Writing to spare one's blushes: Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions and the automation of confidence

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter discusses Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions and aspects of Gunther Anders's mostly undiscovered work on shame to flesh out and contemplate some poststructuralist notions of language that are at times being too easily dismissed. To do so, it focuses on this inaccessibly private self, which is so powerfully exposed to people, the very moment shame hijacks speech to make one feel embarrassingly singular and unable to reach out to others. Rousseau's text anticipates and stages several twentieth century phenomenological and existential treatments of shame that hinge on the feeling of absolute singularity. These treatments of shame are related to or reimaginations of Martin Heidegger's dismissal of purely "anthropological", "psychological" and "physiological" conceptualizations of the human "built around a notion of a generally binding Biology". His dismissal proposes that an inescapable experience of singularity is constitutive of human existence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShame and modern writing
EditorsBarry Sheils, Julie Walsh
Place of PublicationNew York ; London
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781351657525, 9781315158754
ISBN (Print)9781138067271
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRoutledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature


  • Shame
  • Social Media
  • Automation
  • Writers Block
  • ethics and politics
  • Privacy


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