This course examines diverse modes of textual self-representation (autobiographies, diaries, letters) from the early modern period to the present. Particular emphasis is placed on seventeenth-century autobiographical texts as it was in this period that life writings of various kinds began to proliferate. We look into the historical, cultural and ideological reasons that explain this proliferation and seek to understand the complex interactions between these self-representations and the world within which they were produced. We follow a similar process of interpretation in the study of texts from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and we will conclude with a brief look into contemporary self-representations in social media (facebook, twitter, etc.). Students will also have to study a number of critical texts on theoretical issues related to the “construction” of the self and autobiographical writing.
Students will be evaluated on the basis of a final exam and optional in-class presentations.