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Biography (from the Greek words bios meaning "life", and graphos meaning "write") is a genre of literature and other forms of media such as film, based on the written accounts of individual lives. While biography writing, also called legacy writing, may focus on a subject of fiction or non-fiction, the term is usually in reference to non-fiction. As opposed to a profile or curriculum vitae, a biography develops a complex analysis of personality, highlighting different aspects of it and including intimate details of experiences. A biography is more than a list of impersonal facts like birth, education, work, relationships and death. It also delves into the emotions of experiencing such events.

Multi-media forms

With the technological advancements created in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, multi-media forms of biography became much more popular than literary forms. Visual and film images were able to elaborate new dimensions of personality that written forms could not. The popularity of these forms of biography culminated in the creation of such cable and satellite television networks as A&E, The Biography Channel, The History Channel and History International. Along with documentary film biographies, Hollywood produced numerous commercial films based on the lives of famous people.

More recently, CD-ROM and online biographies are appearing. Unlike books and films, they often do not tell a chronological story; instead, they are archives of many discrete media elements related to an individual person, including video clips, photographs, and text articles. Media scholar Lev Manovich says that such archives exemplify the database form, allowing users to navigate the materials in many ways (Manovich 220).

History and cultural context of the biographical form

The purpose of biographies varies with their historical and cultural context and may be seen as acts of social construction.

Main article: History and cultural context of biographies

Biographies of notable psychologist

Many eminent psychologists have had biographies written about them

Main article: List of biographies of notable psychologists

Here on the Psychology Wiki we can develop biographies of these and others. In time most prominent psychologists will have their own article which can be fleshed out in as much detail as we think appropriate. In particular we should be able to archive video interviews with people detailing their life and times. See:

See also


  • Casper, Scott E. Constructing American Lives: Biography and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.
  • Heilbrun, Carolyn. Writing a Woman's Life. New York: Ballantine Books, 1989.
  • Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.
  • Stone, Albert E. Autobiographical Occasions and Original Acts. Philadelphia: University of Pennnsylvania Pres, 1982.
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