Autobiographical Writing and Fan Fiction: Pedagogical Reduction and the Hermeneutic Link

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey noted the educational value of [auto]biographical writing as a means of understanding life, bound up in hermeneutic knowing: an intuitive route to understanding based on our situated human-ness, rather than on knowledge based on certainty or probability (Friesen, 2020). Biographical texts can also be considered pedagogical reductions (Lewin, 2017) in the way that they select important events in the life of the subject, and they simplify a life with the intention of re-presenting it for the interested reader.
We argue that these two educational features – pedagogical reduction and hermeneutic knowing – are not exclusive to the biographical genre. Fictional novums allow us to safely reflect on the world-as-it-is by re-presenting a world-as-it-could-be; any interpretation of which comes to rely on hermeneutic knowing given the lack of certainty to be found in a fictional world. Fan fiction represents one such fictional novum, which is most closely linked to the genre of biographical writing. Amateur writers feel strongly linked to already established characters, placing them into new situations and, via their own understanding of the world, they write about the characters’ lives, loves and experiences in a speculative way.
Our research is based on conceptual interrogations of the central notions in this case: hermeneutic knowing, pedagogical reduction, [auto]biography and (fan) fictions. By comparing the [auto]biographical with the fictional, our intention is to show that both have educational merit with the use of pedagogical reduction and hermeneutic knowing. We also suggest that fan fiction – indeed, any fiction – might be considered a mediated, pedagogically reduced, form of [auto]biographical writing in itself.
Period30 Sep 2021
Event titleInternational Society for Educational Biography 37th Annual Conference
Event typeConference
LocationSt Louis, United States, MissouriShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational