Friday, 1 May 2015

Math Osseforth: Augustine’s Confessions: a discourse analysis

During the course of my research into the character of amicitia in the Confessions and its function within the development of Augustine’s story, I have employed methodology from the field of linguistics as well as narratology. This ‘eclectic’ method, usually called discourse analysis, has been developed in recent years at the VU University of Amsterdam, by Caroline Kroon, Suzanne Adema and Paula Rose among others. It is the first time it has been applied to the text of Augustine’s Confessions. I hope to show in this communication that such an analysis, by bringing out different aspects of the presentation of the narrative, can be a valuable instrument to create a new frame of interpretation, shedding light on the meaning of this classical text as a whole. As an example I will briefly present the results of the discourse analysis of one of the most famous anecdotes in the Confessions (4.4.7-8, ‘the friend who nearly turned into an enemy’) and I will show what these results contribute to the understanding of Augustinian amicitia. My presentation will focus on the results of discourse analysis when applied to the macrostructure of the Confessions, which leads to valuable new insights into the cohesion of the individual books and the narrative of the Confessions as a whole.

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