Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Assuming the near impossible task of sorting through and delineating various conceptions of the self in and throughout literary and civil history, literary critic Irving Howe adopts a highly perceptive and profoundly analytical approach to the enigmatic individual. In the article quoted above, "The Self in Literature," Howe consolidates what he believes to be the most promising attempts at coding and decoding abstractions of the self across numerous literary, philosophical, and sociological texts. The success of Howe’s analysis lies in his ability to simultaneously embrace and scrutinize seemingly incompatible notions of bodily and spiritual discourse. With the knowledge that such investigations of the self often create more questions than they can answer, Howe’s research miraculously uncovers a clear and comprehensive interpretation of the self that combines his independent thoughts with scholarly reasoning and literary imagination. Howe’s account of the self expresses the deeply-rooted tension between the burden of human existence and the individual’s capacity to overcome such adversities. Thus, he prescribes an apt assessment of literary selfhood that many find inarticulable (Howe 56-77).
Leichter, Helene, "The Enigmatic Self: An Ongoing Exploration of Literary Selfhood from the American Renaissance to Contemporary Young Adult Literature" (2023). Honors Theses. 1694.