Events

SNS Roundtable: Interdisciplinary (2019)

Each bi-annual cycle IABA SNS hosts a series of roundtable events at regional and global IABA conferences. The series invites emerging or established scholars, activists, and practitioners to engage in a key-word-based multi-disciplinary discussion. Participants share a 5-minute presentation that takes up the keyword from a theoretical, methodological, creative, pedagogic, or political perspectives.

Following the “Collaboration” roundtable series, the SNS team continues to be intrigued by what it means to work in a field that is inherently relational — what commitments it demands, the kinds of opportunities it encapsulates, and the challenges those create. The interdisciplinary nature of our field is a requirement for scholars and practitioners who explore multifaceted subject-matters as selfhood, identity, truth, memory, and the processes by which life stories are conceived, constructed, and consumed. This interdisciplinarity emerges, in part, from the intellectual and ethical traditions that have shaped our field as one situated at the intersections of scholarship, creative practice, and political activism. Additionally, it responds to contemporary academic cultures which value multiplicity, versatility, and experimentation. It is easy to take for granted the freedom that comes with being part of an interdisciplinary field. But our field has been demanding that we remain attuned to the ethical stakes and political efficacies that are embedded in modes of working across and between categories. Interdisciplinarity is intended as an inclusive practice: it values different ways of approaching the same problem and is invested in producing knowledge between sites. But inhabiting such spaces of transition, we must ask: what are unexplored spaces that we have yet to open up?

For our 2019-2020 Roundtable Series, we focus on auto/biography studies as an interdisciplinary field, commencing with the Americas and Europe chapter conferences. Continue reading “SNS Roundtable: Interdisciplinary (2019)”

Interviews

Looking Back, Looking Forward: Discussing the History and Future of the Field with Craig Howes

In preparation for this summer’s IABA regional conferences, SNS interviewed Professor Craig Howes about the history, present, and future(s) of the field.


Student and New Scholar Network (SNS): Now that a number of the originating voices in the field of life narrative studies, as it’s now called, have retired or are in the process of retiring, how does a retrospective of the field appear to you? How might a retrospective of the IABA community appear to you as well?

Craig Howes (CH): Well, for starters, I suppose I should probably think about retiring myself, because I didn’t know that we had shifted from life writing to life narrative studies. But given the increasing interest in graphic texts, virtually everything online, and the intense engagements with different kinds of representative hybrids, I heartily approve of the new label. (Although to be bothersome, I wonder about “narrative,” partially due to Lauren Berlant’s call to us at the IABA International conference in Sussex in 2010 to think more about the “life” part of our terms, and partially due to my own questions, stimulated by Marlene Kadar’s earlier work, and Anna Poletti’s more recent thoughts, about how much sequence is actually necessary for something to be a “narrative.”)

As for my retrospective gaze, I came into the field in between points of origin. Although the journal Biography started publishing in 1978, and prophetically as an interdisciplinary quarterly, the body of work that coalesced into a recognizable life writing field in North America was primarily being developed by those who came to be associated with the journal A/B: Auto/Biography Studies, and in Europe and elsewhere with path-breaking scholarship on working class autobiography, testimonio, diary studies, sociological approaches to narrative, and so on. Continue reading “Looking Back, Looking Forward: Discussing the History and Future of the Field with Craig Howes”

Announcements

IABA Americas Conference Website: Registration, Travel, and Accommodations

If you’re attending the 2019 IABA Americas Conference in Kingston, Jamaica in June, you’ll want to check out the conference website, which includes information about conference registration, travel to Jamaica, Kingston accommodations, and local attractions. Note that the Early Bird registration deadline is April 30. 

Check the website frequently for more conference updates!

Additionally, we’re still seeking proposals for our Interdisciplinary Roundtable. Please email us your proposals by April 20.

We can’t wait to meet you in Kingston in June!

Announcements

Apply for the TDA Travel Grants to the 2019 IABA Americas Conference in Kingston, Jamaica

In the autumn of 2014, the life narrative community lost an exceptional scholar and a great friend, Tim 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 created the Timothy Dow Adams Award. This prize supports emerging and underrepresented scholars in the field with mentorship and small grants.

Beginning with the 2018 IABA Brazil Conference, a/b extends this award through the 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.

The application packet should be emailed to editorsatab@gmail.com and they should include:

  • A cover letter explaining how your research, scholarship, and previous experiences support and extend the themes that year’s conference, as well as how these attributes contribute to diversifying the work of the event;
  • Your biographical note;
  • A copy of your accepted conference abstract from the conference; and,
  • A copy of your conference acceptance letter.

Applications for the TDA Travel Grants must be filed by April 5, 2019.

Donations to support and expand this effort are very welcome and information regarding tax-deductible contributions may be found on the a/b webpage at www.auto-biography.org/awards.

