A New Reality: Writing Across Gaps and Thresholds in Biography

Patrick Mullins

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contribution

Abstract

In 1999, American biographer Edmund Morris famously and controversially inserted a fictionalised version of himself into what was expected to be a thoroughly conventional biography of Ronald Reagan. Arguing that the true Reagan could not be depicted through the techniques of orthodox biography, Morris suggested that by virtue of his research he ‘had, in a sense, been there’ throughout Reagan’s life; that he had become in effect Reagan’s ‘döppelganger’. As such, Morris argued, he was well positioned to write a ‘memoir’ of Reagan that drew on this knowledge, fictionalised though the mode of narration was: hence the resultant text, Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan. Morris’s work in Dutch is perhaps the most extreme and radical example of the many ways that biographers may approach the gaps and thresholds of writing another person’s life. This paper explores the techniques used by biographers to surmount these and consider how the failure of these techniques to illuminate his subject spurred Morris to the radical approach found in Dutch.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMinding the Gap: Writing Across Thresholds and Fault Lines: The Refereed Proceedings Of The 19th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, 2014, Wellington NZ
EditorsGail Pittaway, Alex Lodge, Lisa Smithies
Place of PublicationOnline
PublisherThe Australiasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP)
Pages1-15
Number of pages15
Volume1
ISBN (Print)9780980757385
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventMinding the Gap -Writing across thresholds and fault lines: 19th Australasian Association of Writing Programs Conference, AAWP 2014 - Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
Duration: 30 Nov 20142 Dec 2014
http://www.aawp.org.au/annual-conference/19th-annual-conference/

Conference

ConferenceMinding the Gap -Writing across thresholds and fault lines
Abbreviated titleAAWP2014
CountryNew Zealand
CityWellington
Period30/11/142/12/14
Internet address

Fingerprint

Ronald Reagan
Biographer
Memoir
Narration
Conventional
Person

Cite this

Mullins, P. (2015). A New Reality: Writing Across Gaps and Thresholds in Biography. In G. Pittaway, A. Lodge, & L. Smithies (Eds.), Minding the Gap: Writing Across Thresholds and Fault Lines: The Refereed Proceedings Of The 19th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, 2014, Wellington NZ (Vol. 1, pp. 1-15). Online: The Australiasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP).
Mullins, Patrick. / A New Reality: Writing Across Gaps and Thresholds in Biography. Minding the Gap: Writing Across Thresholds and Fault Lines: The Refereed Proceedings Of The 19th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, 2014, Wellington NZ. editor / Gail Pittaway ; Alex Lodge ; Lisa Smithies. Vol. 1 Online : The Australiasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP), 2015. pp. 1-15
@inproceedings{4fbd6e2c0f2548a0a2df2f72632a02cb,
title = "A New Reality: Writing Across Gaps and Thresholds in Biography",
abstract = "In 1999, American biographer Edmund Morris famously and controversially inserted a fictionalised version of himself into what was expected to be a thoroughly conventional biography of Ronald Reagan. Arguing that the true Reagan could not be depicted through the techniques of orthodox biography, Morris suggested that by virtue of his research he ‘had, in a sense, been there’ throughout Reagan’s life; that he had become in effect Reagan’s ‘d{\"o}ppelganger’. As such, Morris argued, he was well positioned to write a ‘memoir’ of Reagan that drew on this knowledge, fictionalised though the mode of narration was: hence the resultant text, Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan. Morris’s work in Dutch is perhaps the most extreme and radical example of the many ways that biographers may approach the gaps and thresholds of writing another person’s life. This paper explores the techniques used by biographers to surmount these and consider how the failure of these techniques to illuminate his subject spurred Morris to the radical approach found in Dutch.",
keywords = "Writing, Biography",
author = "Patrick Mullins",
year = "2015",
language = "English",
isbn = "9780980757385",
volume = "1",
pages = "1--15",
editor = "Gail Pittaway and Alex Lodge and Lisa Smithies",
booktitle = "Minding the Gap: Writing Across Thresholds and Fault Lines: The Refereed Proceedings Of The 19th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, 2014, Wellington NZ",
publisher = "The Australiasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP)",

}

Mullins, P 2015, A New Reality: Writing Across Gaps and Thresholds in Biography. in G Pittaway, A Lodge & L Smithies (eds), Minding the Gap: Writing Across Thresholds and Fault Lines: The Refereed Proceedings Of The 19th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, 2014, Wellington NZ. vol. 1, The Australiasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP), Online, pp. 1-15, Minding the Gap -Writing across thresholds and fault lines, Wellington, New Zealand, 30/11/14.

A New Reality: Writing Across Gaps and Thresholds in Biography. / Mullins, Patrick.

Minding the Gap: Writing Across Thresholds and Fault Lines: The Refereed Proceedings Of The 19th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, 2014, Wellington NZ. ed. / Gail Pittaway; Alex Lodge; Lisa Smithies. Vol. 1 Online : The Australiasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP), 2015. p. 1-15.

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contribution

TY - GEN

T1 - A New Reality: Writing Across Gaps and Thresholds in Biography

AU - Mullins, Patrick

PY - 2015

Y1 - 2015

N2 - In 1999, American biographer Edmund Morris famously and controversially inserted a fictionalised version of himself into what was expected to be a thoroughly conventional biography of Ronald Reagan. Arguing that the true Reagan could not be depicted through the techniques of orthodox biography, Morris suggested that by virtue of his research he ‘had, in a sense, been there’ throughout Reagan’s life; that he had become in effect Reagan’s ‘döppelganger’. As such, Morris argued, he was well positioned to write a ‘memoir’ of Reagan that drew on this knowledge, fictionalised though the mode of narration was: hence the resultant text, Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan. Morris’s work in Dutch is perhaps the most extreme and radical example of the many ways that biographers may approach the gaps and thresholds of writing another person’s life. This paper explores the techniques used by biographers to surmount these and consider how the failure of these techniques to illuminate his subject spurred Morris to the radical approach found in Dutch.

AB - In 1999, American biographer Edmund Morris famously and controversially inserted a fictionalised version of himself into what was expected to be a thoroughly conventional biography of Ronald Reagan. Arguing that the true Reagan could not be depicted through the techniques of orthodox biography, Morris suggested that by virtue of his research he ‘had, in a sense, been there’ throughout Reagan’s life; that he had become in effect Reagan’s ‘döppelganger’. As such, Morris argued, he was well positioned to write a ‘memoir’ of Reagan that drew on this knowledge, fictionalised though the mode of narration was: hence the resultant text, Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan. Morris’s work in Dutch is perhaps the most extreme and radical example of the many ways that biographers may approach the gaps and thresholds of writing another person’s life. This paper explores the techniques used by biographers to surmount these and consider how the failure of these techniques to illuminate his subject spurred Morris to the radical approach found in Dutch.

KW - Writing

KW - Biography

M3 - Conference contribution

SN - 9780980757385

VL - 1

SP - 1

EP - 15

BT - Minding the Gap: Writing Across Thresholds and Fault Lines: The Refereed Proceedings Of The 19th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, 2014, Wellington NZ

A2 - Pittaway, Gail

A2 - Lodge, Alex

A2 - Smithies, Lisa

PB - The Australiasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP)

CY - Online

ER -

Mullins P. A New Reality: Writing Across Gaps and Thresholds in Biography. In Pittaway G, Lodge A, Smithies L, editors, Minding the Gap: Writing Across Thresholds and Fault Lines: The Refereed Proceedings Of The 19th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, 2014, Wellington NZ. Vol. 1. Online: The Australiasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP). 2015. p. 1-15