All posts by Maryam Thirriard

Biography Society Seminar: Revolutionary Lives, 7-9 June18

Biography Society Seminar

Annual SAES Conference 2018
Université Paris Nanterre
7-9 juin 2018 : «
Revolution(s) »

 

(Faire défiler pour texte en français)

REVOLUTIONARY LIVES

The word ‘life’ is constantly revolving around the axis of writing: a life is both a biography and its topic. In a sense, we write our lives as we live them. Lives that go on being written after the death of the subject, lives that are considered interesting enough to be written and read about are often closely related to a paradigmatic shift, a revolution of one sort or another. Whether the individuals are the indispensable agents of such revolutionary moments, or simply happened to be in the right place at the right moment, is a sensitive case in point. Furthermore, in the ‘structure’ of a human life – this dated word should be understood in the broadest possible sense of what Thomas Kuhn meant in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) – time is heterogeneous: there are ‘turning points’, or moments of higher intensity, which are interesting to study as such, as well as for their two-way impact on individual lives and their contexts, but also for their incidence on the composition of biographies. Under the influence of the cinema, some modern biographies focus on particularly significant moments or periods in the lives they relate. Such ‘partial’ biographies are one instance of formal innovation in a genre that is often criticized for its conventionality, yet there have been other revolutionary experiments in biography, as for example Ruth Scurr’s recent John Aubrey: My Own Life (2015), written out like a diary, in the first-person singular. This seminar would welcome contributions proposing theoretical reflections or case studies in history, literature and cinema, on one or the other of these three heads: how individual lives relate to historical or paradigmatic revolutions, the nature and impact of ‘turning points’ in human lives, or innovations in the evolution of biography as a genre. The article versions of the presentations will afterwards be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal with the permission of their authors. Proposals of no more than 200 words, in French or in English, with short biographical notes, should be sent before 15 January 2018 to Joanny Moulin joanny.moulin@univ-amu.fr and Patrick Di Mascio patrick.dimascio@univ-amu.fr.

 

APPEL À CONTRIBUTIONS

Atelier de la Biography Society

Congrès annuel de la SAES 2018
à l’Université Paris Nanterre:
«
Revolution(s) »
7-9 juin 2018

VIES RÉVOLUTIONNAIRES

Le mot « vie » tourne constamment autour de l’axe de l’écriture : une vie est tout à la fois une biographie et son objet. En un sens, nous écrivons nos vies en les vivant. Les vies qui continuent de s’écrire après la mort de leur sujet, les vies qui sont assez intéressantes pour qu’on désire les écrire ou les lire sont souvent étroitement liées à un changement paradigmatique, une révolution de quelque sorte. Que les individus soient les agents indispensables de tels moments révolutionnaires ou qu’ils se soient seulement trouvés au bon endroit au bon moment est une question sensible. Qui plus est, dans la « structure » d’une vie humaine — ce vocable daté s’entend ici au sens le plus large où Thomas Kuhn l’entendait dans La structure des révolutions scientifiques (1962, trad. 1992) — le temps est hétérogène : il y a des « tournants », des moments de haute intensité, qu’il est intéressant d’étudier en tant que tels, mais aussi pour leur impact à double sens sur le contexte les vies individuelles et leurs contextes, mais encore pour leur incidence sur la composition des biographies. Sous l’influence du cinéma, certaines biographies modernes se concentrent sur des moments ou périodes particulièrement significatifs dans les vies qu’elles relatent. De telles biographies « partielles » sont un exemple d’innovation formelle dans un genre souvent décrié pour son conformisme, mais il y eut d’autres expériences révolutionnaires en biographie, comme le récent ouvrage de Ruth Scurr, John Aubrey : My Own Life (2015), rédigé sous forme de journal intime, à la première personne du singulier. Ce séminaire accueillera volontiers des contributions proposant des réflexions théoriques ou des études de cas, portant un corpus littéraire, historique ou cinématographique, dans l’une ou l’autre de ces trois directions : comment les vies individuelles s’articulent à des révolutions historiques ou paradigmatiques, la nature et l’impact des « tournants » dans les vies humaines, ou les innovations dans l’évolution de la biographie comme genre. Les articles issus des présentations seront plus tard soumis pour publication dans une revue à comité de lecture avec la permission des auteurs. Les propositions de 200 mots tout au plus, accompagnées d’une brève notice biographique, sont à envoyer avant le 15 janvier 2018 à Joanny Moulin joanny.moulin@univ-amu.fr et Patrick Di Mascio patrickdimascio@univ-amu.fr.

