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Biography and Fiction Conference 2015


Jointly sponsored by the
Dictionary of Canadian Biography
and the
Department of History, University of Toronto


Saturday, February 7, 2015
9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Alumni Hall, Victoria College, University of Toronto
91 Charles Street, Toronto (near Museum station)


Each talk will be 40 minutes long, followed by a 20-minute Q & A session


9:30 a.m. | Opening remarks: David A. Wilson, General Editor,
Dictionary of Canadian Biography


9:40 a.m. | Margaret Atwood: “Whose Life Is It Anyway?”

10:40 a.m. | Coffee break


11:00 a.m. | Renée Hulan: “Marguerite de Roberval: Biographies of a Legend” 

12:00 p.m. | Lunch (make own arrangements)


1:30 p.m. | Natalie Zemon Davis: “Biography, Fiction, and the Historian’s Craft”

2:30 p.m. | Coffee break


2:50 p.m. | Mark McGowan: “When Biography Meets Clio’s Imagination: Michael Power and a Cast of Characters”

3:50 p.m. | Closing remarks: Nick Terpstra, Chair, Department of History, University of Toronto


There is no registration fee, and an RSVP is not required.

For inquiries:  michael.wilcox@mail.utoronto.ca


About the Presenters


MARGARET ATWOOD is the author of more than 40 books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her latest work is a book of short stories called Stone Mattress: Nine Tales (2014). Her newest novel, MaddAddam (2013), is the third in a trilogy, the second being The Year of the Flood (2009) and the first being the Giller- and Booker Prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003). Other recent publications include The Door, a volume of poetry (2007), Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008), and In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011). Additional titles include the 2000 Booker Prize-winning The Blind Assassin; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Robber Bride; Cat’s Eye; The Handmaid’s Tale; and The Penelopiad. Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

RENÉE HULAN teaches Canadian literature at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. She is the author of Canadian Historical Writing: Reading the Remains (Palgrave, 2014) and Northern Experience and the Myths of Canadian Culture (McGill-Queens, 2002). From 2005 to 2008, she served with Donald Wright as editor of the Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes. She is also the editor of Native North America: Critical and Cultural Perspectives (ECW, 1999) and, with Renate Eigenbrod, Aboriginal Oral Traditions: Theory, Practice, Ethics (Fernwood, 2008).

NATALIE ZEMON DAVIS is the Henry Charles Lea professor of history emeritus at Princeton University, where she also served as director of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies. She is also adjunct professor of history at the University of Toronto. Earlier in her career she taught at the University of Toronto and the University of California at Berkeley. A social and cultural historian of early modern times, she has written 200 articles and is the author of eight books that have been translated into several foreign languages: Society and Culture in Early Modern FranceThe Return of Martin Guerre (she also served as historical consultant for the French film Le Retour de Martin Guerre), Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and Their Tellers in Sixteenth-Century FranceWomen on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century LivesThe Gift in Sixteenth-Century FranceSlaves on Screen: Film and Historical VisionA Passion for History, and Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds. A former president of the American Historical Association, she is the recipient of several international prizes, including the 2010 Ludwig Holberg International Prize in the Humanities, the 2012 National Humanities Medal in the United States, and the 2014 Gold Medal in History from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has been awarded honorary degrees from various universities, including Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge, the Université de Paris-Sorbonne, and, in Canada, the University of Toronto and Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 2012, she was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.

MARK G. McGOWAN served as principal of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto from 2002 to 2011. He is a professor of history, specializing in religion, ethnicity, education, and media. He has written many award-winning books and articles, and has been the recipient of four university teaching awards. He is currently working on a book on Irish Catholics in Canada and the Great War and another on religion and broadcasting in Canada.