Classical criticism, in a chapter titled "Peripatetic Biographical Criticism", George Alexander Kennedy notes that in the Hellenistic age, "The works of authors were read as sources of information about their lives, personalities and interests. Some of this material was then used by other commentators and critics to explain passages in their works. The process became a circular one in that, though Peripatetic biographers utilized external evidence where available, they had little to go on and quarried the texts for hints".
The emergence of Biographical approach essay influenced an approach to biography Biographical approach essay extended this notion beyond the individual dimension, such as the works of Alphons Silbermann on the life of the composer Jacques Offenbach and Norbert Elias on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  Biography as a form of access to larger groupings[ edit ] The biographical method as a research approach to understand larger groupings was used as sociological material by Florian Znaniecki and William Isaac Thomas in the s.
After their work, the biographical approach was considered amongst the dominant research approaches in empirical social research.
The study The Polish Peasant in Europe and America — by Znaniecki and Thomas used an extensive collection of diaries, letters, memoirsautobiographiesand other personal and archival documents as main source for a sociological investigation. The reception of this work was initially late due to linguistic barriers, but it was then absorbed and disseminated in the Social Science Research Council SSRC.
The biographical research approach formed an important foundation for the development of the Chicago Schoolwhich later influenced the symbolic interactionism and the work of sociologists such as Robert E. ParkErnest W. Burgessand George Herbert Mead.
Another milestone in the development of biographical research was the analysis of the life course of delinquent youths written by Clifford R. Shaw in  and The biographical approach influence was felt mainly in the study of deviance.
InAaron Victor Cicourel published a case study on the life history of a boy named Mark, that received special attention in the discipline of social work.
Recent Biographical Research[ edit ] Since the s, biographical research gained momentum in the wake of a growing interest for qualitative social research. This development was supported by a tendency to shift the sociological focus from system and structure to the lifeworldthe everyday lifeand the resurgence of phenomenological approaches in sociology under the influence of Edmund Husserl.
The sociology turned to the reconstruction of biographical cases and individual life courses as a form to gain insight on social processes.
With the increasing pluralization of life-worldsmodernizationand differentiation in Postmodern societiesthe dissolution of traditional values and the conference of meaning, the biographical approach proved useful to study these social phenomena of the turn of the millennium.
In this situation, the self-discovered biographical identity with its endangered transitions, breaks, and status changes becomes a conflict between institutional control and individual strategy.
The reconstructive approach in biographical research, which is connected to the phenomenological and Gestalt approaches, was methodologically developed by the German sociologist Gabriele Rosenthal. Rosenthal used principles of the method of objective hermeneutics and the reconstructive analysis of Ulrich Oevermannand the Gestalt and structure considerations proposed by Aron Gurwitsch and Kurt Koffka to develop a method for the reconstruction of biographical cases.
The decision to reconstruct cases is in itself an approach to the field rather than a specific research method. Biographical research does not use a single method for data analysis. Many use content analysis to analyze the biographical data.
The diversity of biographical sources turns an inductive approachas used in quantitative social research, unfruitful.
The logic of an abductive reasoning process is preferred by many researchers that use the biographical approach. The principles of a grounded theory as in Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss  are often applied alongside a biographical research.
The questions regarding the possibility to use individual cases to create scientifically valid generalizations arise from the use of the abductive reasoning.
This is que question of the sustainability of abductive conclusions as in Charles Sanders Peirce. The abductive conclusion that biographical cases are socially relevant and bear general patterns of behavioractionand interpretation in them is common in sociological practice, although some think that it is not yet fully developed.
Different approaches to the development of typologies exist, as well as for the contrastive comparison between types in order to allow for theoretical generalizations see Uta Gerhardt, ; Gabriele Rosenthal, ;  and Susann Kluge, . Interpretations and constructions of meaning are of utmost importance to reconstruct a biographical case, as the actions and the self-interpretation of these actions by the individual turns his own biography into a coherent totality.
Based on empirical experiences with narrated life history and using the research method of biographical narrative interviews, the method of biographical case reconstruction has developed in the last decades in fields that range from the study of migration  to professional careers and healthcare.
Reconstruction of the Latent Structures of Meaning[ edit ] The question of the construction of meaning leads to the questions of the subjectively intended and the objective meaning. Ulrich Oevermann says that an actor in a situation of interaction produces more meaning than he is aware of.
Therefore, some researchers consider the task of the biographical research to be the reconstruction of both types of meaning — the intended and the objective.
Thus, behind individual action lies a direction and a framework for action. The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge.Biographical Criticism: This approach “begins with the simple but central insight that literature is written by actual people and that understanding an author’s life can help readers more thoroughly comprehend the work.” Hence, it often affords a practical method by which readers can better understand a text.
Biographical information should only deepen the message that is already in the text. The reader must be careful to not rely on this biographical information too heavily in his understanding of the work (Kennedy )/5(5). Biographical research is a qualitative research approach aligned to the social interpretive paradigm of research.
The biographical research is concerned with the reconstruction of life histories and the constitution of meaning based on .
Amaris Baxter Langston Hughes; "Mother to Son" 1) 's; Realism 2) Biographical Theory of Criticism 3) Post-structural Theory of Criticism Through the literary works of Langston Hughes, it is clear to see that he uses his own style and language to portray realistic traits/5(5).
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