What are bioi/vitae? Generic self-consciousness in ancient biography

Adams, S. A. (2021) What are bioi/vitae? Generic self-consciousness in ancient biography. In: De Temmerman, K. (ed.) Oxford Handbook of Ancient Biography. Series: Oxford handbooks. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198703013

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This chapter highlights how the ancients approached and discussed genres, with a focus on the role of biography within the larger genre system. The ancients not only had a robust concept of genre, but they distinguished each genre by the inclusion, exclusion, and arrangement of specific formal features. Although these features are typically used to distinguish one genre from another, certain genres have elements in common. This ‘genre overlap’ of formal features strengthens genre relationships and influences the development of genre hierarchies. In particular, the chapter focuses on the relationship between biography and history. Biography was a recognized genre form and ancient biographers, particularly those in the later empire, actively sought to situate themselves within this tradition. Originally, biography was defined by its authors in light of discussions of history; however, as time progressed, biographers showed a growing awareness and promotion of the ongoing tradition of this literary genre. This genre awareness allowed ancient biographers to define their task in light of representative authors who had preceded them and to cease defining themselves in contrast to another genre.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Adams, Professor Sean
Authors: Adams, S. A.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Publisher:Oxford University Press
Published Online:01 December 2020

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