Biography as ‘proper’ history

Earlier this year, Jonathan Steinberg asked ‘Why has biography become respectable as a form of history?’, in a fascinating article published in Times Higher Education. He links this development to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the consequent impact on ‘the social science model of history’. This model had ‘ignored the power of human personality’, and biography is now addressing this failing. He concludes that ‘Biography can … be proper history if it asks the kinds of questions that an academic historian can define and offers evidence to support the answer’.

The article is a fuller exposition of Steinberg’s earlier post on the OUPblog, ‘Is biography proper history?’

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