Essays

Crossing the Void: Grieving and Transformation

Lara Bardsley reflects on the value of collecting “familial stories of loss, trauma, separation, suicide, and genocide” for her research. Beautifully capturing her feelings of loss upon her PhD submission, she notes the “transformative power of witnessing our stories” she has gained during the PhD, which she carries with her in her professional career.

When I finished my PhD, I fell into a hole, a descent that was unplanned, too long unwitnessed and incomprehensible for many (including myself), who expected the completion to come as a celebration. I have been present to stories of suffering and transcendence in my twenty-two years as a psychologist and supervisor, but my PhD had offered me a unique experience: to turn my attention to my own stories and reflect upon them as an artist and researcher, using the language of film, life writing, photography and fine art. Immersed as I was in the stories that emerged when I asked, “What does it mean to know who we are?” I did not expect that I would feel such a loss when it was over. Continue reading “Crossing the Void: Grieving and Transformation”

Essays

Gutters of Relationality and the Visibility of Vietnamese American Experiences in Bao Phi’s A Different Pond

Thai Luong discusses how Bao Phi’s autobiographical picture book, A Different Pond, resonates with his own experiences and memories. Examining illustrations, gutters, and silences in the book, Luong shows that the text invites members of the Vietnamese American community to identify with its representation of the challenges of life in a new country.

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In the autobiographical picture book, A Different Pond, written by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui, Phi recalls a fishing journey with his father after they moved to Minneapolis at the end of the Vietnam War. On this fishing trip, the young Phi learns about his father’s traumatic involvement with the Vietnam War and the family’s struggle with poverty and adjustment to America—themes central and visceral to most Vietnamese American refugees and immigrants who are adjusting to a new life in America.

Reading A Different Pond as a Vietnamese American, I felt a close bond with Phi’s story and his struggles with his experience in America. Although Phi’s book is autobiographical, I felt as if he was writing a chapter of my life, too. This relationship between the reader (myself) and Phi amplifies the book’s themes of family and immigration. G. Thomas Couser and many life-writing theorists have argued that self-representational genres are relational, that they represent lives of others beyond the author’s own intention. I expand Couser’s definition further by exploring Leigh Gilmore’s definition of “representativeness”—that is, how one’s trauma can represent another group’s experience, which Gilmore describes as the “intertwining of individual and collective representation that demonstrates the close relation between representing yourself and participating in a representative structure in which one may stand for many” (19). A Different Pond operates as a dual representation of both the author’s experience and the reader’s by depicting the Vietnamese Americans’ experiences of immigration, war, and adjustment to life in America. Continue reading “Gutters of Relationality and the Visibility of Vietnamese American Experiences in Bao Phi’s A Different Pond”

Announcements

2019 International Conference on Narrative – Call for papers!

The call for papers is now open for next year’s International Conference on Narrative, held at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, May 30 – June 1 2019. The conference coincides with the IABA Europe Conference in Madrid. Hopefully many scholars will attend both!

Here are all the details:

We welcome proposals for papers and panels on all aspects of narrative in any genre, period, discipline, language, and medium.

Deadline for receipt of proposals: 15 January, 2019

Proposals for Individual Papers

Please provide the title and a 300-word abstract of the paper you are proposing; your name, institutional affiliation, and email address; and a brief statement (no more than 100 words) about your work and your publications.

Proposals for Panels

Please provide a 700-word (maximum) description of the topic of the panel and of each panelist’s contribution; the title of the panel and the titles of the individual papers; and for each participant the name, institutional affiliation, email address, and a brief statement (no more than 100 words) about the person’s work and publications.

Please send proposals by email in PDF or Word to: narrative2019@gmail.com

All participants must join the International Society for the Study of Narrative. For more information on the ISSN, please visit: narrative.georgetown.edu

The conference will be held at the University of Navarra, Pamplona (Spain) from June 6-8, 2019.

Plenaries will be given by Professor Rebecca Garden and Professor Julie Rak.

Conference organizers:

Professor Rocío G. Davis (rgdavis@unav.es)
Professor Rosalía Baena (rbaena@unav.es)
Professor Anabel Martínez (abmartinezg@unav.es)
Department of Philology
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Navarra
31009 Pamplona, Spain

For more details, see here.

 

Please note that conference dates have been updated from original announcement.