 

Featured image: Félix Philippoteaux: Lamartine devant l’Hôtel de Ville de Paris le 25 février 1848 refuse le drapeau rouge (Félix Philippoteaux: Lamartine in front of the Town Hall of Paris rejects the red flag on 25 February 1848)

Joanny Moulin, “Capacité négative”: Recension de Vivre une vie philosophique :Thoreau le sauvage de Michel Onfray

“CAPACITÉ NÉGATIVE”

Recension par Joanny Moulin de:

 

Vivre une vie philosophique — Thoreau le sauvage

de Michel Onfray

Paris: Le Passeur, septembre 2017

122 pages, ISBN13 : 978-2368905432

“Le livre qu’on lit a beau être bête, il importe de le finir ; celui qu’on entreprend peut être idiot, n’importe ! écrivons-le !” Cette pensée de Flaubert traduit fort bien l’impression que fait l’ouvrage de Michel Onfray, Vivre une vie philosophique — Thoreau le sauvage, car c’est un livre qui en fin de compte vous amène à tirer des conclusions contraires au discours qu’il tient (ou vice versa). Fidèle à la méthode de sa Contre-Histoire de la Philosophie, l’épicurien normand affectionne une approche biographique, préférant déguster ses auteurs sur place, un peu aussi comme Sartre disait aimer le jazz et les bananes, c’est-à-dire lire leurs œuvres toujours dans le contexte de leur vie. Ceux qui choisissent de voir le fondateur de l’Université populaire de Caen en réactionnaire barbant auront beau jeu de dire qu’il pratique une critique beuvienne, sur le mode désuet du « Untel, sa vie, son œuvre ». C’est une sorte d’écologie critique, une AMAP littéraire : un peu comme il existe des Associations pour le maintien d’une agriculture de proximité, Onfray pratique une critique durable qui ne rompt jamais les liens entre les idées d’un auteur et le sol de la vie où elles ont poussé. Philosophe biographe, Onfray possède au plus haut point le talent d’empathie : philosophe caméléon comme John Keats se voulait « poète caméléon », totalement exempt de ce « snobisme chronologique » que dénonçait C. S. Lewis et qui est en somme l’imbécile illusion de supériorité des modernes sur les anciens, il cherche à comprendre les auteurs de l’intérieur, en se mettant à leur place sans quitter la sienne, le temps d’un essai. De Keats, Onfray hérite encore la « capacité négative », c’est-à-dire la capacité de vivre des contradictions sans être trop impatient de rejoindre la terre ferme de la rationalité conceptuelle. « Est-ce que je me contredis ? » disait Walt Whitman. « Très bien, alors je me contredis, je suis grand, je contiens des multitudes ».

Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson : transcendantalisme, romantisme américain, transplantation en Amérique du Nord de l’idéalisme philosophique allemand pour en faire la pierre de touche de la Déclaration d’indépendance intellectuelle de l’Amérique. Contradiction, paradoxe d’une philosophie qui tourne le dos au Vieux Monde et pourtant en a tout importé, y compris la contradiction revendiquée comme une marque d’originalité, y compris le culte des grands hommes. Emerson, pour qui « Il n’y a pas d’histoire à proprement parler, seulement la biographie des grands hommes », tenait cette idée de Carlyle, grand auteur écossais de l’essai sur Les héros (On Heroes and Hero Worship and the Heroic in History). « Qu’est-ce qu’un grand homme ? » demande Onfray dès le titre de son premier chapitre. « À quoi sert le grand homme ? À être un modèle – il nous faut le suivre ; à contaminer par son expérience ; à générer de nouveau de grands hommes ; autrement dit, à assurer le progrès de l’humanité qui, péché contre le marxisme, ne s’accomplit pas avec les masses, mais avec les individualités d’exception. » Mais qui parle ? Onfray, Thoreau, Carlyle ou Emerson ?

