© 2019

A Philosophical Autofiction

Dolor's Youth

  • Expresses a type of performance behaviour as opposed to outlining a coherent narrative

  • Provides a new model for creative scholarship

  • Makes the case that the subjective voice is not just viable but useful in promoting academic ideas


Part of the Performance Philosophy book series (PPH)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-v
  2. Spencer Golub
    Pages 1-11
  3. Spencer Golub
    Pages 13-19
  4. Spencer Golub
    Pages 21-57
  5. Spencer Golub
    Pages 59-89
  6. Spencer Golub
    Pages 91-134
  7. Spencer Golub
    Pages 135-173
  8. Spencer Golub
    Pages 175-204
  9. Spencer Golub
    Pages 205-231
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 233-241

About this book


This is a book about what becomes of the truth when it succumbs to generational memory loss and to the fictions that intervene to cause and fill the gaps. It is a book about the impossibility of writing an autobiography when there is a prepossessing cultural and familial 'we' interfering with the 'I' and an 'I' that does not know itself as a self, except metastatically — as people and characters it has played but not actually been.

A highly original combination of close readings and performative autobiography, this book takes performance philosophy to an alternative next step, by having its ideas read back to it by experience, and through assorted fictions. It is a philosophical thought experiment in uncertainty whose literary, theatrical, and cinematic trappings illustrate and finally become what this uncertainty is, the thought experiment having become the life that was, that came before, and that outlives the 'I am'.


Self Autofiction Life writing Theatre Film Jewish History Wittgenstein Kant Kierkegaard Anne Frank

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Theatre Arts and Performance StudiesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

About the authors

Spencer Golub is Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Comparative Literature, and Slavic Studies at Brown University, USA. He is the author of six books: A Philosophical Autofiction: Dolor’s Youth; The Baroque Night; Incapacity: Wittgenstein, Anxiety, and Performance Behavior; Infinity (Stage); The Recurrence of Fate: Theatre and Memory in Twentieth-Century Russia; and Evreinov: The Theatre of Paradox and Transformation

Bibliographic information


“This is a complex and beautiful book that drifts and undoes itself in its attempt to perform, in writing, what the author terms the ‘metastatic self’ – a self that is tessellated, in movement, restlessly creating and de-creating itself, haunted and ventriloquised. The argument is performative, lucid, and highly original – what we have here is a work of performance philosophy in motion, a book where form and content, idea and expression meet.” (Carl Lavery, Professor of Theatre and Performance, University of Glasgow, UK)