Every great man has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes the biography.
Biography is no longer the bastard of the humanities. (1) The genre suffered greatly under the influence of (post)structural theories which deny the idea of an autonomously acting subject, since exactly this subject is a necessity for any biographical approach. Presently, literary biography is mainly discussed in the fields of Literary Studies, Sociology, Psychology, and History, albeit with varying foci. (2) Still, there is not much research done on the systematic and theoretical framework of biography as a literary genre. (3) Helmut Scheuer's study on biography from the eighteenth century until today has established itself as the standard work in German Language and Literature Studies on this topic, and in 1999, Christian yon Zimmermann organized a conference about fictional biographies where the development of fiction was discussed within the scope of the debate about biography. (4)
At the international Women Biography Conference, there was vehement support for the renaissance of a criminally neglected genre, and biography's role in the fields of German, English, French, and Scandinavian literary studies was outlined. Following upon Zimmermann's 1999 conference, the Bern conference had its main focus on women's literature and gender research in connection with biography. Conference organizers Nina Ehrlich (Vienna) and Christian yon Zimmermann (Bern) provided the scientific frame within which the participants spoke about the wide-ranging topic. First, the focus was on those texts which deal with portraits of women, and therefore with specific concepts of womanhood. That is what united all the lectures. In addition, about a third of the lectures also shared a focus on texts written by women and/or written for a female audience.