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Experimental Life-Writing: From Roland Barthes to Digital Biography

Par Wojciech Drąg
Publié par Marion Coste le 16/03/2023

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This talk examines a variety of instances of contemporary experimental life-writing – a critical category theorised by Irene Kacandes (2012) and Julia Novak (2017). After defining the notion and providing a brief historical overview of formally unconventional auto/biographies, Wojciech Drąg introduces his research project concerned with life-writing works that renounce a narrative structure in favour of an archive (or a database). He then proposes a classification of archival subgenres that have been particularly prominent in Anglophone and French auto/biographical literature since the 1970s. Based on their adopted system of arranging data, this talk differentiates between the bibliography (e.g., Rick Moody's ((Primary Sources))), the encyclopedia (Amy Krouse Rosenthal's ((Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life))), the glossary (((Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes))), the index (Joan Wickersham's ((The Suicide Index))), the chronicle (Tan Lin’s ((BIB., Rev. Ed.))), the social media archive (Matias Viegener’s ((2500 Random Things About Me Too))), the inventory (Claude Closky’s ((Mon Catalogue))), the list (Joe Brainard's ((I Remember))), the portfolio (Dana Teen Lomax's ((Disclosure))), the computation (Gregory Burnham's ((Subtotals))) and the digital database (David Clark's ((88 Constellations for Wittgenstein))).

This talk was part of the "Lectures in English Studies" programme of the Department of English at the ENS de Lyon and was organized by Vanessa Guignery. 


Introduction 00:00
1. Irene Kacandes's experimental life-writing 06:12
  • Time
  • Medium
  • The relational
  • The work's focus
2. Julia Novak's experiments in life-writing 16:42
  • The subject
  • Genre
  • Style
  • Structure
  • Intertextuality and metalepsis
  • Play with names and pronouns
  • Media
3. The poetics of life-writing and related concepts 25:35
4. Unconventional forms of life-writing 28:50
  • Alphabetical archives
  • Chronological archives
  • Other archives
Conclusion 57:16


Télécharger le Power Point de Wojciech Drąg [PDF]


Pour citer cette ressource :

Wojciech Drąg, "Experimental Life-Writing: From Roland Barthes to Digital Biography", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), mars 2023. Consulté le 18/07/2024. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/litterature/litterature-britannique/experimental-life-writing-from-roland-barthes-to-digital-biography