This seminar addresses students of the MA British Studies programme preparing
or completing their final theses but is also open to those writing theses for a
'Staatsexamen' degree. Students will have the opportunity to present their
work-in-progress and receive feedback from faculty and fellow students. We will
discuss theoretical approaches, writing techniques and the most important
writing stages, such as finding and defining your topic, researching the
material, structuring and presenting your arguments. Doctoral candidates and
advanced researchers from the department will be invited to present parts of
their ongoing projects and share their experiences. In addition, several
distinguished guest speakers will contribute to the programme.
Requirements: BLK-M31: active
participation, reading the assigned texts, transcript of one of the sessions /
lectures (deadline: Monday, 13 September 2021); BLK-M35: active
participation, reading the assigned texts, oral presentation of
work-in-progress (‘conference style’).
The 1607 Jamestown settlement in the Colony of Virginia inaugurated the establishment of English colonies in the ‘New World’. In 1600, the East India Company was granted Queen Elizabeth I’s Royal Charter and, via trade missions to the Indian Subcontinent, paved the way for the British ‘Empire in the East’ in centuries to come. During the seventeenth century, literary texts increasingly came to register the divided attitudes held by the English toward overseas trade and the settlement of overseas territory. Investigating some of these philosophical and political debates, in this seminar we will look at contemporary travel narratives, colonialist propaganda, the English Navigation Acts, and short poems and essays by Michael Drayton, Andrew Marvell, John Donne, Francis Bacon and John Locke. The main emphasis will rest on William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello (1604) and romance play The Tempest (1612), Henry Neville’s utopian travel narrative The Isle of Pines (1668), Aphra Behn’s short novel Oroonoko (1688) and John Milton’s religious epic Paradise Lost (1667). We will explore the role of the paradise myth in colonialist narrative, the theme of European encounters with the ‘wilderness’, the construction of mythical national ‘origins’, strategies of legitimation and philosophical concepts of ‘property’, as well as the question to what extent some of the texts offer an implicit critique of colonialism. Questions of intersectionality (race/gender), and benefits and possible pitfalls of a postcolonial reading of early modern texts will also be considered.
Texts: William Shakespeare, Othello, ed. E.A.J. Honigmann, The Arden Shakespeare (Walton-on-Thames, 1996); The Tempest, ed. Alden Vaughan and Virginia Vaughan, The Arden Shakespeare (Walton-on-Thames: Nelson, 1999); Henry Neville, The Isle of Pines, in Three Early Modern Utopias. Thomas More: Utopia, Francis Bacon: New Atlantis, Henry Neville: The Isle of Pines, ed. Susan Bruce (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); John Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. Alastair Fowler, 2nd ed. (London: Longman, 1998); Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, ed. Janet Todd (London: Penguin, 1992).
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