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Själens medium: Skrift och subjekt i Nordeuropa omkring 1500
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History of Literature and History of Ideas.
2010 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The Medium of the Soul : Writing and Subjectivity in Northern Europe around 1500 (English)
Abstract [en]

The era of the digital revolution has made it possible to acknowledge literature as a technological object, inseparable from its medium. This study attempts to outline the prerequisites of a material history of literature that does not focus primarily upon works or authors but rather on the media itself, the mnemotechnics and the practices of reading and writing that make such phenomena possible in the first place. More precisely, the thesis explores the historical process in which writing and its practices became a precondition for new forms of subjectivity that evolved around the turn of the sixteenth century in Northern Europe. The overall aim of the investigation is however not to analyze this process per se, but to offer a new perspective on how literature as we know it arises out of the media revolution of the fifteenth century. 

By implication, the dissertation may be described as a genealogy of literature through the paradigm of technology. The study considers discursive practices – from elementary alphabetization to phantasmatic reading – and the way they contributed to the circulation of discourse in conjunction with the breakthrough of the print medium. Taken together, these elements are analyzed in terms of a discourse network – i.e. a network of technologies and institutions that allow a given culture to select, store, and process relevant data. The concept of a discourse network allows for an analysis that is receptive to the importance of technology and subjectivity as historically variable phenomena that may serve different functions: as source, as emitter, as channel, and as receiver of information.

The analysis reveals seemingly timeless concepts like the author or the alleged transparency of the medium of writing as historical effects of the network. Further, it traces the powerful impetus of the notion of universal literacy to the rise of the state in the sixteenth century. Finally, it reveals literature as we know it as a product of displaced or alien powers of the past.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Glänta produktion , 2010. , 471 p.
, Skrifter utgivna av Svenska Litteratursällskapet, ISSN 0348-0283 ; 48
Keyword [en]
writing, materiality of literature, discursive practices, subjectivity, individualization, Martin Luther, Erasmus of Rotterdam, genealogy of literature, discourse network, discourse analysis, media analysis, history of reading and writing, history of literacy, 1600-century studies
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
History of Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-43543ISBN: 978-91-86133-21-4OAI: diva2:359460
Public defence
2010-11-19, Auditorium 215, Humanistvillan, Frescativägen 24, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2010-10-28 Created: 2010-10-19 Last updated: 2010-10-28Bibliographically approved

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Götselius, Thomas
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