Call For Papers (International Conference)

« Writing the Self / Writing the English-Speaking Worlds: Life Writing and Politics (20th-21st Centuries) »

University of Lille (CECILLE)

12-13 October 2023

Deadline for proposals: 1 June 2023

This multidisciplinary international conference will mainly focus on the autobiographical genre which, for a long time, celebrated the idea of a sovereign self, traditionally the prerogative of white, heterosexual, middle- or upper-class males (making it a traditionally androcentric, even ethnocentric genre that promotes a universality based on specific exclusive criteria). Traditional autobiographies are therefore often characterized by linearity, narrative coherence and the depiction of a stable self (Anderson). These elements are challenged by some writers from the so-called periphery (Canada, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Nigeria…), for whom the writing of the self constitutes a form of “resistance literature” (Harlow). For Harlow, the writing of the self is intrinsically linked to politics. One can argue it is particularly the case for the “wretched of the Earth” (Fanon). The autobiographical genre therefore embodies a means to put to the fore lives that have been denied, marginalized, what Judith Butler calls “precarious lives”. It is also a way for (formerly) colonized people to construct their own identity and, in so doing, to demonstrate “willfulness” (Ahmed), to refuse and reject the (exclusive) universality extoled in/by the autobiographical genre in its traditional form, and which has been perceived by some as “violent” (Adorno, Balibar). Some authors therefore put in place a “living appropriation” of the normative narrative of the self through their (re)working on form, on literary genres (diaries, letters, etc.), by proposing (hybrid) (re)writings that can be deemed “experimental” (Novak). In these very cases, the experimental aspect is emphasized “for the purposes of enhancing, reinforcing or drawing attention to the referential level” (Novak). One can also argue that these (re)writings of the self enable a passage from invisibility to (a form of) visibility, from voicelessness to (aiming at) making one’s voice heard.

The object to study is diverse: (fictional) autobiography, autoethnography, autobiographical comics, autofiction, blogs, documentaries, essays, diaries, memoirs, (insta)poetry… The intimate link between life writing and social experiments and/or political stances reveals the intricate crossovers between poetics, aesthetics, and politics. We thus wish to examine how some authors in the English-speaking worlds have sought to engage creatively by refusing and dismantling preset universal models. The committee welcomes proposals related, but not limited, to life writing and trauma/vulnerability, life writing and gender, life writing and disability, life writing and human rights, life writing and postcoloniality/decoloniality…

We will be attentive to the way life writing fosters “dissensus” (or not), and to the proximity between the power to collect your own life into a story, the power to say and the power to act (Rancière). For Michel Foucault, “to write is thus to ‘show oneself’, to project oneself into view, to make one’s own face appear in the other’s presence”, which implies a close link between ethics, poetics and politics – the relation of “reciprocal and necessary implication” that Henri Meschonnic posits. Life writing can become transformative, and shift the boundaries of the world, thereby going beyond the limits of poetics to embrace poiesis.

The conference welcomes contributions from researchers working in the field of literature, history, sociology, cultural studies, philosophy, anthropology…

Confirmed keynote speaker: Unoma Azuah.

Please submit abstracts of up to 300 words in English. Your abstract must be accompanied by a short bio-bibliographical note (no more than 150 words), to Participants will be notified by 15 June 2023.

The conference is organised by Cédric Courtois and Claire Dubois, two members of the Centre d’Études en Civilisations, Langues et Lettres Étrangères (CECILLE — ULR 4074) of the Université de Lille. It will take place on the Campus Pont-de-Bois in Villeneuve-d’Ascq.

Scientific committee: Vanessa Alayrac-Fielding, Vanessa Guignery, Jean-Michel Ganteau, Andrée-Anne Kekeh-Dika, Fiona McCann, Fabrice Mourlon.


AHMED, Sara, Willful Subjects, Durham, Duke University Press, 2014. 

—, Living a Feminist Life, Durham, Duke University Press, 2017. 

AIKEN, Síobhra, Spiritual Wounds. Trauma, Testimony and the Irish Civil War, Dublin, Irish Academic Press, 2022.

