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Interfacing Biography, Theory and History: The Case of Erving Goffman

Symbolic Interaction

Published online on


This study aims to show that much of Erving Goffman's writing is crypto‐biographical and that key turns in his intellectual career reflected his life's trajectory and attempts at self‐renewal. The case is made that Goffman's theoretical corpus reflects his personal experience as a son of Russian–Jewish immigrants who struggled to raise himself from the obscurity of Canadian Manitoba to international stardom. The concluding section describes the Erving Goffman Archives and the contribution that the large database of documents and biographical materials assembled therein can make to biocritical hermeneutics, a research program focused on the relationship between biography, theory, and history.