As a historical and literary genre, the biography has gone through a metamorphosis over the past decades. Until fairly recently, its usual shape consisted of a chronological narrative, from the cradle to the grave, fixed mostly on a more or less autonomous development of the person being described. That has changed significantly: not only is the strict adherence to chronology no longer a given, biographies increasingly focus on a particular aspect of a person’s life. Alternatively, historians seek to investigate someone’s life as part of a wider historical question, be it cultural, economic, or social. And finally, the very term “biography” is often being used in a much broader sense: we see biographies not only of people, but also of objects, geographical features, and even events.
Meanwhile, the digital revolution has radically changed the nature of the information that researchers are interested in. This has had some repercussions for the way in which researchers, archivists, and curators interact. Research questions have become less unified and predictable, and have put new demands upon the way in which collections and archives are organized. As a consequence, the interaction between those that control objects and information, and those that seek to query it, has changed significantly.
Conference on the trends in scientist biographies and its consequences for curators, archivists and researchers of university and scientific collections.
Organized by the Dutch Foundation for Academic Heritage (SAE), Maastricht University, and the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Royal Net. Acad. Sc).
For more information visit the SAE website.