Self-Writings and Egodocuments. Personal memoirs in Catalonia (16th-19th centuries)

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Abstract: Autobiography, personal memoir, for privé, “self-writing”, journals, memoirs... everybody is aware of the importance of this literature but also of its limits. These limits derive from difficulties with terminologies, language and academic disciplines. In recent years, all this has led to a discussion of terminologies and concepts, which, independent from their use and possibilities according to each language, have been commonly accepted. This certainly would be the case of “egodocuments”, as you can see from most existing online data bases; or also, what in English corresponds to first person writings, personal memoirs or self-writing. If there is a subject that stands out as eminently interdisciplinary, without exaggerating its use because it is fashionable, it is precisely the study of personal writings, and especially so for the early modern period (fifteenth to nineteenth centuries). By the end of the 1990s, the subject of “personal memoirs” from the Catalan early modern period has become important among historians and philologists, and their interest has crossed borders. Catalonia has become a focus of international research because of the quantity and quality of the documents found there so far, as compared to England or France, and similar to Italy. This phenomenon is due to cultural, political, and even social reasons. Personal memoirs are generally written in first person. They are an individual exercise or at the most a family tradition when it extends over several generations. Defining the authors is complicated because, although there is a body of urban “autobiographies” and the first documents are related especially to members of urban guilds, merchants, notaries, students, etc., the Catalan personal memoirs stand out for proliferating in the rural world as well. - Book Description: Autobiography is a long-established literary modality of self-exposure with commanding works such as Augustine’s Confessions, Rousseau’s book of the same title, and Salvador Dalí’s paradoxical reformulation of that title in his Unspeakable Confessions. Like all genres with a distinguished career, autobiography has elicited a fair amount of critical and theoretical reflection. Classic works by Käte Hamburger and Philippe Lejeune in the 1960s and 70s articulated distinctions and similarities between fiction and the genre of personal declaration.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInscribed Identities. Life Writing as Self-Realization (ed. Joan Ramon Resina), London, Routledge, 2019, 232p.
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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