Conference 2005

Back to Annual International Conference »

Fact and Fiction: Autobiography after the Death of the Author

Autobiography, it appears, did not die even after the Author was famously deprived of his privileged status and given a ceremonial burial. In fact, the autobiographical impulse, or the urge to tell one’s own story, seems to have proliferated, as has the urge to read other people’s stories.

In the world that emerged from fascism and colonialism, the autobiographical impulse became as much a vehicle for new emancipatory urges as a means of coming to terms with the past. More recently, in an era of new wars and conflict, of powerful global forces taking over the local, the individual, the private, the autobiographical impulse is more virulent than ever, exercised by some as a form of resistance – individual or collective – and by others as a means of self-aggrandizement. Perhaps the current popularity of autobiography also expresses a yearning for the real and the tactile in a world with ever more virtual spheres of experience.

The urge to tell one’s own story manifests itself in a variety of forms – in autobiographies, memoirs, testimonies, diaries, letters, oral histories, and more recently in the personal webpage, chat rooms and emails. It articulates itself not only in prose, but also in poetry, painting, film and other modes of expression. But the proliferation and multiple forms of the autobiographical act as well as its different functions provide further evidence of its essentially performative nature, with its blending of fact and fiction, memory and amnesia, the referential and the textual, the historical and the rhetorical. Does this fuzzy logic undermine the distinctness of autobiography as a genre? Or does it provide a key to understanding writing in general and literature in particular?

It has been said that the autobiographer writes about others when he writes about himself and that we cannot write about others without writing about ourselves. It has also been argued that memory is not an instrument to explore the past but the medium through which past experience is filtered for the purpose of giving shape to the future. The seminar will engage with these issues in the context of contemporary autobiographical practices.


Thursday, 10 March 2005, Auditorium, School of Environmental Studies

9.45 am Opening Remarks  Shaswati Mazumdar, Kusum Aggarwal
10.00 am Carmen Ulrich Prisons of Memory. The meaning of pictures in Elias Canetti’s autobiography
10.45 am Kusum Aggarwal Autobiograpy and anthropology in the writings of Amadou Hampâté Bâ
11.45 am Manfred Stassen The “Stasi” as Eckermann – Reflections on Christa Wolf’s post-wall autobiography What’s Left
12.30 am Marta Tordesillas Diary of a recently tired poet
    Chair: Vibha Maurya
1.15 pm   LUNCH BREAK
2.15 pm Alessandro Portelli Two Types of Cooperative Auto-Biography: Oral History and “As Told To” Narratives
3.00 pm Kathleen Kerr Autobiography as Critique:  Modernist, Postmodernist
4.00 pm Romit Roy Theory as autobiography: Music and reminiscences of childhood. Autobiographical reflections in Adorno’s theoretical writings



Chair: Anil Bhatti

Friday, 11 March 2005, Auditorium, School of Environmental Studies

10.00 am

Remo Ceserani

Autobiographies of contemporary intellectuals: what to make of them

10.45 am

Dorothea Jecht

At the border of autobiographical writing: Peter Handke's Report of a Consciousness

11.30 am



11.45 am

Pierre Halen

Autobiography and Immigration: Philippe Blasband, Malika Madi, Pie Tshibanda

12.30 pm

Amy Lee

The ‘I’, the ‘Tituba’ and the ‘Black Witch’ in Maryse Condé’s Postcolonial-Feminist-Fictional- Auto/Biographical Song



Chair: Keith Bullivant

1.15 pm



2.15 pm

Sharmishtha Lahiri

The Family Lexicon (1963) of Natalia Ginzburg: A Life Re-lived in Words

3.00 pm

Margit Köves

“As if I were in a novel...” Péter Esterházy’s Corrected Version

3.45 pm



4.00 pm

Horst Turk

Other People’s Stories. Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh



Chair: Sukanta Chaudhuri

Saturday, 12 March 2005, Auditorium, School of Environmental Studies


Sanja Roic

Autobiographical paradox of Alberto Savinio


Patrizia Raveggi

Giorgio De Chirico’s Memories of my life

11.30 am



11.45 am

Suchitra Mathur

De-Scribing the “Indian Woman”: New Autobiographical Ventures by Indian English Women Writers

12.30 pm

Abhai Maurya

Dalit Autobiography



Chair: Manfred Stassen

1.15 pm



2.15 pm

Dirk Wiemann

It Ain't Me Babe: Bob Dylan's Chronicles: Volume One as a Refusal (not) to narrate the Self

3.00 pm



3.15 pm

Gerhard Koch

Oleg Kovalov’s Sergei Eisenstein. Autobiography (1996) with film screening (90 mins)



Chair: Alessandro Portelli

About Us
Faculty & Staff
Exchange Programmes
Research + Projects
Conferences / Workshops
Online Resources
Useful Links
News and Events



copyright@ Department of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of Delhi 2008. Design by banyantreedesigns