Autofiction in English
Since the term was coined by Serge Doubrovsky in 1971, autofiction has become established as a recognisable genre within the French literary pantheon. Over the same period, it has attracted increasing critical and theoretical scrutiny so that it has developed into a dynamic field of scholarly research in France. Indeed, the increase and variety of autofiction scholarship has had the effect of placing the characteristics of the genre itself in question.
So far, English-language discussion of autofiction has been relatively limited. Unlike post-structuralism, deconstruction or French feminism there has been very little critical analysis in English either of French theories of autofiction or of individual French writers or works in the genre. Just as there has been little discussion of the French concept in English, so too there has been very little consideration of English-language writers as themselves practitioners of autofiction.
This innovative collection of papers will make a provisional intervention in the field by fulfilling two aims. First, it will explore characteristic features and definitions of autofiction from a theoretical and conceptual standpoint in the English language. Second, it will consider the extent to which certain current Anglophone writers can be considered practitioners of autofiction. In doing these things, it will establish autofiction in English as a new and dynamic area of theoretical research and point the way towards possible future work in a relatively new and expanding field.
Potential questions to be addressed include but are not limited to:-
• What distinguishes autofiction from the related genres of autobiography, autobiographical novel, life writing and confessional writing?
• Is there a broad consensus over theoretical definitions of the genre or is the field multifarious, even conflicted?
• What are the main conceptual characteristics of autofiction and how (if at all) do these change when discussed outside their original French setting?
• What is the relationship between autofiction and other areas of research such as feminism and postcolonialism?
• Are there historical antecedents for a consideration of autofiction in English – i.e. are there cases of individual writers or works that pre-date the notion of autofiction but that can nevertheless be considered autofictive before the word?
• Is it possible to identify different contemporary writers in Britain, America or Anglophone societies more broadly who are engaged in a practice of autofiction without the word?
• Can theoretical approaches to autofiction be used to illuminate individual English-language works in a new and innovative way?
• Need we limit our discussion of autofiction to prose writing or is it possible to consider autofiction as existing in other media: poetry, theatre, cinema, music or others?
Proposals are invited for chapters of approximately 7,000 words of original, previously unpublished research addressing one of these or a related question.
Procedure for Submission
Proposals (approx. 300 words) should be sent to Hywel Dix at HDix@bournemouth.ac.uk by April 30, 2016. Please include a brief biographical note, institutional affiliation and 4-5 keywords. Full-length chapters will be solicited from these proposals, with final chapters due in 2017.