In this class, we will consider the genre of autobiography, questions of authenticity,
personal versus formal, expression and imitation.
One related issue is the nature of Augustine's conversion. Is its description (and its unfolding) structured by the formal properties of the genre? How do hymns and prayers control the language of his supplication?
Consider also the rhetorical devices Augustine employs, the topics he addresses, and the vita he presents. How do these relate to the vitae of saints (esp. Athansius), to Josephus, to Plutarch, to Suetonius, and to others?
Finally, what is Augustine claiming about the roles of the human faculties in perceiving truth? Which faculties read?
Following on our first class and our discussion of images, figures, and language, please try to develop a text-centered line of approach to the Confessions—concerning reading, signs, language, truth.
Resource: Pierre Courcelle, Recherches sur les confessions
de S Augustin (Paris,
1) Augustine, Confessions.
2) Curtius, ch. 4,
"Rhetoric," and ch. 5, "Topics," pp. 62-105. (Here is Donatus.)
3) Curtius, chapter
15 "Mannerism," pp. 273-301.
4) If you like, Eugene
Vance on Aug & autobiography; Dennis
Trout on Augustine's
5) Augustine biography;