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?

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.

Does OCLW run practical courses in life-writing?

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. 
Downloads
Events application formDownload
News
Events

The latest from Wolfson College

Wolfson College University Challenge Team
13 January 2020
University Challenge Round Two

The team representing Wolfson consists of Mary Caple, Claire Jones, Ryan Walker and Mike Perrin. Tonight, they will compete against the University...

Géza Vermes Portrait
6 January 2020
The Life of Geza Vermes

Geza Vermes was an expert in the history of Judaism in the early Roman empire whose prolific writings, particularly on the Jewish background of...

Season's greetings
19 December 2019
Holiday Closure Dates

The College will be closed from Friday 20 December 2019 to Wednesday 1 January 2020 inclusive. 

Our upcoming events

Art Exhibition
19 - 19
Jan Jan
The Ways We See Private View
Sunday 19 January - 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Oxford Photographers Exhibition with artists Mark Crean, Howard Stanbury, Darrell Godliman, Alexander Gordon, Judith Taylor, John Duncan, Philip King, Duncan Taylor, Karen Morecroft. Please join us for drinks and nibbles at the Private View to celebrate the opening of The Ways We See.

Art Exhibition
20 - 13
Jan Mar
The Ways We See
Monday 20 January - 10:00am to Friday 13 March - 7:00pm

Oxford Photographers Exhibition with artists Mark Crean, Howard Stanbury, Darrell Godliman, Alexander Gordon, Judith Taylor, John Duncan, Philip King, Duncan Taylor, and Karen Morecroft. Open daily 10am - 7pm subject to College commitments. Visitors are advised to telephone the College Lodge on (01865) 274100 before visiting.

Sports & Wellness
21 - 21
Jan Jan
Mixed Circuits
Tuesday 21 January - 6:00pm to 7:15pm

Mixed Circuits are organised by the Boat Club and run every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 PM all year round in the Games Room. Free and open to all members of college, the sessions are great for rowers keeping fit in the off-season, as a supplement to regular training, or for non-rowers who want to get a bit of exercise while seeing the enthusiasm of the Boat Club first-hand. The workout consists of a few sets of “body-weight” exercises, including crunches, press-ups, squats, etc.