In this seminar, we will focus on textual performances of selfhood in Early Modern literary – autobiographical and poetic – texts. We will read texts by Early Modern writers in the act of self-definition and authorization (e.g. Margaret Cavendish), we will investigate how author personae were invented, positioned, staged and reflected on incessantly in the creative process (e.g. Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson), and we will think about the forms, modes, and genres in which Early Modern writers wrote about (them)selves as well as about the audiences they wrote for – real, imagined, and hoped for.
In this seminar, we will join current debates about the “Early Modern self”: We will engage with Stephen Greenblatt’s New Historicist concept of “Renaissance self-fashioning”, Ute Berns’ performance studies’ notion of “solo performances”, studies on historicised Early Modern inwardness and interiority (Katherine Eisaman Maus) as well as discussions about Early Modern authorship.
Primary and critical texts will be provided at the beginning of the semester.