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Autofiction Across Media: Narrating the Self Between the Cultural, the Political and the Corporate (2023-)

Lianna Mark, Research Area 4: "Literary Currencies"
Associated Postdoctoral Research Project

This project focuses on recent autofictional production on page, stage, and screen: i.e., works explicitly based on a fictionalised version of the writer’s lived experience that foreground the act of narrating. It identifies a new phase in the genre and, alongside it, a new set of criteria to defend and describe its value. Tracing a corpus of ‘trendsetting’ autofictional works, written and produced in Europe and the UK in the last ten years, it reveals 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. It attends in particular to the relationship between autofictional form and changing notions of political efficacy. This is explored 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 comparative analysis, it situates autofictional works in their discursive context and material conditions (including marketing, artists’ and institutions’ social media presence, critical reception, institutional logics, arts funding, etc.), to shed light on the role of Anglo-American identity politics in reorienting the genre, and on the potential and pitfalls of politicised autofiction in contemporary cultural markets.