Past event

English Research Seminar -- Professor James Simpson Unwriting Virtue, Selves and Texts: Early Modern Self-Erasure

The tradition that became Liberalism, which claims to have promoted meritocracy and individual agency, was, in both evangelical origin and in 150-year tradition thereafter, unremittingly hostile to the claims of human merit and agency upon God. In early modern elegiac poetry, especially that of George Herbert, I observe the attempted dissolution of evangelical selfhood and the inevitable twin of that desired dissolution: the unravelling of discursive confidence that must accompany, and perhaps produces, the desire for self-dissolution. Elegiac writing unwrites itself.