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Modern Biographers Popularity Survey
The interdisciplinary seminar of the Biography Society launches a Modern Biographers Popularity Survey as part of an investigation to determine which modern biographers are the most well-known, in the United Kingdom, in the United States of America, and in France. Would you please take a few minutes of your precious time to express your opinion and forward the link to your relevant networks? A synthesis of the results will be issued in due time.

IABA Europe 2017: Life Writing, Europe, and New Media
King's College London (UK)
7-9 June 2017
CfP deadline: 31 January 2017

The Centre for Life-Writing Research at King’s College London and the European Research Council- Funded ‘Ego-Media’ project are delighted to be hosting the IABA Europe conference in London from the 7th-9th June 2017. The conference will highlight digital and new media. Changes in technologies of information and communication affect our everyday lives, research and teaching: key questions for the conference will be how new media have transformed both lives and life writing. We hope scholars working on other topics and earlier times will find it interesting to explore the transformations the digital is effecting in their fields. We also welcome contributions where the emphasis falls on other concerns of particular urgency for the IABA community – for example conflict, displacement, migration and refugees; women’s lives; LGBT+ lives; issues of national and European identities.
Topics may include, but need not be confined to, the following:
Diaries, blogs, vlogs
The digital everyday
Digital and literary forms
Digital arts and life writing
Social Media platforms
Migrants’ and refugees’ stories
Citizenship and the digital
Life (writing) after Brexit
Space, place and virtuality/the local and the global
Digital identities
European identities
Multimedia lives
Digital natures
Health, well-being and the digital self
The networked self
Sharing, Liking, and digital agency
Digitised lives
Future lives
Digital violence
Online abuse/trolling
Women’s writing
digital activism and advocacy
methodologies and histories
audiences and reading practices
digital language and languages
online sociolinguistics
digital aesthetics and affects
technology and metaphor: digital metaphors we live by
performing lives
virtual creativity
online (dis)embodiment and (im)materiality
pre-digital media -- cinema, television, print or manuscript
economy, austerity, and the digital
big data /the quantified self
forms of play
We are also planning to include workshops in which life writing projects or groups can present their work.
Proposals are encouraged including participation by creative practitioners. Proposals for panels and alternative formats are also welcome. Indeed, we very much want to vary the pattern from groups of 20-minute papers. If you’d be interested in participating in something like a ‘lightning round’ let us know what topic(s) you’d most like to speak about.
Please send proposals to: by 31 January 2017
Clare Brant and Max Saunders, on behalf of the IABA-Europe 2017 Organising Committee
IABA Europe 2017 Conference website

Identity and the Self: Personal Identity, Autonomy and Belonging
22–23 June 2017, Florence, Italy
CfP 10th of May 2017

