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Research question and methodology

The project revolves around an overarching Research Question: what historical circumstances favored the development of this new genre, bound to become key in the construction of a canon of major national literatures (Dante being the case in point)?

Conceptually, we look at self-exegesis as a means to story authorial individuality. Neuro-and cognitive science demonstrated that human beings regularly develop concepts of themselves in response to embodied experiences of the world. The self is not something that is discovered at any time in history. What might be subject to innovation are the discursive forms and the socio-cultural setting in which the self finds expression. In this respect, auto-commentaries show us best how medieval authors negotiate their own historical and social identity through and in their textual production by assuming the position of an external reader. They are linked to a set textual practices - editing, redacting, anthologizing, teaching – that are not present to the same extent in other self-reflective discourses.

Chronologically, we shift the focus from the late 13th-early 14th to the 11th-12th centuries.

Geographically, we expand the boundaries of research to Byzantine and Arabic literary productions. The results will impact research on intellectual history in the 11th and 12th centuries, overcoming a merely western European perspective.


Last Updated 15.04.2021