Shao Dongfang describes 'modern' life writing as a relatively recent practice in China, with biography, for example, only taking shape in the mid twentieth century and with major differences from the West still apparent. Similarly, Gerry van Klinken argues that 'Biographical writing in Indonesia differs dramatically from that in the West.' Are there really significant differences between life writing in different regions?
We invite papers that explore the manner in which all forms of biography and autobiography emerge in a particular cultural context. We are especially interested in contexts outside Europe and North America. Our emphasis is not so much the formation of identity or an apparently transparent self-narration, but rather the cultural and social work that auto/biography does for a society.
While inviting papers that demonstrate a close understanding of specific context, we hope that ensuing discussion will draw out points of cross-regional comparison. Moving away from what Shirley Geok-lin Lim has described as the ‘disguise’ of auto/biography as ego-centric, we hope to explore life writing as a historical, material and ideological practice. Our thanks to Margaretta Jolly for the concept of auto/biography as a culture’s ‘self-image’ (Biography, 23.3:481-503).
We suggest some possible ways of approaching this theme below, but welcome further suggestions:
* National identity and life writing
* The influence of place on the writing process
* Life writing as cultural resistance or colonization
* Life writing as cultural reinvention
* The relative importance of autobiography as compared with biography
* Conceptions of the individual and self
* Life writing and the spiritual life.
300-500 word abstracts should be submitted by 1 March 2009 to Associate Professor Maureen Perkins, via email at Maureen.Perkins@curtin.edu.au
Places at the symposium will be limited.
Final papers should be about 8,000-10,000 in length and will be required by October 2009.
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