The Ages of Man and the time of memory: structuring lives in early modern autobiographical narrative.
28 Nov 2017, 17:30 to 28 Nov 2017, 19:30
IHR Peter Marshall Room, N204, Second Floor, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Kate Hodgkin , University of East London
This paper explores the chronological frameworks that shape early modern life narratives. If the widespread model of the ages of man implies a balanced progression through equal stages, the structuring of memories and lives in autobiographical writing is much less even than this would imply. In spiritual autobiography especially, childhood is often barely mentioned; markers of life stages (marriage, parenthood) are subordinated to the narrative of inward growth. At the other end of the life cycle, reflections on bodily changes and the processes of ageing are equally rare. At the same time, in so far as autobiographical narrative is predicated on the structured representation of personal memories, these narratives do propose some kind of sequence and shaping process, even if this is often to a greater or lesser degree formulaic. In this discussion, then, I consider some of the ways in which these life narratives remember and represent the passage of time, and what this suggests about how early modern people imagine the shape of their lives.
Chair: Tim Reinke-Williams
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