1st Edition

Autofiction, Emotions, and Humour A Playfully Serious Affective Mode

Edited By Alexandra Effe, Arnaud Schmitt Copyright 2023

    Autofiction is often associated with humour, irony, and play. Moreover, authors of autofictional texts are frequently criticised for a lack of seriousness or for failing to straightforwardly and in their own voice engage with a given topic. Yet very few autofictional texts are exclusively, or even primarily, playful. Many employ humour and irony to address very serious subject matter. This volume explores how these seemingly opposed characteristics of autofictional texts in fact work together. The contributions in this volume show that autofictional texts often make use of humour and play in a productive and meaningful way, tackling issues such as human rights violations, historical and collective as well as personal trauma, and struggle with psychological or physical illness and abuse. On the basis of geographically wide-ranging case studies, including texts from South America, South Africa, the United States, and Europe, this book explores how, in which contexts, and to which effects autofictional texts reveal their authors’ complex and often painful psychological experiences and engage the emotions of their readers.
    This book was originally published as a special issue of the journal Life Writing.

    1. Autofiction, Emotions, and Humour: A Playfully Serious Affective Mode

    Alexandra Effe and Arnaud Schmitt

    2. Avatars as the Raison d’Être of Autofiction

    Arnaud Schmitt

    3. The Bronx in Short Trousers: Jerome Charyn’s Mischievous Childhood Recollections in The Dark Lady from Belorusse

    Sophie Vallas

    4. The Ridiculous Legend of El Gran Vázquez: Self-deprecation and Picaresque in the Autofictional Comics by Vázquez

    Alfredo Guzmán Tinajero

    5. A Trickster’s Tale: Autofictional Humour in Günter Grass’s Beim Häuten der Zwiebel

    Christian Baier

    6. Gender Tensions, Taboos and Textual Acts in Melina Rorke’s Autofiction

    Lizelle Smit

    7. Resistance and Desire: Autofictional Satire and Intersubjectivity in Samuel Shem’s The House of God

    Jeffrey M. Brown

    8. Autofiction and Testimony in Vigdis Hjorth’s Will and Testament

    Gretchen Shirm

    9. Uncovering the Unwritten: A Paratextual Analysis of Autofiction

    Allira Hanczakowski

    10. Archival Autofiction in Post-Dictatorship Argentina

    Anna Forné


    Alexandra Effe is Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oslo, Norway. She is the author of J. M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Narrative Transgression (2017) and co-editor of The Autofictional (2022). She has published articles in the Journal for Narrative TheoryModern Fiction Studies, and Journal of Postcolonial Writing.

    Arnaud Schmitt is a Professor at the University of Bordeaux, France. His field of research is American literature, and he has also worked extensively on the concepts of autofiction and self-narration. He is the author, among others, of The Phenomenology of Autobiography: Making it Real (2017) and the forthcoming The Photographer as Autobiographer (2022).