BU Professor gives keynote address on authorial careers at Milan Conference

This Monday and Tuesday Professor Hywel Dix travelled to the University of the Sacred Heart in Milan to give the keynote at a conference entitled ‘Auctor in Fabula: Autofiction and Authorial Traces in Literature, Drama and Audiovisual Drama.’ This bilingual English and Italian event with simultaneous translation explored ways in which artists and writers in a range of different media have drawn on their own life stories in their creative work, and with what effects. Dix’s keynote ‘Fictions of Self-retrospect: Constructing the Narratives of Authorial Careers’ contributes to theoretical research into ideas of ‘the author’ by arguing that our understanding of authorial careers has the potential to be enhanced by Career Construction Theory, a form of vocational guidance counselling that uses storytelling to enable people to construct narratives of their vocational lives. The central tenet of this practice is that at moments of transition people write their career narrative, becoming in the process both its author and lead protagonist. Since people turn to vocational guidance during periods of uncertainty or change, this uncertainty has been compared to the experience of writer’s block. Narrating their life story allows them to see themselves in their story in order to plot the next chapter in it and therefore overcome that block. The paper explored what happens when these ideas are applied to the work of people who are not just metaphorically but also literally authors of their life stories, i.e. empirical authors. It suggests that Career Construction Theory can be seen as a new theory of authorship when it is applied in this way and that as such, it supplies a conceptual paradigm for identifying the different components that compose an overall authorial career in the changing cultural conditions of today’s world.