Please find below latest newsletter from the Biography Institute in Groningen.
Do biographies necessarily impose on lives an artificial pattern? Is not a life already a construction, quite apart from any attempt to write about it? If, on the one hand, biography may serve the ideological purpose of ceaselessly constructing and reconstructing idealized lives of iconic historical figures, on the other hand, it may just as well work the other way around. If biography can serve the purposes of myth-making, modern biography is more often than not an investigation, de-constructing the lives of historical personages to re-construct them on a more true-to-life basis. For instance, in a distant past, James Anthony Froude’s Life of Carlyle scandalized his contemporaries by knocking the great man off his pedestal, paving the way for Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians, and much more recently the biographies of C. G. Jung by Richard Noll and Ronald Hayman, reconstructing the life of the Swiss psychologist in a very iconoclastic light, or again Pierre Péan’s François Mitterand, Un jeunesse française, unearthing once more the socialist leader’s commitment with the Vichy government.
This workshop will particularly welcome contributions looking at the positioning of biographies relatively to this ideological notion of “construction”. Other papers may concentrate rather on the biographers’ narrative discourse as a process of re-constructing those parts or sides of their subjects’ lives that have been erased out of historical document, whether intentionally or accidentally—a limit case in this respect is Ivan Jablonka’s Laetitia, and the use of ‘fictions de méthode’ to investigate the gaps. Another direction worth exploring would be the way in which, biographical information about an author/an artist may drastically inflect the reception of his/her work.
Submission: Please send a (provisional) title before 20 January 2017, and an abstract of no more that 200 words before 1st March to Joanny Moulin, email@example.com.
While George F. Custen defines a biopic (biographical film) as a depiction of “the life of a historical person, past or present” (Bio/Pics, How Hollywood Constructed Public History, 1992, 5), he also considers the impact of celebrities and stars as “key historical figures” whose public persona may interfere with the genre’s historical discourse. More recently, Ellen Cheshire has asked if this “maligned and misunderstood genre” is, in reality, a genre of its own (Bio-Pics: A Life in Pictures, 2015, 3). Biopics have indeed sparked off a number of on-going debates, not merely due to their claims of veracity, but through their practice of gender politics, intertextuality, reflexivity, and their hagiographic roots capable of impacting the narrative modes, visual and discursive strategies perpetuated by contemporary “life stories” on screen. This issue of Revue LISA/LISA e-journal explores the various mechanisms, conventions and patterns underlying the construction of “exceptional destinies” on screen (cinema/television).
Delphine Letort and Taïna Tuhkunen « Inspiré d’une vie » : le genre biopic en question “Based upon a Life”: The Biopic Genre in Question
Joanny Moulin Biophoty: The Biofilm in Biography Theory La biophotie : le biofilm dans la théorie de la biographie
Rémi Fontanel Le biopic du sportif américain American Sports Biopics
Delphine Letort Flirting with Controversy: Making Biopics about Truman Capote Flirter avec la controverse : les biopics sur Truman Capote
Jules Sandeau Katharine Hepburn en reine de cœur : Mary of Scotland (John Ford, 1936) Katharine Hepburn as Queen of Hearts: Mary of Scotland (John Ford, 1936)
Claire Demoulin Les biopics d’hommes politiques : des « films de discours » ? Croisements esthétiques, rhétoriques et politiques autour du film Le Discours d’un roi Political Biopics as Films of Speeches: aesthetic, rhetorical and political discussions around The King’s Speech
Hélène Charlery HBO’s Black Women Artist Biopics: The Josephine Baker Story and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge Les biopics de HBO sur les artistes noires américaines : The Josephine Baker Story et Introducing Dorothy Dandridge
Nicole Cloarec The Secret Life of Secret Agents: Alan Bennett and John Schlesinger’s An Englishman Abroad (1983) and A Question of Attribution (1991) La vie secrète des agents doubles : An Englishman Abroad (1983) et A Question of Attribution (1991) d’Alan Bennett et John Schlesinger
Olivier Richomme La fin de la diversité ? Démantèlement jurisprudentiel du Voting Rights Act aux États-Unis The End of Diversity? Jurisprudential Deconstruction of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in the US