Taylor Lecture: ‘Soft weapons’ and hard lives: fictions of self in transnational Italian life narratives

Professor Jennifer Burns (University of Warwick)
Event date
Event time
17:00 - 18:00
Taylor Institute Library
St Giles'
Venue details

Main Hall

Event type
Lectures and seminars
Event cost
Disabled access?
Booking required

Responding to Gillian Whitlock’s notion (2006) that transnational autobiographies function as ‘soft weapons’ in negotiating cultural intolerance or indifference, this lecture considers the cultural and political work expected of narratives of migration and ethnic minoritization in Italy since 1990.

Life narratives in multiple forms dominate in this literature, hand-in-hand with the paradigm of struggle. My enquiry examines constructions of the ‘I’ that tells her, his, or their story in a sample of narratives. It probes how the acutely relational quality of individual subjectivity in the lived experience of transnational mobility may be performed through intricate production of narrative voice, and how the ‘I’ of the named author/s figures in this process. Examination of how a minoritized voice may be crafted to hold authority and summon response brings attention also to the limits and possibilities of the stories such a subject may tell: must these stories tell of struggle, exclusion, trauma and dehumanization if they are to engage readers?