Under this heading I will discuss the notion of modes of writing (rhetorical modes) and its consequences for writing autobiography and memoir.

Most of the literature on autobiographical writing seems to take for granted that narration (story-telling) is the only relevant mode of life-writing.

However, drawing on my own experiences, I believe other modes of writing, like exposition, description, illustration/exemplification etc., play an important role as well, and that all these analytically distinct modes of writing are combined in autobiographical writing.

A closely related issue is our understanding of self. Many authors claim that self-understanding is cast in narrative form (a ‘narrative self’), while critics suggest that the self can also be understood in non-narrative terms, for example as an ‘episodic self’? I will discuss this question in relation to my own experiences from self-inspection and will also draw heavily on Galen Strawson’s seminal article “Against narrativity”, Ratio, 17: 428-52 (2004).

Narration

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Exposition

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Description

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Illustration / exemplification