The Story of the Story: Ethics, Therapy, and Life Writing

full name / name of organization: 
Flinders University

The Story of the Story: Ethics, Therapy, and Life Writing

28th-­30th September 2009.

Flinders University, Adelaide. South Australia.

Convenors: Dr Kylie Cardell and Dr Kate Douglas

Keynote Speaker: Dr Margaretta Jolly, University of Sussex UK.

Increasingly, and as part of a wave of autobiography dealing with individual or collective expressions of pain, suffering and trauma, the idea of life
narrative as a therapeutic mode has become significant. In the difficult ground around life narrative and ethics, the benefits of seeing self-representation as
a therapeutic act has considerable appeal. In the social sciences, narrative therapy and the idea of 'virtue ethics' — that the human life is a storied one
and that this story can be controlled to empower the individual — is a growing field of research and practice. In light of such scholarship, and given the
increasing attention to ethics in all forms of life writing practice, how might we as scholars and practitioners, face up to the ethical challenges, and of
life writing? What are the benefits and what are the boundaries of therapeutic life writing and what does this mean in terms of ethics — who is the author
most responsible to when constructing a life writing text?

We invite proposals for a three-day conference which will mediate on the possibilities and limitations of ethical and/or therapeutic practice in life
writing genres. Possible topics might consider, but are not limited to, the areas of:

• Life narrative as therapy
• Life narrative and self-help
• The ethical and methodological challenges of life writing
• Theorising ethics in life writing studies
• Ethical scholarship—how to avoid the "pleasures of merely circulating".
• The ethics of relational and/or collaborative life writing—writing about
friends and family in 'your' story
• Writing social justice causes: ethics vs. 'the cause'
• The story of the story; literary ethics
• The relationship between ethics, politics and economics in life writing
• Ethical reading and witnessing
• The ethical marketing and consumption of life writing
• Ethical commemoration
• Digital media/life writing and ethics

We are particularly seeking articles that explore contemporary ethical issues
and life writing examples. We encourage submissions on all forms of life writing across all media. The event is conceptualised as a symposium and Masterclass. Places will be very limited.

Please send a 300-word abstract together with a 100-word biographical note as Word or RTF attachments to: Dr Kylie Cardell ( or
Dr Kate Douglas ( ).

Abstracts are due June 12th, 2009.