CFP: [Renaissance] "Styling the Self: Rhetorical Performance in Early Modern Investigative Prose" RSA 2009 (5/21/08)

full name / name of organization: 
Stephanie Shirilan
contact email: 

Papers sought for Panel at RSA annual meeting March 19-21 2009, Los Angeles
and Malibu, Ca.

Styling the Self: Rhetorical Performance in late Early Modern Investigative

This panel seeks papers that explore conventions for authorial
self-representation in the literature of late Renaissance natural inquiry.
It is a commonplace that natural philosophical and proto-scientific writing
leading up to the establishment of the Royal Society did not disciplinarily
distinguish literary from non-literary work. Studies of literary techniques
such as allegory and metaphor have produced canny analyses of how early
modern investigations about the body coded political theory and vice versa.
But the question of the authorial self has received less attention. In
particular, the contrivance of the authorial persona as a mask or machine
for the transmission of voices (the voices of cited authority, the voice of
the narrator, the voice of the biographical author) has not been as widely
considered. This panel will examine the role of the literary persona in
early modern treatises of the body and the world as they are constructed
through conventions of rhetorical performance.

We are seeking papers that respond to the following questions:

How do the writers of early modern treatises on the body and the world
style their own narrative personae using metafictional devices that inhere
or depart from earlier models?

What kinds of technologies and ideologies of the self are employed in these
authorial performances?

How is the authorial voice constructed and transmitted as a voice of
authority? How does it regulate its relationship with the audience and
define the purpose of the narrative?

What kinds of conventions do these writers use to stage and represent
processes of cognition and intellectual discovery?

To address these questions, we hope to draw together panelists interested
in representations of the self in early modern investigative, natural
philosophical, proto-scientific treatises and exploratory prose. Papers
that consider the influence of earlier traditions are welcome, especially
insofar as they engender understanding of the relationship between
ontologies and epistemologies of the self in contemplative and
investigative discourses.

Please submit 250 word abstracts and a brief CV to both Stephanie Shirilan
( and Julia Staykova ( by May 21.

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Received on Tue May 13 2008 - 10:10:44 EDT