Field Culture in Unprecedented Times: Writing the Unexpected, Narrating the Future at a Virtual Conference

Kate Douglas, Kylie Cardell, Marina Deller, Emma Maguire, Shannon Sandford

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We are colleagues and collaborators working in the field of English Literary Studies, broadly defined. This paper reflects on our collective encounters working as Life Writing scholars within the International Auto/Biography Association (IABA). Specifically, we muse autocritically on our experience of organising an online conference at a time when scholars are still experiencing the impact of the pandemic. We propose the term ‘field culture’ to describe and draw attention to the ways in which an academic field is shaped by socio-cultural practices that impact on the kind of knowledge and researcher identities produced within the field. We explore the ‘field culture’ of IABA and its conferences and posit that our research collective is an example of the ways in which academia might be made more accessible for early-career researchers, for those less able to travel to conferences. Reflecting on a series of aims and strategies for the conference, we also make a case for supporting creative practice and creative interventions in life writing as a discipline in which the politics of genre blurring and pushing boundaries has been foundational.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-195
Number of pages17
JournalLife Writing
Issue number2
Early online date28 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Conference
  • Field Culture
  • Life Narrative
  • Scholarly Community


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