Writing in 1834, the Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott observed the following of Daniel Defoe’s most influential novel, Robinson Crusoe: ‘There is hardly an elf so devoid of imagination as not to have supposed for himself a solitary island in which he could act Robinson Crusoe, were it but the corners of the nursery’ (Biographical Memoirs, 279). While Scott’s comment evidently speaks to the pervasiveness of The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719, it also more explicitly aligns the Robinson Crusoe story with childhood.
Call for papers: Beyond Boundaries. Authorship and Readership in Life Writing.
A two-day conference held at Tilburg University, the Netherlands, 24 and 25 October 2019.
In ‘The Limits of Life Writing’ David McCooey (2017) argues that in life-writing studies, the concept of limits or boundaries plays a central role. Since the rise of auto/biography studies in the 1970s and 1980s critical attention has been paid to generic limits and the limits concerning the auto/biographical subject. With respect to the former, discussions have evolved in particular around the boundaries between literary and factual writing, and between verbal, graphic, audio-visual and digital forms of life writing. In regard to the latter, academics since the 1990s have given attention to the expansion of auto/biographical subjects previously marginalized, which has deepened, among other things, the cross-cultural understanding of experience and identity. This expansion of auto/biographical subjects, but also the rise of social media as a medium for life writing have contested the limits of selfhood.
Alison Waller is a Senior Lecturer at the NCRCL, University of Roehampton. She specialises in the practice of remembering and rereading childhood fiction, asking how adults negotiate relationships with books from their past.
Alison Waller’s excellent new monograph, Rereading Childhood Books: A Poetics, is now available!