1st Edition

An Introduction

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after July 7, 2021
ISBN 9780367747633
July 7, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
192 Pages 2 Color Illustrations

USD $42.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Biofiction: An Introduction provides readers with the history, origins, evolution, and legitimization of biofiction, suggesting potential lines of inquiry, exploring criticisms of the literary form, and modeling the process of analyzing and interpreting individual texts. Written for undergraduate and graduate students, this volume combines comprehensive coverage of the core foundations of biofiction with contemporary and lively debates within the subject. The volume aims to confront and illuminate the following questions:

• When did biofiction come into being?

• What forces gave birth to it?

• How does it uniquely function and signify?

• Why has it become such a dominant aesthetic form in recent years?


This introduction will give readers a framework for evaluating specific biofictions from writers as varied as Friedrich Nietzsche, George Moore, Zora Neale Hurston, William Styron, Angela Carter, Joyce Carol Oates, and Colm Toibin, thus enabling readers to assess the value and impact of individual works on the culture at large. Spanning nineteenth-century origins to contemporary debates and adaptations, this book not only equips the reader with a firm grounding in the fundamentals of biofiction but also provides a valuable guide to the uncanny power of the biographical novel to transform cultural attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs.

Table of Contents




The Nineteenth Century Origins

  1. The Art of Agential Living
  2. Portraits of Whom?
  3. Figure One

    Figure Two


    Literature, Cultural Critique, and Political Liberation

  4. Biofiction as Social Critique
  5. The Irish, the Unslave Trade, and the Decolonization of the Mind
  6. The 1930s and the First Surge in Biofiction
  7. III.

    Literary Debates

  8. The Assault on Biofiction
  9. The William Styron Controversy
  10. Postmodernism’s Historiographic Metafiction or Biofiction’s "Truth" Proposals?
  11. John Edgar Wideman on the Ethics of Fictionalizing a Life in Biofiction
  12. IV.

    The Uncanny Power of Biofiction

  13. Biofiction as Cultural Intervention: The Case of Sally Hemings
  14. The 1990s: The Decade of Biofiction’s Official Legitimization and Dominance
  15. The Transformative Powers of Biofiction for Students: A Case Study of David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl

View More



Michael Lackey is Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota Morris, and a scholar of twentieth and twenty-first century intellectual, political, and literary history. He has authored and edited ten books, mostly about biofiction, including Truthful Fictions and Conversations with Biographical Novelists, which contain interviews with some of the world’s most famous biographical novelists. He has also guest-edited many special issues about biofiction for journals like a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, Éire-Ireland: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Irish Studies, Mississippi Quarterly, and American Book Review.