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The making of the self : life writing in the English Renaissance

Mousley, Andrew (1990) The making of the self : life writing in the English Renaissance. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86059) (KAR id:86059)


The term autobiography did not exist in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. If, as I argue in the thesis, autobiography is itself a difficult genre to place, then texts which precede the moment of their formal classification as autobiographies would appear to pose an even greater problem of categorisation. At the same time, an exploration of texts which can be thought of as belonging to a pre-history of autobiography offers the possibility of excavating the problematic archaeology of autobiography itself. Central to my analysis of the life texts examined in the thesis is the very problem of classification: how to class or situate oneself, and, more broadly, how to make sense of a variable social existence. The Autobiography of Thomas Whythorne, The Memoirs of Robert Carey, The Life of Sir Thomas Bodley, the Loose Fantasies of Sir Kenelm Digby, each, in different ways, negotiates this problem. The absence of genre demarcations and the heterogeneous movement of the lives and writings of the individuals whose texts I explore, is mirrored in the mosaic organisation of the thesis itself. I do not restrict myself, for example, to an analysis of texts which more or less correspond to later notions or formal definitions of autobiography. Thus, together with the analyses of the disparate social and textual materials which are later classified as autobiographies, are discussions of news books, news diaries, commonplace books, and the romance autobiography and scientific treatises of Kenelm Digby. Although I trace developments towards career specialisation, and relate these developments to the emergence of a new information system, and to the conception of lives and life histories as reliable, documentary objects, the thesis does not itself attempt to offer a systematic record, or unifed developmental master-narrative of the period. The key thematic strand running through the thesis of a variable self's orientation to a variable social world is resistant to the idea that subjectivity and self-consciousness emerge as lucid or uniform categories

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86059
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Uncontrolled keywords: Autobiographies in the 16th and 17th century
Subjects: A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship. The Humanities
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
L Education > LA History of education
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature on music
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:26 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 10:35 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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