This is a call for papers for an interdisciplinary conference on contemporary autobiographical practices. Deadline for abstract submissions (200-300 words): 15 December 2004.
Autobiography, it appears, did not die even after the Author was famously deprived of his privileged status and given a ceremonial burial. In fact, the autobiographical impulse, or the urge to tell one’s own story, seems to have proliferated, as has the urge to read other people’s stories.
In the world that emerged from fascism and colonialism, the autobiographical impulse became as much a vehicle for new emancipatory urges as a means of coming to terms with the past. More recently, in an era of new wars and conflict, of powerful global forces taking over the local, the individual, the private, the autobiographical impulse is more virulent than ever, exercised by some as a form of resistance – individual or collective – and by others as a means of self-aggrandizement. Perhaps the current popularity of autobiography also expresses a yearning for the real and the tactile in a world with ever more virtual spheres of experience.
The urge to tell one’s own story manifests itself in a variety of forms – in autobiographies, memoirs, testimonies, diaries, letters, oral histories, and more recently in the personal webpage, chat rooms and emails. It articulates itself not only in prose, but also in poetry, painting, film and other modes of expression. But the proliferation and multiple forms of the autobiographical act as well as its different functions provide further evidence of its essentially performative nature, with its blending of fact and fiction, memory and amnesia, the referential and the textual, the historical and the rhetorical. Does this fuzzy logic undermine the distinctness of autobiography as a genre? Or does it provide a key to understanding writing in general and literature in particular?
It has been said that the autobiographer writes about others when he writes about himself and that we cannot write about others without writing about ourselves. It has also been argued that memory is not an instrument to explore the past but the medium through which past experience is filtered for the purpose of giving shape to the future. The seminar will engage with these issues in the context of contemporary autobiographical practices.
For further details, write to the e-mail address shown below.
Department of Germanic & Romance Studies,
University of Delhi,
Delhi - 110007, INDIA
Phone: 91-11-27666426 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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