CfP: Auto/Biographies of Politicians in Modern European History (Publication: European Journal of Life Writing); DL: 15.05.2014

Cluster, planned by Tiina Kinnunen, Kirsti Niskanen, Anneke Ribberink, Angelika Schaser in 2014/15. To be published in the European Journal of Life Writing (EJLW) (Web)

Politicians all over Europe used and use to write about their lives. Classical autobiographies written by politicians themselves (and their co-authors or ghost-writers) are published widely. Often the autobiographers intend to contribute to political and historical analyses. Life writing has changed and diversified rapidly during the 20th century, taking place not only in hard copy, but in many different media, like radio, film, television, blogs, and other new social media. So it seems a good moment to look how the genre of autobiography of politicians has changed during the 20th century.

Related to this field of autobiographical writing, we are looking for articles which raise the question and discuss how politicians and leaders of social movements position themselves in public and create their professional and political identity. In this regard, the following questions can be addressed:  What kind of social and cultural repertoires were presented to be necessary for making a political career during the 20th century? Which interactions were set in motion between autobiographical narratives and their readers? How is gender created, represented or ignored in these texts? Which similarities and differences can be found in the autobiographical narratives between different political systems, European states, male and female politicians, politicians of different social class, religion, and age? What tensions become apparent between political traditionalism, collectivism, and individuality?

However, not do only politicians publish about their lives, but also academics and non-academics, like journalists, publish widely on the lives of politicians. Related to the academic field, we welcome articles that discuss how historians and political scientists use the autobiographies of politicians. Do scholarly biographers use them as “authentic sources”, or as “scientific texts”, written by experts, or do they seek for identity constructions in and political intentions behind these autobiographical texts? What is the function of biographical articles and books on politicians in modern historiography?

We welcome articles that discuss the cultural patterns and practices used by autobiographers, on the one hand, and by biographers, on the other hand, as well  as narrative structures and strategies that have been adopted in both genres. How were politicians represented by historians and other biographers, included journalists? What does a seemingly gender neutral way to write history mean in a field as politics, which is marked by a pronounced gendered character? Does this way of describing politics make it more difficult for women (and other minorities in the political field) to walk their way to top positions?

Please submit a 250-word abstract in English and a short biographical note by May 15, 2014 to Dr. Monica Soeting, journal manager,  email:

Please include your name, institutional affiliation, and email address. If selected, you will be asked by  June 15  to write an article of no more than 7,000 words , which will go through a peer-review process in order to be published. We cannot guarantee the publication of all articles from the selected abstracts. The dead line of the articles is December 15, 2014.

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