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The Many Lives of Biography


The international symposium 'The Many Lives of Biography - Biography as Paradigm of Cultural Studies' took place on 25-27 March 2009. It was held in the Oratory of the Austrian National Library, as well as at the University of Vienna and the International Research Centre for Cultural Studies (IFK). Speakers at the interdisciplinary conference discussed various aspects of the genre and the place of biography in contemporary debates.

Discussions centred on the concept of biographical ‘truth’ and the frustrating diversity of a colourful genre with a long and impressive tradition. New ways of defining the concept of biography were a major part of the conference. For a long time the genre was charged with constructing its subjects in a naive way, of being unscholarly and one-dimensional. In contrast, the speakers illustrated the diversity of biographical studies and the tension between biographical constructions and evidence – the poles of every contemporary theoretical account in cultural studies.

The great success of this conference, the main organizer of which was the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for the History and Theory of Biography, was due in part to the Institute’s partners (the Austrian National Library, the German Department at the University of Vienna, and the IFK).

Symposium Programme

25 - 27 March 2009.

Location: Oratory of the Austrian National Library; University of Vienna; International Research Centre for Cultural Studies