March 3, 2021

Drowning in Biography & Losing Meaning

I believe that autobiography and biography are important when it comes to conducting research. Auto/biography provides background information and allows individuals to gain better understandings of literary texts. However, when using this form of research it’s important to be logical and cautious. As Evans stated, there are facts that we as researchers will never truly know. When using biography researchers should be aware that some information is the writers’ interpretation of their subjects. Researchers must take the time out to conduct thorough research and sort out opinions by evaluating facts. For example, over the Summer I took a Major Authors course that was centered on Virginia Woolf. There were various biographies written on her that presented her as a woman who was completely unstable. Many critics of her work focused on her mental illness which caused them to miss the greater purpose of her writing, like objections to war and sexism. There are times where mental illness is the subject of Woolf’s writing but critics were so consumed with her personal experience that couldn’t see the bigger picture. Many Woolf critics would say she included mental illness in her writing simply because she was ill rather than realizing she was trying to create awareness of the fact there are other people in the world struggling with this issue and had been overlooked by society. Many of my classmates became consumed in Woolf’s mental illness which ultimately hindered there ability to conduct useful research. Their consumption supports Evan’s claim that when using research as a tool some people fail to separate their own “fantasies” or beliefs from their research. I personally find auto/biography research very important when conducting research. However, it’s important not to become so consumed in it that you miss what the author’s message.

Through learning in the Bedford Chapters that Shakespeare enjoyed reading and what specific books were of interest to him it can show how his writing was influenced and shaped. In Chapter 1 “Shakespeare ‘Shakespeare’ and the Problem of Authorship” strives to separate facts from fiction and I believe this is the best way to use auto/biography as a research method. In the section titled the “The Anti-Stratfordians” where the author evaluates Shakespeare’s credibility. He takes the time to look at why people during that time would question Shakespeare’s authorship and then he reveals how the counterarguments to these claims use facts to reinstate his credibility. Auto/biography plays a key part in research, but it is only one piece to the puzzle.

One Response to “Drowning in Biography & Losing Meaning”
  1. Veda,
    Great connections here–to Woolf and to specific chapters of Bedford. My one suggestion would be adding page references for the Bedford so that you can locate specific ideas more easily when it comes time to review.

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