Life-writing conferences

If you are organising a conference on life-writing that you’d like to include in this list, please email us.

Everyday Matters: Writing Obscure Lives

Saturday 5 May 2018
Wolfson College, University of Oxford.

This 1-day colloquium will bring together writers and scholars from across the humanities and the social sciences.  We will explore the creative and critical practices involved in the writing of everyday lives, past and present, including: the politics and poetics of representation, research methodologies, case studies, and more.

Locating Women in ‘the Folk’: Perspectives on women’s contributions to folk song, folklore, and cultural traditions

Saturday 9 June 2018
University of Sussex.

Women have always been central to the study and practice of folklore, arts and cultural traditions – as tradition bearers, performers, authors, collectors, storytellers and scholars. However, their contribution hasn’t always received the recognition it deserves; this symposium aims to redress the balance. We are inviting 20-minute papers/presentations and A1 poster presentations on relevant topics, which may include:

  • Singers, dancers, musicians, storytellers, and other performance roles
  • Performance styles, repertoire and source
  • Facilitators, revivals and teaching
  • Contributions to scholarship
  • Legacies and archives
  • Gender relations in folk cultures
  • Life narratives, autoethnographies, biographies, and oral histories
  • Depictions of women as subject matter in song and story
  • Portrayals of women, gender roles, and identity
  • Perspectives on the future for women in ‘the folk’

We welcome applications from all levels within academia, as well as from independent researchers, writers and enthusiasts.

Please send proposals of 250 words, a short biography, and the mode of presentation (paper, presentation, poster) to by January 26th 2018.

This conference is co-presented by Sussex Traditions, The Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research (University of Sussex), and The English Folk Dance & Song Society, and supported by The Centre for Memories, Narratives and Histories (Brighton University), and Sussex University’s Music Department.

Women in ‘the Folk’ – interdisciplinary conference PDF

Biography and Public History: Constructing Historical Narratives through Life-Writing

Wednesday 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, social, political and literary realms. As such, life-writing is a unique medium enabling authors to construct complex historical narratives through the eyes of a particular person. Memoirs, diaries, and other forms of life-writing can also fill gaps in the documentary record, offering historical information that may not be found elsewhere. This interdisciplinary conference aims to explore the myriad ways in which the medium of life-writing has and is being used as a means of constructing and understanding history. As a key characteristic of life-writing is its ability to cross disciplinary boundaries, proposals from a range of disciplines are welcomed.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • the relationship between the individual and society or broader events;
  • constructing historical narratives through non-traditional media, eg. portraiture, exhibitions, multimedia, auto/biographical drama;
  • the lives of institutions, places and objects;
  • life-writing as a form of public history;
  • life-writing and the scholarship of creative individuals (eg. Composers, writers, artists) and their works;
  • life-writing and science;
  • methodological issues and benefits in using life-writing as a historical source.

Submitting a proposal
Proposals are welcomed for individual 20-minute presentations, panels of 3-4 papers (1.5-2 hours), and proposals for one-hour roundtables of 3-5 participants. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to Joanne Cormac (University of Nottingham): by 9 February 2018.

Further information will be made available on the conference website:

The conference is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Medieval Life Writing Principles and Practice

Friday 29 June
Harris Manchester, Oxford

A day-long colloquium with speakers and discussion, in celebration of the MÆ Annual Lecture’s 60th Anniversary. Speakers include: Professor Janet Nelson, Professor Andy Beresford, and Professor Michael Clanchy.

Contact: Professor Lesley Smith.
Download the flyer..

Wilfred Owen and Beyond

Friday 26 October – Sunday 28 October 2018
Wolfson College, University of Oxford.

In partnership with the University of Valenciennes conference Owen and / in France, the Oxford Centre for Life Writing is pleased to be hosting this conference to mark the centenary of Wilfred Owen’s death.

This conference is concerned with Owen’s afterlife. How has his work been received, and how has it changed our view of the war? What effect has his verse had on writers, composers and other intellectuals, and how has Owen himself been portrayed, appropriated and discussed posthumously?



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