Forum on 15 – Biography as a Concept of Thought: Biographical Research and Narrative

Date / Time

November 14, 2018

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Christian Klein, Bergische University Wuppertal
Max Kade Visiting Professor, Germanic Studies, UIC

Beginning with a discussion of the peculiarities of biographical work, this lecture will systematize the field of biography studies by differentiating several approaches before focusing on biographies as narratives. Although textual and other biographical narratives are unmistakably medial constructions, the contents presented are often received as “truth.” Which textual strategies do biographies use to evoke this mode of reception, and how do they try to realize it? Finally, the lecture will address the unique position of the biography between text and life as well as their intertwined interactions.

Christian Klein is currently Max Kade Visiting Professor in Germanic Studies at UIC. He teaches German Literature at the Bergische University Wuppertal, Germany. He studied German Language and Literature as well as Sociology at the University of Kiel (Germany) and at the Freie University Berlin (Germany) where he also completed his Doctorate in Comparative Literature. His PhD dissertation was a biography about the German author and playwright, painter and sculptor Ernst Penzoldt (2006). He has edited influential volumes that engage with theoretical questions concerning biographical research, including Grundlagen der Biographik (Fundamentals of Biographical Research, 2002) and Handbuch Biographie (Handbook Biography, 2009). In 2014 he published a study on cult books (Kultbücher. Theoretische Zugänge und exemplarische Analysen). In 2015 he was DAAD-Visiting Professor in German Studies at Monash University, Melbourne, and received a fellowship at the »Morphomata Center fur Advanced Studies« at the University of Cologne, Germany. In 2016 and 2017 he was Max Kade Visiting Professor at Michigan State University. In 2016 he published the first German-language textbook on comics (Comics und Graphic Novels – eine Einführung, with Julia Abel).

Part of the Forum on 15: Co-sponsored by the Department of Germanic Studies.

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