Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

Autofiction at the Crossroads of Experience and Writing

Guibert autoportrait


Course Schedule:

F23 | Nov17 Dec15 | Friday 4:10 7:10 PM Berlin (UTC+2)

Professor: Larissa Muravieva
Semester: Fall 2023
Subject: LIT
Course Level: 100
Number of Bard Credits: 4
Course Title: Autofiction at the Crossroads of Experience and Writing
Max Enrollment: 22
Schedule: 5 weeks (November 17 – December 15), Friday 4:10 – 7:10 PM Berlin (UTC + 2)
Distribution Area: no
Cross-Listing(s): no
Language of Instruction: Russian

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 in literature, comics, photo-novels, and cinema, as well as in new genre hybrids mixing the fictional and the factual. 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 can be the study of autofiction as a particular narrative practice representing life experience. This course will embrace it by examining autofictional texts from the 1970s to the 2020s by such authors as Serge Doubrovsky, Hervé Guibert, Camille Laurens, Annie Ernaux, Olivia Lang, Rachel Cask, Joanna Walsh, Amy Liptrot, Oksana Vasyakina, and Anna Starobinets. We will also address the evolution of autofiction, from the experiments by Doubrovsky to the expansion of the
digital “new autofiction” in the late 2010s. Our discussions will center around the concepts of fiction, trauma, and construction of narrative ethics. Finally, an attempt will be made to explore the borders of autofiction as a hybrid genre and outline the points where these borders are challenged and transgressed.