Robert Bearman’s book Shakespeare’s Money (2016) can be considered the first economic biography of William Shakespeare; but it is also the latest specimen of an innovative trend in Shakespeare biography which has come to the fore over the last ten years or so. While the vein of cradle-to-grave biographies seems to be exhausted, new attention is being devoted to parts of Shakespeare’s life, with an attitude that has been seen as ‘microhistorical’ or ‘disintegrationist’. The article will discuss this new kind of sensitivity to biography in general and Shakespeare biography in particular. It starts out by addressing certain developments in the theory and practice of life writing during the second half of the twentieth century, which are today becoming ever more substantial; it then examines the progress of Shakespeare biographies and, in particular, how the issue of money has been tackled since Nicolas Rowe first dealt with it.
Portraits of an Economic Persona
Marnina Gonick and Susanne Gannon
In June 2011, seven feminist academics gathered to spend a week working together on a collective biography workshop in a small resort town, called Hawk’s Nest, in New South Wales, Australia. Some of us were senior faculty with prior experience with the methodology of collective biography, others were freshly minted or about to be minted PhDs who were totally new to the research methodology. Some of us knew each other from other contexts, and others were meeting for the first time. We were from five different university institutions, working in a range of fields in schools of Education.
A case-study of Russian scholars
This article investigates Russia's relationship with the West in the 1990s and 2000s by analyzing changes in a specific segment of the contemporary global economy—the academic sphere. It traces how the social sciences and the humanities in Russia have evolved from relative insularity and hierarchy during the Soviet era to a more complex web of multiple local institutions, setting their own rules, alongside powerful international agents. Assuming that individual trajectories can make objective spatial structures visible, the article analyzes the biographies of three young Russian scholars, collected in 2004 and 2005 during a research project in the anthropology of science. Patterns of academic migration and intellectual exchange with the West are presented here as providing clues to the spatial structure of the Russian scientific field and its place in the global academic economy. The article concludes with a discussion whether these findings may be generalized to other spheres, and applied not only to Russia but to other post-Soviet states caught in-between the First and the Third Worlds.
Marnina Gonick and Susanne Gannon (eds). 2015. Becoming Girl: Collective Biography and the Production of Girlhood. Toronto: Women’s Press.
Girls as Mothers in Contemporary Russia
In this article, I analyze 30 biographical interviews with women who had given birth to a child before they turned 18. I discuss the discursive work that these girls do to develop their maternal practices as good and correct, and to normalize early motherhood in their biography in general. The informants see having a child as a line of discontinuity between their disadvantaged childhood and their self-reliant autonomous adulthood. At the same time, they define the idea of good motherhood not only through the internalization of, and compliance with, the dominant cultural codes, but also by relying on the biographical experience they have had.
Ivan Jablonka and the Life of a Nobody
This article assesses the work of best-selling French historian Ivan Jablonka by setting his work in the context of biographies of ordinary people and by evaluating the success of his stated goal of reconciling lifewriting with social sciences. The article attempts to explicate his methodology of “searching for what is already found,” and considers the relevance of the critique of historicism in general articulated by some branches of the social sciences. It concludes that there is more to restorative biography than merely an explanation of causality.
Eva Gore-Booth, A Biographical Case Study
In 1925 Virginia Woolf described, with a hint of humor, how biography “is only at the beginning of its career; it has a long and active life before it, we may be sure—a life full of difficulty, danger, and hard work.“ 1 Recent debates suggest that one difficulty in writing a biography is deciding just what issues should be included. Sexuality may not always be of primary importance for a biographical study, but what if a subject's homosexuality is willfully ignored or vehemently denied by a biographer? Using the life of Irish poet and political activist Eva Gore-Booth as a case study, this article examines how misnaming Gore-Booth's relationship with her partner, Esther Roper, has helped to erase both women from the histories of Ireland and England.
Duress and Upwardly Mobile Youth in the Biography of a Young Entrepreneur in Enugu
What does duress mean in the lives of those who are not by definition understood to be living in duress—namely, upwardly mobile young people in a relatively peaceful city in southeast Nigeria? In this article, I try to answer that question by presenting the life story of Azu, a young designer in Enugu who has made his way out of a poverty-stricken background through a relatively successful entrepreneurship. His biography, based on interviews and observations, and partially through a shared experience of constraint in Nigeria, serves as an example of duress in the lives of those who—by family, educational background, or career success—are considered “well-off” compared with most youths in the country. I argue that duress for these youths is informed by social expectations due to their acquired status as much as by the sociopolitical uncertainties that they have been confronted with throughout their lives.
A report on my experience with Shakespeare: A Life may not be generally useful, but I shall touch on factors that are changing our view of literary biography. It helps to refer to oneself and to the matter of a biographer’s outlook and feelings, no matter how deplorable the feelings. Of course, what a biographer thinks or feels is irrelevant, in one sense.We don’t care what you may have felt, for heaven’s sake; we judge your work! That is proper as far as it goes, but outlook and preparedness count in this field and so I shall allude to those. My general view is that biography thrives when we regard it as highly sophisticated, entertaining, and moving, and able to depict as much about life as works of fiction can. This genre has a certain relation to music and painting in its possible intensity. ‘All that is not useful’, says Matisse, ‘is detrimental to the effect’; the same applies to biographical narratives. Shakespeare’s life offers a special challenge, but not for any dire lack of evidence. Much depends on what use is made of abundant facts about Tudor Stratford, for example, and so on a personal attitude. My early attitude to Shakespeare was romantic and poor. For some time I thought of him as semi-divine, or as being ‘more than a man’. If I liked ‘Prufrock’, that was for its Hamlet allusions mainly. Later at University College in London, I was taken aback when my supervisor asked me to read something besides Shakespeare before trying to write a PhD thesis on the tragedies. I wrote two plays, both staged by London groups, but reviewed harshly in student newspapers, except for a remark to the effect that ‘Honan is incapable of writing anything but duologues, rather like Shakespeare in Two Gentlemen of Verona’. Finally I wrote a thesis on Browning partly because ‘Caliban upon Setebos’ reminded me of The Tempest.
From Biography to History
This article is an attempt to shed more light on the topic of state socialist feminism in Eastern Europe by focusing on part of the biography of one of the most visible women’s activists and political functionaries in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe after 1944, Tsola Dragoicheva. It should be considered as a contribution to the ongoing debate regarding the character of state socialist measures toward women and the “gender contract” in the countries of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe between 1944 and 1989. It does not pretend, however, to cover and evaluate Dragoicheva’s entire life (or to agree with everything she did) or to create an exhaustive picture of state socialist measures toward women in Bulgaria (nor does it underestimate the significance of structured gender inequalities, which often remain unnoticed); rather, it discusses some facts and procedures dealing with “women’s issues” that researchers have only vaguely covered so far. The study is based on various archival materials from Bulgarian and international archives, and on the periodical press from the period under consideration, oral history interviews, and scholarly publications relevant to this topic. It is part of an ongoing project on Gendering Balkan Nation-States.