OCLW and the Oxford English Faculty - Life-writing day

Saturday 9 February - 9.30 - 4.30

Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford 


This Life Writing workshop is organised by the English Faculty and the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing to explore all aspects of life-writing including autobiography, memoir, character sketches and family biography. There will be talks and conversations about new books and ongoing life-writing interests.


9.30-10.00: coffee and pastries

10.00-11.00: Bart van Es presents on his Costa Prize-shortlisted memoir The Cut Out Girl, and Sophie Ratcliffe discusses ‘an exhibition of herself’, her recently published The lost properties of love. Chaired by Hermione Lee.

11.00-11.30: Ros Ballaster, Chair of the English Faculty, Elleke Boehmer, Director of the Centre for Life Writing, and Kate Kennedy, OCLW Research Fellow, outline the English Faculty’s recent work in biography, the work of OCLW, and the ways in which literary reading impacts the story of our lives. Chaired by Laura Marcus.

11.30-11.45: Comfort break

11.45-12.45: A Very Short Introduction panel on auto/biography, involving Hermione Lee on her VSI Biography, Laura Marcus on Autobiography, and Elleke Boehmer, on her VSI Nelson Mandela, an example of biography. Chaired by Kate Kennedy.

12.45-1.45: Lunch (at own expense)

1.45-3.00: Marina McKay, Michèle Mendelssohn, and Marion Turner discuss their new work in life-writing: McKay’s 2018 biography of the soldier critic, Ian Watt; Mendelssohn’s Making Oscar Wilde, her biography of Oscar Wilde’s self-fashioning,  a semi-finalist for the 2018 PEN America Biography Prize, and Turner’s new biography of Chaucer (Princeton 2019). Chaired by Elleke Boehmer

3.00-3.30: Tea

3:30-4:30: Rana Mitter (History) on ‘Chinese characters’. Chaired by Ros Ballaster.


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