This volume applies the insight and methods of career construction theory to explore how autobiographical writing is used in different professional careers, from fiction and journalism to education and medicine. It draws attention to the fact that a career is a particular kind of artefact with distinctive properties and features that can be analysed and compared, and puts forward a new theory of the relationship between narrative methodology and the vocation of writing.
Career construction theory emerged in the late twentieth century, when changes to the patterns of our working lives caused large numbers of people to seek new forms of vocational guidance to navigate those changes. It employs a narrative paradigm in which periods of uncertainty are treated as experiences akin to ‘writer’s block’, experiences which can be overcome first by imagining new character arcs, then by narrating them and finally by performing them. By encouraging clients to see their careers as stories of which they are both the metaphorical authors and the main protagonists, career construction counsellors enable them to envisage the next chapter in those stories. But despite the authorial metaphor, career construction theory has not been widely applied to analysis of professional careers in writing. The chapters in this volume remedy that gap and in various ways apply the insights of career construction theory to analyse the relationship between writing and professional life in diverse careers where writing is used.
The chapters in this book were originally published in the journal Life Writing.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Career Construction Theory and Life Writing
1. From Writer’s Block to Extended Plot: Career Construction Theory and Lives in Writing
2. Undisguised alter ego: Mary McCarthy’s autofictional career
3. The Poetics of the Hypercycle in Mircea Cărtărescu’s Solenoid
4. Academic career construction: personnel documents as personal documents
5. The Auto/Biographical Journalist and Stories of Lived Experience
6. Career Construction in volatile settings: seeking congruence in a journalist’s world today
Michael Lee Humphrey and Lorie Humphrey
7. Narrative Medicine in China: how doctors write to understand the profession
8. Writing the Self and Bereavement: Dialogical Means and Markers of Moving Through Grief
Hywel Dix is a researcher in contemporary literature, critical cultural theory, authorial careers and autofiction at Bournemouth University, UK. His monograph The Late-Career Novelist (2017) was the first study to apply career construction theory to analysis of authorial careers and his edited collection Autofiction in English was published in 2018.