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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2010 Postgraduate - Unit

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedClayton First semester 2010 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Barbara Caine


This unit looks at some of the methodological questions involved in life writing. It includes practical questions such as assessing databases and sources, interpreting and utilising interviews and oral histories. It explores ethical issues involved in researching life stories and biographies, and different approaches to the reading and interpretation of texts and sources. The unit examines methods used in biography, particularly political and literary biography, and newer methods developed in writing women's lives and indigenous lives. The use of life stories as case studies in history and sociology and questions raised by the study of testimony and collective memory are also explored.


Upon successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Understand the research processes involved in writing biography and life stories, particularly the use of existing published works, archives and oral history.
  2. Demonstrate an awareness of the ethical and legal issues involved in biography and life writing.
  3. Understand the theoretical issues involved in the discipline, including questions about style, audience and readership.
  4. Develop advanced skills in written and oral communication.
  5. Develop skills in working as a group.
  6. Develop advanced skills in using new technology


Seminar paper (2000-3000 words); 30%;

Outline of research project including literature review, discussion of method and time line (6000 words): 50%;

1 seminar presentation 10%;

General seminar performance 10%

Chief examiner(s)

Barbara Caine

Contact hours

2 hour seminar per week


HSY4270, HYM5270