Welcome to the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW). We are a research centre based at Wolfson College at the University of Oxford, designed to support those who write auto/biography and those who undertake research on different forms of life narratives.

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OCLW was formally established in October 2010, with funding from the Dorset Foundation. Since its creation, we’ve built up a busy schedule of talks and lectures, ‘in conversations’, seminars, workshops, conferences and symposia, and concerts. We hope that you can join us for one of our many events.

This Term’s Events

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Recent Posts

New creative life-writing collaboration launched by CLHLWR and REFRAME Sussex

Life Writing Projects is is a new collaboration between The Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research (CLHLWR) and REFRAME.

“Our contributors, who include new and established writers, artists and poets, embrace the concept of life-writing as a project. They work here within a set of self-imposed constraints, in order, as Michael Sheringham puts it, ‘to allow something unforeseen to happen’.”

The project includes Oxford Centre for Life-Writing visiting scholar Katherine Collins’s piece, Back to the Beach, first presented at a TORCH Environmental Humanities seminar.

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From ‘Back to the Beach’, by Katherine Collins

In Wardrobe Diaries Louise Kenward grieves for her grandmother by working with her dresses and old wardrobe; Tanya Shadrick connects her grandmother’s loving and playful care for her as a child with her own newly discovered capacity to be creative. Jenni Cresswell’s Three Green Dresses threads together past, present and future.

Tom Ottway works through his own and his mother’s grief for his father in Negative Spaces: Postcards Home, and Nirmal Puwar laments not only the loss of close relatives but austerity’s legacy of neglect and deterioration in inner city Coventry where she grew up and lives again now.

In The Uses of Photography, Annie Ernaux and Marc Marie make a literary project out of their erotic relationship and Annie’s treatment for breast cancer, defying death and grief.

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Similarly, in the poetry, prose and photographs of Breastless: Encounters with risk-reducing surgery Clare Best tracks her journey through grief and loss to a new physical shape and powerfully creative identity.

In The ‘Campus’ Blouse, Lyn Thomas describes the uncertainties and disorientation of arriving in Oxford from a working-class background, and the pleasure of at least looking the part.

In the Books section of the site, pieces explore the role of encounters with books and reading in life history narratives, including an audio recording of bookshop browsers’ memories of favourite books made at independent bookshop Much Ado Books in Alfriston, Sussex.

In Desperately Seeking Susan, Lyn Thomas reflects on her childhood reading of Jane Shaw’s Susan books, and her return to them in later life.

Life Writing Projects was devised and is edited by Professor Lyn Thomas and was designed by Dr Tanya Kant.

  1. OCLW’s Elleke Boehmer to give the first ‘Indische Letterenlezing’ on the future of the postcolonial past. Leave a reply
  2. Wilfred Owen and Beyond, call for papers Leave a reply
  3. Oxford DNB research bursary recipients, for 2017-18 Leave a reply
  4. Mademoiselle Mercandotti, Hughes Balls Hughes, and the (scandalous) uses of a Green Room Leave a reply
  5. Berto Pasuka: a dancing life of colonialism and diasporic culture Leave a reply
  6. Dancing all night with Aphra Behn: Jeffrey Boys’s Almanack for 1667 Leave a reply
  7. R1 – An Exploration of Content from the Choreographic Wastebasket Leave a reply
  8. Dr Kate Kennedy wins public engagement award Leave a reply
  9. Lydia Lopokova – A 20th Century Life Leave a reply
  10. Tony Gray Visiting Scholarship Leave a reply
  11. Choreographic Forum – nicht schlafen by Alain Platel / les ballets C de la B Leave a reply
  12. Dancing Lives Leave a reply
  13. Marie Taglioni: The First Female Superstar of Ballet Leave a reply
  14. Presence and Absence: Kurt Jooss 1 Reply
  15. Leaves of Silk Leave a reply
  16. Global Lives and Local Perspectives: New Approaches to Tibetan Life Writing Leave a reply
  17. It’s in my diary… Leave a reply
  18. Clio Barnard: The Selfish Giant Leave a reply
  19. Lives of Houses: One-Day Colloquium, 27 May Leave a reply
  20. Faith Biography Leave a reply
  21. Poems of Life and Death Leave a reply
  22. Pursuer or pursued? Holmes on biography Leave a reply
  23. Are you a member of Wolfson College? Do you have an object with a story to tell? A life story to share? Leave a reply
  24. The Self in Verse. Exploring Autobiographical Poetry Leave a reply
  25. Life Goes On: How people in northern Rwanda make sense of psychosocial suffering from war and healing Leave a reply
  26. The Lives of Houses Leave a reply
  27. Dirty Little Secrets Of The Caspian 4 Replies
  28. Maps without borders: Stories of civic science in action Leave a reply
  29. The Celebrity Interview: History, Aesthetics, Method Leave a reply
  30. The Weinrebe Lecture series 2017: Writing World Lives Leave a reply
  31. The Celebrity Interview: History, Aesthetics, Method Leave a reply
  32. War Time: International Society for First World War Studies conference Leave a reply
  33. Global Lives and Local Perspectives: New Approaches to Tibetan Life Writing. Call for Papers Leave a reply
  34. Life-writing and philosophy: call for papers Leave a reply
  35. Celebrity and Life-Writing in Dialogue 1 Reply
  36. Unsteady: reconstructing the life and work of Leila Ann Soltau 1 Reply
  37. Biographical Borders Leave a reply
  38. The Truth in Fiction ~ Notes on a Work in Progress Leave a reply
  39. Oxford’s Writing Life Leave a reply
  40. “Is This How it Really Was?”: Exploring Lives Through Private and Public Writing Leave a reply
  41. The Lille Diaries: A Writers’ Group Weekend Leave a reply
  42. The Private Life of the Diary Leave a reply
  43. Through An Artist’s Eye: Felicia Browne and the Spanish Civil War 1 Reply
  44. The Secret Staircase: private view and talk by Michèle Roberts and Caroline Isgar Leave a reply
  45. Speaking in Absence: Letters in the Digital Age Conference Report Leave a reply
  46. Woven into the Fabric of the Text: Subversive Material Metaphors in Academic Writing 2 Replies
  47. ‘We All Have These Thoughts Sometimes’: A conference on the work of Stevie Smith (1902-1971) 1 Reply
  48. Art and Action: The Intersections of Literary Celebrity and Politics – Symposium Report Leave a reply
  49. ‘Writing War, Writing Lives’ – Chair: Lara Feigel, panellists: Santanu Das, Hope Wolf, Kate McLoughlin, Sue Vice Leave a reply