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Writing Lives: Biography and Prosopographical History - 10 credits (HST803)

The writing of biography has long been central to the historical profession, but its origins, nature and influence often go unrecognized and unexplored. This course is designed to examine the nature and range of biographical approaches to the writing of the past, and to examine their impact on a variety of historiographies. The writing of past lives has often focused on the ‘Great Men” of history, and this course will encourage students to examine some examples of such studies and to unpick the kinds of techniques, selections and interpretations on which subsequent evaluations have rested. In addition, the course will examine the nature and utility of collective biography (prosopography) in a wide variety of historical fields, and look to identify the possibilities and problems of such an approach in interpreting the past.