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Workshop | Autosociobiography: Global Entanglements of a Literary Phenomenon

Mar 23, 2023 - Mar 25, 2023

Organised by Johanna Bundschuh-van Duikeren (Freie Universität Berlin), Marie Jacquier (Freie Universität Berlin), and Peter Löffelbein (Freie Universität Berlin), Research Area 3: "Future Perfect" and Research Area 4: "Literary Currencies".

Coined by the French writer and Nobel laureate Annie Ernaux, the term autosociobiography has been used to label contemporary texts that systematically combine autobiographical writing and sociological analysis, for example Didier Eribon’s Retour à Reims (2009) and Darren McGarvey’s Poverty Safari (2017). In France and Germany in particular, autosociobiography quickly established itself as a new and productive literary genre, reflecting the dynamics of class relations at the beginning of the 21st century – as a genre at the intersection of literary representation, production, social commentary and political commitment.

Recent research has focused on these texts as 'return narratives' and highlighted their representation of class relations as generational relations. Intertextual references – e.g., between the works of Annie Ernaux, Didier Eribon and Edouard Louis, or the writings of Pierre Bourdieu – have also been identified as significant characteristics.

The workshop aims at expanding this focus by tracing the global entanglements of autosociobiographic texts, that is, the historical, social, transdisciplinary and transcultural dynamics they discuss, represent and perform. How do autosociobiographic texts recalibrate the relationship between literary and sociological modes of writing past and present? What insights may be gained vis-à-vis the literary and critical histories of autobiography, the Bildungsroman, autofiction, autoethnographical writing and other genres less established in current academic discourse? Finally, the workshop is interested in whether the focus of autosociobiographic texts can legitimately be expanded beyond class – to include other intersectional forms of social exclusion and stratification, especially in postcolonial or migration literature.


Thursday, March 23

12:30-14:30 | Registration with coffee/tea

14:30-15:15 | Andrew James Johnston (EXC 2020, Freie Universität Berlin), Johanna Bundschuh, Marie Jacquier, and Peter Löffelbein (Freie Universität Berlin): Welcome and Introduction

15:15-16:45 | Sidonie Smith (University of Michigan) and Julia Watson (Ohio State University): Thing or Not a Thing? Troubled Concepts, Provocative Texts, and the Work of Narrators

Moderation: Christina Schaefer (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel)

17:30-18:30 | Reception

Public evening programme in German //
Öffentliches Abendprogramm in deutscher Sprache

18:30-19:00 | Julia Reuter (Universität zu Köln): Soziologisches Schreiben zwischen Autosoziobiographie und engagierter Sozialforschung

19:00-19:30 | Daniela Dröscher: Lesung aus "Zeige deine Klasse" (2018)

19:30-20:30 | Podiumsdiskussion: Literatur und/als Soziologie

Moderation: Elena Stingl (Freie Universität Berlin)

Das Abendprogramm ist für Interessierte offen, eine Anmeldung ist nicht notwendig.

Location evening programme (please note the different location for the workshop, see below on this page):
Seminarzentrum Freie Universität Berlin
L115/Livestream (please note the new room for the evening programme)
Otto-von-Simson-Straße 26
14195 Berlin

The livestream for the event can be found here:

Meeting number (access code): 2734 129 4555
Meeting password: JXt83njJdV6

Friday, March 24

10:00-10:45 | Michail Leivadiotis (EXC 2020, Freie Universität Berlin): Autobiography as Optative Futurity: Two Ionian Tales of Class, Gender, Nation and ... Woe

10:45-11:30 | Paweł Rodak (University of Warsaw): Between Literature and the Writing Practices of Everyday Life: Maria Dąbrowska’s Diary and the Memoirs of Peasants

Moderation: Bart Soethaert (EXC 2020, Freie Universität Berlin)

11:30-12:00 | Coffee break

12:00-12:45 | Christopher Schelletter (Kobe University): Between Herbert Spencer and Karl Marx: Sociological Reference Texts of Japanese Bildungsromane

12:45-13:30 | Florian Sedlmeier (Ruhr-Universität Bochum): The Baldwin Legacy: Revisionary Representatives and the Essay Form

Moderation: Sonia Pykkö (Freie Universität Berlin)

13:30-15:30 | Lunch break

15:30-16:15 | Christina Ernst (Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung Berlin): Postcolonial Theoretical References in Didier Eribon’s Writing

16:15-17:00 | Ayodeji Isaac Shittu (Redeemer's University Ede): Constructing/Writing Self and Society: Autosociobiography and the Post-Colonial Subject

Moderation: Cordula Lemke (Freie Universität Berlin)

Saturday, March 25

09:15-10:00 | Jobst Welge (University of Leipzig): Family, Normalcy, Precarity: Writing the (Communal) Self in Spanish Contemporary Fiction

10:00-10:45 | Peter Löffelbein (Freie Universität Berlin): Writing the Past, Writing the Future? Entanglements of Time, History and Politics in Scottish Autosociobiographies

Moderation: Simon Godart (EXC 2020, Freie Universität Berlin)

10:45-11:15 | Coffee break

11:15-12:00 | ABGESAGT Thekla Noschka (Freie Universität Berlin): Thinking Autosociobiography Intersectionally: Perspectives on 'Gender', 'Class' and 'Race' in the Works of Annie Ernaux and Mely Kiyak

12:00-12:45 | Marc Ortmann (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München): Friendship as a Concept of Life: Geoffroy de Lagasnerie's Writing about Theory through Autosociobiography

Moderation: Sarah Hechler (Centre Marc Bloch)

12:45-13:15 | Coffee break

13:15-14:00 | Johanna Bundschuh, Marie Jacquier, and Peter Löffelbein (Freie Universität Berlin): Final Discussion and Closing Remarks

Conference language: English and German

Time & Location

Mar 23, 2023 - Mar 25, 2023

Freie Universität Berlin
EXC 2020 "Temporal Communities"
Room 00.05
Otto-von-Simson-Straße 15
14195 Berlin

Further Information

Peter Löffelbein: peter.loeffelbein@fu-berlin.de. For the workshop please register in advance via e-mail. A prior registration for the public evening programme is not required.