Qu’admire-t-il au juste en Thoreau, hormis son franc-parler d’ours mal léché, puant littéralement tant la toilette du corps relevait pour lui du superflu d’une civilisation dévoyée ? À en croire le portrait qu’il brosse de Walden ou la vie dans les bois, aucune de ses idées ne survit au test de sa vie. « La biographie, remarque Onfray, rend justice de ces clichés romantiques… » « On se représente le philosophe en Diogène américain », mais il n’a vécu dans sa cabane que vingt-six mois en tout, comme dans une sorte de villégiature, rentrant chez lui tous les deux jours pour se restaurer de cuisine bourgeoise. « On imagine la vie du rebelle derrière les barreaux », forgeant la légende du chantre de La désobéissance civile emprisonné pour avoir refusé de payer la part de ses impôts au prétexte qu’ils servaient à financer un régime esclavagiste, mais il ne passa qu’une nuit dans une geôle rurale, libéré le lendemain matin quand un parent paya sa caution. Thoreau le pacifiste qui dit-on inspira Gandhi se fit l’apologiste de la violence politique, dans son Plaidoyer pour John Brown où il prenait fait et cause pour cet assassin d’esclavagistes. « Thoreau se méfie des livres », et peut-être à cause de cela il n’a guère une idée qu’on ne trouve dans quelque ouvrage, celle-là même venant tout de droit de William Wordsworth — « les livres nous trompent ! » — qui ne l’avait lui-même pas trouvée tout à fait tout seul.

On retient que Thoreau serait grand parce qu’il vit sa philosophie autant qu’il philosophe sa vie. Il serait ainsi un philosophe véritable et non point un « professeur de philosophie », à l’instar de tous ceux qu’Onfray l’athée anticlérical nomme « les curés du christianisme, les curés de l’université, les curés de l’idéalisme allemand, les curés de la French theory »… Héritant de Schopenhauer son dédain de Hegel, Onfray l’étend aux fumeux thuriféraires français du concept, au premier rang desquels Deleuze « l’inventeur de personnages conceptuels », « le créateur de glossolalies », et Derrida croyant « que tout ce qui est se résume à ce qui a été dit de ce qui est ». Le professeur Onfray, nous parlant toujours comme à ses ouailles, nous résume succinctement les principales idées d’Emerson pour montrer avec quelle originalité Thoreau s’efforça de les appliquer dans sa vie. Sans doute, en effet, est-il nécessaire d’enseigner à ses lecteurs qui fut Emerson et ce que fut le transcendantalisme, car l’influence du Nouveau Monde sur l’Ancien est aujourd’hui telle que, par une application aussi abusive qu’inconsciente de certaines idées d’Emerson, on en viendrait presque à prendre l’illettrisme pour une vertu. Et de prêcher la supériorité de la philosophie américaine sur le conceptualisme de « l’Europe philosophante », et de nous mettre en garde contre une pensée trop exclusivement livresque, parce que « ces façons de faire conduisent souvent à dire des bêtises, voire à en faire… » En effet, Onfray parle en connaissance de cause.

Joanny Moulin

Aix Marseille Univ, LERMA, Aix-en-Provence, France.

Joanny Moulin is Professor of English literature at the DEMA, Department of English Studies, Aix Marseille Univ, Aix-en-Provence, France. He is also a senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF) and the president of the Biography Society.

Joanny Moulin, “Darwin Bashing”: Review of A.N. Wilson’s Charles Darwin, Victorian Mythmaker

“DARWIN BASHING”, a review by Joanny Moulin.

 

Charles Darwin, Victorian Mythmaker

by Andrew Norman Wilson

London: John Murray, 2017

448 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1444794908

The main temptation to read A. N. Wilson’s Charles Darwin, Victorian Mythmaker is that it presents itself as a “damning biography”, written by a latter-day discipline of Lytton Stratchey, the great “debunker” and paragon of the New Biography: Wilson clearly sets out to tilt at the impavid statue of another eminent Victorian. Alas! His attempt soon proves Quixotic. Wilson’s tone and style are those of the polemicist, and he declares his intention in capital letters from the very start: ‘DARWIN WAS WRONG. That was the unlooked-for conclusion to which I was inexorably led while writing this book.’ This is a biographie à thèse, although the exact nature of Wilson’s thesis is rationalized only in the last chapters. To begin with, Wilson’s take is that Darwin’s theory was less a purely scientifically valid proposal that the produce of his historical time and social class: a vision of the world chiefly inspired by Malthus’s economics that operated as a justification of the bourgeoisie of which Charles Darwin was the unrepentant offspring. This pushing at open doors is the pretext to an unrelenting aggression, no doubt partly motivated by class resentment, as Wilson’s father was once an employee of Wedgwood’s, the family of Charles Darwin’s mother, Susannah, and of his wife, Emma, who was also his cousin. ‘It remains to be seen, as this class dies out, to be replaced by quite different social groupings, whether the Darwinian idea will survive, or whether, like other cranky Victorian fads’.

