Listed in: English, as ENGL-95
Ingrid L. Nelson (Section 04)
Did medieval and early modern people think of themselves as individuals? What aspects of their personal experience did they record, and why? This seminar will examine medieval and Renaissance records of private experience, in the genre of autobiography or, to use its medieval name, confession. Reading writers as varied as Shakespeare, Chaucer, Augustine, and Anne Askew, we will explore the many varieties of confessional literature and life-writing that were available to and invented by early authors. As we examine first-person, experiential texts written in the centuries before “autobiography” became a well-defined genre, we will ask: What constitutes confessional literature? How do these texts bear on the construction of Western ideas of the individual? How do gender and class inform representations of individual experience? Texts not in English will be read in translation; Middle English and Renaissance English texts will be read in student-friendly editions with substantial notes.
Prior knowledge of Middle English helpful, but not required. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Nelson.
If Overenrolled: Preference given to senior and junior English majors.