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Withdrawn Module: History and Literature of the Self, 1700 to the Present Day (HI387)

maryevans_image.jpgPlease note that this module was available
until 2010, but has since been
withdrawn and is no longer available.


Tutor: Professor Carolyn Steedman

This undergraduate final-year Advanced Option module, as with all Advanced Options, involves the study of broad ranging historical themes in a comparative and/or interdisciplinary context. You should expect an Advanced Option to operate at a more sophisticated conceptual level than first or second year modules.

Over the past twenty years 'the self’ has become a key concept in the social sciences. At the same time, history has taken one of its many turns (think of 'the linguistic turn’, 'the 'cultural turn’ etc) in the subjective turn. 'History and Literature of the Self’ focuses on the history of a concept (the Self) and the sources available historians for writing its history. So the approach is a dual one: the history of a concept, or an idea, and a history of kind of selfhood that people have been able to construct for themselves in the modern period.

Other terms connected to the idea of self-construction are subjectivity, identity and personhood: how have people living in different historical period understood themselves as people (as characters or personalities)? How have they conceived of the way they got to be the kind of people they were? The module will interrogate the ideas of self-construction and of 'writing the self’. It will scrutinise the idea that self-writing (or autobiography) is the only source historians have in undertaking investigations like these.

'History and Literature of the Self’ complements modules in the area of British and European history, the history of the Americas, and India, from about 1700 onwards; but you are actively encouraged (in consultation with the module tutor) to base one of your essays on the self and self-writing in any period or place.