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 →

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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,... 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 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 →

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 →

‘After-Image: Life-Writing and Celebrity’ 19 September 2015 Oxford Conference Summary

The fields of life-writing and celebrity studies have separately gained traction in academia in recent years, but have seldom been explored together. With help from the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing, the Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities and King’s College London, we organized a one-day conference exploring the intersections between these two fields. The conference,... Continue Reading →

OCLW Lunch Seminar: Joanna Kavenna on 16 June 2015

In a wide-ranging lunchtime talk, novelist and travel writer Joanna Kavenna discussed the concepts that preoccupy nearly every writer of biography, memoir and indeed fiction. Through her thinking around the philosophical precepts of time, memory and the self, she considered the questions of how the writer relays the self in time, how the self changes... Continue Reading →

OCLW Visiting Scholars: ‘Life-Writing Operations’

For the first event of Trinity Term the OCLW welcomed its own visiting scholars who gave brief presentations on their current life-writing projects. John Bak started the seminar with a fascinating summary of his work editing Tennessee Williams’ Ur-Memoirs. Bak introduced his audience to the problems of working with this material by way of an... Continue Reading →

Call For Papers: 15 May deadline for OCLW/ TORCH Conference, ‘After-Image: Life-Writing and Celebrity’

OCLW and TORCH are funding two conferences related to life-writing this year, please see below for details on the conference, 'After-Image: Life-Writing and Celebrity': Call for Papers, 15 May abstract submission deadline After-Image: Life-Writing and Celebrity Saturday, 19 September 2015 The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW)... Continue Reading →

OCLW lunchtime seminar: Frances Larson on ‘The Things About Henry Wellcome’, 10 March 2015

Exploring the miniature, the gigantic and biographies of scale, anthropologist and writer Frances Larson shared her work on Henry Wellcome (1853-1936) from her 2009 book An Infinity of Things with the OCLW lunchtime seminar. The talk explored Larson’s use of objects as biographical evidence for Wellcome’s life. Her approach was to view Wellcome’s life through... Continue Reading →

Professor Lord Peter Hennessy: ‘The Importance of Being Personal: Political History and Life’

As part of the Weinrebe Lectures in Life-Writing on the theme of Political History and Life-Writing, OCLW welcomed Professor Lord Peter Hennessy last Tuesday to give a lecture entitled ‘The Importance of Being Personal: Political History and Life’. True to his chosen title, Hennessy’s lecture was in large part introspective. Reflecting on his personal development... Continue Reading →

Hilary Term 2015 Events

OCLW is starting 2015 with a term full of exciting events, including the Weinrebe Lectures in Life-Writing! Please find all details below. All events are open to all, free of charge, with no reservation required, with the exception of the Life-Writing lunch at the end of term when you will need to book ahead. Hope... Continue Reading →

Albert James at the Animal Fair

Please find below a post by Rosie and Ellie Lavan about their play Wild Laughter, which was performed as an OCLW event on the 11th of November. Albert James at the Animal Fair We think of Wild Laughter very much as a Christmas story. Our great grandfather Albert James was, after all, the clown who... Continue Reading →

The Quest for Materials: OCLW conference write-up

The Centre recently hosted a conference of thirty life-writers, all at various stages of their project and all keen to get to get to grips with some of the practical and ethical questions involved in writing a life. Lyndall Gordon, Elleke Boehmer and Clare Morgan facilitated a series of engaging and thoughtful workshops which encouraged... Continue Reading →

Guest post: Procrastination Conference at OCLW

For your those of you supposed to be working right now, but are reading this blog instead, conference organizers Liz Chatterjee and Danielle Yardy share their  illustrated and humorous summary of the 'Procrastination: Cultural Explorations' conference at OCLW in July. This conference was the winner of the OCLW-TORCH postgraduate conference award, and the competition will be repeated this... Continue Reading →

Guest post: OCLW conference, ‘Genius for Sale! Artistic Production and Economic Context in the Long Nineteenth Century’ on 8th May 2014

Below is Diana Greenwald's summary of "Genius for Sale!" an OCLW conference organized by Diana Greenwald and Jonathan Paine: Most academic conferences are discipline-specific— historians meet with historians, economists with economists, etc. The goal of “Genius for Sale! Artistic Production and Economic Context in the Long Nineteenth Century” was to break this pattern. This conference... Continue Reading →

OCLW Lunch with James Hamilton: “Unrolling the Tapestry: Weaving Interrelated Lives in Books and Exhibitions” on 11 March

Matthew here, reporting on the final event of what proved to be an eventful Hilary Term 2014.  Over lunch on Tuesday, 11 March, the noted author, biographer, and curator James Hamilton gave a talk entitled ‘Unrolling the Tapestry: Weaving Interrelated Lives in Books and Exhibitions’.  Hamilton’s wide-ranging interests include art and science in nineteenth-century London,... Continue Reading →

Podcasts from the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing!

The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing has a treat for you to enjoy, just in time for the weekend: podcasts of our events!  Please visit www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/clusters/life-writing/podcasts for a wonderful sound archive of many of our lectures, seminars and conferences since our foundation in October 2011. Among the audio gems in this archive, are: Keynote speeches by Edmund De... Continue Reading →

Work in Progress Seminar 19th February 2014

Lucinda Fenny here, the final member of the OCLW publicity team, welcome to my first blog post and I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts with you over the coming months. On Wednesday evening, in the company of an intimate audience, OCLW’s visiting members presented an outline of the work they are conducting... Continue Reading →

OCLW Workshop on Literary Letters

Hello life-writers! My name is Matthew Sellers, and I’m one-third of the new OCLW publicity team.  Over the course of the term, Nanette O’Brien, Lucinda Fenny, and I will be blogging about the events OCLW hosts.  To kick off, here’s a summary of our first event, the OCLW Workshop on Literary Letters, convened by Professor... Continue Reading →

OCLW events Hilary Term 2014

We have a great line up this term! OCLW is starting off the term with a special collaborative workshop on 'Literary Letters' from the eighteenth century to the present, followed by the Weinrebe Lecture series which occur in conjunction with our other events this term (see our post on the Weinrebe Lectures), and talks from... Continue Reading →

The Weinrebe Lectures: Hilary Term 2014

The annual Weinrebe Lectures in Life-Writing will take place over four weeks in the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium at Wolfson College beginning on Tuesday, 4 February 2014. The lectures are open to all, free of charge, with no reservation required. The Weinrebe Lectures in Life-Writing: ‘Voicing the Self’ Tuesday 4 February (Week 3), 5.30pm, Leonard Wolfson... Continue Reading →

Our New Blog

Welcome to the new blog of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing! OCLW  is 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. The centre is directed by acclaimed biographer Hermione Lee (Virginia Woolf; Edith... Continue Reading →

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