The Ancient and Modern Traditions of Introspective Analysis (Part 1) (Panel)


Comparative Literature / Classics

Andrés Orejuela (Graduate Center, CUNY)

In a letter to Lucilius, Seneca distinguishes between a person's being and "the trappings in which he is clothed," urging his interlocutor to "consider [the] soul" in order to distinguish true being from false appearance. In addition to the distinction he makes between being and appearance, Seneca indicates here an analytical tool by which Lucilius can learn to see beyond illusory appearances in order to comprehend the true nature of things (animum intuere). Seneca's instrumental approach constitutes a major component of the Ancient tradition of introspective analysis: across genres ancient authors such as Virgil, Propertius, Martial, Horace, Tacitus, Plato, and Aristotle performed similar analyses. This tradition was further developed under Christian influence in Augustine's Confessions, Dante's Divine Comedy, Michel de Montaigne's Essays, Baltasar Gracián's Art of Wordly Wisdom, and Blaise Pascal's Thoughts. This concern with introspection, self-examination, and duplicitous, often misguided, and hidden motivations persists in modern novels such as Proust's Remembrance of Things Past and Juan Goytisolo's Count Julian.

We welcome papers that examine any aspect of the Ancient and Modern traditions of introspective analysis across any historical, national, and linguistic contexts, including, but not limited to, papers on drama, novels, and maxims that address the following questions:

--What is the relationship between the Ancient and Modern traditions of introspective analysis? How do they differ or cohere?
-- How do particular genres lend themselves to forms of introspective analysis? Are the genres themselves subject to self-analysis?
--What narrative devices are common when performing introspective analysis in literature? How do dreams, monologues, and maxims figure into greater narrative structures?
--What role do the passions play in producing, complicating, or stifling the process of introspective analysis?
--Does critical theory in any form contribute to our understanding of introspective analysis within literature? How does reader response or psychoanalytic criticism interact with literary introspective analyses?
--Of particular interest are papers on the Joseph story in Genesis, Cervantes' dreams-within-dreams, Shakespeare's plays, and literary works by women authors in addition to those works cited above.
Seneca distinguished between a person's being and "the trappings in which he is clothed," urging Lucilius to "consider [the] soul" to distinguish true being from false appearance and providing the tools that constitute major components of the Ancient tradition of introspective analysis: across genres ancient and modern. We welcome any paper on introspection, self-examination, and duplicitous, often misguided, and hidden motivations in literary works.