The Invention of Psychology
The question whether we find a fictional caracter plausible and the rise of Psychology as a science are closely related, yet not that closely that one could produce a simple theory at this stage. Shakespeare's characters have been read as psychologically plausible creations, whilst the idea of a science to be called "psychology" is of a much later origin.
The seminar should take a look at characters that have been noted as constructed with psychological insight - when does the secondary discourse come to such a conclusion? what characterises the psychologically plausible character?
It should secondly take a look at the construction of psychology the science: What kinds of sciences existed before? Out of what fields of cultural practices was the new science of psychology created?
Some answers can be given in advance: It seems that we find weak and suffering characters especially plausible - characters which can give a history of their personal weakness. And it seems that a self-definition through a confession of personal imperfections was not equally desirable in different centuries: A self-styling in terms of strength, power, social status and reputation was seen as a fundamental necessity - the age of sensibility brought a change in this field of human commerce.
Special fields of human exchange allowed the self-styling through weaknesses and failiures before the 1750s - the fields of religous behaviour were most important here.
The seminar should offer insight into traditions of self-fashioning and knowledge about ones self and others. This might again be a topic for joint ventures with cultural historians. --Olaf Simons 18:29, 19 April 2007 (CEST)