Life history and life writing research uses life story - whether in the form of oral history, personal narrative, autobiography or biography - as a primary source for the study of history and culture.

Life history and life writing research uses life story - whether in the form of oral history, personal narrative, autobiography or biography - as a primary source for the study of history and culture. Life stories capture the relation between the individual and society, the local and the national, the past and present and the public and private experience. Research involves grappling with theories of memory, relationship and self representation, and with debates about literacy and orality. Many disciplines contribute to the field, including history, sociology, anthropology, literary philosophy, cultural studies and psychology. Life history and life writing researchers present their work in many forms. As well as academic publications, we contribute to radio and television documentaries, auto/biographical drama, reminiscence work, digital and video presentations and exhibitions. Life history and life writing research is, of necessity, concerned with ethics and power relationships, and with the potential for advocacy and empowerment.

Our next free event:

11 May 2021, 4pm, ZOOM

Book here via Eventbrite.

Life stories in research: A Q and A drop-in with the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research

This 50-minute drop-in session is for anyone who is curious about how life stories can be used in research and engagement. Does biography belong in your analysis? Do you use personal material in critical-creative writing? Do you want to involve oral history interviews or archives in a community outreach or heritage project, or manage the ethics of testimony effectively? What about digital methods and life narration? We won’t be presenting but rather sharing questions, ideas, best practice and drawing on experiences of developing successfully-funded research projects, community partnerships and innovative creative practice across media and discipline.

Brighton North Laine in Lockdown1 May 2020 by Alexandra Loske

Discussants include Professor Margaretta Jolly and Dr Hope Wolf , Professor Lizzie Thynne, Dr Holly Price and Alison Ramsey, Dr Alexandra Loske and Dr Wendy Hitchmough, Dr Jane Traies, Hannah Ludikhuijze , Helena Aziz, Dr Eleanor Careless, Professor Rachel Thomson.

Whose Covid Culture? Mass Observation curators introduce their Covid-Diaries and 12 May initiatives.

After a break we will follow with 30 minutes introduction to the legendary Mass Observation Archive, housed at The Keep. This will focus on what they are learning about tracking the pandemic through life-narrative based methods and the opportunity for you to donate your own ‘day-diary’ through the 12 May initiative.

Social Distancing, CV_15, Mass Observation Archive, University of Sussex

Email for more information, or book here via Eventbrite:


New research project:

Squaring the colour circle:

Women in colour history

Led by art historian Alexandra Loske, this project will examine the lives and work of women in colour history from ca. 1760 onward.

 Angelica Kauffmann colouring 18th century

Examples of women writing and publishing on colour before the twentieth century are extremely rare. While women were frequently depicted as personifications of colour or as artists, such as in the 1787 engraving above, fewer than 20 publications by women on the subject of colour dating to before 1900 are known. 

This project seeks to gather information about the lives and work of women who wrote about, engaged with, and taught colour from the eighteenth century onward. The aim is to create a hub for data, information and image material that will help us understand how women in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries managed to engage in a field largely dominated by men.

The webpage will also list related events, exhibitions, lectures, and publication. 

Please follow this link for details.



Mailing list

If you would like to join the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research mailing list and receive regular updates about events, conferences and publication opportunities in the field of life history, life writing and oral history, please email:


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