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Towards a Theory of Biography

Wilhelm Dilthey created a point of direct access to one of the ultimate disciplines, despite his scepticism about the ability of biographical research to generate academic insights. His question – 'the individual is only a crossing point for cultural systems, organisations, in which his being is interwoven: how can they be understood through him?' – leads us to the centre of contemporary debates. The volume focuses and reflects upon crucial questions for the theory of biography: the tensions between biographical evidence and construction, between the simultaneous presence and absence of the remembered, described, desired, and researched object. The chapters address the relationship between biography and gender, biography and mediality, biography and society. Culturally formed conceptions of progression and wholeness motivate biographical narratives, and they participate in the construction of that framework, in which 'one’s own biography' takes on real-life meaning. The biographical domain exists between the pressures of social reality and the production of identity through speaking, acting, and writing; through gesture, voice, and facial expression. It is assessed by academic research and extended by art. The volume was published in July 2009. In German.

Publisher's Announcement

Contributions to its History

Die Biographie – Beiträge zu ihrer Geschichte. Ed. with an introduction by Wilhelm Hemecker. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter 2009.