The syllogism on which this argument is based, as if to say: Darwinism is the doctrine of the survival of the fittest, and Darwin’s social class is being replaced by others at the top of the ladder, therefore Darwinism, especially social Darwinism is not scientifically valid, is disturbingly based on approximations, often so gross that they amount to falsehoods. For instance, Wilson purposefully forgets that ‘the survival of the fittest’ was not Darwin’s phrase in the first instance, and that Darwin himself said nothing at all of the social applications of his theory, which were developed later by some of his followers. That these remarks will eventually be made, very late in the book and as if grudgingly, does not exonerate the biographer from the fault of having ignored them in the first place. Paradoxically, Wilson practises a kind of implicit ‘Darwinism’, as if science was a matter of struggle between various theories, and scientific truth the result of the survival of the fittest of those at a given historical time.

To such approximations and blunt assertions made in blatant bad faith must be added a number of factual errors with which the book is literally ridden, but to point them out would not only be tedious, it would mean entering the lists of the time-worn polemic between defender and detractors of Darwin, which is precisely the sterile terrain on which Wilson hopes to thrive. By an inversion of the most arrant tricks of hagiography, Wilson insists on reading into the childhood of Charles Darwin the signs of his supposed intellectual dishonesty. The very title of the book, Charles Darwin, Victorian Mythographer, implies that Darwin was deliberately insincere from the start, as a man and therefore as a scientist. For instance, the biographer pounces on Darwin’s own confession, in his autobiography, of his propensity to tell fibs as a child, to jump to the conclusion that he was constitutionally dishonest: ‘“I may here also confess that as a little boy I was much given to inventing deliberate falsehoods, and this was always done for the sake of causing excitement.” The solipsism and the dishonesty would scarcely be worth mentioning in so small a child, were it not that both characteristics were carried on into grown-up life.’

In like manner, Wilson denies Darwin’s endorsement of Darwin-Wedgwood family’s involvement in the anti-slavery movement, going as far as to imply that his personal response to the question on the well-known Wedgwood medallion, “Am I not a man and brother?” was most certainly negative. On the contrary, in his narrative of the voyage of the Beagle, the biographer omits the episode of Darwin’s row with Fitzroy on the question of slavery, and his explicit disgust when he witnessed the behaviour of slaveholding planters in Brazil, but emphasizes every word in Darwin’s writing that do unfortunately reflect Victorian racial prejudices, which by twenty-first-century standards are bound to be deemed politically incorrect, to impart that in fact Darwin was a racist, and that he implicitly condoned in advance the social Darwinism and eugenics of some Darwinians, going as far as to imply that Darwin paved the way for Nazism. ‘Of these myths,’ write Wilson in the last chapter, ‘one of the most potent is the Darwinian belief that “all of nature is a constant struggle between power and weakness, a constant struggle of the strong over the weak”.’ […] ‘(The sentence I quoted at the end of the last paragraph was, of course, spoken not by Darwin or Huxley but by Adolf Hitler in a speech entitled “World Jewry and World Markets, the Guilty Men of the World War”.)’

This is guerrilla tactics: the biographer is dogging his subject at the heels, constantly on the lurk for the next opportunity to bite. From beginning to end, we are served with a drab, factually dubious narrative, interlarded with scathingly judgemental interventions by the biographer. Two drives, shooting at cross purposes, pull the narrative forward: chronology and criticism. Wilson is unravelling the yarn of Darwin’s life, leaving no stone unturned to find what his critical verve could pounce upon, declaring that he ‘would be cautious about judging men and women of the nineteenth century by the standards of the twenty-first’, yet constantly doing so in the same breath. On the whole, Wilson keeps looking down on Darwin, in a typical illustration of what C. S. Lewis called ‘”chronological snobbery”: the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited’ (Surprised by Joy).

