Synthesis: Dissident Self-Narratives: Radical and Queer Life Writing

Due Date: 12-20-2020

Life writing is often considered to endorse a universalist liberal humanist ethics that encompasses a broad spectrum that goes from a neoliberal emphasis on self-sufficiency to theories of care that highlight our common vulnerability and interdependence. This universalist humanist ethics, even in its most progressive forms, may blunt life writing’s radical edge and even participate in the silencing and oppression of subaltern beings that fall outside its scope. Thus, diseased, displaced, dissenting, or dis-integrated autobiographical voices and life writing’s dissident potential and radical, queer promises need to be reassessed and reclaimed.

This special issue aims to examine critical and antinormative explorations of the self as they become manifest in contemporary and also older forms of life writing that have challenged hegemonic discourses shaping human subjectivity, the sexual order, and the political status quo.
While foregrounding certain writers standing at the margins of the current academic literary canon, this special issue also draws attention to the more highly profiled writers who can also be read as voices of dissent that oppose the tenets of liberal humanism. We invite submissions that examine life writing that disrupts canonical autobiographical paradigms that are informed by the nineteenth-century bildungsroman, which has often centered on a socially integrated narrator who looks back with retrospective wisdom, pride, regret, or nostalgia, consolidating thereby an identity grounded in dominant conceptions of what a life, a self, and a reading public should be like. We welcome contributions that discuss the ways by which life writing challenges hegemonic paradigms of self-knowledge, subjectivity, and reader reception, by radically questioning gender, racial, and class norms.

Abstracts of 300 words should be submitted to Aude Haffen at and by 20 December 2020. Notification of acceptance will be delivered by 11 January 2021. Accepted articles are to be submitted by 30 June 2021. Final articles should be 6,000–9,000 words long and include an abstract of no more than 300 words.

All enquiries regarding this issue should be sent to the guest editor, Aude Haffen, at For more information, visit