Forms of Individuality and Literacy in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods

Through case studies of a broad variety of medieval and early modern sources, this volume discusses whether the roots of modern notions of individuality can be found in pre-modern Europe.

‘Individuality’ is one of the central categories of modern society. Can the roots of modern individuality be found in pre-modern times? Or is our way of thinking about ourselves a very recent phenomenon? This book takes a theoretical approach to the problem, derived from Niklas Luhmann’s system theory, in which different forms of individuality are linked to different structures of society in modern and pre-modern times.

The papers in this volume approach this problem by discussing a broad variety of medieval and early modern sources, including charters and seals, letters, and naming-practices in a late medieval town. Self-representation is also considered, in ‘housebooks’ and drawings. Textual studies include autobiography in German Humanism, and concepts of individuality and gender in late medieval literary texts.

Table of Contents


Conceptualising Pre-Modern and Modern Individuality: Some Theoretical Considerations—FRANZ-JOSEF ARLINGHAUS

Bodily Practices as an Expression of ‘Individuality’ in the Letters of Liselotte von der Pfalz (1652-1722—MAREIKE BÖTH

Loci of Medieval Individuality: A Methodological Inquiry—BRIGITTE M. BEDOS-REZAK

Hetero-Reference and Heterology: Autobiographical Writing, Individuality, and Gender on the Threshold of the Modern Period—EVA KORMANN

Expressing Your Self in Later Medieval England: Individuality and Social Differentiation—DAVID GARY SHAW

‘Individuality’, Relationships, Words about Onesself: Autobiographical Writing as a Resource (Fifteenth-Sixteenth Centuries) –Konrad Pellikan’s Autobiography—GABRIELE JANCKE

Individuality and Narration: The Cases of Ulrich von Liechtenstein, Helene Kottanerin, and Johannes Tichtel—MATTHIAS MEYER

Kinship as Catalyst of Individuation in Sixteenth-Century German House Books: A Reconsideration of Niklas Luhmann’s Approach to Pre-Modern Individuality—GREGOR ROHMANN

Me, Myself, and My Name: Naming and Identity in the Late Middle Ages—CHRISTOF ROLKER

Body and Time: The Representation of the Naked and Clothed Self in Religious, Social, and Cosmological Orders (Matthäus Schwarz, -)—HEIKE SCHLIE

Dialogue Situations: Considerations on Self-Identification in the Middle Ages—SABINE SCHMOLINSKY

Forms of Individuality and Literacy in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods

F.-J. Arlinghaus (ed.)
VIII+317 p., 2 b/w ill. + 13 colour ill., 156 x 234 mm, 2015
ISBN: 978-2-503-55220-0