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Lianna Mark (Durham University)

Lianna Mark

Lianna Mark
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Fellow in Research Area 4: "Literary Currencies"

March 2023

Autofiction Across Media: Narrating the Self Between the Cultural, the Political and the Corporate

This project looks at recent autofictional production, i.e., works explicitly based on a fictionalised version of the writer’s lived experience, not only on page but on stage and screen, identifying a new phase in the genre and, alongside it, a new set of criteria to defend and describe its value. It traces a corpus of ‘trendsetting’ autofictional works, written and produced in Europe and the UK in the last ten years, revealing a shift away from the psychoanalytically informed experiments at the genre’s origins towards a ‘rebranded’ discursive mode, intent on politicising the radically subjective and embedded in social justice struggles. Specifically, it focuses on the relationship between autofictional form and evolving notions of political efficacy, which it considers against the backdrop of a broader turn to self-storytelling – initially intended as a form of political organising (e.g., in feminist struggles in the 1970s) and successively co-opted by neoliberal logics in the corporate sphere. Through a comparative analysis of the primary corpus, it situates autofictional works in their material conditions of production and reception (e.g., marketing, artists’ and institutions’ social media presence, critical reception, institutional logics, arts funding, etc.). This sheds light on the role of Anglo-American identity politics in reorienting the genre and on the potential and pitfalls of politicised autofictional work. During my fellowship at EXC2020, I will work on the case studies written and produced in Berlin, including recent Schaubühne and Berliner Ensemble productions, and carry out interviews with the practitioners involved.

Lianna Mark works at the intersection of literary, cultural and theatre studies, with a particular interest in the relationship between narrative form and notions of political efficacy in contemporary cultural markets. She has held positions at Durham University (UK) and King’s College London, as well as a DAAD-funded Research Fellowship at the Freie Universität Berlin, and her research has been published in Comparative Drama, the Journal of Contemporary Drama in English and The New Wave of British Women Playwrights (ed. Elisabeth Angel-Perez and Aloysia Rousseau). She has co-edited an issue of Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts and worked as a theatre translator and an associate researcher for the EU-funded project Fabulamundi Workbook: Mapping Contemporary Playwriting and Theatre Translation Practices in Europe. She is currently working on two monographs: the first is entitled Narrating Political Engagement: British New Writing in the 2000s and is based on her AHRC-funded PhD thesis, completed at King’s College London in 2021; the second, Theatres of Autofiction, is forthcoming in 2024 with Cambridge University Press.