Narrating oneself in the present: truth and self-writing
Session Organizer, Beatrice Barbalato

“The past can never be evoked except with respect to a present [...]  Every autobiography – even when it limits itself to pure narrative – is a self-interpretation. Style here assumes the dual function of establishing the relation between the “author” and his own past; but also, in its orientation toward the future, of revealing the author to his future readers”. (Jean Starobinski, 1970).

Sartre in his book Les Mots, which is divided into two specular parts « Lire et écrire », describes his life until 1963 (he will die in 1980): « Today, April 22, 1963, I am correcting this manuscript on the tenth floor of a new building: through the open window I see a cemetery, Paris, the blue hills of Saint Cloud». This narrating one-self Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita provides a key of interpretation where the very same moment of reflection becomes a constitutive act of one’s life journey.

A significant part of autobiographies play instead upon the illusion of a fixed and unchangeable time of narration, trying to bring the reader in a context as if the observation of the facts took place at the very same instant in which those facts happened.

The relation subject/truth is involved: is it possible to narrate the past pretending to have the same point of view of this precise moment in time, concealing the here and now?

Foucault struggled all along his life for a culture of the present, and he evoked ancient doctrines above all stoicism and cynism, as visions of the Self-culture oriented to connect the Self-care and the Know-yourself.

The proposals for this session should concentrate on how the writers’ expressions and forms embody those choices.

  • Michel Foucault, L’herméneutique du sujet, leçons au collège de France 1981-1982, Paris, Gallimard,  2002.
  • Jean Starobinski,  « Le progrès de l’interprète » in Id. La relation critique, Paris, Gallimard, 1970.


The broken temporality in bio/autobiographies 

 Session Organizer, Fabio Cismondi, EUROfusion – Programme Management Unit

In recent and past years the continuity of the work, of the productivity of entires communities of intellectuals have been interrupted, often for several years, by dramatic historical events (such as world war I and II in the past century). Nowadays the occidental world takes for granted the continuity of intellectuals’ production and working conditions. Any discontinuity is therefore a traumatic event.

In this session it is proposed to give to the matter of the broken temporality some considerations: how abrupt interruptions imposed by historical events have been lived, elaborated, reconstructed and transcirebed in their future autobiographical works by intellectuals of the past. We intend therefore to consider how dramatic events such as wars, producing forced suspensions of the intellectual work, affect the autobiographical profile. 

We intend to analyze how in the present of the autobiographical narration these circumstances are observed and described.

The two references quoted here below are intended to be an example only and refer to the  dramatic rupture lived by the nuclear physicists who lived World War I.

  • Richard Rodes, The making of the atomic Bomb, NY, Simon & Schuster, 1986.
  • James Chadwick, "Some personal notes on the search for the neutron", Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Congress of the History of Science, Paris, Hermann, 1964.

                                 ABSTRACT SUBMISSION                        

 A) The deadline to submit the proposal is: 15 January 2016. You are kindly asked to respect the following standard while submitting your proposal. The abstract has to be submitted online at with a CV (abstracts should contain maximum 250 words, 100 for the short CV) and mention at least two references and possibly two papers or publication by the author.


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 B) By the 10 of February 2016 you will be notified about the acceptance of your proposal.


 Scientific Committee

 Beatrice Barbalato, Mediapolis.Europa, e Université catholique de Louvain

 Fabio Cismondi, Euro Fusion

 Irene Meliciani, Mediapolis Europa

 Albert Mingelgrün, Université Libre de Bruxelles

 Giulia Pelillo-Hestermeyer, Universität Heidelberg

 Edgar Radtke, Universität Heidelberg

 Francesca Socrate, Sapienza, Università di Roma

 Anna Tylusińska-Kowalska, Uniwersytet Warszawski


 Irene Meliciani, managing director Mediapolis.Europa






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