Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 1 x 2 hour weekly seminar/workshop


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment CREATIVE PORTFOLIO 1: 3000 WORDS  50%
Semester Assessment CREATIVE PORTFOLIO 2: 3000 WORDS  50%
Supplementary Assessment RESUBMIT FAILED MATERIAL  Resubmit or resit failed elements and/or make good any missing elements 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to

1) demonstrate competency in locating and handling historical and biographical resources such as letters, diaries, journals, and notebooks;

2) demonstrate an awareness of different theories and approaches to constructing autobiography and biography; and discuss intelligently the relationship between fiction and biography

3) reflect an understanding of these concepts in the actual composition of biographical / autobiographical / elegiac pieces.


‘Life-writing’ is increasingly a distinct and significant subgenre of creative writing. This module aims to integrate critical theories and techniques of biography and autobiography with weekly writing tasks.

Brief description

This module explores the relationship between life and art in the writing of biography and autobiography. Integrated weekly writing tasks will challenge students to incorporate in their own creative practice relevant concepts discussed in seminar. The module begins by considering practical questions such as the efficient use, analysis, and accessing of biographical resources. At the heart of the module will be a focus on creative strategies and narrative theories employed by leading authors and critics of biography and autobiography. The class will investigate together notions of cultural myth, human identity, celebrity, and imposture. Weekly tasks include the writing of brief biographical and autobiographical sketches, the plotting of a creative non-fiction project, and the composition of elegies and obituaries.


Weeks 1: Introduction
What is Life Writing? Shaping raw material. Imagination and experience. Fact and Fiction

Week 2: Diaries
The ways in which the diary acts as a record and an opportunity to construct the self

Weeks 3: Celebrity
How do we get to the heart f someone else's life, especially when they lived in an age very different to our own?

Week 4: Letters
The potentials and limitations of writing in this form, including the construction of self.

Weeks 5: The Secret Lives of Things
In imagining the life of something inanimate do we in fact learn more about ourselves?

Week 6: (Dis)place(ment)
Looking at the ways in which we understand a place differently (perhaps better?) when we're away from it, hence 'displacement', taking us into the territory of identiy: where do we feel we belong?

Weeks 7: Faces
The first of two weeks in close up on a more intimate form of life writing, starting with faces. This is, usually, the most expressive part of a person and it's an appropriate site to explore a life - there's a sense that life is shown across the landscape of a face.

Week 8: Clothes
Looking at the ways in which articles of clothing can reveal aspects of life, as well as how they can come to embody a person: the clothes take on a physical existence themselves, showing the shape of the life that wears them..

Weeks 9: Epitaphs and elegies
Death is part of lilfe, not that that makes it any easier to comprehend. Writing about it can be a useful way of making sense of loss, both your own and that of your reader: these are private and public roles as we all experience it.

Week 10: Ghosts
An unusual viewpoint on the lives of the living as well as those who are lost, giving a double aspect to life writing. What is it about the human condition that leads people to believe in ghosts, and what do (and can) we mean by that term?


This module is at CQFW Level 6