Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

'Life Writing' and Its Vicissitudes

Prof. Diane Middlebrook, Lyndall Gordon, Prof Nancy Miller.

Lyndall Gordon shows how biographers elicit persuasive judgments from available evidence about the relation of inner lives to external circumstances, and suggests how biography might move beyond the plodding pedigree-to-grave format. Diane Middlebrook describes the way copyright law permits “fair” use of published and unpublished materials without permission of copyright holders, and illustrates the latitude offered by differing laws in the USA and UK. Nancy K. Miller, a literary theorist as well as a memoirist, proposes that the genre of autobiography, though often thought to be a narcissistic exercise narrowly focused on the individual experience of a self-involved subject, actively engage readers in reflections about their own lives, and participates in the creation of cultural memory.


Prof. Diane Middlebrook  (United States)
Professor of English Emerita
Department of English
Stanford University

DIANE MIDDLEBROOK is a professional writer and Professor of English Emerita at Stanford University. Her books include Anne Sexton, A Biography (1991); Suits Me, the biography of a cross-dressing jazz musician, Billy Tipton; and Her Husband: Hughes & Plath, a Marriage (2003), a biography of the creative partnership of the English writer Ted Hughes and the American writer Sylvia Plath.

Lyndall Gordon  (United Kingdom)

Prof Nancy Miller  (United Kingdom)
Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature
English Program
CUNY Graduate Center

  • Biography
  • Life Writing
  • Memoir

(60 min. Workshop, English)