Wolfson congratulates Aamer Sarfraz on his appointment by The Queen as a member of the House of Lords.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Life-writing?
It involves, and goes beyond, biography. It encompasses everything from the complete life to the day-in-the-life, from the fictional to the factional. It embraces the lives of objects and institutions as well as the lives of individuals, families and groups.
Life-writing includes autobiography, memoirs, letters, diaries, journals (written and documentary), anthropological data, oral testimony, and eye-witness accounts. It is not only a literary or historical specialism, but is relevant across the arts and sciences, and can involve philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, ethnographers and anthropologists.
Recent areas of interest in life-writing studies include the relation of biography to scientific discovery. Life-writing is also an integral part of studies relating to the Holocaust, genocide, testimony and confession, and gender and apartheid.
- What does OCLW do?
The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing is a hub for scholars and practitioners who are interested in, working on, or researching, all forms of life-writing. We organise events (for example, lectures, seminars, conferences, exhibitions) that stimulate thinking about life-writing and disseminate research into auto/biographical subjects and methodology. Through a programme of Visiting Scholarships, Doctoral Studentships and Research Fellowships, OCLW fosters sustained and thorough academic research into a wide variety of interpretations of the theme of life-writing. We organise practical workshops designed to assist practising life-writers with methodological considerations relevant to auto/biography. The majority of our events and courses are open to all.
However, it might be necessary to describe how OCLW relates to the University of Oxford, for those of you unfamiliar with the way in which the University is structured. When you come to the University as a graduate student, your teaching/research will be managed by the Faculty to which you are affiliated. But your social life will mostly take place within the college that you join (please see this link for a longer explanation). OCLW is a research centre, neither a Faculty nor a College. We are based at Wolfson College and most closely affiliated to the Faculty of English (although we also have links with other Faculties too). But as a research centre, we do NOT offer ANY teaching, neither undergraduate nor postgraduate, at OCLW. We simply exist to support research at all levels.
If you are interesting in studying a formal life-writing course at the University of Oxford, you will have to become an English Literature student (at either Undergraduate or Graduate level) at the University, and select a life-writing module: however, this will be a Faculty-led module and nothing directly to do with OCLW. But attending events at OCLW, and interacting with our members, will help to further your research. Just to reiterate, we do not offer any teaching, beyond occasional short workshops designed to assist practising auto/biographers.
If you are interesting in doing a doctorate ("DPhil") at the University of Oxford in a subject related to life-writing, then you can do so in affiliation with OCLW. This means that your doctorate will be awarded by the University, and your supervision will be organised by the appropriate Faculty. When making your choice of college, if you opt to join Wolfson College, then you can be affiliated to OCLW and benefit from a closer connection to our members and activities than "regular" members. Please see the question below for more details on doing a DPhil at Oxford, and benefitting from an affiliation to OCLW.
- I am considering doctoral study. Can I do a DPhil attached to OCLW?
Yes, OCLW welcomes applications from doctoral candidates engaged in research relevant to life-writing. Each year there are two doctoral studentships on offer, fully funded by the AHRC and OCLW. One is in the field of English Literature; the second is taken from among the faculties of Music, Medieval and Modern Languages, and History. Applicants, whether internal or external, should apply to the University under the standard procedures for the PRS/DPhil degree. Applicants should list Wolfson their first choice college on the University application form. The University's application procedures are described at www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/postgraduate_courses/apply/ . Applications should normally be made on-line (www.graduate.ox.ac.uk/applyonline ).
It is also possible to apply for a DPhil attached to OCLW, without funding. Applicants should apply to the University under the respective standard procedures for the degree they wish to pursue from 2013, and should list Wolfson College as their first choice college on the form, as well as describing how their prospective research falls within the remit of OCLW's interests in their statement.
- How do I become a member of OCLW?
Membership is open to all. Please join our mailing list by following the instructions on this link.
- I am writing an auto/biography. What assistance might OCLW provide?
All our events provide an environment in which discussion of methodological and research issues pertaining to life-writing can assist an auto/biographer. OCLW organises practical life-writing workshops to assist those engaged in auto/biography. Informal events such as our termly Life-Writing Lunches particularly provide a context for relaxed, serious conversations among our members, where ideas can be fruitfully exchanged. Our blog and discussion board have recently been set up, and we hope that these will provide an opportunity for similar conversation in the virtual realm. But please note that we do NOT offer individual mentoring or tutoring, and nor can we read manuscripts or drafts.
- Is it possible to apply for a postdoctoral fellowship attached to OCLW?
OCLW currently has one stipendiary postdoctoral research fellowship (the Weinrebe Fellowship in Life-Writing): at the moment this position is filled. If further postdoctoral research fellowships are created, they will be advertised on these pages and on our mailing list. Please follow this instructions on this page to be added to the e-mailing list.
- Is it possible to come to OCLW as a Visiting Scholar?
Yes. Once a term, OCLW elects Visiting Scholars and Visiting Doctoral Students. Please see the Visiting Scholars webpage for details.
- Does OCLW have grants for which I can apply?
OCLW does not provide grants for research expenses, conferences, or funding for doctoral study at other universities.
We have a Doctoral Studentship scheme: please see www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/clusters/life-writing/study/dphil for more details.
We can also provide limited financial assistance if you have an event that you are interested in hosting in affiliation to OCLW. Please see www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/clusters/life-writing/events/OCLW-hosting for more information.
We are running a conference grant competition in association with TORCH, for postgraduate conferences on life-writing and the humanities. For more information, please see www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/clusters/life-writing/study/grant
- I am organising, or am interested in organising, an event (conference, seminar, lecture etc) concerned with life-writing. How can OCLW help me?
OCLW can provide a variety of levels of support for an event related to life-writing, ranging from hosting a multi-day conference, to simply providing limited financial assistance (up to £200), or publicising an event. Our only condition is that the event is then described in all publicity as "taking place in association with OCLW", and that appropriate thanks are made. If you wish to apply for any type of support, please first download this form on the right and outline your proposal, and then email it to OCLW. Please do not contact OCLW before having submitted a form.
7 August 2020Aamer Sarfraz appointed to the House of Lords5 August 2020Professor George Smith Honoured by Royal Society
Congratulations to Professor George Smith, FRS, who has been awarded the Armourers & Brasiers' Company Prize 20208 July 2020Refurbishment of the balcony
This project has been given the go-ahead as part of the Estates Strategy to improve our College buildings and environment.
Parties and Dinners12 - 12Sep SepDegree DaySaturday 12 September - 11:00am to 3:30pm
Preceding the degree ceremony in the Sheldonian Theatre at 14:30, the College hosts the Signing of the Graces and a celebratory reception for our graduands and their family and friends. This event is by invitation only; please see the degree days page on our website for further information.Lectures and Seminars05 - 05Nov NovMargaret Oliphant and OxfordThursday 5 November - 1:30pm
Merryn Williams is a poet and critic. Her latest works are The Fragile Bridge: New and Selected Poems (Shoestring Press) and Mansfield Park Revisited (Plas Gwyn Books). At present she is collecting poems about the pandemic and the lockdown. Merryn is a long-standing member of Wolfson's Common Room.