Ego-documents or ‘Plural Compositions’? Reflections on Women’s Obedient Scriptures in the Early Modern Catholic World

Adelisa Malena


This article focuses on a common textual genre in early modern Catholic Europe conceived and produced in the context of a close spiritual director/penitent relationship, variously defined as ‘autobiografía por mandato’, ‘obedient writing’, or ‘autobiographical report’, and so on. Starting out from the large number of studies of this text type, a number of considerations are made on two themes: 1) their specificity and the social practices underpinning them 2) the modalities and ways of partial or integral publication in print of some of them. An attempt will be made to highlight to what extent and how the intricate question of authorship(s) can be addressed. Special attention will be devoted to the somewhat widespread category (in comparison with ‘autobiography’) of the ‘ego-document’, meaning, by this term, any type of text in which an author or authoress, deliberately or unintentionally writes about his/her acts, thoughts and feelings.

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