Call for Papers

Framing Lives: The 8th Biennial Conference of the International Auto/Biography Association

17-20 July 2012, Canberra, Australia

Deadline for paper and panel proposals: 15 November 2011
Notification of acceptance: 15 December 2011
Conference website:

The Humanities Research Centre and National Centre of Biography at the Australian National University, in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, present Framing Lives, the 8th Biennial Conference of the International Auto/Biography Association.

The field of auto/biography and life narrative studies is dynamic and interdisciplinary. Founded in 1999, the International Auto/Biography Association (IABA) is the leading international forum for scholars, critics and practitioners. The Framing Lives conference will feature distinguished international speakers and events at the National Portrait Gallery and other national collecting institutions.

Framing Lives draws attention to the extraordinary turn to the visual in contemporary life narrative: to graphics and animations, photographs and portraits, installations and performances, avatars and characters, that come alive on screens, stages, pages, and canvas, through digital and analogue technologies. At the same time, framing suggests the ways that lives are lived, recorded and viewed through multiple frames including those of language, politics, place, gender, history and culture. It draws attention to the multiple ‘I’s of auto/biographical representations now, and the various fields of vision, lines of sight, and points of focus for critics, artists, writers, historians and curators in the life worlds of auto/biography. Conference themes include depiction and display, ethics and rights, living archives, place and displacement, media and celebrity, digital identity and social media, and creative life narrative.

Paul Arthur (Deputy Director, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University)
Rosanne Kennedy (Associate Professor and Head of Discipline, Gender Sexuality & Culture, Australian National University)
Gillian Whitlock (ARC Professorial Fellow, School of English, Media Studies & Art History, University of Queensland)

Submission Guidelines:
We welcome paper and panel proposals that connect with the conference themes as well as wider aspects of biography, autobiography and life narrative in the 21st century.

For individual papers, please submit a one-page proposal including full name, title, institutional affiliation (if applicable), email address, postal address, abstract (max 300 words) and bio (max 200 words) by email to

For panel proposals, please submit a short panel description (max 200 words) along with individual paper proposals for each presenter by email to

Conference Enquiries:
Leena Messina, Programs Manager, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University
Phone: (+612) 6125 4357

Web Links:
Framing Lives conference website:
International Auto/Biography Association:
Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University:
National Centre of Biography, Australian National University:
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia:

Conference Themes
We are particularly interested in paper proposals that address the following themes but also encourage submissions that deal with wider aspects of the practice and theory of auto/biography and life narrative:

1. Depiction and display
–Histories and analyses of visual representations of lives
–Lives as art, including portraiture, sculpture, photography, film and new media
–The life of objects and things in storytelling
–Curating online collections
–Adaptation and remediation
–Eavesdropping and voyeurism
–Framing, filtering, capturing, exposing, colouring lives
–Digitisation, simulation, authenticity

2. Ethics and rights
–Human rights, privacy, advocacy, law
–Rights of biographical subjects
–Trauma, grief and testimony
–Editing and ethics
–Disability, illness, therapy and recovery in life narrative
–Environmental biography
–Posthuman lives
–Gender and sexuality
–Secrets and lies

3. Living archives
–The archive within: genetics, genomics, neurology, emotions
–Archival legacies: remembering and forgetting
–Managing archival material: methodologies, policies, selection, metadata
–Oral history theory and practice
–Life story consent, copyright, constraints
–Preserving ephemera
–Institutional partnerships
–Transnational archives
–Transgenerational archives

4. Place and displacement
–Translating ‘life’ and lives across cultures and languages
–Indigenous lives
–Diasporic lives
–Immigrant lives
–Transnational lives
–Minoritarian life narrative
–Witnessing publics

5. Media and celebrity
–Press, radio, television, film and music biographies
–The media as biographer
–Creating notoriety
–The changing nature of fame
–Collective memory and biography
–Refashioning identity: bodies in the media
–Confessional modes in public life

6. Digital identity and social media
–Social media audiences
–Digital relationships, communities, intimacy
–Epistolarity before and after email
–Avatars, animation, machinima
–Transfigured bodies
–Pocket lives: iPhone, iPad, Android, apps

7. Creative life narrative
–New hybrid forms of life narrative
–Approaches to constructing the autobiographical self
–Memoirs, journals, diaries, reflections
–Scholarship versus creative practice
–Fantasy lives
–Personal journeys
–Digital storytelling