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CfP - Narratives on Trauma, Illness and Loss

Posted on Wednesday 12th October 2016 by Olaf Werder

In Arthur Frank’s groundbreaking study of illness memoirs, The Wounded Storyteller, he writes that ‘illness is a crisis of the self in the specific sense of an uncertainty that one’s self is still there as an audience; the reaffirmation of this self as “available” is crucial (1995: 56). But nor is memoir only speaking to that self. This intimate literary form is also a medium for socio-political revelation, for issues of private concern to occupy the public sphere, and for ‘an extended conversation in a community too large to commune with itself’ (McCooey 1996: 25).

The writing of memoirs about illness, trauma, grief, disability or many other types of injury and loss has become increasingly popular since Frank’s book was first published. It is now established as a form of therapy or mediation in health professions, as part of the ethico-legal process in restorative justice, and as a highly popular sub-genre of memoir in book publishing.

We are inviting scholars around the globe working in the broad area of health humanities to contribute essays on trauma memoirs and autopathographies, bringing together a diverse, cross-cultural understanding of their history, significance, meanings, uses and limitations, both culturally and within professional contexts.

Papers are invited from a range of disciplines including literary and journalism studies, the health professions, law, ethics, philosophy, anthropology, thanatology, gender, women’s and cultural studies, among others.

The following are few areas of interest to consider, but this list is neither exhaustive nor prescriptive and we welcome diverse approaches:

  • Life writing as a form of therapy

  • Terminal illness

  • Mental illness

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Disabilities

  • Aging

  • AIDS memoirs

  • Holocaust memoirs

  • War memoirs

  • Mis-mem (childhood misery memoirs)

  • Survivor memoirs

  • Memoirs of cultural trauma, dislocation, genocide and exile

  • The limits of memoir in therapeutic practice

  • Narrative ethics and the role of memoir in health-related dispute resolution


Submission Timeline

Please send 200 word chapter abstracts to Fiona Giles at by 30 November 2016.

Selected contributions will be confirmed by 15 December 2017; and first copy (no more than 5,000 words including references) will be due by 31 March, 2017.

The editors will send out for peer review, then return the copy with any suggested changes by 30 April 2017, with a final copy deadline of 31 May 2017.

About the Editors

Bunty Avieson is a lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney, where she teaches news writing. A former journalist, she has also published three novels, a novella and two memoirs. The most recent, The Dragon’s Voice: How modern media found Bhutan (2015) was about the year she spent in Bhutan as a media consultant funded by the UN.

Fiona Giles is a senior lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney, where she teaches graduate courses in creative nonfiction and feature writing. Her most recent publications have been on Gonzo journalism, Australian masculinity memoir and the bio-ethical implications of human milk sharing. She is currently researching victim statements as a form of memoir.

Sue Joseph has worked as an academic, teaching print journalism at the University of Technology Sydney since 1997. She now teaches journalism and creative writing, particularly creative long form nonfiction writing, in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. She has written three books and her fourth book Behind the Text, on Australian creative non-fiction writers, is published this year. Joseph’s research interests are around sexuality, secrets and confession, framed by the media; ethics, trauma; reflective professional practice; and Australian creative nonfiction. 

Humanities Subjects

Health Care Areas


  • Arts & Humanities Research Council
  • The  institue of mental health nottingham
  • National Institute of Health
  • Centre for Advanced Studies
  • The University of Nottingham United Kingdom China Malaysia
  • De Montfort University Leicester
  • OPPNET Basic Behaviour & Social Science Opportunity Network