Teaching Life Writing Texts in Europe

Teaching Life Writing Texts in Europe


  • Dennis Kersten Radboud University Nijmegen
  • Anne-Marie Mreijen University Utrecht




Although courses on auto/biography and life writing are taught at different universities in Europe, and elements of contemporary life writing issues are addressed in different disciplines like sociology and history, life writing courses, as described in Teaching Life Writing Texts, are certainly not taught at all European universities. Also, quite a few teachers of life writing courses have to devise their own curricula and syllabi – as Richard Holmes demonstrated in  "The Proper Study?”, an essay on teaching auto/biography -  treading on unknown territory and unable to share their experiences with their colleagues. Apart from this, some life writing courses at European universities have had to make room for other courses when budgets are tight, as they are these days. Other university teachers struggle with the institutional framework they have to work in, operating in a specific faculty or masters programme context which poses limits as to which subjects to choose from and to discuss with the students. With these problems in mind, we thought it useful to share our experiences with other European teachers of life writing classes, and introduce a new cluster to the Journal of European Journal of Life Writing: “Teaching Life Writing in Europe.”In this cluster articles will be published which focus on the daily experience of teaching life writing classes, addressing questions like how to design a course about life writing that logically builds on and follows from your students’ knowledge, expertise and reading experience and does justice to current research as well.

This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing in December 2014 and published on 16 March 2015.


Author Biographies

Dennis Kersten, Radboud University Nijmegen

Dennis Kersten is Assistent Professor in the Departments of Cultural Studies and English Language and Culture at Radboud University, the Netherlands. His dissertation, Travels with Fiction in the Field of Biography. Writing the Lives of Three Nineteenth-Century Authors (2011), deals with the fictionalisation of the life stories of Henry James, Robert Louis Stevenson and Oscar Wilde. He is co-editor of Tijdschrift voor Biografie and a member of IABA-Europe. He has taught MA courses about the merging of biography and fiction in English literature and the representation of authorship in contemporary life-writing texts.

Anne-Marie Mreijen, University Utrecht

Anne-Marie Mreijen is an editor at BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review (Royal Netherlands Historical Society/Huygens ING) and a lecturer at Utrecht University at the departments of Political History and International Relations. Among other courses, she has taught seminars on biographical research in the Bachelor History. Her biography on Marinus van der Goes van Naters (1900-2005), is to be defended as a PhD at Utrecht University approximately 2015. 


This article was submitted in November 2014 and publsihed on 20 March 2015.





Teaching Life Writing Texts in Europe