Biography appears to thrive as never before; and there clearly remains a broad readership for literary biography. But the methods and approaches of recent criticism which have contributed rich insights and asked new questions about the ways in which we interrogate and appreciate literature have scarcely influenced biography. Biography as a form has been largely unaffected by either new critical or historical perspectives. For early-modern scholars the biographical model, fashioned as a stable form in the eighteenth century, has been, in some respects, a distorting lens onto early-modern lives. In the Renaissance and early-modern period rather the biography's organic and developmental narratives of a coherent subject, lives were written and represented in a bewildering array of textual sites and generic forms. And such lives were clearly imagined and written not to entertain or even simply to inform, but to edify and instruct, to counsel and polemicize.
It is only when we understand how early moderns imagined and narrated lives, only that is through a full return to history and an exact historicizing, that we can newly conceive the meaning of those lives and begin to rewrite their histories free of the imperatives and teleologies of Enlightenment. In Writing Lives literary scholars, cultural critics, and historians of ideas and visual media, currently engaged both with early modern conceptions of the life and our own conceptualizing of the biographical project, reflect on the problems of writing lives from the various perspectives of their own research and in the form of case studies informed by new questions.
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(223mm x 144mm x 24mm)
Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Author Biography - Kevin Sharpe
Kevin Sharpe is professor and Director of the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at Queen Mary, University of London. The author and editor of twelve books, he has held visiting appointments at Princeton, Stanford, the California Institute of Technology, The Australian National University and the Max Planck Institute for History in Goettingen. He has been a regular reviewer for the Sunday Times, Independent, Spectator and TLS and has broadcast on television and radio. He is noted as a scholar of early modern history who combines literary and historical studies. He is currently completing a three- volume study of Representations of Rule in England, 1500-1700 Steven N. Zwicker is Stanley Elkin Professor in the Humanities at Washington University St. Louis. He is the author or editor of numerous works including The Cambridge Companion to John Dryden; Reading, Politics, and Society in Early Modern England; Refiguring Revolutions: Aesthetics and Politics from the English Revolution to the Romantic Revolution; The Cambridge Companion to English Literature: 1650-1740; and Lines of Authority: Politics and English Literary Culture, 1649-1689. Professor Zwicker has long worked to establish interdisciplinary teaching and research programs in the humanities and has collaborated extensively with historians of early modern England.