Lecture / Workshop 1

[Andrei Codrescu]

Lecture 1:
What is Life Writing? Its History and Scope

[Dr. Mary Paul]

Anthology texts to read:

  • Andrei Codrescu: 'Adding to My Life,' from Autobiography and Postmodernism, ed. Kathleen Ashley, Leigh Gilmore and Gerald Peters (1994)
  • Daniel Defoe: from The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (1721)
  • Three Vignettes: from The New Zealand Experience: 100 Vignettes, ed. Brian Shaw & Kathy Broadley (1985)

It is important to note that tutorial allocations will be made at the first lecture.

Tutorials and lectures do begin in week one, so please be sure to be ready for next week's lectures and workshops. This will also entail picking up the course materials from Student Notes in the Quad Block Basement.

Lecture Notes:

Kia ora koutou
Kia ora koutou
Kia ora koutou katoa


This is a quite a special course because it not only (like other Creative Writing courses) combines reading and writing – your own creative writing or at least writing that is non-academic, but it also asks you think about/take other people’s lives or your own life as the subject for your writing.

First let’s deal with terms:

Life Writing is a wide term that seems to have been coined (invented) around mid 1920s by the essayist, novelist, writer Virginia Woolf to refer to the widest possible mix of biography, autobiography, memoir etc (she belonged to a memoir club).

Virginia Woolf came from an upper class intellectual background – brought up in Kensington, slummed it by moving to Bloomsbury, friend of prominent figures etc – her father and other relatives wrote biographically but she was using the term to designate some new unknown veracity truth from writing by women who had never seen them selves as subject or important.

So – not necessarily to do with women but term grew out of wanting candour but also finding a way to capture what oneself or someone is like – obsessed with how to express the stream when you are in it. (Quote from Woolf)

If Art and Literature is the search of how to survive in bureaucratic society – or always searching against modernity – them LW is story of those individual lives – outside of fields of expertise –

MP March 2001

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