Experimental Selves: Person and Experience in Early Modern Europe

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University of Toronto Press, Sep 10, 2018 - Europe - 419 pages

Drawing on the generous semantic range the term enjoyed in early modern usage, Experimental Selves argues that 'person, ' as early moderns understood this concept, was an 'experimental' phenomenon--at once a given of experience and the self-conscious arena of that experience. Person so conceived was discovered to be a four-dimensional creature: a composite of mind or 'inner' personality; of the body and outward appearance; of social relationship; and of time.

Through a series of case studies keyed to a wide variety of social and cultural contexts, including theatre, the early novel, the art of portraiture, pictorial experiments in vision and perception, theory of knowledge, and the new experimental science of the late-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the book examines the manifold shapes person assumed as an expression of the social, natural, and aesthetic 'experiments' or experiences to which it found itself subjected as a function of the mere contingent fact of just having them.

 

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Contents

Early Modern Persons and the Culture of Experiment
3
The Culture of Experiment and the Byways of Expression
42
Vision and Expression in Hoogstratens Peepshow
79
The Vicissitudes of Burckhardts Individual
134
The Invisible Hand in Ben Jonsons Bartholomew Fayre
178
The Poetics of Agency in Corneille Racine and Molière
215
Vraisemblance Extraordinaire in Lafayettes Princesse de Clèves
254
Aesthetics and Ontology in Diderot and Kant
286
Conclusion Person Experiment and the World They Made
331
Notes
335
Works Cited
383
Index
405
Copyright

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About the author (2018)

Christopher Braider is a professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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