Loyola University Maryland

Emerging Scholars

Jason Brown, Louis Hinkel

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How Confessional Writing Shapes the Future: A Study in Life Narrative

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The purpose of this work will be to prove that confessional style writing which one does about one's self can serve to allow the confessor to visualize and rework their existence, yielding a future that can be entirely different from the past. This ability of self-invention is a product of the field of life narrative. The confessional aspect is key to change, and this work will focus particularly on how the classic confessional writers went about creating this life-altering genre. Beginning with St. Augustine's ground-breaking piece, working through Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Romantic interlude, and ending on Sir Thomas DeQuincey's ghastly game-changer; the course of confessionality will be charted to show that life does imitate art, that this is the hidden power of literature, and that all human beings have a story to write.

I. Confessions by St. Augustine 
    A. The principal problem of man's relation to God: “Why, then, do I ask thee to come into me, since I also am and could not be if thou wert not in me?” What if Augustine answered this question wrong? What if we have been part of God all along? 
    B. The importance of confession: “For what is more surely heard in thy ear than a confessing heart and a faithful life?” 
    C. The implications of St. Augustine's influence, life imitates art?
II. Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau 
    A. The influences of both Romanticism and St. Augustine. 
    B. The ways in which both Augustine and Rousseau edited their work. 
    C. Rousseau gives birth to the true notion of self-invention.
III. Confessions of an Opium-Eater by Thomas DeQuincey 
    A. DeQuincey pioneers writing about addiction from an addict's perspective. 
    B. The influence of both St. Augustine and Rousseau upon DeQuincey. 
    C. Life imitating art, and all the implications of this possibility to addicts.