Personal identity is the focal point of any reflective process. The existence of subjectivity implies the demand for making sense of the self that projects meaning to the world. The subjectivity is a hybrid construct – a byproduct of the self-instantiation as autonomy and agency and a result of interactive social belonging that further structures or de-structures the self. Individual autonomy makes possible a positioning of the self through unlimited questioning of imaginary social significations (C. Castoriadis). The subject can escape the status of pure social function as reproducer and proliferator of pre-existent social meanings and orders and autonomously assert social creation and change though reflective processes that configure the self in a relative independence. Personal identity is shaped in the complex process of multiple positioning of the self as autonomous creator of social meaning and heteronomous inhabitant of social environments with pre-asserted social norms and significations. ‘Who am I?’ remains the simple but most complex question and even provisional answers are part of the core self-making project.
The self as a unitary monadic construct was unmasked by multiple contemporary theories as a chimera propagated through the intellectual agenda of the Enlightenment. In overcoming contradictions in modern theories of the self, we are left with multiple selves, dynamic, fluid, hybrid, and multi-layered, conflictual and determined by hidden mechanisms that limit our power to self-mastering. In such a theoretic environment, the topics of human agency and identity are open to a vast, plural and complex multi-disciplinary theoretic scrutiny. As personal identity depends of a reflexively perceived self, its comprehension relies on understandings and makings of the self. A dynamic and fluid self indicates similar attributes for the personal identity. Its ‘liquid’ nature amplifies the difficulty in formation of substantive personal identities and generates volatility in the understanding and making of the ‘other(s)’ that contribute to the heteronomous making of the self.
This panel aims to bring into dialogue and scrutiny various conceptions of the self, autonomy and personal identity together with applied topics that are implicit to such reflections. The panel welcomes contributions from the widest diversity of disciplines that can address the fluidity of identities in manners that can complement each other in a plural and multi-disciplinary universe of discourse and dialogue. Theoretic endeavors and puzzles from the philosophic universe of reflection on identity are welcomed together with contributions from psychology, psychoanalysis, anthropology, political theory, cultural studies, genetics, mnemonic studies, post-colonial, race and gender studies. It is the aim of the panel to dialogically recreate the complex mosaic of details involved in researching personal identities.
Some indicative topics to be non-exclusively considered are:
- Personal Identity: Addressing Complex Theoretic Puzzles
- Philosophy of the Self: Theoretic Impact Assessments of Understandings of Identity
- The Identity and Conceptions of the Self
- Autonomy, Heteronomy and Identity
- Identity and Individual Agency
- Individualism and Identity
- Unintended Consequences of Identitarian Constructs
- The Self and the Other in Identity Making
- Self-Judgement, Self Esteem and Self-Accomplishment
- Memory and the Making of Identities
- Performative Selves
- Psychological Dimension of Identity Making Processes
- Psychoanalytical Contributions to Understanding Identities
- Genealogies of the Self and Identity
- Impact of Genetics on Understanding Identity
- Personal Identity and Systems of Social Beliefs
- Processes of Self-Colonization
- ‘The Human Gallery’: Identity, Diversity and Difference
- The Self as Another: Deconstructing Personal Identity
- From Marxism to Post-Structuralism: Suspecting Identities
- Personal Identity and Cultural Psychology
- The Return of Foundationalism in a Post-Foundationalism Era
- Post-Subjectivity and Post-Identity
- The e-Selves, Internet and Virtual Identities
- Persisting Metaphysics of the Self: Religion and Identity
The panel is part of the 6th Euroacademia International Conference ‘Identities and Identifications: Politicized Uses of Collective Identities’.
If interested in participating, please read the complete event details on the conference website and apply on-line. Alternatively you can send a maximum 300 words abstract together with the details of your affiliation until 10th of May 2017 by e-mail at

Transnational Perspectives on the Writing of Artists’ Lives, 19th-21st centuries. An Interdisciplinary Workshop
25-26 January 2018, University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
CfP 1 June 2017

Some writers are so fascinated by other artists that they study their biographies and tell their life stories, in fictional or non-fictional form. Whereas artist’s lives have been written throughout the ages, they have become increasingly popular since the romantic period, with the rise of the artist-hero in the Künstlerroman. Many romantic and post-romantic writers portrayed an artist from their home country as iconic of the nation, thus establishing or consolidating a national cultural tradition. However, there are numerous examples of authors who wrote the life stories of writers, painters or musicians from countries other than their own:
Alexander Pushkin tells about the rivalry between two famous composers in his theatre play Mozart and Salieri (1830) ; André Maurois narrates the life story of Shelley in Ariel ou la vie de Shelley (1923); The Moon and Sixpence (1919) is a fictional biography of Paul Gauguin written by Somerset Maugham and Symphonie Pathétique (1935) is Klaus Mann’s biographical novel of Tchaikovsky. More recent examples are the literary biography of Jane Austen written by the Canadian novelist Carol Shields in 2001; Caryl Phillips’ Radio Play A Kind of Home: James Baldwin in Paris (2004) and Julian Barnes’s novel The Noise of Time (2016) in which he examines the biography of Shostakovich.
All these examples show literary writers who, in many different ways, construct their subject’s life stories in order to reflect on life and art and to define their own aesthetic position. Whether they criticize their ‘hero’ or identify with him/her as a formative model and make it their own, they establish a trans-national relation with this particular artist.
We will further investigate the dynamics of such transnational relations and appropriations in a two-day international workshop on artists’ biographies in the 19th-21st centuries. We will focus on the lives of artists, written by artists, such as literary biographies, biographical novels and operas or theatre plays that clearly rely on biographical elements.
We aim to examine four central issues:
1. the various forms and usages of artist’s biographies. How and why do writers engage with the lives of other artists? Which elements are foregrounded and which elements are ignored in the life narrative they construct?
2. the truth and fiction about an artists’ life. To what effect do writers fictionalize certain biographical elements? What kind of ‘truth’ do they convey through literary writing?
3. the historical development of the artist-hero in modern literature, literary biography and portraiture. Should we consider the romantic period as ‘tipping point’; a period in which artists begin to write about artists? Are there similar tipping or turning points in the twentieth century in the writing of artists’ lives?
4. the transnational dynamics of identity formation. What is the importance of studying ‘foreign’ artist’s lives in the formation of artistic identities? To what extent does this contribute to the sense of belonging to a (trans)national, European or cosmopolitan artistic community? How do politics come into play here?
Proposals, no longer than 200 words, should be sent before 1 June 2017 to Kasper van Kooten ( and Marleen Rensen (

