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The Literary Biography of Emotion: The Passion of Authorial Possession

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Date: 16 - 17 August, 2013
Venue: Riverview Room, Emmanuel College, UQ
Presenter: Dr Gordon Turnbull, General Editor, Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell
Note: applications close 24 May, 2013

This advanced research seminar surveys representative moments in the historical trajectory of English literary biography, the specialized subset of life-writing in which writers seek to author the lives of other writers. Pivoting on the developments pioneered by James Boswell (1740-1795), who converted his autobiographical diaries (so much the record of a 'hypochondriack', or depressive) into the monumental and still-controversial Life of Johnson (1791) that produced literature's best-known permanent possessive ('Boswell's Johnson'), the seminar will look back to earlier practitioners (Izaak Walton, John Aubrey), and Johnson himself in his 'Prefaces, Biographical and Critical' (Lives of the Poets), forward to such nineteenth- and twentieth-century figures as Elizabeth Gaskell (The Life of Charlotte Bronte) and Richard Ellmann (James Joyce), and to contemporary developments in electronic and online forms of dispersal of the (auto) biographical subject as the outcomes of earlier versions of celebrity culture and the consequent imitative longing for personal fame. Attention will be given to the emergence of biographical accounting in the propagandistic passions of the English Civil War, and to their after-echo in Johnson's biographies of poets on emotionally opposite sides of it (Cowley and Milton,) to Boswell's encounters with Adam Smith's Scottish Enlightenment theories of 'sympathy' in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), and to the emotional investments attached to the emergence of the modern professionalised literary biographer.

Download the flyer for further details

 

Places for this advanced research seminar are strictly limited. Applications close 24 May 2013.
To apply, email the following documents to Penny Boys:

• An academic curriculum vitae, maximum two pages.
• A one-page cover letter describing your research interests and explaining
how the seminar will benefit your research.
• A brief academic reference (from a supervisor or senior colleague).

Limited financial support is available for students and researchers travelling from the greater Queensland area and interstate, and will be allocated on a competitive basis. If you wish to be considered for such support, please make a note of this in your cover letter.