Welcome to our seminar!
This is the GRIPS-course for the 4th and 5th Parallelgruppe of the Introduction to English and American Literary Studies. There is only one GRIPS-course for both groups. Please note that this seminar accompanies the British Studies version of the Introduction to English and American Literary Studies (Lecture held by Dr. Martin Decker on Mondays, 12-14).
In this GRIPS-course you will find all presentations and additional material used in our weekly seminar session. All presentations will be uploaded after the session. Furthermore, there will be three digital sessions throughout the semester (Weeks 5, 8 and 9). You will have to complete exercises in GRIPS for these sessions (no ZOOM meetings).
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to speak to me after class.
I am already looking forward to meeting you and I wish you a great start into the semester!
In this seminar, we will examine how the novelists of
the Victorian era dealt with the pressing social issue of madness in their work
and investigate how their portrayal of mentally ill fictional characters
reflected and shaped society’s attitudes towards madness. The great prosperity
and industrial advancement Britain enjoyed in the 19th century made
the Victorians a society that reacted to rapid social change with strict gender-
and class distinctions, a concern with morality and a general support for
reform movements. In this seminar, we will particularly focus on the role of
gender in the complex discourse of madness by positioning 19th-century
ideas and phenomena such as the madwoman or the lunatic asylum in their wider,
socio-cultural, medical and psychological contexts. Thus, we will first familiarize
ourselves with a variety of theories that tried to define madness in the 19th
century and heavily influenced how the (allegedly) mad were perceived by the
Victorians, before we approach our primary works Jane Eyre and
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Our literary examination will be
based on primary texts by authors such as Charlotte Brontë, Wilkie Collins,
Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson and useful secondary sources will
help us enhance our understanding and interpretation of the representations of
madness in 19th-century British fiction.
“Short Stories do not say this happened and this happened and this happened. They are a microcosm and a magnification rather than a linear progression.” – Isobelle Carmody
In the course of this seminar, we will approach the innovative 19th-century genre of the Victorian short story through the prism of gender studies. We will first focus on the characteristics of this new genre including its structural and compositional parts, its publication history and intended readership before we concentrate on the astonishing ingenuity of each story’s content. Our analyses of selected short stories will centre on the late-Victorian ‘New Woman’ debate, the question of suffrage, and other important contemporary socio-historical issues. Our examination will be based on short stories by authors such as Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy whose literary works we will position in their wider historical and cultural contexts by looking at the ways in which the authors engage with and/or challenge the gender ideologies and discourses prevalent in Victorian times. Hence, we will bring together a wide range of popular Victorian subjects nestled in the gender studies realm with many different styles and forms of the Victorian Short Story including gothic, adventure, science fiction, New Woman writing, and travel stories. Subsequently, this seminar aims at creating awareness of the fact that the gender-related topics addressed in Victorian short stories are just as complex as the writing styles of their authors.
Compulsory Reading: Women Who Did: Stories by Men and Women 1890-1914, ed. Angelique Richardson, London: Penguin, 2005.; further reading material will be available on GRIPS.
Requirements: active participation in class; expert group session; term paper (8-10 pp.).
In the course of this seminar, we will look at how female fates, i.e. possible outlines of lives of females, are presented in Victorian women’s writing. We will approach this topic through the prism of gender studies by analysing how the lives of female characters in various literary genres are crafted in accordance with or in contrast to 19th-century ideals such as Coventry Patmore’s ”Angel in the House” or the concept of ‘fallenness’. These key concepts usually display stereotypical ideals rather than physical occurrences, yet we use them as helpful tools for our literary analyses. Whereas the ”Angel in the House” obeys the rules of her husband and limits the centre of her life to the domestic sphere as well as to household duties, the more emancipated and/or unmarried woman is frequently presented as a ‘fallen’ character in Victorian literature. The women’s movement of the later 19th century brought forth a variety of emancipated, self-governing, even radical female characters in literature often considered as ‘unwomanly’ due to certain character traits or sorts of behaviour. In this seminar, we will encounter female characters in several literary genres of Victorian women’s writing experiencing the most different fates, we will embed their personal stories within the larger historical and socio-political context of 19th-century Britain and discuss key ideas of the gender studies realm by means of their examples. Subsequently, we will challenge Deborah Anna Logan’s statement that females, during the course of the 19th century, could only chose to ”Marry, Stitch, Die, or Do Worse”.
Compulsory Reading: Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008 (Oxford World’s Classics Edition); Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008 (Oxford World’s Classics Edition); Wells, H.G. Ann Veronica. London: Penguin Books Ltd, 2005 (Penguin Classics Edition); further reading will be available on GRIPS.
Requirements: active participation in class; oral presentation (20 min); term paper (8-10 pp.).