International Conference Victim Narratives in Transnational Contexts
25–27 January 2018 at the University of Innsbruck (Austria)
CfP 30 May 2017

The figure of the victim seems to be virtually unparalleled in its power to polarise contemporary societies. The discursively produced and judicially fixed victim status is highly desirable for individuals and groups because it accords moral superiority and guarantees legal rights and claims. Victims are considered to be essentially ‘good’; they stand on the right side of history and must receive special treatment. This desire for a victim status both at the collective and at the individual level has been cri­ti­cised by, among others, Esther Benbassa, Jean-Michel Chaumont, Peter Novick, and, most recently, Daniele Giglioli. They argue that the current ‘victim cult’ defends victims against any form of criticism and makes them virtually unassailable: Victims are perceived as objects and relieved of any commitment to individual responsibility. They are forever reduced to events in the past, which rules out any perspec­tive on viable future and renders it prac­ti­cally unnecessary. Lastly, and importantly, victims, in particular victims of war and violence in the 20th and 21st centuries, are always associated with the perpetrators and rarely seen as autonomous subjects.
The figure of the victim both constructs and destabilises national and regional historical narratives. These complex processes inspire international as well as transnational competition among victims and induce a revision of national cultures of memory. The reorganisation of Europe after 1989, the increasing globa­li­sa­tion of the world, and the emergence of new media technologies that facilitate the rapid gene­ration of images of victims and perpetrators alike, call for a transnational perspective on victim narra­tives.
The objective of this conference is to identify and analyse conceptualisations of ‘victimhood,’ in par­ti­cular with regard to cultural studies and memory research. It also aims at a critical discussion of vic­tim­hood/victim status in fictional texts (prose, poetry, theatre) as well as in other media (film, photography, etc.). The con­ference invites participants to discuss recent texts (post-1989) that challenge entrenched victim narratives and attempt to transcend the logic of retaliation and atonement without negating or relativising the victims’ suffering. The conference welcomes submissions from a broad range of discip­lines such as film, literary, and cultural studies, and is particularly interested in transnational and trans­cultural aspects.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
* New conceptualisations of victim narratives: What could replace victim narratives?
* Victim narratives in national memory discourses and their transformation through transnational and transcultural perspectives
* A critique of self-victimisation and the subversive potential of self-victimisation
* Competition but also solidarity among victim groups and ensuing consequences
* Victim narratives and generational narratives
* Victim narratives and gender
* Victim narratives in postcolonial contexts
* Victim narratives in the context of mémoires croisées, entangled history, etc.
* The commercialisation of memory culture
The conference languages will be German and English.
Please send abstracts in English or German (300–500 words) to along with a short biographical note and a list of publications by May 30th, 2017. Presenters will be notified whether or not their abstracts have been accepted by June 30th, 2017. Where possible, we will provide funding for travel and accommodation.