The Art of Resurrection

Affectivity and Afterlives in Historical Biofiction



Cognitive poetics, Biographical fiction, Historical fiction, Narratology, Resonance


This paper explores the ways in which writers of biofiction manipulate the tools of narrative to generate fictional representations of real historical figures and broker an affective relationship between the reader and the protagonist of the text. Narratological perspectives offered by Dorrit Cohn and the methodology of cognitive poetics advanced by Peter Stockwell inform analysis of recent exemplars of the genre, including Kate Grenville’s A Room Made of Leaves (2020), Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague (2020), and Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light (2019). Particular attention is paid to the authors’ use of tense, structure, and narrative point of view as practical techniques for ‘resurrecting’ the dead. I argue that the felt response to the protagonist is part of the immersive experience of fiction generally but biofiction in particular, making the genre a powerful medium for shaping the afterlives of historical figures.

Author Biography

  • Amanda Beckett, Independent Scholar

    Amanda Beckett is an English teacher, and a writer of short stories, creative non-fiction, and children’s literature. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing and Literature from Deakin University and won the 2021 Armadale Writers’ Award. She is currently completing a manuscript for a work of biofiction.







How to Cite

The Art of Resurrection: Affectivity and Afterlives in Historical Biofiction. (2023). C I N D E R, 64-75.