject’s construction. In contributing to this debate, this article looks at a configuration that, while it has numerous structural analogies to the present, is historically situated in the eighteenth century. Using the example of the epistolary network around the German Enlightenment figure Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim (1719–1803), I will argue that at one of the decisive turning points in the formation of the modern concept of the subject there was a form of medial communication which stood at odds to the idea of a unified and autonomous self. Through the relationship created between author and addressee, the letter constructed changing versions of the self that made the success of communication dependent on the play between textual ambiguities and the imagination. At the same time the article examines the role of the visual image as a substitute for the other in epistolary communication. Under the guiding concept of ‘friendship’ a network of text and identity production occurring in parallel is formed. Such a network is not solely based on the principle of individual autonomy but also on collective recognition. 
      This article was submitted on July 1st 2014 and published on December 5th 2014.

      PubDate: 2014-12-05
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Thieving Facts and Reconstructing Katherine Mansfield’s Life in
           Janice Kulyk Keefer’s Thieves

    • Authors: Monica Latham
      Pages: 103 - 120
      Abstract: The aim of this article is to examine how the biographical material that Janice Kulyk Keefer “steals” from Mansfield’s life is used to re-create a “quasi-real” life in a novel which absorbs reality, digests it, and offers an oxymoronic, semi-fictitious product: a biofiction. Keefer selected biographèmes or kernels of truth on which her fictitious details and characters could be grafted: following Mansfield’s physical, emotional and intellectual trail was an imperative part of Keefer’s research plan, as essential as close reading of the modernist author’s letters and journals. Besides seamlessly fusing reality and fiction, historical and imaginative truths, these hybrid products bring together the characteristics of literary and genre fiction. The article also focuses on the generic aspect of Thieves, which “sells” a scholarly literary background by using a commercial format that borrows features from popular genres such as love stories, thrillers, mystery and detective novels. The result is a multi-layered story endowed with great narrative virtuosity and variety, with leaps in time and space and with parallel stories that finally intersect. The article ultimately concludes with more general considerations on how such biofictions recreating the myth of iconic figures have proved to be a flourishing literary genre on the current book market. This article was published in EJLW on 14 October 2014.
      PubDate: 2014-10-14
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
  • Achieving a Shared Understanding of Life. Artists’ reflections on
           their constructions of the past and the self in traumatic and nostalgic
           autobiographical picturebooks.

    • Authors: Marloes Schrijvers
      Pages: 121 - 154
      Abstract: When sharing the own life story through a picturebook, artists are expected to be influenced by several factors: their motive for creating an autobiographical picturebook, the construction of their past self and present self through the interplay of text and image, and social, historical and cultural factors and the flow of time between the past and the present. Creators of autobiographical picturebooks may, to a greater or lesser extent, reflect on how these factors have influenced the construction of their life narrative. This article analyzes Peter Sís’s The wall (2007) and Ed Young’s The house Baba built (2011). In both autobiographical picturebooks, the ‘hand of the artist’ cannot be overlooked. The artistic choices show how Sís’s book is based on traumatic memories of his childhood experiences, whereas Young’s book is a nostalgic reflection on his safe and happy childhood. Both artists have been influenced by the social context of their past, but they differ in reflecting on these influences. Sís does not inform the reader about how the book is created or about what led him to making certain choices. Young, on the other hand, reflects explicitly on his process of remembering and creating the book. This article shows how such explicit reflection affects the relation between the life narrator and the reader. Because ‘autobiographical truth’ can be understood as an intersubjective exchange between narrator and reader, ideally leading to a shared understanding of the meaning of a life, the narrator’s explicit reflection on the factors influencing the construction of the life story may ease this ‘shared understanding’. As the books discussed here are examples of ‘crossover picturebooks’, future research may discover whether a shared understanding of life is achieved alike for adult and younger readers. This article was submitted on November 1st, 2013, and published on November 3rd, 2014.
      PubDate: 2014-11-03
      Issue No: Vol. 3 (2014)
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