The Shallow End of History? The Substance and Future of Political Biography

  title={The Shallow End of History? The Substance and Future of Political Biography},
  author={Lucy Riall},
  journal={Journal of Interdisciplinary History},
  • Lucy Riall
  • Published 2010
  • Sociology
  • Journal of Interdisciplinary History
The Great Man tradition of political life-writing in Britain originated in the Dictionary of National Biography (which commenced publication in 1882) and continues to this day in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The commercial popularity of the genre has persisted despite the challenges of post-structuralism and the rise of cultural and gender history. Contemporary political biographers who wish to incorporate new methodologies in their work, however, could approach the lives of… Expand
Biography, history, agency: where have all the 'great men' gone?
AbstractFrom the 19th century, the biography has stood at the heart of the Western historical enterprise. The 'great men' of history have been valorised as the sources of change in the world. Yet,Expand
Awkward Prods: biographical studies of Progressive Protestants and political allegiance in Northern Ireland
ABSTRACT Through studies of four individuals, this article will explore the utility of biography as a method of disentangling strands of political allegiance in Northern Ireland during the era of theExpand
Political Memoirs and New Labour: Interpretations of Power and the ‘Club Rules’
This article uses the Westminster Model to construct a framework for interpreting the nature of power relations presented in British political memoirs, one that emphasises the role of ‘historicalExpand
Biography as a Source and a Methodology in Humanities Research
This study discusses whether a biography can function as a source and a methodology in the research of humanities. Taking biography as a source, researchers of humanities can use a collection ofExpand
Narrating the Archive? Family Collections, the Archive, and the Historian
This article seeks to open a discursive space in which to reflect on issues of Holocaust historiography arising from emerging research on personal archives collected by ‘ordinary’ people in relationExpand
Writing the Life of Ronald Reagan: An Impossible Mission?
Abstract:Few American academics have written biographies of Ronald Reagan. The field remains wide open and is dominated by conservative hagiographers, the political reporter Lou Cannon, and anExpand
Where's the Omelet? Bad King Deng and the Challenges of Biography and History
Stalinists legitimized their methods by saying “you can't make omelets without breaking eggs.” Others might ask, “you broke lots of eggs, but where are the omelets?” These three biographies of DengExpand


The new biography: performing femininity in nineteenth-century France
"The New Biography" looks at the life stories of eight famous women in nineteenth-century France who became public figures even though they lived in a society that did not encourage women to speakExpand
Fathers of the Nation? Bismarck, Garibaldi and the Cult of Memory in Germany and Italy
This essay explores the origins and functions of two national father figures, Bismarck and Garibaldi, in modern Italy and Germany. Although fundamentally different in character and political outlook,Expand
Contemporary History in Biography
Biography and the systematic demographic approach can be of great value in all fields of modern history, where the abundance of records opens up possibilities of investigation denied to theExpand
Works on Paper: The Craft of Biography and Autobiography
Michael Holroyd opens this volume with a startling attack on biography, which is answered by two essays on the ethics and values of non-fiction writing. The book then goes on to examine the work ofExpand
On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History
The greatest and most enduring of the prophets of the Victorian era, Thomas Carlyle was prescient about the importance of heroism in defining a nation's ambition and character. First published inExpand
The Houses of History: A Critical Reader in Twentieth Century History and Theory
1. The empiricists 2. Marxist historians 3. Freud and psychohistory 4. The Annales. 5. Historical Sociology 6. Quantative history 7. Anthropology and ethnohistorians 8. The question of narrative 9.Expand
Mapping Lives: The Uses of Biography
Richard Holmes: The Proper Study? Kay Ferres: Gender, Biography, and the Public Sphere Sergei Averintsev: From Biography to Hagiography: Some Stable Patterns in the Greek and Latin Tradition ofExpand
Garibaldi: Invention of a Hero
Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian revolutionary leader and popular hero, was among the best-known global figures of the nineteenth century. This book seeks to examine his life and the making of hisExpand
Shelley the Pursuit
A fantastic reissue of Richard Holmes' epic biography of this most enigmatic and intriguing of the Romantic poets. This is simply one of the greatest biographical achievements of recent years.Expand
Habermas and the public sphere
The relationship between civil society and public life is in the forefront of contemporary discussion. No single scholarly voice informs this discussion more than that of Jurgen Habermas. HisExpand