Telling Life Stories: Ethos, Positionality, and Structures of Narrative

deadline for submissions: 
May 31, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Language, Literature, and Interdisciplinary Studies (LLIDS)
contact email: 

Telling Life Stories: Ethos, Positionality, and Structures of Narrative

The reading and analysing of life stories offer multiple perspectives in understanding the self-reflexivity of authorial consciousness, the rhetorical/stylistic fashioning of ethos, and the fabulation/fictionality of narrative. Lived experiences, of the author as well as the reader, allow perception of meaning against the sedimented social, political, and cultural paradigms of the “master” or “grand narrative,” as Jean-François Lyotard puts in his seminal work, The Postmodern Condition (1979). The dialectic of human action and social reality within such narratives serves to map the interrelated progression of individuals and cultures throughout history.

As a challenge to the uniform idea of art as a politicized structure, the heterogeneity introduced by popular culture introduces new questions surrounding emotional engagement and intellectual stimulation within the domain of production and reception of life writing; these questions are reflected in recent experiments with structure, style, and theme. Featuring the agential role of an individual in the larger social-political scheme, autobiographical writing represents a common structure of narrative experience. Even as authors seek to share lifeworlds, readers bring their own positionality and narrative experience to bear in response. The result is an intertexual dialogue, in which authorial expression allows independent enquiries to come to force.

By engaging with life narratives and their readerly interpretation, we gather up resources to reexamine the role of narrative as an epistemology or ‘way of knowing,’ as well as to raise questions pertaining to the subjectivity of the author, the positionality of the reader, and the re-evaluation of factors affecting textual production. The narrative ethos of the writer writing, as reflected in the emotive engagement of the reader reading, highlights the shared experience of such discourse. Interpretation creates narrative models which reflect psychological underpinnings, as influenced by culturally available forms and content. Within this ethical/ethotic textual frame, the identity of the reader is projected along with the constructed identity of the author/protagonist/narrator.

Within the current global pandemic, the existential premise of breathing, face-to-face contact/communication is, for the moment, withheld: we speak through masks–literally. Meeting online, we speak and listen, type and read through screen images and avatars, our living presences subsumed within the technologies of digital representation. This loss of intimacy leads us to revisit a question as old as Western classical rhetoric, though relevant today. It’s a question of ethos: that is, of constructing/representing/positioning the speaking/writing self within the textual space of language. Ethos unfolds within the structures of narrative, positioning the speaker/writer culturally and historically. Further, this unfolding is performed before (and on behalf of) the hearer/reader, who is invited into the textual space as (caring) witness and (critical) respondent. Such is a twofold premise of this issue.

For this issue, we seek submissions that consider, challenge, or generate discussion about life narratives. Serious explorations/applications of emergent fields such as narrative therapy and trauma and memory studies are welcome. We are most interested in those that come from underrepresented perspectives, cultures, or positions that provide an additional view on our collective humanity. Please engage with the topics below or feel free to go beyond:

  • Biopics and the fashioning of the self/persona
  • Visual arts and autoethnography
  • Travel journalism and indigenous cultures
  • Everyday narratives in popular culture
  • Documentaries and docufiction
  • Folklife and community narratives
  • Online personas and the plural selves/subjectivity
  • Intersubjective and intertextual space of narrative
  • Sovereignty of expression amidst media control
  • Narrative politics in popular domain
  • Revisioning exclusion in age of digitization
  • Memoirs from the margins (LGBTQ+)
  • Aborignal life narratives
  • War diaries and journals
  • Mass culture and the consumption of life narratives
  • Reappraisal of historical figures in the times of hypernationalism

Submissions: Only complete papers will be considered for publication. The papers need to be submitted according to the guidelines of the MLA 8th edition. You are welcome to submit full length papers (3,500–10,000 words) along with a 150 words abstract and list of keywords. Please read the submission guidelines before making the submission – Please feel free to email any queries to –

Please make all submissions via the form:

Submission deadline: 15th April, 2022