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Autofiction and/in Image
Thematic Issue of Image and Narrative (bilingual e-journal)
Editors: Anneleen Masschelein & Joost de Bloois
Roland Barthes’ later works consist of a reflection on and an
illustration of the breakdown of genres of life-writing: autobiography,
fictional narrative and even criticism. Pursuing a renewal of the theory
and practice of life-writing as subjectivation, Barthes originates and
explores a conceptual assemblage for these novel texts: “biographema”
(travelling from one genre to another or from one subject to an other),
“poikilos” (or the indecision of genres in a writing as pure tendency)
and life-writing as a phantasmatic “vita nova” rupturing the subject.
Serge Doubrovsky successfully coined the term “autofiction” for these
new forms of writing: while proceeding from an autobiographical gesture,
autofictional texts combine classically distinct genres such as theory,
essay and literature. In autofiction, the relationship between narrative
subject (narrator or protagonist) and author is no longer conceived as
an “autobiographical pact” based on presupposed factual truth (Lejeune).
Instead, it rests on eminently elusive notions such as narrative,
fictional or discursive truth as well as on the affective and subjective
investment or charge (cathexis) of the thought processes governing
writing. Likewise, in the last autofictional phase of his work, Roland
Barthes not only experimented with narrative forms, but also with the
semiotic juxtaposition of different media, precisely to express this new
kind of subjectivation (Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, A Lover’s
Discourse, Camera Lucida).
Drawing on Barthes’ example, this thematic issue of Image and Narrative
seeks to take the exploration this concurrence of image and narrative in
autofiction further. We want to explore the limits of the notion of
autofiction and examine whether it can be applied to the visual arts,
where we can also witness a surge of autofictional projects in the last
decennia. We are thinking for instance about the work of Larry Clarke,
Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, Sophie Calle in the realm of photography;
about the graphic work of Robert Crumb, Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman,
Marjan Satrapi, Lewis Trondheim; Jean-Luc Godard, Nanni Moretti,
Federico Fellini or Atom Egoyan in cinema; or multimedial projects like
the autobiography of John Cale by Dave McKean or the work of artist
Questions that this issue seeks to address are among others: how is
visual autofiction influenced by the media in which it takes shape? Does
autofiction as new genre call for renewed usage of visual media? Does
autofiction in visual arts specifically entail the breakdown of
different media, as it did for different genres of writing in Barthes’
case? What is the interchange between the recognizable autofictional
work and the other fictional or artistic work of artists? What is the
status of the image and of the artistic subject in these types of
autofiction? Does recent theory on autofiction also influence the status
and forms of autofictional artistic projects? What is the relation
between visualization and performance in these types of artworks? What
is the artistic status of autofiction in various media? Is there a
genealogy of autofiction to be drawn from its practices e.g. can we
trace the influence of movements like surrealism and situationism on
current autofictional projects?
The issue is open to all kind of applied and theoretical articles on the
subject, ranging from but by no means limited to psychoanalysis,
semiotics, media theory, narratology, queer theory, cultural analysis.
Contributions may be written in English and French and may vary in
length from 2000 to 7000 words.
Deadline for proposals: September 15, 2006.
Deadline for full-length texts: December 31, 2006.
For more information, please do not hesitate to contact:
From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
Full Information at
or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj_at_english.upenn.edu
Received on Mon May 01 2006 - 08:48:13 EDT