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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book, which is devoted to a critical assessment of research on autobiographical writing to date. The focus is on the self narratives of the Hessian peasant Caspar Preis, the Franconian prophetess Anna Vetter, the Alsatian pewterer Augustin Güntzer, the Ulm architect Joseph Furttenbach and the Jewish tradeswoman Glückel von Hameln. The aim is to illustrate the historiographical bonus inherent in a close study of such documents, for example in that they highlight the apocalyptic climate associated with the experience of the Thirty Years War and bring home the great significance the authors attached to foreboding signs as divine messages. Gudrun Piller summarizes her work on the eighteenth-century history of the body as mirrored by self-narratives. Thomas Platter's autobiography probably is one of the most widely known autobiographical texts of the sixteenth century, at least in Western historiography.

Keywords: Augustin Güntzer; autobiographical writing; Caspar Preis; Glückel von Hameln; Thomas Platter



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