Life Writing as World Literature

deadline for submissions: 
October 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
ACLA April 8-11, 2021 (Virtual)
contact email: 


Life Writing as World Literature, ACLA April 8-11, 2021 (Virtual)

This panel brings the fields of world literature and life writing together to explore social, economic and ideological contexts informing the circulation, translation and reading of auto/biographical texts. Redefinitions of world literature highlight the “effective life” of works “within a literary system beyond that of its original culture” (Damrosch 2003) or underscore that literature now “is unmistakably a planetary system” (Moretti 2000).

Similarly, scholars in life writing emphasize the role of narrated lives for “contemporary imaginaries” (Smith 2011), challenge the national and monolingual categorization of autobiographical texts, reveal the pitfalls of worldwide circulation (Whitlock 2007), the imbrications between autobiographical practices and markets (Rak 2013), the role of personal narratives in human rights (Smith & Schaffer 2004, Jolly 2014), and the relevance of life narratives as forms of testimonial acts (Gilmore 2017).

Participants are encouraged to explore: autobiographical works as they move in translation between national and global contexts and as they travel across media; forms of “minor transnationalism” that life writing enables; new perspectives gained from texts outside the Western and European canons; new understandings revealed through postcolonial and decolonial readings; life writing in the curriculum, its pedagogical role in transnational contexts; life writing and digital humanities, and large-scale paradigms of distant reading.


ACLA's annual meeting will take place virtually between April 08 - 11, 2021. Please submit your paper proposal (350 words) and short bio (150 words) via ACLA's online portal by October 30, 2020

 For queries, please contact the organizers Helga Lenart-Cheng and Ioana Luca