American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Biography and the Practice of History: A Public Seminar

Published March 30, 2011

As biographies top bestseller lists and take up ever more shelf space at chain bookstores, some academic historians hold these popular publications at arm’s length and decry their narrow approach and lack of rigor. But what are the possibilities and limitations of biography as a medium for communicating history? As part of a series of public seminars on the presentation of the past, on December 20, 2005, ASHP/CML will host a conversation about history and biography at the City University of New York Graduate Center. A panel of historians and publishing professionals will address how scholars use biography as a form in interesting ways, recent publishing trends toward biographies of historical figures, and the tensions between the practice of academic history and the pressures of publishing and public tastes. Panelists will include:

  • Jennifer Fleischner, Professor of English at Hofstra University and author of Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckley: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First Lady and a Former Slave
  • David Greenberg, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University; author of Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image, and columnist for
  • David Nasaw, Distinguished Professor of History, The Graduate Center, CUNY, and author of The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst
  • Wendy Wolf, Executive Editor, Viking Penguin
  • Tuesday, December 20, 2005, 6 – 8 pm

Martin Segal Theatre, The Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 Fifth Avenue (between 34th and 35th Streets)
(Cosponsored with the Center for the Humanities)

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