Announcements

IABA BRAZIL 2018: SNS Collaboration Roundtable Talking Points

Text is available in: English – Portuguese – Spanish

IABA BRAZIL 2018 – SECRET LIVES: HIDING, REVEALING, BELONGING 

SNS Collaboration Roundtable

Room 2.06 RE III-SNS Wednesday July 11, 2018, 11:00am-12:30pm

IABA’s Students and New Scholars Network centred our second roundtable event around the notion of “Collaboration.” The discussion series took place during the 2017 regional IABA events (Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific) and now culminates at the IABA World conference in Brazil. We chose “collaboration” because we believe it is a theoretical, methodological, and political concept that has been continuously and critically driving our field, as well as our network, forward. Taking up “collaboration” from critical perspectives pertaining to scholarly, pedagogical, and institutional lives, we believe this topic will produce conversations focused on:

  • Theorizing collaboration: what it means to work collaboratively across disciplines, mediums and locations; what we define as successful or failed collaborations;
  • Collaborative methods and practices: revisiting and developing collaborative processes and practices of writing, researching, teaching, and activism, including (but not limited to) ethical protocols; collaboration as political work;
  • Collaboration and/as care: working together as care within and beyond academia;
  • Collaboration and/as inclusion: exploring ways that collaborative methods and theories can create opportunities for radical inclusion (in all senses of the word).

Each panelist offers a 3-5 minute presentation, and a 60-minute discussion follows, moderated by Liz Rodriguez and Zeinab McHeimech.

Read Collaboration Roundtable Abstracts here.

Continue reading “IABA BRAZIL 2018: SNS Collaboration Roundtable Talking Points”

Essays

Crossing the Void: Uncertainty and Self-Doubt vs Finding Joy in Research

Ana Belén Martínez García talks about the difficulties of a self-funded PhD, marriage, and the road to tenure. She refers to the importance of mentorship and her turn from medieval literature to the study of human rights life narratives of young refugee women. In a beautifully reflective tone, Ana shows why this kind of life writing matters to her, both in relation to her role as an academic and beyond it.

Life as a young scholar is full of questions: “Is this the right choice for me? Am I prepared to handle the pressure of a scholar’s life?” I believe many of us start our career course with these unanswered questions in mind, and given the nature of the PhD they intrude in our thoughts every now and then. I asked myself similar questions while writing my PhD but I could not find anybody who was able to provide any answers. I therefore pushed forward on my own, but had doubts that I would have liked to express at the time. Now, I feel I ought to share them with colleagues in a similar situation. This blog series presents me with both an opportunity to voice a little bit of that story, but also a challenge – it is quite a personal story. As such, readers beware – digressions and flashbacks are inevitable. Continue reading “Crossing the Void: Uncertainty and Self-Doubt vs Finding Joy in Research”

Interviews

Deviant Women: An Interview with Lauren Butterworth and Alicia Carter

Lauren Butterworth and Alicia Carter, hosts of Deviant Women podcast, discuss collaboration, the podcasting community, and the importance of women’s stories.

You can thank us later, because we’ve found your new favourite podcast. Deviant Women is created by two Australian writers, Lauren Butterworth and Alicia Carter (pronounced A-liss-ee-ah, not A-lee-sha), who are highlighting the lives and stories of extraordinary women in history and literature using the aural medium of the podcast, which is seeing a surge in popularity as well as critical and scholarly attention.

Deviant Women is a “chumcast”—a style of podcast “in which two experts or pals riff on a theme” (McHugh 105). In this case, Alicia and Lauren are both experts and pals. Alicia is currently completing her PhD in creative writing, and Lauren is an early career researcher in literary studies and creative writing. Both of them research representations of femininity in history and stories, and they also create their own representations in their fiction.

We were lucky enough to ask Lauren and Alicia about how and why they started the podcast, their strategies for functional and fun collaboration, and what they really mean when they use the term “deviant” to talk about women’s histories and representation! Continue reading “Deviant Women: An Interview with Lauren Butterworth and Alicia Carter”

Announcements

Introducing the TDA Travel Grants

We wanted to share the following announcement from Ricia Chansky, editor of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies:

In the autumn of 2014, the life narrative community lost an exceptional scholar and a great friend, Timothy Dow Adams. Tim was one of the founding editors of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies and his outstanding scholarship—including the two books, Telling Lies in Modern American Autobiography and Light Writing and Life Writing: Photography in Autobiography—have had a lasting impact on the field. As a way to honor his life and work, the editors of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies created the Timothy Dow Adams Awards. These prizes support emerging and underrepresented scholars in the field with mentorship and small grants.

Beginning with the 2018 IABA Brazil Conference, we extend this award through the newly-created TDA Travel Grants. These travel grants have been designed in collaboration with the IABA Student and New Scholar Network, and will be made to support graduate students; independent scholars; and, contingent, underfunded, and underrepresented faculty members attending an IABA global conference. Applications for the TDA Travel Grants must be filed by April 20, 2018. Further information regarding the application process is available on the a/b website at: https://auto-biography.org/awards/. Donations to support and expand this effort are very welcome and information regarding tax-deductible contributions may be found on the same webpage.