ANDERSON, Linda, Autobiography, London, Routledge, 2001.

BUTLER, Judith, An Account of Oneself, New York, Fordham University Press, 2005.

COUSER, G. Thomas, Memoir: An Introduction, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. 

—, « Undoing Hardships: Life Writing and Disability Law », Narrative 15.1 (2007), 71-84. 

—, Vulnerable Subjects: Ethics and Life Writing, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2004. 

EAKIN, Paul John, Writing Life Writing: Narrative, History, Autobiography, London, Routledge, 2020.

FOUCAULT, Michel, « L’écriture de soi », in Corps écrit 5, Paris, PUF, (1983), 3-23.

FUCHS, Miriam and HOWES, Craig eds., Teaching Life Writing Texts, New York, MLA, 2008.

GILMORE, Leigh, The Limits of Autobiography. Trauma and Testimony, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2001. 

HARLOW, Barbara, Resistance Literature, New York, Methuen, 1987. 

HOWES, Craig, Trauma Texts, London, Routledge, 2009. 

JELINEK, Estelle, The Tradition of Women’s Autobiography, Boston, Twayne, 1986.

LE BLANC, Guillaume, L’insurrection des vies minuscules, Montrouge, Bayard, 2020. 

LEJEUNE, Philippe, Le Pacte autobiographique, Paris, Seuil, 1996.

LIONNET, Françoise, Autobiographical Voices: Race, Gender, Self-Portraiture, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1989.

LLOYD, David, Nationalism and Minor Literature: James Clarence Mangan and the Emergence of Irish Cultural Nationalism, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1987.

LUCIANI, Isabelle, « Se dire en disant le monde : le récit de soi saisi par la performativité ? » Récit de soi, présence au monde : jugements et engagements, Europe, Afrique, XVIe-XXIe Siècles. Aix-en-Provence : Presses Universitaires de Provence, 2020. 17–37.  

McNEILL, Laurie, “Life Bytes: Six Word Memoir and the Exigencies of Auto/tweetographies”, in Anna POLETTI and Julie RAK, Eds., Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, Madison, U. of Wisconsin Press, 2014, 144-64. 

MESCHONNIC, Henri, Langage, histoire, une même théorie, Paris, Verdier, 2012.

MINTZ, Susannah B., Unruly Bodies: Life Writing by Women with Disabilities, Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

NEUMAN, Shirley, “Autobiography and Questions of Gender: An Introduction”, Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism 14.2 (1991), 1-11. 

NOVAK, Julie, Experiments in Life-Writing, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

POLETTI, Anna, and Julie RAK, “Introduction: Digital Dialogues”, in Anna POLETTI and Julie RAK, Eds., Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, Madison, U. of Wisconsin Press, 2014, 3-22. 

RANCIERE, Jacques, La Mésentente, Politique et philosophie, Paris, Éditions Galilée, 1995.

—, Politique de la littérature, Paris, Éditions Galilée, 2007.

—, Aisthesis : scènes du régime esthétique de l’art, Paris, Éditions Galilée, 2011.

RAYNAUD, Claudine and Nelly MOK, The Self as Other in Minority American Life Writing, Newcastle, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019. 

SCHAFFER, Kay and Sidonie SMITH, Human Rights and Narrated Lives: The Ethics of Recognition, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. 

SMITH, Sidonie, A Poetics of Women’s Autobiography. Marginality and the Politics of Self-Representation, Bloomington, Indiana UP, 1987.

WHITLOCK, Gillian, Soft Weapons: Autobiography in Transit, Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 2007.

WHITLOCK, Gillian and DOUGLAS, Kate, “Located Subjects”, in FUCHS, Miriam and HOWES, Craig, eds., Teaching Life Writing Texts, New York, MLA, 2008. 

Citer ce billet
doctoratsaes (2023, 20 janvier). Call For Papers (International Conference). Carnet des doctorant.e.s de la SAES. Consulté le 16 juin 2024, à l’adresse

Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse e-mail ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *

Ce site utilise Akismet pour réduire les indésirables. En savoir plus sur comment les données de vos commentaires sont utilisées.

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search