What makes this a bad biography has nothing to do with the biographer’s opinions about his subject, or with his polemical style as such, but everything with his lack of subtlety and deontological responsibility as a writer. In other words, Wilson has jettisoned any idea of the indispensable self-discipline of a biographer to avoid a posture of omniscience that is purely a benefit of hindsight, and makes no effort whatsoever to try and understand the personages in their own time, but on the contrary, he manifests a willingness, and insistence on not doing so. If reading his book is an aesthetic experience of sorts, it is a negative one, very similar to that of reading one of those pulp fiction novels where awkward scenes of sex and violence are interspersed by lengthy passages that seem to be dull on purpose to create cheap suspense. Thus, the life narrative stretches are the run-of-the-mill episodes of Darwin’s well-known life, written out without any innovation or dramatization, watered down by unessential detailed portrayals of secondary characters, that serve as the background against which the next bilious onslaught of the biographer’s discourse will soon flare up.

Towards the middle of the book, one realizes that the writing oscillates between two modes: narration, or the life story, and argumentation, or the unfolding of the biographer’s discourse in reflexive commentaries. Some chapters, one feels, are predominantly narrative with a discursive minor, others the other way around, in irregular alternation. This goes on roughly for two thirds of the book, until the year 1859. Then, with the publication of the On the Origin of Species, Wilson shifts over to summarizing the main argument of Darwin’s work, and criticizing it from the point of view of 20th and 21st century science, convoking a plethora of modern scientists, among whom Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins, Michael Denton, Dan-Eric Nilsson and Susanne Pelger, etc. Meanwhile, the biographer addresses the readers to comment on the versions of the Origin they have probably read, staging himself at his writing desk, describing the physical aspect of the sources, again relentlessly casting doubt on Darwin’s honesty, comparing him to a conjuror, as if he had been a mere self-server, propounding a theory that he knew to be false in his self-serving thirst for fame.

Putting aside matters of opinion and literary good manners, the major problem is that Wilson is transgressing the codes of the genre, stepping out of the biography into the essay, or more exactly the pamphlet. It is not a case of hybridization of the genres, but of code-shifting. Wilson is constantly jumping over the fence and back, leaving the stage as a biographer to reappear immediately in a pamphleteer’s costume, and then vice versa. The problem is not that a so-called ‘reading pact’ be breached, but that by doing so Wilson loses his credibility both as biographer and as pamphleteer. The result is farcical, Wilson’s antics producing an effect of involuntary humour, very much like a struggling stand-up artist, or a ventriloquist whose puppet interrupts him in an obstreperous voice and register. In other words, Wilson’s chronological snobbery goes into overdrive, and becomes caricatural.

Wilson’s role model is clearly Lytton Stratchey: he inherits his bias against yet another ‘eminent Victorian’, but without Strachey’s wit and humour, and from a standpoint rendered inefficient by the overextended time gap, as the satirical debunking of the Victorian simply cannot have the same relevance today as one century ago. In this respect, Wilson’s imitation Stracheyan style is as outdated as a ventriloquist’s show: it is hopelessly Kitsch.  Furthermore, Wilson commits a variant of Stachey’s redhibitory fault of style in Elizabeth and Essex, where the ‘New Biographer’ mixed fiction with non-fiction. Writing an essay to demonstrate, or a pamphlet to castigate, the supposed ineptitude of Darwin’s theory is one thing. Writing Darwin’s biography is another, because the arguments against the enduring validity of Darwin’s theory are not to be found in Darwin’s life, but in the afterlife of his work. Wilson would have had a point if he could have demonstrated that Darwin was a ‘mythographer’ in the sense that he deliberately set out, in his own time, to produce a myth, that is to say a fake theory, motivated only by his yearning for fame and riches. But that is not what Wilson is doing; although he repeatedly insinuates as much, his work as a biographer strictly speaking relentlessly demonstrates the contrary against his better knowledge. The shifting over from a narration of Darwin’s life to a discussion of the reception of Darwin’s theory would have been critically profitable as long as it remained historically consistent. The anachronism of assessing Darwin’s theory from the vantage point of ulterior knowledge — see for instance Wilson’s use of modern genetics: ‘Darwin wrote in complete ignorance of the modern science of genetics, and what he knew of embryology was, by the standards of our times, primitive in the extreme’—is damaging to the biographer’s work, not to his subject’s, because on the epistemological level it is a gross fault of method, while on the level of aesthetics it is a grotesque fault of taste, and on the deontological ground it is dreadfully inelegant.

