Book launch: Trials of the Self (25 June, 17-18h)

On Friday 25 June 2021, Elwin Hofman will present his new book Trials of the Self: Murder, Mayhem and the Remaking of the Mind, 1750-1830 (Manchester University Press).

In Trials of the Self, Elwin Hofman brings together the disparate histories of murder and enlightenment, prostitution and the cult of nature, sodomy and sentimentalism in order to retell the story of the making of the modern self. He argues that the history of the self needs to attend more to its class dimensions, and puts this insight into practice by examining the influence of the criminal courts in spreading and negotiating changing ideas of the self. Using criminal interrogations and witness statements, ‘Trials of the Self’ shows that an increasing stress on psychological depth in the late-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was not only important for elites, but also for common and illiterate people – sometimes even more so.

The presentation will take place online on Zoom on 25 June between 17h and 18h (Brussels/Amsterdam UTC+2). Dana Rabin (University of Illinois) and Inger Leemans (VU Amsterdam / KNAW) will provide comments. Chair: Tom Verschaffel (KU Leuven). There will be time for questions from the audience. You can register to attend this presentation and receive a link on the day of the event here: