Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

Autofiction at the Crossroads of Experience and Writing


Course Schedule:

March 17 – April 14, 2023 | Friday 10:10 AM – 11:30 AM EST

Language of Instruction: Russian
Schedule: from March, 17 to April, 14 on Friday 10:10 AM – 11:30 AM EST (18:10 PM – 19:30 PM SPb)
Course Prerequisites: Russian B2 / Equivalent or higher
Subject: LIT/RUS (Literature / Russian)
Credits: Non-credit bearing course
Attestation: SBB Project Certificate
Aplication Deadline: March, 12

Course Description
Autofiction is one of the most widespread and, at the same time, controversial literary movements of the present day. Often defined as a hybrid genre mixing autobiographical and fictional events, autofiction simultaneously breaks established conventions, tirelessly experimenting with writing strategies and transcending boundaries not only of the genre but also of the verbal medium. The expansion of autofiction is visible not only in literature, but also in comics, photo-novels and cinema, as well as new genre hybrids mixing fictional and factual are formed based on its model. Despite attempts by literary theorists to define strict genre features, autofiction continues to be an experimental space that eludes clear definitions. One productive approach to conceptualize this literary movement is the study of autofiction as a particular narrative practice representing the life experience. On the course we will examine autofictional texts from the 1970s to the 2020s (Serge Doubrovsky, Hervé Guibert, Camille Laurens, Annie Ernaux, Philippe Forest, Olivia Lang, Rachel Cask, Joanna Walsh, Amy Liptrop, Oksana Vasyakina, Anna Starobinets). The development of autofiction, from the experiments by Serge Doubrovsky and up to the expansion of the digital “new autofiction” in the late 2010s, will be studied. Autofiction will be discussed in terms of the concepts of fiction, of trauma, and the construction of narrative ethics. Finally, an attempt will be made to explore the borders of autofiction as a hybrid genre and to outline the points of transgression of these borders.