Jenny Diski: A Celebration

Call for papers. Jenny Diski: A Celebration, University of Oxford, 7th April 2020. Keynote Speaker: Blake Morrison.

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Dirty Little Secrets Of The Caspian

A streak of black for depression, blue for nostalgic memories of home, red for love, I put above all else, yellow for the hatred of injustice, green for the life I chose to not end, white for the peace I desperately seek. Here is a portrait painted with words. It was time. After much encouragement... Continue Reading →

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The Private Life of the Diary

My First Diary When I was seven years old my mother sent me abroad, alone. I carried one small canvas bag with a camera and a diary-notebook. My instructions were very clear: ‘Take as many pictures as you can and write down everything you see. Switzerland is a very beautiful country and you’ll see lots... Continue Reading →

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Call for papers – Biography and Public History: Constructing Historical Narratives through Life-Writing

20 June 2018 University of Nottingham, Department of Music Keynote: Professor Frances Spalding, CBE, FRSL (University of Cambridge) Deadline: 9 February 2018 Call for Papers From Plutarch’s Parallel Lives to Gordon Brown’s recent My Life, Our Times, life-writing has long dealt not only with individuals, but also with the times in which they lived. The discipline traverses historical, cultural,... Continue Reading →

Writing Historical Biography: Problems and Challenges

Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger (University of Münster) and Lyndal Roper Chair: Peter Wilson 10am – 12pm, Tuesday 27 February, Rees Davies Room, Faculty of History The event explores the problems and challenges of writing historical biography, ranging from questions of context and human agency, to issues of interpretation and presentation. As authors of two recent best-selling biographies... Continue Reading →

Dame Hermione Lee talks to Patrick Gale about Edith Wharton, Penelope Fitzgerald, and the writing of biographies

This month the fifth North Cornwall Book Festival welcomed Dame Hermione Lee, OCLW's Advisory Director and Emeritus Professor of English Literature in the English Faculty at Oxford University. Hermione spoke to the festival's artistic director, Patrick Gale, about Edith Wharton and Penelope Fitzgerald, and what they can teach us about the peculiar pressures on women novelists.  ... Continue Reading →

Conference “The Self in Verse. Exploring Autobiographical Poetry”

A collaboration between the University of Oxford (St Hilda’s College, Oxford Centre for Life Writing, Faculty of English Language and Literature and the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages) and the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School for Literary Studies (FSGS) at the Freie Universität Berlin, the three-day conference brought together some of the leading international literary scholars in the field.

Wilfred Owen and Beyond, call for papers

The Oxford Centre for Life Writing, in partnership with the Western Front Association and the Wilfred Owen Association, is pleased to be hosting a conference to mark the centenary of Wilfred Owen’s death. Owen’s life was tragically short. Any study of his life is by definition overshadowed by his death and the bitter irony of... Continue Reading →

Oxford DNB research bursary recipients, for 2017-18

Originally posted by Oxford University Press. We are delighted to announce the recipients of the Oxford DNB/OCLW research bursaries for 2017/2018. This time, OUP has awarded two bursaries in association with the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing: they go to Dr Katherine Collins, an academic and creative writer working across the disciplines of sociology and life... Continue Reading →

Dr Kate Kennedy wins public engagement award

  Dr Kate Kennedy, our Weinrebe Fellow in Life-Writing, has won an Early Career Researcher award in this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Awards, which celebrate public engagement work across the University. The announcement was made at an awards ceremony at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on 28 June hosted by Vice-Chancellor... Continue Reading →

Lydia Lopokova – A 20th Century Life

At the peak of her dancing years - between 1916 and 1926 - Lydia Lopokova was one of the world’s most popular ballerinas, stamping the signature of her quick, bright technique and irrepressible stage personality onto the repertories of Massine, Fokine and the young Frederick Ashton. She was also closely connected to some of the... Continue Reading →

Tony Gray Visiting Scholarship

The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing invites applications for the Tony Gray Visiting Scholarship, tenable for one year. Closing date: 28 July 2017 Start date: 9 October 2017 (or as soon as possible thereafter) The scholarship awards £500 expenses to the recipient, and a further £500 towards the organisation of an event. We are interested in... Continue Reading →

Dancing Lives

The lives of dancers are among the most elusive subjects for life-writing. Not only is the art form itself ephemeral, notoriously difficult to capture in notation and on film as an accurate record. Dancers are often reluctant to talk about themselves – “we are what we do” – is the familiar refrain. Historically, the life... Continue Reading →

Marie Taglioni: The First Female Superstar of Ballet

Marie Taglioni’s overwhelming success in ballets such as La Sylphide triggered a cult of the ballerina which was to last for many decades, and which swept away the image of the acclaimed male dancers of the past. This paper for Dancing Lives accompanies Marie Taglioni on her way to celebrity from Stockholm over Vienna and Stuttgart to the Paris Opera, where she created... Continue Reading →

Presence and Absence: Kurt Jooss

My paper for Dancing Lives 2017 considers the dancer/choreographer Kurt Jooss (1901-1979). He is probably best known for his iconic role as ‘Death’ in his 1932 dance drama The Green Table. During his exile from Nazi Germany, in England, between 1933 and 1949, Jooss embodied his complex life in both dancing and choreography. His dominating... Continue Reading →

Leaves of Silk

by Clare Brant, Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture and Co-Director, Centre for Life-Writing Research. Cross-posted with permission from the Department of English at King’s College London. The Dear Diary exhibition is now open, until 7th July! Promotion got underway well before opening, with various radio features including Radio 2’s Jonathan Ross Show on 4th May, and... Continue Reading →

