Introduction: Autofiction in English: The Story so Far

  • Hywel Dix
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Life Writing book series (PSLW)


The introduction to the volume suggests that despite a great wealth of research and interest in autofiction in France over the past forty years, critical interest in Anglophone scholarship has been relatively slight until the recent past. This means that there has been little critical discussion of the field in English, and few identifications of Anglophone writers as themselves practitioners of autofiction. Having first discussed different ways in which the term was defined by Serge Doubrovsky and modified by a number of his compatriots, the chapter considers a number of cultural, institutional and historical reasons why it has taken so long for the study of autofiction to become established in the English-speaking world. It then considers three major contexts that have contributed to the emergence of autofiction scholarship in English: the upturn of the status of women’s writing; changes in the publishing industry; and the pervasive nature of so-called ‘reality’ (or confessional) genres across different media. Finally, arguing that there is such a body of work as autofiction in English, the chapter raises the question of whether the concept itself is utilized and applied in English-language work in the same general ways that it has been applied in France; or whether, when the cultural context changes, the concept itself becomes subject to evolution and change. It thus concludes that there are a number of characteristics of autofiction in English that are somewhat more prominent than in its Francophone incarnations: specifically, notions of intersubjectivity; seriality; the relationship to both intertextuality and metafiction; the potential for the act of writing to serve as a cognitive–emotional tool with therapeutic benefit to its authors; and an interest in the conditions and status of authorship.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hywel Dix
    • 1
  1. 1.Bournemouth UniversityPooleUK

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