Royal Holloway Department of History Seminar Series
Date: Tuesday 2 February 2010
McCrea Room 336 17.30-19.00
Daniel Beer (Royal Holloway)
The Vanishing Liberal Subject: Morality in Russian Literature 1860-1910
The paper examines how representations in Russian literature of an autonomous and integral subject capable of expressing his or her freedom through the exercise of the will, gradually became subverted by a medicalised understanding of subjectivity. The latter insisted that human beings were not the sovereign authors of their own actions but in the grip of dark and irrational urges and desires of which they were barely aware and over which they had very limited control. This disillusionment with the rational and purposeful capacities of the individual reflected a wider retreat from the pursuit of democratic rights and civic responsibilities in the wake of the 1905 Revolution.