New Books in the Arts & Sciences

Celebrating Recent Work by Alan Stewart

Wednesday, October 24, 2018  6:15pm The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room


Free and open to the public

No registration necessary

First come, first seated


The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities

Office of the Divisional Deans in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Department of English and Comparative Literature

Listen to the podcast here.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences:
Celebrating Recent Work by Alan Stewart

The Oxford History of Life Writing: Volume 2. Early Modern
By: Alan Stewart

The Oxford History of Life-Writing: Volume 2. Early Modern explores life-writing in England between 1500 and 1700, and argues that this was a period which saw remarkable innovations in biography, autobiography, and diary-keeping that laid the foundations for our modern life-writing. 

The challenges wrought by the upheavals and the sixteenth-century English Reformation and seventeenth-century Civil Wars moulded British and early American life-writing in unique and lasting ways. While classical and medieval models continued to exercise considerable influence, new forms began to challenge them. The English Reformation banished the saints' lives that dominated the writings of medieval Catholicism, only to replace them with new lives of Protestant martyrs. Novel forms of self-accounting came into existence: from the daily moral self-accounting dictated by strands of Calvinism, to the daily financial self-accounting modelled on the new double-entry book-keeping. This volume shows how the most ostensibly private journals were circulated to build godly communities; how women found new modes of recording and understanding their disrupted lives; how men started to compartmentalize their lives for public and private consumption. The volume doesn't intend to present a strict chronological progression from the medieval to the modern, nor to suggest the triumphant rise of the fact-based historical biography. Instead, it portrays early modern England as a site of multiple, sometimes conflicting possibilities for life-writing, all of which have something to teach us about how the period understood both the concept of a 'life' and what it mean to 'write' a life.


  • Author

    Alan Stewart

    Professor of English and Comparative Literature

    Columbia University

  • Chair

    Molly Murray

    Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature

    Columbia University

  • Speaker

    Julie Crawford

    Mark Van Doren Professor of Humanities, Chair of Literature Humanities

    Columbia University

  • Speaker

    Thomas Dodman

    Assistant Professor of French

    Columbia University

  • Speaker

    Nigel Smith

    William and Annie S. Paton Foundation Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature

    Princeton University


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