Essays

Crossing the Void: The Constructive Wilderness that Is Post-Submission

Sarah Lightman presents the experience of the void from the perspective of a woman who also happens to be a successful cartoonist and a mother. Having just submitted her PhD thesis, Sarah explains how she balances the needs of her son, her artistic creativity, and her scholarly output. 

It has been three months since I submitted my thesis, Dressing Eve and other Reparative Acts in Women’s Autobiographical Comics, to the University of Glasgow. Since then, my busyness has been tempered by the sense of a vacuum, or, rather, a space of gestation. And in this no-woman’s-land before graduation, I have a thesis written, but not published; submitted, but not viva-ed; and I am still a student, yet am not studying. But I also planned in advance for this time, with a lSarah Lightman Drawingong list of academic and non-academic projects: books to co-edit, journal articles to finish, a beginner’s yoga class to attend, contemporary galleries to visit, and a CD of children’s songs to record for our synagogue. I have done some teaching and I continue to work with Nicola Streeten, and others, on Laydeez Do Comics, the foremost comic forum in the UK now, with branches worldwide, and I host in my home an artist salon, Salon 16, for women artists. In addition, my home life makes continuous demands on me. I still have to make breakfast and a packed lunch for my three-year-old son, and keep ahead of all his plans for the upcoming term – football, ballet, and a flu injection. So, whilst the PhD was a project, a big, important, time-greedy self-development project, it was never my whole life, and its completion would not leave me bereft. Continue reading “Crossing the Void: The Constructive Wilderness that Is Post-Submission”

Essays

Crossing the Void: Importance of Community and Perseverance While Riding on the PhD Boat

Ozlem Ezer writes of her experiences of both the PhD process and the post-submission period in Canada, the US, Cyprus, and Sweden, stressing the usefulness of supportive communities in these two periods. Describing her journey through the PhD and “across the void,” she explains that it is okay to stop, to take breaks, to experiment, and to realize in the process what works best for you. 

Let me be clear: I have been skeptical about “support groups” since watching Fight Club (1999) and laughing out loud. I started my PhD at York University (Toronto) in Fall 2002 and became increasingly involved in North American society since then, only to find out that support groups were really part of this culture and their extent still surpassed my imagination. In 2004, my partner and I moved to Naperville, a suburb of Chicago, where he began his full-time academic post at a community college. We didn’t know anybody in the area. I lost my York-based feminist academic circle and felt like a fish out of water. In fact, I remember coming up with a penguin metaphor in my diary. York was the sea, where I could swim fast (I finished my course work and comprehensive exams all in one year), but I was wobbling like a penguin on land in Naperville. One day, I received an email about an ABD [all-but-dissertation] support group, whose members are writing their dissertations in gender and women’s studies programs. I remembered Fight Club. I can’t recall the reasons but the support group wasn’t formed or gathered regularly. However, Michelle Morkert, a young, bright feminist ABD reached out to me, and drove to Naperville to meet me in a coffeeshop called Arbor Vitae (Tree of Life), where our friendship began. Her presence and our conversations meant a lot, and made me realize how crucial it was to have people who share the similar experiences with you. We built a strong bond despite the years and we both believe in the significance of women’s support of each other in academia as well as in other fields of life. Continue reading “Crossing the Void: Importance of Community and Perseverance While Riding on the PhD Boat”

Essays

Crossing the Void: Work Worth Doing, or How I Learned to Love the Void

Kate Browne tells how her PhD work on autobiographical dieting practices, weight loss success stories, and food journaling have influenced her online teaching and her own Facebook “autobiography-in-action.” Introducing her project, Taking Up Space, she explains how she sees her activism as a form of teaching outside academia. 

I defended my dissertation in March. In August of the same year, I decided that I would not put myself “on the market” this year, or perhaps in any other year. I blame my dissertation.

In my dissertation, I argue that autobiographical practices of dieting, which include weight loss success stories and food journaling, teach people how to live. I based my argument on Foucauldian notions of self-writing, self-care and surveillance, and put these ideas in conversation with theories from life writing, fat studies, and crip theory. My final chapter argued that teaching body-based autobiography in the undergraduate classroom can help students act as agents in their own learning processes and strengthen their self-advocacy skills. As you might imagine, critical pedagogy features prominently in this work. Throughout my dissertation, I emphasize that learning happens outside the classroom all the time and that autobiography as a site of everyday teaching and learning how to live has a substantial impact on interpersonal relationships, cultural expectations, and socialization. Continue reading “Crossing the Void: Work Worth Doing, or How I Learned to Love the Void”