On March 9, 10, 16, and 17, Dr. habil. Heike Hartung (University of Potsdam/University of Graz) will hold a workshop titled Autobiography and Contemporary Life Writing: Embodied Narratives and Cultural Representations.
The theorizing of the body has differentiated our knowledge of changing attitudes towards embodiment. As a history of the embodied self, the genre of literary autobiography fulfils a wide range of cultural functions. In this sequence of four seminar sessions, we will explore examples for specialized genres of autobiography that have emerged since the 1980s in American and British literature.
Session 1: March 9, 10-11.30
Session 2: March 10, 10-11.30
Session 3: March 16, 10-11.30
Session 4: March 17, 10-11.30
After a brief introduction into the genre of (auto)biography, the first session focuses on illness writing, taking Virginia Woolf’s essay “On Being Ill” (1926) as a starting point.
Linking the categories of age autobiography and illness, the second session explores the topic of dementia. We will read Sinéad Gleeson’s literary essay “Second Mother” (2019) in the context of theoretical and activist provocations related to longevity and dementia. The third session introduces writing about grief. With reference to contemporary psychosocial theories of grief, we will read excerpts from Joan Didion’s grief memoirs The Year of Magical Thinking (2005) and Blue Nights (2011). In the final session we will draw on our joint readings for a resume. This session will also invite and guide you to creatively explore your own examples of life writing.