Appel à communication : « The (in)human self across early modern genres: textual strategies. 1550-1700 » (Galway, août 2016)

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, nature morte l'Homme-potager, vers 1590, CrémoneRecent studies on early modern constructions and representations of the self, the body and the human suggest a reappraisal of the notion of selfhood in terms of an unbounded – for example with respect to animals, or the in-human space of technology – and vulnerable form. As Cynthia Marshall noted: ‘Even as significant discourses were effecting the emergence of the modern autonomous self, an alternative textual tradition made available another way of thinking about subjectivity’ (The Shattering of the Self, 2002).

Critical attention has recently been paid to the role of the early modern technological innovations in the construction of the self and, if Stephen Greenblatt used technology mainly as a metaphor in his influential Renaissance Self-Fashioning (1980), Adam Max Cohen ( Technology and the Early Modern Self , 2009) considered the role of actual objects of technology in the fashioning of the self. How can we reconsider the early modern conceptions of the human and the inhuman (the elemental, the animal, technology)? How are we to read the textual assertions and dissolutions of the early modern self? How do we shape our critical appraisal and reinventions – for example in present performances of early modern plays – of those constructions?

We invite papers that, through readings of early modern texts and cultural artefacts, look for what we may term ‘counter-acts’ of the self and alternative constructions and representations of selfhood, and address the question of what representing the self means, what purpose it serves and what it entails in terms of generic and textual strategies.
The discussion is open to various genres, including drama, poetry, romances, histories and memoirs, prose and verse polemics, pamphlets and newspapers, religious pieces, visual arts, etc. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following issues:

– Autonomy and unboundedness in the rhetoric and performativity of the self;
– Writing and reading in the construction of the self;
– Space and self;
– Shaping the self / staging oneself / self-fashioning in the different genres;
– The human (the finite; the angelic on earth) and the inhuman (the infinite or universe; the animal, the vegetable and the mineral)
– reconsidering the Great Chain of Being;
– Representations/constructions of the vulnerable self;
– Technologies of the self.

Please send your proposals (250 words) to the three convenors by February 28th 2016:
Jean-Jacques Chardin ( )
Anna Maria Cimitile ( )
Laurent Curelly ( )

The (in)human self across early modern genres: textual strategies 1550-1700
session du congrès 2016 de la Société ESSE (European Society for the Study of English),
 Galway, 22-26 août 2016. 

Organisateurs de la session :
Jean-Jacques Chardin, Université de Strasbourg (France)
Anna Maria Cimitile, Universita degli studi di Napoli « L’Orientale » (Italie)
Laurent Curelly, Université de Haute-Alsace, Mulhouse (France)


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