September 19-21, 2018 DIFFERENT LIVES: GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ON BIOGRAPHY IN PUBLIC CULTURES AND SOCIETIES , Biography Institute, University of Groningen, The Netherlands



September 19-21, 2018, Biography Institute, University of Groningen, The Netherlands


Call for papers 


On September 19-21, 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, 2018 and must be submitted via





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