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.

Upcoming free event:
When does biography begin?
Led by Simone von Buren, Bern Univ. of the Arts
  Tue 11 June 2019, University of Sussex 

2-6pm, Fulton Building

Free. Disabled access.

How can we draw, shape, dramatize, and write about the lives of others? What events in a subject’s life do biographies tend to privilege? And when does biography begin?

When does biography begin (Copyright Benno Seidel)Mats Staub '21 - Memories of Growing Up'. Photo: © Benno Seidel

This workshop will start with an exploration of the innovative dramaturgical approaches in the biographical installations of Swiss artist Mats Staub. Staub asks participants to narrate their lives starting from a particular place: with the year they turned 21, the people they were in love with, their experiences of birth and death. We will then share our own experiences in the field through guided discussion and exercises. This may include choosing your subject, sources, form and perspective, ethical dilemmas, the commodification of life writing and the uses of critical theory.

Proudly featuring Visiting Researcher Simone von Buren from Bern University of the Arts. Sussex University Dr Hope Wolf and Prof Margaretta Jolly will offer a response.

The workshop will be followed by drinks and nibbles.



Our next free event:

Feminist Maps and Mapping Feminism: 

Lessons from the Women's Atlas, with Joni Seager

Thursday 23 May 2019
Sussex Humanities Lab, University of Sussex

Free, all welcome, but booking is essential
Disabled access
To book, please contact

Joni Seager book

 A unique opportunity to hear Professor Joni Seager, pioneering feminist geographer and author of the award-winning feminist classic The  Women’s Atlas, whose 5th edition has just been released by progressive map publisher Myriad Editions. Professor Divya Tolia-Kelly and Dr Pollyanna Ruiz will respond.




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