This seminar considers the emergence and development of British
modernism during its core period from about 1910 to 1940. Contrary to popular
opinion modernism is not synonymous with post-World War I “disillusionment” but
marks a moment of intense and often exhilarating artistic experimentation. We
will pay special attention to the modernist novel as the means whereby artists
expressed their sense of historical, cultural, and social rupture as well as
the excitement of new (metropolitan, cosmopolitan, sexual, and political) forms
of life. We will read the following canonical novels in their entirety: E. M.
Forster’sHowards End (1910), D.H.
Lawrence’s The Rainbow (1915), James
Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a
Young Man (1916), Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (1927), and George Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying
(1936). We will also discuss some modernist poetry and 1920s cinema. Poems and
further reading materials will be made available on GRIPS. Please note: Our
first novel will be Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which
we will start discussing in Week 2.
This seminar considers the themes, forms, and contexts
of twentieth-century British and Irish theatre. Plays to be discussed range
from W.B. Yeats’s modernist drama and Beckett’s late-modernist works to the
kitchen-sink realism of the 1950s/1960s and the intensely physical
‘in-yer-face’ theatre of the 1990s/2000s; there will also be some discussion of
popular forms, such as melodrama (including TV soap operas). We will explore
stage drama’s varied responses to censorship and the press; the calculated
effects of theatrical scandal; shifts in the social makeup of theatre
audiences; and evolving staging practices. Drama is one of the most topical art
forms: among the cultural contexts investigated in this course are the legacy
of modernism, the emergence of the welfare state, women’s emancipation, and colonial
devolution. Throughout term, discussion of individual plays will be
supplemented by readings of twentieth-century and twenty-first theoreticians of
performance, (anti-)theatricality, and spectatorship (including Alain Badiou,
Bertolt Brecht, Judith Butler, Guy Debord, Elaine Scarry, Susan Sontag).
This seminar invites you to think about the promises and threats of radical socio-cultural change from a number of perspectives, including
anti-/post-colonial, Marxist/anarchist, feminist/queer, and Afro-pessimist
positions. The seminar doubles as a survey of twentieth- and twenty-first
century trends in literary and cultural theory, which means that you will also acquire
essential skills in working with critical and theoretical texts. We’ll approach
individual texts though the close reading of selected passages, but we’ll also aim
to shed light on the key arguments and presuppositions which underpin them. As term
progresses, we will build up an archive of ideas that will equip you for future
classes in the fields of literary and cultural studies, broadly conceived.
Critics discussed include Judith Butler, Giorgio Agamben, bell hooks, Jack
Halberstam, Roland Barthes, Fred Moten, and Stefano Harney.
This lecture course offers an overview
of the literary history of the British Isles from the Anglo-Saxon period to the
present day. We will focus on the development of literary forms and genres, as
well as on the emergence of new sets of thematic concerns from one (literary)
period to the next. Attention will also be paid to literature's interactions
with, responses to, and influences on its surrounding socio-cultural contexts.
The lecture course is an obligatory part of the “Basismodul
Literaturwissenschaft” and hence is aimed at beginners. Course materials
(including short readers) will be made available electronically and uploaded to
GRIPS. Note: This course cannot be taken
as part of the MA British Studies. If the lecture is an obligatory part of the
“Basismodul Literaturwissenschaft” in your course of studies, it cannot be
taken for a different module.
Critical and annotated versions of the
texts discussed in the lecture course can be found in the The Norton
Anthology of English Literature (vols.1+2).
It is recommended (though by no means mandatory) that you buy this anthology
for our course. The two volumes will also come in handy during your future
university studies. Since the Norton Anthology isn’t cheap (and not all
students may decide to buy a copy), the essential readings for each week will also
be uploaded to GRIPS.
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