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Medieval Self-Commentaries Beyond Europe

From the margins to the Self

The 13th and 14th centuries show an increased awareness of the mechanisms underlying literary creation. Shifting notions of authorship, with an emphasis on the representation of the subject in the text, are integral to a large-scale process involving both Latin and vernacular literatures across Europe. The emergence of self-commentaries, i.e. commentaries penned by the authors themselves on their own works and designed for publication, is regarded as the result of such new awareness. Dante’s Vita Nova and Convivio, Bocaccio’s Teseida or Gower’s Confessio Amantis stand out, but the phenomenon is found widely across Europe and beyond, from the Middle-East to the Netherlands. What is more, it is a phenomenon that starts way before the 13th century in the broader Mediterranean area. This project will therefore re-assess the rise of auto-commentaries in Medieval Europe, with a new emphasis on transnational, diachronic and socio-material factors, challenging current dominating narratives on authorship and the self in late medieval Europe.

The project is funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark.