Centre for the Book 2019 Research Symposium - Call for Papers

By Dr Donald Kerr, University of Otago Library | Posted: Thursday March 28, 2019

Biography, Autobiography and Memoirs

Think Plutarch’s Lives, Boswell’s Johnson, Holroyd’s Shaw, Herrera’s Frida Kahlo; Augustine’s Confessions, Stein’s Alice B. Toklas, John Cowper Powys’s Autobiography; Casanova’s Memoirs, Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa, Anne Frank’s Diary….and of course much more in what is a very popular reading genre.

Considering the above titles, the University of Otago Centre for the Book is pleased to announce our eighth annual research symposium. The theme for the 2019 Centre for the Book Symposium is “Biography, Autobiography and Memoirs.” The symposium proper will take place on the University campus all day Friday, November 15th. Details on the venue to follow.

Relevant topics of the theme might include, but are not limited to:

  • The differences among those three terms
  • The role of selection in shaping a more coherent narrative
  • Transitions among the three forms—memoir becoming autobiography, autobiography informing biography
  • The role of ghost writers in these genres
  • Scope of coverage for such works
  • Ethics of honesty in depicting lives – the truth?
  • Personal narratives as part of national or global narratives
  • Challenges and successes in publishing these forms
  • Reading personal narratives—what do we look for? What do we allow? How essential are indexes?
  • Motivations for writing a personal story
  • Personal stories in non-print formats—oral histories, video, xxx
  • Circulation of personal narratives and inclusion of group knowledge within personal stories

As usual, we will begin our symposium with a public lecture on Thursday, November 14th in the Dunningham Room, 4th floor, Dunedin City Library. In this instance, an experienced panel of biographers and memoirists will discuss the genre.

Important notice: The Centre for the Book Symposium will be free to attend, with delegates responsible for providing their own lunch. We do ask that those wishing to attend register on our website, https://forms.gle/p9kxQvGkji8P34mq5, so that we can cater for morning and afternoon tea.

Call for Papers

The theme is an exciting one, and we can imagine a raft of slants and approaches that one can take towards this genre. All of the above topics are of potential interest for the Centre for the Book Symposium, along with others we no doubt have not yet imagined. So, sharpen that pencil, and email a 250-300 word abstract of your ideas to books@otago.ac.nz and set aside the middle week of November for a thought-provoking symposium.

Abstracts must be received by Monday, 2 September 2019, with a final programme announced by mid-September. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Donald Kerr (donald.kerr@otago.ac.nz) or Dr. Shef Rogers (shef.rogers@otago.ac.nz).


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