The seminar reflects on the role of exemplary stories – ones that seem to want to offer a lesson in the understanding of life and character, even of personhood as such – in fiction and non-fiction. What do authors intend when writing factual “case histories” or fictional variants on the genre? What are readers supposed to learn from such texts? What is at stake for the subjects of case histories? How do modalities of narration and literary figuration variously shape the presentation of life stories in autobiography, psychoanalysis, art criticism?