The Return of Biography: Reassessing Life Stories in Science Studies

Organiser: Dr Boris Jardine (Science Museum, Curator of History of Science)
Commentator: Prof. Ludmilla Jordanova (University of Durham)
Date: 18 July 2013
Location: The Science Museum, London

To coincide with the biographical exhibition Codebreaker: Alan Turing's Life and Legacy, the Science Museum invites participation in a one-day workshop on the role of biography in science studies.

The lived life serves as an organising principle across disciplines. We talk of the biographies of things and places, and we use personal narratives to give shape to history. Biography is central to historians' work but often unacknowledged and untheorised: it is used to inspire and to set examples and to order our thinking about the world, but is a primarily a literary mode; biographies written for popular audiences provide material for the most abstruse work across disciplines; and the canon of well-known lives dictates fashions in research.

For historians of science, technology and medicine this is a particularly pressing issue: their discipline is founded on the 'great men' account of discovery and advance, and, though that has long since been discarded, the role of the individual in historical narratives has not diminished, and heroic tales have themselves become a legitimate subject of inquiry. For writers and researchers in other fields, the question remains: how do the lives of individuals intersect with cultural trends and collective enterprise?

Please click the link below to download the programme for the day and evening event:

The Return of Biography – Programme 

Please visit our online booking page to book places.

If you prefer to make the booking via the telephone, please call our Call Centre on 020 7942 4000 and quote The Return of Biography conference on 18 July.

If you have any questions, dietary requirements or accessibility requirements, please contact us at