The finitude of personae
Bryce Lyon, François Louis Ganshof and the biography of Pirenne
in How to be a historian
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The chapter discusses a case of the maintenance of scholarly persona among US-American and Belgian medievalists. The case emerged around Bryce Lyon’s 1974 biography of Henri Pirenne and the mentoring he received in the writing of this work from Pirenne’s former student F. L. Ganshof, and it discusses relations between Lyon and Ganshof when Ganshof was a visiting professor in the USA in 1963–4. The chapter pursues the problem of the inbuilt finitude, the self-destructive tendencies of scholarly personae. It uses this pursuit to explore the question of whether the cultural form of the scholarly persona, as familiar from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, actually came to an end during the 1960s and 1970s. It tentatively argues in favour of this conclusion and adumbrates some of its possible consequences for the history of contemporary notions of selfhood.

Editor: Herman Paul


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