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Indiana University Bloomington

Paul John Eakin

Paul John Eakin


Ruth N. Halls Professor Emeritus of English

Ph.D., Harvard University, 1966
M.A., Harvard University, 1961
A.B., Magna cum laude in History and Literature, Harvard College, 1959; Phi Beta Kappa

Research Interests

Autobiography, biography, and life writing (concepts of self, subject, and person; relation between narrative and identity; auto-ethnography and narrative practices; ethics of life writing).

Selected Publications and Presentations (click images for more information)


Living Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in NarrativeLiving Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in Narrative (Cornell University Press, 2008).

How Our Lives Become Stories: Making SelvesHow Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves (Cornell University Press, 1999).

Touching the World: Reference in Autobiography (Princeton University Press, 1992).

Fictions in Autobiography: Studies in the Art of Self-Invention (Princeton University Press, 1985).

The New England Girl: Cultural Ideals in Hawthorne, Stowe, Howells, and James (University of Georgia Press, 1977).


The Ethics of Life WritingThe Ethics of Life Writing. Ed., with Introduction. Cornell University Press, 2004.

American Autobiography: Retrospect and Prospect. Ed., with Introduction. University of Wisconsin Press, 1991.

On Autobiography, by Philippe Lejeune. Ed., with Foreword. University of Minnesota Press, 1989.

Recent and Forthcoming Publications and Presentations:

"James Olney and the Study of Autobiography." Biography 38 (Fall 2015).

"David Parker and the Good Life of Writing." Biography 38 (Fall 2015).

"My Autobiography Study." Interview with Liang Qingbiao. Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies 5 (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, Autumn 2015).

“Self and Self-Representation Online and Off.” Frame (Utrecht, Netherlands) 28 (May, 2015): 11-29.

--“The Referential Aesthetic of Autobiography.” 1992. The Biographer’s Revenge: Essays of Modern Western Research on Life Writing. Ed. and trans. Liang Qingbiao. Guangxi, China: Guangxi Normal University Press, 2015. 158-87.

“What Are We Reading When We Read Autobiography?” 2004. The Routledge Auto/Biography Studies Reader. Ed. Ricia A. Chansky and Emily Hipchen. New York: Routledge, 2015. 214-21.

Portuguese translation of Living Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in Narrative (2008), to be published by Letra e Voz, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

"Afterword." Classic American Autobiographies, ed. William L. Andrews. 3rd ed., Signet Classics. New York: Penguin, 2014. 463-70.

Fictions in Autobiography: Studies in the Art of Self-Invention. 1985. Reissued in the Princeton Legacy Library. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014.

"Autobiography as Cosmogram." Storyworlds 6 (2014): 21-43.

Recent Articles:

"Travelling with Narrative: From Text to Body." In The Travelling Concepts of Narrative, ed. Mari Hatavara, Lars-Christer Hydén, and Matti Hyvärinen. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2013. 83-92.

"Vivre dans l'histoire: autobiographie, memoir(s), mémoires." In Le sens du passé: pour une nouvelle approche des Mémoires, ed. Marc Hersant, Jean-Louis Jeannelle, and Damien Zanone. Rennes: Editions de la Licorne, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2013. 351-61.


"Identiteitsuitrustingen: technologie, herinnering, narratief" ["Identity Equipment: Technology, Memory, Narrative"], Tijdschrift voor Biografie [Utrecht, Netherlands]1 (2012), 7-16. This issue of Biografie includes three responses to my essay, and my reply, "Digitale identiteiten: Een reactie op het commentaar van JaapBos, Tanny Dobbelaar en Rudolph Glitz" ["Digital Identities: A Reply to Jaap Bos, Tanny Dobbelaar, and Rudolph Glitz"] (26-27). There is also an interview: "Interview met John Eakin" ["Interview with John Eakin"] by Monica Soeting (4-6).

"Dicter sa vie: L'autobiographhie de Mark Twain." La Faute à rousseau, no. 58 (October 2011): 57-58.

"Reading Comics: Art Spiegelman on CD-ROM." In Graphic Subjects: Critical Essays on Autobiography and Graphic Novels, ed. Michael Chaney. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2011. 13-16.

"Eye and I: Negotiating Distance in Eyewitness Narrative," Partial Answers 7 (2009): 201-12.

"Talking about Ourselves: Autobiography, Narrative Identity, and Everyday Life," The Protean Forms of Life Writing: Auto/Biography in English, 1680-2000. Ed. Angelo Righetti. Naples: Liguori Editore, 2008. 9-26.

"Theory, David Bleich, and the Society for Critical Exchange," Works and Days 25 (2007):105-8.

"The Economy of Narrative Identity," (1) Economists' Lives: Biography and Autobiography in the History of Economics. Supplement to History of Political Economy 39 (2007). Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 117-33. (2) Controlling Time and Shaping the Self: Developments in Autobiographical Writing since the Sixteenth Century, ed. Arianne Baggerman, Rudolf Dekker, and Michael Mascuch. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2011. 231-45.

Recent Activities since 2007:

Invited lecture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel (November 2007). Invited paper and panelist, IABA convention, and invited participant, IABA symposium, University of Hawai'i-Manoa, Honolulu (June 2008). Invited plenary lecture at King's College London (May 2009), and invited panelist at the Social Science History Association convention (November 2009). Invited papers at the Finnish Institute, London (November 2010) and at the Universities of Paris and Louvain (December 2010). Invited lecture at Carnegie Mellon University (February 2011), invited lecture at University of Maastricht, Netherlands (March 2011), masterclass on life writiing at Vrije Universiteit and invited lecture at Amsterdam University College, Netherlands (April 2011). Invited lectures at the Prindle Institute for Ethics, DePauw University (April 2012) and at Carnegie Mellon University (November 2012).

Interviewed for newspaper features on memoir:

Dan Carpenter, "It's true, and that's no fact," Indianapolis Star, 22 January 2006.

Sasha Issenberg, "In memoirs, a journey of discovery: early narratives shape Obama, McCain," Boston Globe, 16 March 2008.

Selected Honors and Awards

Fellowships: American Council of Learned Societies, 1987; Visiting Fellow, Humanities Research Centre, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 1990.

Special session devoted to my work, "Autobiographical Worlds: In Celebration of Paul John Eakin," MLA Convention, San Diego, December 2003.

Festschrift issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 29 (Summer 2008), dedicated to James Olney and myself.