Call for Papers

Teaching Lives: Contemporary Pedagogies of Life Narrative

The contemporary “boom” in the publication and consumption of auto/biographical representation has made life narratives a popular and compelling subject for the 21st century classroom. The proliferation of forms, media, terminologies, and disciplinary approaches in a range of teaching and learning contexts invites discussion of how and why we teach these materials, and with what implications and considerations. This special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies seeks contributions that examine the ideologies, methods, and practices that underpin the teaching of life writing subjects and texts in the twenty-first century classroom, extending the landmark work of MLA publication Teaching Life Writing Texts (Fuchs and Howes, 2008). We hope to facilitate a discussion with a strong international focus that illuminates the diverse theoretical and disciplinary approaches to and challenges of life narrative pedagogies.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Teaching across life narrative genres and media
  • Teaching-based case studies (e.g. issues arising from teaching particular life narrative texts) and the theoretical or pedagogical issues they address; pedagogical theories and methods for teaching life narrative
  • “Trigger warnings” and/or the ethics of teaching trauma or “difficult” materials and those by or about “vulnerable subjects”
  • The after-effects for teachers and students of reading nonfictions
  • New media and social media (as either curricular topic OR pedagogical tool)
  • Instruction in life narrative practice/nonfictional creative writing
  • Issues emerging from particular cultural, national, and institutional contexts
  • Teaching subcultural or culturally marginal texts
  • Collaborative or cross-disciplinary/cross-institutional approaches to life narrative
  • The futures of teaching life narrative
  • What disciplinary or research questions or issues life narratives address i.e., why we teach these materials
  • Digital humanities approaches and projects
  • Teaching the non-narrative (e.g., the visual, ephemeral, archival)

We would particularly welcome qualitative as well as quantitative approaches and responses from disciplinary teaching contexts other than literary studies.

Authors must also include a brief biographical statement, a fifty-word abstract, and two to four keywords with their submissions. In order to ensure a blind peer review, remove any identifying information, including citations that refer to you as the author in the first person. Cite previous publications, etc. with your last name to preserve the blind reading process. Include your name, address, email, the title of your essay, and your affiliation in a cover letter or cover sheet for your essay. It is the author’s responsibility to secure any necessary copyright permissions and essays may not progress into the publication stage without written proof of right to reprint. Images must be submitted in a separate file as 300 dpi (or higher) tif files with captions. Submissions should be no longer than 3000-4000 words (including notes and bibliographies) and should follow the format of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.) and the a/b Style Sheet, which can be found on our website at All essays submitted for the special issue, but not selected, will be considered as general submissions and may be selected for publication.

Articles should be submitted to Kate Douglas: and Laurie McNeill: by Friday Oct 30th 2015. The special issue will be issue 31.2, published in 2016.

Kate Douglas is an Associate Professor in the School of Humanities at Flinders University. She is the author of Contesting Childhood: Autobiography, Memory, Trauma (Rutgers 2010) and co-author, with Anna Poletti, of Life Narratives and Youth Culture: Representation, Agency and Participation (forthcoming Palgrave 2016). She is the co-editor, with Gillian Whitlock, of Trauma Texts (Routledge 2009) and, with Kylie Cardell, Telling Tales: Autobiographies of Childhood and Youth (Routledge 2015). Kate’s scholarship of teaching has been published in the journals Arts and Humanities in Higher Education and Higher Education Research and Development and in the edited collection Teaching Life Narrative Texts (Fuchs and Howes).

Laurie McNeill is an Instructor I (tenure-track) in the Department of English and Acting Chair of First Year Programs at the University of British Columbia. Her recent work appears in Biography: An International Quarterly (2012), Identity Technologies: Producing Online Selves (Wisconsin UP 2014) and Genres in the Internet (John Benjamins 2009). With John Zuern, she is co-editing a special issue of Biography on “Online Lives 2.0” (forthcoming 2015). She is completing pedagogy projects on collaborative learning and teaching and the first-year university experience (with Kathryn Grafton).