CFP: Women’s autobiographical writings in early modern Europe (8/1/19; RSA 4/2-4/20)

by Jessica C. Murphy

Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting

Philadelphia, 2-4 April 2020

Women’s autobiographical writings in early modern Europe

This session aims to explore the ways in which women wrote accounts of their lives in early modern Europe. Even though autobiography became a popular codified genre only later, writing about one’s own life was not a novelty, and was a relatively common practice in early modern Europe. During the Renaissance, several male authors wrote and often published testimonies and evaluations of their own lives in various forms. But how about women? Although in the early modern period we are more likely to find biographies of women written by men, rather than women’s autobiographies, there are some examples of female autobiographical writings that deserve attention. This panel aims to explore Renaissance women’s autobiographies, memoirs and literary texts clearly meant to give an account of the life of the author. Papers will discuss the ways, circumstances, and purposes for which Renaissance women presented themselves and their experiences. These and other questions and topics can be taken into consideration for your proposal:

  • Who were the authors? (e.g. laywomen, nuns? What was their social background?)
  • Who were the addressees? How were these writings received?
  • In which contexts and why were the texts written?
  • Were the texts meant to be private or public? Did they circulate? Where?
  • What emerges in these writings about the culture and beliefs of the authors?
  • What aspects of women’s life experience are emphasized?
  • Differences from men’s autobiographies
  • Connections between autobiographical writings and contemporary expectations regarding a woman’s life.
  • Similarities and differences between female autobiographies and contemporary biographies of famous women, hagiographies etc.
  • Literary models, if any, used.
  • Language and style.
  • Balance between truth, fiction and lies.
  • Spiritual autobiography

 

Your proposal should include a title, a 150-word abstract, key-words (up to five), a one-paragraph CV (max. 300 words). Please also indicate if you have any audio/visual requirement.

Please submit your proposal to Dr Eleonora Carinci eleonora.carinci@gmail.com by August 1, 2019.