1st Edition

Teaching Lives: Contemporary Pedagogies of Life Narratives

Edited By Laurie McNeill, Kate Douglas Copyright 2018
    144 Pages
    by Routledge

    130 Pages
    by Routledge

    The contemporary ‘boom’ in the publication and consumption of auto/biographical representation has made life narratives a popular and compelling subject for twenty-first century classrooms. The proliferation of forms, media, terminologies, and disciplinary approaches in a range of educational contexts invites discussion of how and why we teach these materials. Drawing on their experiences in disciplines including creative writing, language studies, education, literary studies, linguistics, and psychology, contributors to this volume explore some of the central issues that inspire, enable, and complicate the teaching of life writing subjects and texts, examining the ideologies, issues, methods, and practices that underpin contemporary pedagogies of auto/biography. The collection acknowledges the potential perils that life writing texts and subjects represent for instructors, with a series of short essays by leading auto/biography scholars who reflect on their failed experiences teaching life narratives, and share strategies for negotiating the particular challenges these texts can present. Exploring issues including teaching across genres, analyzing writing about trauma, decolonizing pedagogies, and challenging assumptions (our own, our students’, and our colleagues’), Teaching Lives illuminates what makes the teaching of life narratives different from teaching other kinds of subjects or texts, and why auto/biography has such a critical role to play in contemporary education. This book was originally published as a special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies.

    Introduction – Heavy Lifting: The Pedagogical Work of Life Narratives Laurie McNeill and Kate Douglas

    1. Black Women and the Biographical Method: Undergraduate Research and Life Writing Shanna Greene Benjamin

    2. Autobiographical Narratives: Pedagogical Practice as a Lifeline for Hospitalized Children Maria da Conceição Passeggi, Simone da Rocha, and Luciane De Conti

    3. Multimodal Autobiographies as Sites of Identity Construction in Second-Language Teacher Education Gergana Vitanova

    4. Autobiography in the Language Classroom Natalie Edwards and Christopher Hogarth

    5. Embracing the Surface: How to Read a Life Narrative Jennifer Drake

    6. Coming to Life: Teaching Undergraduates to Write Autobiography Lynn Z. Bloom

    7. The Pedagogical Potential of Memoir in an Interdisciplinary Context Debra Parker

    Forum: Teaching Fails

    8. Risky Business: Teaching "Fails" in the Auto/Biography Classroom: An Introduction Laurie McNeill and Kate Douglas

    9. Teaching Life Writing: Four Ways to Fail Julie Rak

    10. Graphic Life Narratives and Teaching the Art of Failure Candida Rifkind

    11. Learning with The 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book in a Cultural Studies Course Sarah Brophy

    12. "I Won’t Remember—for You": What Life-Writing Criticism and Theory Could Bring to the Autobiographical Writing Classroom Craig Howes

    13. Teaching Fail: The Life-Writing Scholar’s Cameo Appearance Anna Poletti


    Laurie McNeill is a Senior Instructor of English at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. She is the co-editor (with John Zuern) of Online Lives 2.0, a special issue of Biography; and has published in a/b: AutoBiography Studies, Identity Technologies: Producing Online Selves and Genres in the Internet.

    Kate Douglas is an Associate Professor in the School of Humanities and Creative Arts at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. She is the author of Contesting Childhood: Autobiography, Trauma and Memory (2010) and the co-author of Life Narratives and Youth Culture: Representation, Agency and Participation (with Anna Poletti, 2016).