Global Lives and Local Perspectives: New Approaches to Tibetan Life Writing

Global Lives and Local Perspectives was the second largest collaboration between two research clusters of Wolfson College: OCLW (Oxford Centre for Life Writing) and THSC (Tibetan and Himalayan Studies Centre). In 2012, Wolfson College hosted the conference Beyond Biographies: New Perspectives on Tibetan Life-Writing; convened by Professor Ulrike Roesler and held in collaboration with OCLW,... Continue Reading →

It’s in my diary…

Cross-posted with permission from the Department of English at King's College London. ‘It’s in my diary’ is a phrase you still hear. The expression gives no clue as to whether the speaker uses a paper diary or an app, and not needing to make the distinction shows how old and new forms of diary co-exist... Continue Reading →

Clio Barnard: The Selfish Giant

Clio Barnard is one of Britain's foremost directorial talents. She first gained critical acclaim for her film The Arbor (2010), which followed the life of West Yorkshire playwright Andrea Dunbar, and whose formal innovation mixed a documentary soundtrack with fictional reenactment, as actors lip-synched to the words of her interviewees. Barnard gained further acclaim when... Continue Reading →

Lives of Houses: One-Day Colloquium, 27 May

In a letter to his father sent from Florence in September 1826, the 22-year-old Benjamin Disraeli proudly recounts his visit to Tasso’s prison cell in Ferrara, where he marvelled at Byron’s name – “here scratched with a great nail on the brick wall”. In his 1837 novel Venetia, Disraeli’s complex biofictional engagement with his Romantic... Continue Reading →

Faith Biography

Spiritual autobiographies, such as those famously composed by Augustine, Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich, constitute the earliest forms of life writing...

Life Goes On: How people in northern Rwanda make sense of psychosocial suffering from war and healing

CNR-TCRU Postgraduate Narrative Research Seminars, 2016 - 17 Organised by the Centre for Narrative Research (CNR), University of East London and the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU), UCL Institute of Education Yuko Otake, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Northern Rwanda experienced wars between 1990 and 2000, including the civil war 1990-1994, the genocide against the Tutsi in... Continue Reading →

The Lives of Houses

Saturday, 27 May 2017, 9:30am-5.30pm Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, Wolfson College, Linton Road, Oxford OX2 6UD A one-day colloquium convened by Oliver Cox & Sandra Mayer, and hosted by OCLW in collaboration with TORCH, will bring together academics, biographers and curators to explore the ways in which the life stories of well-known individuals are preserved and... Continue Reading →

Maps without borders: Stories of civic science in action

This storytelling exhibition at University College London showcases powerful aerial maps created by citizens using kites, balloons, and point-and-shoot cameras. They explore how people around the world are harnessing the power of Do-It-Yourself techniques to address local environmental, social and political matters. Sitting around a proverbial campfire, they will tell four stories of unsung heroes in the U.S. and... Continue Reading →

The Celebrity Interview: History, Aesthetics, Method

Writing in a late 1870s ‘confession album’, a young Oscar Wilde answered the question ‘What is your aim in life?’ with a characteristically cocky ‘Success, fame or even notoriety’. Intriguingly, the term ‘confession album’ points towards the darker, more menacing undercurrents of a format often dismissed as idle celebrity gossip, and there is a ring... Continue Reading →

The Weinrebe Lecture series 2017: Writing World Lives

The annual Weinrebe Lectures in Life-Writing will take place over four weeks in the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium at Wolfson College beginning on Tuesday, 24 January 2017. The lectures are open to all, free of charge, with no reservation required. You can listen to podcasts of previous years' Weinrebe lectures here. Tuesday 24 January, 5:30-7pm, LWA Patrick... Continue Reading →

The Celebrity Interview: History, Aesthetics, Method

Please join us on Tuesday 17th January at 5:30pm, at the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, Wolfson College. The second in a new series of OCLW events focusing on the intersections of life-writing and celebrity, this discussion panel is dedicated to the genre of the celebrity interview. Scholars and practitioners will cast a spotlight on one of the dominant forms... Continue Reading →

Life-writing and philosophy: call for papers

Life Writing is calling for submissions to a special themed edition on Philosophy and Life Writing, to be guest edited by Christopher Cowley and D. L. Mahieu. Philosophers have long been interested in the nature of the self and in the meaning and narrative structure of human lives. Many philosophers have themselves written autobiographies. Descartes's... Continue Reading →

Celebrity and Life-Writing in Dialogue

Abounding with buzzwords such as ‘myth’, ‘image’, ‘authenticity’, ‘public and private persona’, ‘iconicity’ and ‘cultural memory’, the links between celebrity and life-writing seem self-evident. There are, for one, the ambivalent motives underlying our fascination with both biography and celebrity, ranging from a desire for emulation and hero-worship to a hunger for gossip, revelation and social... Continue Reading →

Biographical Borders

In his President’s Column in the most recent Modern Language Association Newsletter (Fall 2016), K. Anthony Appiah tells the story of how a few years ago he decided to organize his books. A daunting task. A philosopher, he tried first to sort his philosophy books into metaphysics and epistemology on the one hand and political... Continue Reading →

Oxford’s Writing Life

As an undergraduate, I came to Oxford looking for a writing community. Oxford, I thought, was the land of literary Greats — Tolkein, Lewis, Eliot, Shelley, Johnson, Sontag. Almost 100 years ago, a young T.S. Eliot, who was studying at Merton College, wrote feverish letters to his friends, complaining about his experience at Oxford: ‘Oxford is very pretty,... Continue Reading →

The Lille Diaries: A Writers’ Group Weekend

I slipped this slim, unassuming little volume into my bag, planning to have a look during my daughter’s swimming lesson. I pulled it out – pleasantly solid and tactile, with crisp cream pages – while perched on the unyielding plastic of the pull-down seat in the stuffy, chlorine-scented spectator area. The cover is simple and... Continue Reading →

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