Daily Archives: May 17, 2013

‘Biography and history’ by Barbara Caine


2010,  124p & notes

This is only a small book and would have fitted well into that ” Very Short Introduction to ….” series put out by Oxford University Press.  As it is, it is part of Palgrave Macmillan’s series on ‘Theory and History’ which aims at introducing undergraduate students to themes like transnationalism, gender, narrative, postmodernism etc. and history.   It is very clearly written, and while the experience of reading it is enhanced if you are familiar with some of the biographies that she describes (as I am) , it stands in its own right as a review of the methodological and narrative questions raised by the relationship between history and biography.

Barbara Caine was Professor of History at Monash University and is now at the University of Sydney.  Many academics working in biography come from the literary studies area, rather than history.  Her projects and publications testify to her long and deep experience with biography, autobiography and history, and the ways to approach an individual life as an exercise in historical methodology. Continue reading