Call for Papers

The Literature of Remembering: tracing the limits of memoir


The genre of memoir is read so widely that it now ‘rivals fiction in popularity and critical esteem and exceeds it in cultural currency’ (Couser 2012, p.3). This call for papers urges scholars from around the globe to find and describe the practice of writing and reading memoir within their own borders as a cultural phenomenon. How does it differ from country to country? How has it evolved? What are the ethical constraints of different countries? Who are each nation’s unique memoirists?


We aim to compile a comprehensive and academically entertaining snapshot of the genre. There is a long and deep history of memoir, most agree, that begins with Saint Augustine’s Confessions. Scholars concur that the contemporary surge in memoir as a favoured genre began in the mid-1990s, with Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, and it has kept building in momentum. Not only are well-known authors rendering their memoirs to acclaim, but seemingly ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances, are finding an audience. Sportspeople, politicians, sex workers, trauma victim/survivors, are telling and sharing their stories as a mode of knowing the self.


Sue Joseph, Bunty Avieson and Fiona Giles, the editors, are seeking scholarly essays for this book (of up to 300 pages) to be published in 2017. We are hoping to work with a major international publisher towards this end. While we welcome papers from all countries, submissions must be in English.


Section One: The Memoir in History: life-writing throughout the ages


Chapters here could focus on:


  • Saint Augustine
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • Mary MacLane and the sex memoir
  • Holocaust memoir
  • War memoir


Section Two: The ethical/theoretical dimensions of memoir: political, fabricated,



Chapters here might look at:


  • The PR of celebrity memoir
  • Consent: whose story is it?
  • Memoir writing about the dead
  • Competing memoir
  • Is memoir literary journalism?
  • Fake memoir


Section Three: The practice of memoir writing


Chapters here might examine:

  • Parental: patriography; matriography
  • Pathography: narratives of illness and death
  • Mis-mem
  • Sports memoir
  • Personal trauma narrative
  • Political memoir
  • Ghosting the memoir
  • Erotica: kiss and tell memoir
  • Travel memoir
  • Memoir and comedy
  • Nobody memoirs


These subjects are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive. They merely indicate a possible range of topics that might create new ways of understanding the genre. There are clearly many other equally important routes to explore.


Please send 200-word chapter abstracts to Sue Joseph at by July 30, 2016. Selected contributions (5-6,000 words) will be confirmed by September 30, 2016. First copy will be due by February 30, 2017. The editors will send out for peer review, then return the copy with any suggested changes by April 30, 2017, with the final copy deadline of May 30, 2017.


Bunty Avieson is a lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney, where she teaches news writing. A former journalist she has also published three novels, a novella and two memoirs. The most recent, The Dragon’s Voice: How modern media found Bhutan, was about the year she spent in Bhutan as a media consultant funded by the UN.


Fiona Giles is a senior lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications at the

University of Sydney, where she teaches graduate courses in creative nonfiction and feature writing. Her most recent publications have been on profile writing, and Gonzo journalism in Australia, and she is currently researching Australian memoir since the 1960s.


Sue Joseph has worked as an academic, teaching print journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney since 1997. She now teaches journalism and creative writing, particularly creative long form non-fiction writing, in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. She has written three books and is currently writing a fourth on Australian creative non-fiction writers. Her research interests are around sexuality, secrets and confession, framed by the media; ethics, trauma; reflective professional practice; and Australian creative non-fiction.