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Autofiction - Theory, Practice, Cultures


Autofiction - Theory, Practice, Cultures

There is no critical consensus regarding the term autofiction. Some see it as describing any novel with autobiographical elements, others apply more restrictive definitions. This two-day conference seeks to bring together different theoretical approaches to autofiction, to explore the validity of the concept and to think about how different definitions and traditions influence our reading of works at the intersection of fiction and autobiography. The discussion thus far has been taking place mainly in Francophone, German, Scandinavian, and Anglophone theory and with reference to case studies from these contexts. In this conference we intend to consider these traditions in comparison and crucially to broaden the discussion to other languages and geo-political areas. By comparing diverse theoretical approaches and drawing on case studies from across Africa, Asia, Europe and North and South America, we will explore how autofictional texts negotiate and challenge concepts of gender, race, and cultural and national identity. Through this discussion, we aim to generate a closer engagement with the term ‘autofiction’ itself, reflecting on different definitions, potential alternatives and its usefulness as a theoretical concept.

Keynote speakers: Martina Wagner-Egelhaaf and Max Saunders

Registration Deadline: 31st August 2019

Martina Wagner-Egelhaaf is professor of modern German literature at the University of Münster (Germany). She received her PhD from the University of Tübingen and did post-doctoral work at the University of Konstanz where she completed her habilitation. Before she became professor at the University of Münster she was professor of modern German literature at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Her research fields are: German literature from the 18th to the 21st century, general theory of literature, autobiography and autofiction, theory and history of authorship, the interrelation of literature, religion and politics, law and literature. She is the author of Autobiographie (Stuttgart and Weimar 2000; 2nd edition 2005) and she edited the 3 volume Handbook of Autobiography/Autofiction (Berlin and Boston 2019).

Max Saunders is Interdisciplinary Professor of Modern Literature and Culture at the University of Birmingham. He was Director of the Arts and Humanities Research Institute at King’s College London, and Professor of English and Co-Director of the Centre for Life-Writing Research. He studied at the universities of Cambridge and Harvard, and was a Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge. He is the author of Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life, 2 vols. (Oxford University Press, 1996) and Self Impression: Life-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature (Oxford University Press 2010); the editor of five volumes of Ford’s writing, including an annotated critical edition of Some Do Not . . . (Carcanet, 2010), and has published essays on Life-writing, on Impressionism, and on a number of modern writers. His book Imagined Futures: Writing, Science, and Modernity in the To-Day and To-Morrow Book Series, 1923-31 was published by Oxford University Press in 2019. He was awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship from 2008-10; and in 2013 an Advanced Grant from the ERC for a 5-year collaborative project on digital life writing called ‘Ego-Media’.

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