Writing Queer Autofiction

A black and white photo of people carrying a 'Queer Nation Banner'
Photo: Tracey Litt.

This 5 session writing workshop and performance will explore the many different ways of expressing identity and trauma through autofiction, a form of writing that is situated between the autobiographical and the fictional, a genre that has been favoured by queer writers.

Discussing and drawing inspiration from famous autofiction writers like Ocean Vuong, Barbara Browning, Eileen Myles, Carmen Maria Machado, Chris Kraus and more, this writing workshop will focus every session on a different format that has become synonymous with the genre, like diary and letter writing, or using art criticism as an autobiographical text.

The sessions are open to all and no previous experience is required.

Sunday, 19 November, 5.30pm-7pm: Introduction to Auto Fiction: Diaries and Letters

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This session will be an introduction to autofiction through two forms that are routinely employed in autofiction books that everyone is familiar with: diaries and letters. During the session we will read and discuss excerpts from autofiction works by Ocean Vuong, Eileen Myles and Doddie Bellamy that use the epistolary form, with an eye to emulating this form in our own writing. We will then share our own experience of letter and diary writing and discuss what types of lived experiences we put into words when we use these forms. At the end of the session we will write a letter or diary entry about the session itself.

Tuesday, 21 November, 5.30pm-7pm: Writing on Identity and Trauma

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Trauma is defined as precisely that which cannot be told, and being able to express trauma is a step towards healing on a journey full of triggers.The fictional part of autofiction can help to create a safe space in which the reality of trauma might be expressed, as can formal experimentation.

During the session we will read relevant passages from the autofiction books On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong and In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado and try to decipher the techniques they employ to express trauma in writing. Then we will use the the piece Why by Bob Flanagan as an example which we might try to emulate in expressing identity, despite the traumatic triggers such expressions might occasion.

Thursday, 23 November, 5.30pm-7pm: Writing on art as part of your personal life

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Most autofiction works contain chapters where the authors relate their very personal impressions of the various exhibitions and performances they visit, using the artwork to reflect on what is happening in their personal lives at the moment. In this way art writing becomes intensely personal, and as such unique.

During the session we will read example passages from the autofiction books, The Gift by Barbara Browning, I Love Dick by Chris Kraus and discuss them. We will try to deduce pointers to emulate the form, we will talk about our own art experiences and how they intersect with our personal lives. The group will go to the performance Intimate Letters (listed below) on the 26th of November and then write their impressions using the tools they have learned in this session.

Sunday 26 November, 1-2pm: Intimate Letters: A Multimedia Reading of Queer Autofiction

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This performance is the product of a year-long queer autofiction writing group of 3 migrant queers from South West Asia who appreciate the genre of autofiction for its ability to foreground lived experience with disregard to generic binaries like fiction and autobiography, storytelling and testament, and the infamous high and low culture. The performance consists of a reading of texts written in letter form, weaving pop culture with deep trauma in an experimental fashion. The reading will be accompanied by a soundscape and video created by Seda Ergul.

Tuesday 28 November, 5.30pm-7pm: Reading Impressions and Feedback

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This session will be entirely devoted to reading what the participants have written across the previous four sessions and giving each other feedback.

About the event

Free. Limited Capacity.

Booking is required.

Seating is available.

We invite you to join us for all 5 sessions, but booking is separate for each instance in the series, and there is no obligation to attend all 5 sessions if you are unable to.


Find information about getting here and our building access and facilities here.

Speakers will use microphones.

This event is wheelchair accessible.

If you have any questions around access or have specific access requirements we can accommodate, please get in touch with us by emailing info@nottinghamcontemporary.org or phoning 0115 948 9750.

Tuna Erdem is an artist, creative producer and writer based in London. She has been a founding member of the Istanbul Queer Art Collective since 2012 and the co-director of Queer Art Projects since 2017. She holds an MA in Film and Art Theory from the University of Kent and a PhD in Film, TV, and Theatre from Reading University. A bit of a jack-of-all-trades, she has dabbled in various fields, including journalism, film criticism, performance, writing, curation, production and lecturing on a wild variety of subjects. Similarly, her artistic work encompasses a diverse range of forms, from performance and video art, to collage and sound art. However, writing, performing, and a strong connection to lived experience are common threads that run throughout her body of work.

Seda Ergul is an artist, curator and producer based in London. She is a founding member of Istanbul Queer Art Collective since 2012. Her art ranges from performance to video and sound art. She is also a creative producer and curator at Queer Art Projects a company that organises art projects like exhibitions, performances, screenings, talks and workshops, commissioning new work from queer artists on cutting edge contemporary issues.

Dr Hana Morgenstern is Associate Professor in Postcolonial and Middle Eastern Literature at Cambridge University. Hana is a writer, translator and scholar of Middle Eastern literature and cultural histories of the Left. Her current writing and research examine how colonialism and decolonization have shaped literary forms and cultural practices. This includes the formation of anticolonial literatures, cultural journals, organizations and forums, and the role these have played within histories and ongoing processes of decolonization. Her upcoming book Cultural Co-Resistance in Palestine/Israel: Anticolonial Literature, Translation and Magazines (EUP 2024) and the accompanying literary collection A Literature for All Our Peoples: A Palestinian-Jewish reader, reconstructs a history of anticolonial Palestinian and Jewish literary collaborations, from the heyday of decolonization in the 1950s to the present day. Hana holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Bard College. Their creative practice examines questions of political violence, queer culture and internationalism. Recent publications include essays in Journal of Levantine Studies, Modernism/modernity, Africa is A Country and an upcoming special issue on Revolutionary Papers for Radical History Review.

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