Masterclass dr Nigel Hamilton (University of Massachusetts)

Date: 19 September 2018
Time: 12.30-15.00
Venue: to be announced
Open to: Researchmaster- and PhD-students
Fee (non-members): €50
Credits: 1 ECTS (available upon request)
Registration: Maximum participants in this event: 20 Register before: June 1, 2018
Register here:

Biographical research as a corrective to historiography

On September 19, 2018, dr Nigel Hamilton, author of award-winning biographies of Fieldmarshall Montgomery, F.D. Roosevelt and J.F. Kennedy, will host a masterclass on his best practices as a biographer. This masterclass will take place during the conference Different Lives. Global Perspectives on Biography in Public Cultures and Societies (September 19-21, 2018). It will give Researchmaster- and PhD-students the opportunity to discuss the way biographical research can correct existing historiography. How can ‘agency’ be used as a hermeneutic device to compare the way different individuals acted during a certain time and place? By reading different samples from dr. Hamiltons biographies, students will investigate the structural incoherence between the agency of an individual, and the mentality of the time in which he or she was living. What makes historical practice comprehendible, if it is not related to some larger structure or development? Students will delve into the debate on what did biographers do to contribute to methodology of Microhistory, in which developments on a small scale can be an analytical framework for a more complex historical phenomenon.

Programme of the conference:

September 19, 2018

12.30-15.00: Masterclass by Nigel Hamilton
16.00-17.00: Opening lecture ‘Truth, Lies and fake truth. The future of biography’ by Nigel Hamilton

Day 1, September 20, 2018

10.15 – 11.30: Panel 1, convened by David Veltman

  1. Carl Rollyson (US)
  2. Evgeniya Petrova (Russia)
  3. Joanny Moulin (France)
  4. Sahar Vahdati Hosseinian (Iran)

11.45 – 13.00: Panel 2, convened by Joanny Moulin

  1. Hu Yan (China)
  2. Elsbeth Etty (the Netherlands)
  3. Daniel Meister (Canada)
  4. Indonesia (to be announced)

14.30 – 16.00: Roundtable discussion, convened by Jack A. Farrell
Topics: the political impact of the biography, the institutions and status of the biographer, the biopic, the categories of the biography (type of book, collection, paratexts, graphic novels), biography and orality.

  1. Lindie Koorts (South Africa)
  2. Doug Munro (Australia)
  3. Liubov Zhvanko (Ukraine)
  4. María Jesús González (Spain)
  5. Yannick Gouchan (Italy)

16.00 – 17.00: Keynote speech by Richard Holmes

17.30 – 18.00: Drinks

Day 2: September 21, 2018

9.30 – 10.45: Panel 3, convened by Madelon Franssen

  1. Liubov Zhvanko (Ukraine)
  2. Doug Munro (Australia)
  3. María Jesús González (Spain)

11.00 – 12.30: Roundtable discussion, convened by Hans Renders Topics: biography and censorship, biography and the history of the book, the critical reception of the biography, biography and psychology, biography and history.

  1. Carl Rollyson (US)
  2. Daniel Meister (Canada)
  3. Hu Yan (China)
  4. Elsbeth Etty (the Netherlands)

14.00 – 15.15: Panel 4, convened by Nigel Hamilton

  1. Lindie Koorts (South Africa)
  2. Yannick Gouchan (Italy)
  3. Jade Nguyen (Vietnam)
  4. Sahar Vahdati Hosseinian (Iran)

15.45 – 17.00: Public discussion, convened by Elsbeth Etty

17.00 – 19.00: Drinks

Preparation and proposed readings:

  • a selection of fragments of mr. Hamiltons biographies will be provided for the participating students in order to prepare the masterclass
  • students are required to prepare a short presentation (5 minutes) of the way a biographical approach to cultural history is incorporated in their research. Submit to; deadline: June 1, 2018

Credits & certificate:

Certificates of participation and credits are available upon request after the event. Event coordinators will decide whether the participant has fulfilled all requirements for the ECTS. Please direct your request to and include the postal address you want the certificate to be sent to. Note: the certificate itself is not valid as ECTS, you need to validate it yourself at your local Graduate School.

If you require assistance in booking your hotel or arranging your travels, you can reach the board in Groningen at You can buy early bird tickets until June 1 for 40 euros, or full-priced tickets for 60 euros afterwards. If you would like to join the conference dinner, you can reserve a place while booking for 60 euros. We will send out more information on booking as soon as possible.

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