Announcements

Call for SNS Roundtable Proposals: Interdisciplinary

Interdisciplinary: An SNS Roundtable Series

Following the “Collaboration” roundtable series, the SNS team continues to be intrigued by what it means to work in a field that is inherently relational — what commitments it demands, the kinds of opportunities it encapsulates, and the challenges those create. With our 2019-2020 Roundtable Series, we focus on auto/biography studies as an interdisciplinary field.

The interdisciplinary nature of our field is a requirement for scholars and practitioners who explore multifaceted subject-matters as selfhood, identity, truth, memory, and the processes by which life stories are conceived, constructed, and consumed. This interdisciplinarity emerges, in part, from the intellectual and ethical traditions that have shaped our field as one situated at the intersections of scholarship, creative practice, and political activism. Additionally, it responds to contemporary academic cultures which value multiplicity, versatility, and experimentation. It is easy to take for granted the freedom that comes with being part of an interdisciplinary field. But our field has been demanding that we remain attuned to the ethical stakes and political efficacies that are embedded in modes of working across and between categories.  

This is why we want to explore the concept of interdisciplinarity as it pertains to the study of the auto/biographical. Interdisciplinarity is intended as an inclusive practice: it values different ways of approaching the same problem and is invested in producing knowledge between sites. But inhabiting such spaces of transition, we must ask: what are unexplored spaces that we have yet to open up?

Questions we want to ask include, but are not limited to:

  • Who gets to decide what “counts” as an appropriate interdisciplinary approach?
  • What challenges does interdisciplinarity pose for scholars of auto/biography? What benefits does it have?
  • How do we practice and model interdisciplinary research?
  • If we work across fields, what intellectual communities are we committed to? Who benefits from our work?
  • How do specific theoretical frameworks offer practical approaches that serve to re-shape our ideas of disciplinarity or interdisciplinarity?
  • What are the limitations or failures of interdisciplinary work? Who or what is excluded?
  • How do we foster inclusive research methods and practices while being wary of appropriation?
  • How do we encourage scholars, activists, and artists to work across disciplines? What does working across disciplines look like?
  • What interdisciplinary methodologies inform your work?

This roundtable is to be one of a series in conjunction with the 2019 IABA regional chapter conferences. it will have five panelists and one moderator. Panel members can be students, emerging or established scholars, activists, or practitioners. The moderator will be an SNS representative. Each panelist will give a five-minute presentation; a moderated 30-minute discussion will follow.

Please submit a 150-word presentation pitch and a 100-word biographical note to iabasnsnetwork@gmail.com. Languages other than English are welcome; please email to inquire about non-English submission criteria.

If you’ll be attending the IABA Americas Conference (June 13-15 in Kingston, Jamaica), please make the subject line of your email “Interdisciplinary Roundtable – IABA Americas” and submit your proposal by  April 20, 2019.

If you’ll be attending the IABA Europe Conference  (June 19-21 in Madrid, Spain), please make the subject line of your email “Interdisciplinary Roundtable – IABA Europe.” Deadline: May 10, 2019.

If you’ll be attending the IABA Asia-Pacific Conference (October 25-27 in Shanghai, China), please make the subject line of your email “Interdisciplinary Roundtable – IABA Asia-Pacific.” Deadline TBA.

Announcements

CFP—IABA Asia-Pacific International Conference 2019: “Life Writing and Asia-Pacific Cultures”

October 25-27, 2019

Center for Life Writing of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Shanghai, China)

Cultures and cultural change affect life writing and life writing gives impetus to cultural development. Global cultures have undergone fundamental changes in the 21st Century and the AsiaPacific region has attracted particular attention from the international community—particularly in relation to human migration and displacement, economic and technological growth, sustainability and the environment, and a host of other transforming events. Life writing has responded to these cultural developments with many different types of life narratives emerging across forms, genres, and themes. To achieve a better understanding of these culturally topical life narrative texts and themes in the AsiaPacific region, the Center for Life Writing of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) will host “Life Writing and AsiaPacificCultures,” the International Auto/Biography Association AsiaPacificRegion conference from Oct. 25 to 27, 2019. This conference will offer plenary sessions on the following topics and feature six experts who will give keynote speeches:

Confucian Culture and Life Writing
With a long history and vast area of influence in Asia, Confucian culture’s emphasis on the importance of character development and achievements has exerted a profound influence on the emergence and evolution of AsiaPacific life writing traditions. The plenary will discuss how Confucianism shapes the representation of the biographical subject’s character, and how life writing genres have responded into modern times.

Migration, Displacement, and Asylum Seeking
These global concerns have always been crucial in the AsiaPacific region, and for the life writing that has emerged within it. As perennial components of AsiaPacific life writing, such mobilities impact our understanding of family and memories; immigration and settlement; and individuals’ and communities’ struggles, successes, and failures to succeed.

