Read Thyself: Cultural Self-reflection and the Relevance of Literary “Self”-labels

Florian Lippert, Marcel Schmid

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    In recent political philosophy and sociology, self-reflexivity has been described as an indispensable condition for secularized democratic societies. In epistemology, it has been discussed as a key characteristic of human thinking. In this introduction, we discuss how literature connects both traditions by illustrating, demonstrating, and performing self-reflection in numerous forms. We provide an overview of the most important research on literary “self”-labels since the 1960s, from discourse criticism and deconstruction to narratology and systems theory, and we outline a conceptual and terminological framework for contemporary analyses. In contrast to clichéd ideas of postmodern “playfulness,” literary self-reflexivity has a crucial critical potential, as Michel Foucault suggests in his early texts: It can subvert hegemonic “allocritical” discourses and deconstruct dominant narratives and metaphors of exclusion. Providing a kaleidoscopic panorama of different forms, functions and genres of literary self-reflection, and presenting a variety of specific approaches tailored to analyze them, this volume demonstrates how the realms of aesthetic self-reference, cultural self-reflection, and human self-understanding interconnect, and which epistemological, social, and political consequences can be drawn from their analyses.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSelf-Reflection in Literature
    EditorsFlorian Lippert, Marcel Schmid
    Place of PublicationLeiden
    Number of pages20
    ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-40711-4
    ISBN (Print)978-90-04-40693-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Publication series

    NameInternationale Forschungen zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft


    • self-reflection
    • self-reference
    • literature
    • politics
    • society
    • philosophy
    • democracy
    • Bauman
    • Foucault

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