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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

История субъективности и история автобиографии: Важные обновления

С. 369-393.

The article traces new theoretical approaches to the study of the history of subjectivity and the history of autobiography as two interdepended topics. Its introductory part sketches some basic characteristics of the traditional approach to these topics originated in the humanities of the second half of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries. The main part of the article introduces theoretical novelties that most strongly affected new scholarship of the field: emergence of the constructivist concept of the subject; development of the model of “autobiographical subject;” occurrence of new signifiers of the research subject; viewing both “the history of subjectivity” and “the history of autobiography” in inter- and transcultural perspectives; and interpretation of autobiographical texts as social practices.

The traditional approach is based on three main assumptions: 1) the history of the individual (personality, the self or subject) and the history of autobiography is inseparably, «naturally» linked to each other: transformations of the individual in time results in transformations of autobiographical forms it produces; 2) this development has progressive character: closer to our own time his self becomes more advanced and complex, as well as autobiographical testimonies it produces; 3) despite of its historical variability, the individual (personality, the self or subject) are essentially ontological substances.

The first update of this approach is mirrored in terminological changes. Instead of earlier common notions, researchers started using new ones that compete with traditional: egodocument, Selbstzeugnis, l’écrit du for privé, life-writing. The second update is directly connected to problematization of the subject in post-classical philosophy and, correspondingly, to reconceptualization of traditionally accepted relations between the subject and autobiography. It treats the earlier “self-evident” relations between the autobiographical narrative and the subject as a problem. The third is linked to the critics of Eurocentrism in the study of the history of subjectivity that started in 1980-s under the influence of anthropological and postcolonial studies. It proposes to approach autobiographical testimonies in the concrete historic and cultural contexts of their appearance, and their composition as special forms of human activity more or less common to all historical periods and cultures. The final update suggests paying a special attention to the social reality beyond the texts and argues that this reality not only shapes their meanings but their very appearance. 

In book

История субъективности и история автобиографии: Важные обновления
Edited by: В. Н. Порус СПб.: Алетейя, 2014.