Cultural Hybrids and Life Writing
The many historical and geographic overlays experienced by AsiaPacific cultures often result in multiple and uncertain cultural identities. Life writing often documents the tensions, conflicts, and achievements resulting from such cultural interchange.

Local Cultures and Life Writing
The AsiaPacific Region boasts rich and complex local cultures that have developed ways for sustaining their own identities and integrity, often in the face of extreme external pressures and even actual interventions. Life writing’s contributions to defining and preserving such local cultures will be the subject of discussion.

Other Issues in Life Writing Associated with AsiaPacificCultures
Further information about the plenary related to these issues will be forthcoming; this general area creates further possibilities for discussing other significant aspects of Asian-Pacific cultures and life writing.

We welcome papers that broadly consider aspects of life narrative in this region. Possible themes include:

  • Life narrative texts from or about the AsiaPacific region
  • Confucian Culture and Life Writing
  • Life Writing of migration, displacement, and asylum seeking
  • Regional life writing and local cultures
  • Creative/life writing in the AsiaPacific
  • Hybrid cultures and life writing
  • Life writing and digital media; social media
  • Archives, history, and memory
  • Family and personal histories
  • Methods for working with life narrative
  • Life writing and the politics of language and translation
  • Affect and the representation of emotions in life narratives

Attendees will register on our website: http://www.sclw.sjtu.edu.cn/IABA2019. Scholars planning to give speeches at the conference need to submit abstracts online before Apr. 30, 2019. Formal invitations will be dispatched afterwards according to online registrations and submitted abstracts. Travel and accommodation costs associated with this conference will be covered by attendees. As for conference fees, attendees who register before Jun. 30, 2019, will enjoy an early bird discount of 180 US dollars or 1000 RMB; after Jun. 30, 2019, the fees will be 200 US dollars or 1200 RMB. There will be a half discount for student partipants.

Deadlines and Conference Schedule:
Deadline for Abstracts (about 300 words): Apr. 30, 2019
Notification of Acceptance: May. 30, 2019
Deadline for Registration: Sep. 30, 2019
Conference Dates: Oct. 25-27, 2019.

The working languages for this conference are Chinese and English; paper abstracts can be written in either language. We will provide translation service between the two languages. Papers will be considered for publication in our journal, Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies.

Announcements

CFP—IABA Europe Conference 2019, Knowing the Self: Auto/Biographical Narratives and the History of Knowledge

June 19–21, 2019
UNIVERSIDAD COMPLUTENSE DE MADRID (SPAIN)

IABA Europe was founded in October 2009, with the aim of encouraging European scholars to participate in the International Auto/Biography Association (IABA) by organizing biennial conferences, publishing an e-journal, and facilitating contacts via various means of communication. Following five successful conferences in Amsterdam (2009), Tallinn (2011), Vienna (2013), Funchal, Madeira (2015), and London (2017), the 2019 conference will be hosted by Complutense University, Madrid.

The sixth IABA Europe conference proposes to examine the interrelation between life writing and the history of knowledge. Insofar as all life writing is concerned with human self-understanding, it is necessarily entangled with diverse fields that produce knowledge about humans, whether the narration aims at rendering a seemingly given knowledge of the self or at acquiring it, at questioning it or at staging it. Any “knowledge of the self” is inscribed in a broader history—or histories—of knowledge. Yet, to which bodies of knowledge and which theoretical languages do auto/biographical narratives refer in order to gain or communicate a specific “knowledge” of the self? Which historically and culturally diverse fields of knowledge have contributed or are contributing to shaping ideas of “the self,” and how do these fields affect the modes of production, the forms and the rhetoric of life narratives? And vice versa: Which role do auto/biographical narratives play for knowledge production and the evolution of disciplines? Continue reading “CFP—IABA Europe Conference 2019, Knowing the Self: Auto/Biographical Narratives and the History of Knowledge”

Announcements

Deadline Extended for 2019 IABA Americas Conference

There’s still time to apply to the 2019 IABA Americas Conference! The deadline for submissions has been extended to January 11, 2019, so you have a little over a month to send in your abstracts. We hope that many of you will choose to join us for the conference, which will be held in Kingston, Jamaica from June 13-15, 2019.

Please find the updates and call for papers, reposted from the IABA Listserv, in English, Portuguese, and Spanish below:

IABA Americas Conference in Kingston, Jamaica
Deadline for submissions extended to January 11, 2019!
La fecha límite para las presentaciones se extiende hasta el 11 de enero de 2019!
Prazo para envio de inscrições até 11 de janeiro de 2019!
La date limite pour les soumissions est prolongée jusqu’au 11 janvier 2019!

Continue reading “Deadline Extended for 2019 IABA Americas Conference”

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”