Novels have historically relied on their authors’ biographies, but this type of writing was not formally identified until the mid-1970s when French author Serge Doubrovsky coined the term “Autofiction” to describe his novel Fils.
Thirty-five years after the publication of Doubrovsky’s work, New York University’s Center for French Civilization and Culture will host “Autofiction: Literature in France Today,” April, 19-21, at NYU’s Hemmerdinger Hall, Silver Center for Arts and Science (100 Washington Square East/enter at 32 Waverly Place [between Washington Square East and Greene Street).
Doubrovsky, a professor in NYU’s Department of French for 40 years, will deliver the conference’s keynote address on Friday, April 20, 7-8:30 p.m. Other speakers include: Camille Laurens (In Those Arms); Francisco Goldman (Say Her Name); Catherine Millet (The Sexual Life of Catherine M); Catherine Cusset (The Story of Jane); and Philippe Forest (Sarinagara). For a complete schedule of sessions, click here.
All sessions, which will be in English, are free and open to the public. Admission is on a first-come, first-served basis. Call 212.998.8750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Subways: N, R (8th Street); 6 (Astor Place).
Autofiction is widely recognized as the most important and most interesting mode of writing in contemporary French literature. As the term implies, Autofiction combines two apparently contradictory concerns: autobiography and fiction. Authors depict aspects of their lives, usually using the first person singular, giving their real names to their narrators, modifying significant aspects of their lives or “characters,” using fiction in the service of a search for self. Autofiction is principally practiced in France today, although writers in India, the U.S., Japan, Spain, Great Britain, Brazil, and other countries have used similar approaches.
The conference will consist of presentations in English by French and American writers of their work and concepts of writing, presentations by French and American critics of Autofiction in general and its relationship to fiction and to autobiography, and readings by the writers of short excerpts of their works. The conference’s other speakers are: Michèle Bacholle-Bošković; Tom Bishop; Michel Contat; Isabell Grell; Siri Hustvedt; Daniel Mendelsohn; Rick Moody; Eugène Nicole; and Gisèle Sapiro.
The conference, directed by NYU Professor Tom Bishop and Camille Laurens, is supported by the Florence Gould Foundation, with additional support from Open Skies, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, and the NYU Humanities Initiative.