What is Life-Writing?

Life-writing 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.

Wolfson College provides a natural home for OCLW. The college prides itself on an interdiscplinary approach to research, whilst drawing on equally strong research traditions in humanities and science.

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. The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing also has an interest in 'the lives of objects’ and the relation of those objects to human lives. This subject, and the methodological questions that it raises, was the focus of OCLW’s inaugural conference in 2013.

In the future, the Centre will turn its attentions to a series of events (outside of the conference) dedicated to exploring the lives of objects; the relationship between (auto)biography and portraiture; and a number of writing workshops.

Watch this space for details of talks, workshops and conferences in these areas.

Now tell us your viewshow would you define life-writing? Which recent trends in the discipline particularly fascinate you? What would you like to see taking place in a Life-Writing Centre? In the near future, you will be able to participate in discussions regarding life-writing on our blog.

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The latest from Wolfson College

19 September 2018
Wolfson Fellows win full professorships

Jon Barrett and Wolfgang de Melo of Wolfson College have been awarded a Recognition of Distinction award.

9 August 2018
The Jessup Room inaccessible to readers from 13th August - 17th August.

The Jessup Room in the Library (main reading room on the first floor) will be inaccessible to readers from Monday 13th August until Friday...

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6 August 2018
New Online Booking System

Wolfson College is offering a new online booking system exclusively for our members, as requested at the General Meeting. The new...

Our upcoming events

Lectures and Seminars
25 - 25
Sep Sep
The Magnificent Seven (plus): A study of early Islamic rock crystal wine jugs
Tuesday 25 September - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Concert and Plays
29 - 29
Sep Sep
Carmen
Saturday 29 September - 7:30pm to 10:00pm

Barefoot Opera, well known for its strong production values, ensemble work, and fresh interpretation, brings its unique style to the opera everyone knows and loves: 'Carmen' by Bizet. Our brilliant young soloists include young talents from the Guildhall School of Music and the Welsh Opera Academy. At the start of their careers, they will be accompanied by Barefoot Opera’s signature ensemble of free-base accordion double-bass, clarinet, and keyboard.

Art exhibition
30 - 30
Sep Sep
Steve Empson: Exhibition Private View
Sunday 30 September - 12:00pm

PRIVATE VIEW - Sunday 30 September from 12 noon to 3 pm.
Steve Empson observes two coastal communities, in Kent and Co Durham, he considers to be similar in many aspects. Both places are out on a limb, and he sees them as being quirky and attractively at the edge of society. In paintings and drawings of mixed media, he attempts to get across his feeling for these places.