For all its failings, Wilson’s book deserves some degree of critical redemption when he eventually explains his point, showing that he was perhaps not motivated so much by a hatred of Darwin, as by sheer disbelief, considering that Darwin’s theory does not hold water as an overall explanation of the world, and that it deserves to be deconstructed, just as ‘Freud and Marx have been toppled from their thrones in our own day’, as the ‘great narrative’ or ‘ideology’ that Wilson says it is, without having necessarily got to be replaced by an alternative theory. Here, Wilson the belated Romantic evokes John Keats, vindicating ‘negative capability’, that is, ‘when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason’, the latter being, in Wilson’s eyes, ‘the foundation of the modern obsession with science.’

It seems most likely that A. N. Wilson started off to write yet another biography of Darwin, and that in the course of his work his ideas about Darwinism matured to the point of entailing a mutation of his project into a pamphlet on evolution theory. The other option may be that he deliberately set out to use the popular genre of biography as a potentially powerful vector for his ideas about the theory of evolution today. One way or another, he opted for a losing strategy, because by mixing the two genres, or rather by superimposing to different projects onto one another, he has exposed himself to unavoidably negative criticism on both sides. It is a well-known anecdote that the publisher John Murray III said that he considered the Origin of Species ‘as absurd as contemplating a fruitful union between a poker and a rabbit’, but decided to publish it all the same because he thought the book would be much discussed. Although it falls very short of equalling Darwin in scandalous fame, Wilson’s Darwin, also published by John Murray, sets out to puncture the myth of the great man, and is deservedly skewered in critical discussions.

Joanny Moulin
Aix Marseille Univ, LERMA, Aix-en-Provence, France.

Joanny Moulin is Professor of English literature at the DEMA, Department of English Studies, Aix Marseille Univ, Aix-en-Provence, France. He is also a senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF) and the president of the Biography Society.

Conference of the Biography Society: “Different Lives: Global Perspectives on Biography in Public Cultures and Societies” – September 19-21, 2018

Updated 16/11

Different Lives: Global Perspectives on Biography in Public Cultures & Societies

September 19-21, 2018

 

CALL FOR PAPERS

On 19-21 September, 2018, the Biography Institute of the University of Groningen will host a conference designed to take a look beyond our own borders and delve deeper into the question of how the art of biography is practiced in other parts of the world. Biographers from different continents will gather to examine the ways in which their foreign colleagues practice their craft and discuss the cultural perspectives that guide biographers in their approach to the infinite complexity of the other. Different Lives: Global Perspectives on Biography in Public Cultures and Societies will bring together biographers from France, Great Britain, Vietnam, South Africa, China, the United States, the Netherlands, and other nations, whose work reflect the global diversity of biographical practice. For the participants, it will provide an opportunity to learn about international research in the field.

In addition to Richard Holmes’ adage ‘biography as a handshake across time’, we would like to know how biography can contribute to a better understanding of differences between societies and cultures. How can biographers from different parts of the world learn from each other, without becoming all the same? For this purpose, we call on our speakers to inform us about the history and the state of the art concerning biography in their own countries. By doing so, speakers can show how in their cultural background biography functions as a public genre, featuring specific societal issues and opinion-making. Presumably, this could lead to a different thinking about the role of biography in society.

To contribute to the discussion about the national perspectives in biography, the following subjects thus can be explored:

  • Religion
  • Current topics in biography
  • Societal pioneers (‘untimely individuals’)
  • Censorship
  • Biographical criticism
  • Access to archives
  • Foreign biography in each country
  • The publishing world
  • Transnational similarities
  • Biography in public space

The conference is jointly organized by the Biography Institute and the Biography Society. Owing to these organizations’ expansive networks, a broad group of prominent researchers and biographers will be present. Richard Holmes will give the keynote lecture and Nigel Hamilton will host a masterclass on Biography.

Abstracts are due on December 20: 12:00, 2017 and must be submitted via bioconferencegroningen@rug.nl