Life Writing "from Below" in Europe

Life Writing "from Below" in Europe: Introduction


  • T.G. Ashplant King's College London



life writing below


The term life writing “from below” is intended to be broad (accommodating) in a double sense: as regards the social status of authors, but also the genre of writing. The phrase “from below” draws on an analogy with the now well-established formulation “history from below” (Sharpe; Hitchcock). In the first instance it refers to authors from low down in a class or status hierarchy. Depending on the society and period in focus, such authors may be slaves, serfs, peasants, crofters, landless labourers, artisans, industrial workers … and may be referred to as—or may designate themselves—plebeians, the labouring poor, the common people, the popular classes, artisans, proletarians, the working class.

Author Biography

T.G. Ashplant, King's College London

T. G. Ashplant is a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Life-Writing Research, King’s College London. He is a social and cultural historian, with a research Life Writing “from Below” in Europe: Introduction 7 interest in life writings as a source for exploring the construction and transformation of class and gender subjectivities, and their relationship to political identities. He has recently published “Life Writings from Below in Europe,” History Workshop Journal no. 79 (spring 2015), 274–289; and has co-edited (with AnnCatrine Edlund and Anna Kuismin) Reading and Writing from Below: Exploring the Margins of Modernity (2016). He is author of Fractured Loyalties: Masculinity, Class and Politics in Britain, 1900–30 (London: RiversOram, 2007); and co-editor of Explorations in Cultural History (with Gerry Smyth; London: Pluto Press, 2001).






Life Writing "from Below" in Europe