The theory and practice of autobiographical and memoir writing takes center stage on this website, both theoretically and empirically.

I will discuss the distinction (if any) between autobiography and memoir. Then I will pick the cherries out of some interesting aspects of the scholarly literature from a number of fields (see columns to the right):

Based on this literature and my own practical experiences in documenting and writing about my own life, I will then try to develop a ‘manual’ for using autobiographical and memoir writing as method for intellectuals etc. to understand themselves and achieve graceful ageing.

 

Autobiography vs. memoir

Are the words ‘autobiography’ and ‘memoir’ synonyms? Or is there a difference is meaning and use that is relevant for the kind of project I’m involved in?

Read more here → (forthcoming)

Literary theory

There is a vast theoretical literature on memoir and autobiography in the wake of Philippe Lejeune’s immensely influential book Le pacte autobiographique (1975); see On autobiography (1989). Most of this, sometimes quite esoteric, literature deals with the history of the genre or literary analyses of finished works: their composition, author intentions, reader expectations, etc.

Read more here → (forthcoming)

Writing manuals

There is also a large practical literature on autobiography and memoir writing — writing manuals which historical and literary scholars would scoff at, but which are quite interesting from my perspective.

Read more here → (forthcoming)

Autobiography and ageing

Finally, there is an interesting subset of literature dealing with how autobiography can be used for understanding the ageing process and with the use of life stories in gerontological practice and healthy ageing.

Read more here → (forthcoming)

Some of this literature (e.g., G. Kenyon and W. Randall, Restorying our lives, 1997), emphasises the narrative (story-telling) dimension of life-writing. I’m critical of the idea that one’s life is best understood in narrative terms, and will develop this in the → ‘Modes of writing‘-section.