Biography and Beyond: The Reanimation of Mary Shelley

Bedford, Alison ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6708-9896 (2016) Biography and Beyond: The Reanimation of Mary Shelley. In: Forgotten Lives/Biography: A Symposium (2016), 28 April 2016, Toowoomba, Australia.

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Abstract

The restorative power of biography in recognising ‘forgotten lives’ is well established. In the field of literary criticism, this has led to the rediscovery of many writers and works now considered canonical. One of the most successful biographical recuperations is of Mary Shelley, who was lifted from her husband’s shadow by the feminist biographers of the 1980s (Spark, Poovey, Gilbert and Gubar). However, this paper will argue that once biographical recuperation has (re-)established critical interest, it is possible to go beyond biographical approaches, which identify figures worthy of study, in order to reanimate these figures and make new offerings to the existing body of criticism as well as broader theoretical approaches. As such, although biographers have recognised Shelley as an important Romantic figure and the progenitor of the science fiction genre, this paper goes beyond that to assert that her work provides an understanding of science fiction as a discursive space. In presenting this new view of Shelley as a founder of discourse, I will demonstrate the potential long-term benefits of recovering forgotten figures through biography. Consideration of how place, time and personality shape authors can enrich our understanding of the emergence of new cultural forms, such as science fiction, and also give insight into the formation of discourses that reach beyond genre. In viewing Shelley as a founder of discourse we witness the ultimate power of biography: when it restores figures worthy of study and so gives critics the opportunity to go beyond biography and assess the emergence of new cultural forms and offer new insights into the discourses that underpin how we engage with our modern world.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Speech)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication (1 Jul 2013 - 28 Feb 2019)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication (1 Jul 2013 - 28 Feb 2019)
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2022 22:54
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2022 04:35
Uncontrolled Keywords: biography; literary criticism
Fields of Research (2020): 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430303 Biography
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470504 British and Irish literature
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470514 Literary theory
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1302 Communication > 130203 Literature
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280116 Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/50684

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