Course Descriptions: Introductory Seminars
Renaissance Poetry, Drama and Fiction (2004)
This introductory seminar will deal with literary texts written in the 16th and 17th century. It will focus on both the Renaissance culture of Elizabethan/Jacobean England and on the English encounter with the European continent and the New World. Students are expected to read short papers, contribute to class discussion, pass a final test and hand in a term paper. A selection of poetical texts will be available at the beginning of the semester. Texts to be bought: William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest, Thomas
Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveller.
18th Century Satire and Satirical Literature (2004/5)
This introductory seminar will be concerned with the (neo)classical genres of satire and the transgeneric mode of the satirical. Students are expected to read short papers, contribute to class discussion, pass a final test and hand in a term paper. A master copy with shorter texts such as John Dryden's Mac Flecknoe, Alexander Pope's Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot and Henry
Fielding's Shamela will be available at the beginning of the semester. Texts to be bought: Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels and John Gay, The Beggar's Opera.
Modernist Literatures in English: Poland, Ireland, New Zealand, England, America (2005) In the first half of the 20th century the world of literature changes: it becomes global, regional, metropolist and expatriate at the same time. As modernist art is highly experimental, participants of this introductory seminar are expected to be willing to deal with texts that are 'writerly' rather than 'readerly'. They are required to read short papers, contribute to class discussion, pass a final test and hand in a term paper. Texts to be prepared: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, James Joyce, The Sisters, Katherine Mansfield,
The Garden Party, Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse, Ernest Hemingway, Che Ti Dice la Patria?
and Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Babylon Revisited. A selection of poetical texts will be available
at the beginning of the semester.
The Post-Modern Condition (2006)
In the second half of the 20th century, literature faces a representational crisis. As Woolf, Joyce and other modernists have already explored all kinds of experimental devices between the two world wars, the potential for artistic innovation seems to be exhausted for authors belonging to the next generation. To overcome this dilemma, they either try to become even more radically experimental or to rewrite traditional devices in a playful way. As post-
modern art is critically self-conscious, participants of this introductory seminar are expected to be willing to deal with the fields of literature and literary theory (approaches to
representation, intertextuality, metafiction). They are required to read short papers, contribute to class discussion, pass a final test and hand in a term paper. Texts to be prepared: Beckett, Ping, Waiting for Godot, Coover, The Baby Sitter, Fowles, The Enigma,
Josipovici, Mobius the Stripper, Lodge, Changing Places, and Stoppard, The Real Inspector
Hound. A selection of poems and theoretical texts will be available at the beginning of the semester.
Major Currents of 19th Century English Literature: Romanticism, Victorianism, Fabianism and Aestheticism (2006/7)
This introductory seminar focuses on major currents of 19th century English literature: Romantic and Victorian Poetry, the Gothic and the Victorian Novel, and the 'Irish' traditions of dramatic wit that determine the literary world at the end of the century: the socially committed Shavian play and Wilde's aestheticism that turns a blind eye to the socio-political challenges of the day. As the analysis of poetry will be an important part of this course, vital interest in that genre is essential for participation. Students are required to read short papers, contribute to class discussion, pass a final test and hand in a term paper. Texts to be prepared: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, Oscar Wilde, The
Importance of Being Earnest and George Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Warren's Profession. A
selection of Romantic and Victorian poems will be available at the beginning of the semester.
(Hi)stories of (De)Colonialization (2007)
This course will take a look at colonial encounters in various places of the world and focus on texts written from the sixteenth until the twentieth century: Thomas Hariot's, A Brief and
True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1588), William Shakespeare's The Tempest
(1611), Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), excerpts from Mary Wortley Montagu's
Turkish Embassy Letters (1763), Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899), Chinua Achebe's
Things Fall Apart (1958), and Stephen Frears's & Hanif Kureishi's movie My Beautiful
Laundrette (1984). A selection of poems to be discussed in class will be available at the beginning of the semester. As students are expected to present and discuss New Historicist and Post-Colonial approaches, interest in literary and cultural theory is essential for participation.
Early Modern Literature from the First Half of the 17th Century (2007/08)
This introductory seminar focuses on texts written in the first half of the 17th century which is also known as the Jacobean (1603-25) and the Caroline (1625-49) era. In contrast to the 'golden' age of Elizabeth I (1558-1603), these periods may be considered as times of crisis, doubt and disillusionment. The acquisition of new knowledge and the rise of the natural sciences shattered the foundations of the traditional world picture and the humanist notion
of man as the centre of the universe. The texts that we are going to discuss negotiate these issues of intellectual debate: Shakespeare's Hamlet, Jonson's The Alchemist,
Middleton/Rowley's The Changeling, Bacon's The New Atlantis, Godwin's The Man in the
Moone, and a selection of 'Metaphysical' poems written by Donne and others. Requirements: short presentation, written final exam, term paper.
The ‘Long' 18th Century (2008)
This course will focus on the cultural diversity of the 'Long' 18th Century – the time span
from 1660-1789/98 which subdivides into periods as heterogeneous as the Restoration era, the Augustan Age and the Age of Sensibility. To elucidate the refashioning of late 17th century aristocratic into 'bourgeois' culture, it will take a comparative look at Wycherley's notoriously bawdy Restoration comedy The Country Wife and Lillo's ‘sentimental' domestic
tragedy The London Merchant. With regard to fiction, it will compare Fielding's 'picaresque' novel Joseph Andrews with selected passages taken from Bunyan's narrative allegory The
Pilgrim's Progress, Richardson's epistolary novel Pamela, and Sterne's A Sentimental Journey
through France and Italy. Further texts to be discussed in class will include Dryden's mock heroic satire Mc Flecknoe, entries from Samuel Pepys' Diary and poems written by Sir
Wilmot the 2nd Earl of Rochester, Pope, Swift, Gray etc.
James Joyce (2008/9)
This course offers an introduction to Joyce studies. Focusing on his early and middle period, it will discuss Joyce's contribution to high modernism, his intertexual recycling of ancient and modern source material, his Jesuit background, his semi-colonial status as an Irish exile, etc. With regard to Joyce's self-fashioning as an artist, the importance of the years spent in Trieste - the polyglot melting pot of the Habsburg Empire - will be considered. Finally the transformation of Joyce into a literary character by posterity will be looked at. As Joyce's texts are notoriously difficult to read, genuine interest and commitment are essential for participation. Assessment: class participation; presentation; term paper, final written exam. Texts to be prepared: James Joyce, Dubliners , A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ,
Ulysses (episodes I & IV), Tom Stoppard, Travesties . A master copy with poems and
additional textual material will be provided.
Faustian Overreachers, Satanic Rebels, and Byronic Heroes (2009)
This course will take a diachronic look at the theme of the overreacher and the English literary canon from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. Focusing on Marlowe's appropriation of the German Faust-legend, Milton's Satan and the Byronic hero, our text-based analysis will be supplemented with contextual approaches such as new-historicist and archetypal criticism.
Texts to be prepared: Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, John Milton's Paradise Lost,
George Gordon Byron's Don Juan, Alfred Lord Tennyson's Ulysses, Mary Shelley's
Frankenstein, James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Assessment: (a) Reading Skills course: Class participation; Final exam based on a reading list which includes the texts discussed in class and a personal selection of approximately eight additional texts related to the topic of the course. The final exam subdivides into a colloquy and a written textual knowledge test. (b) Introductory seminar: Class participation; presentation; term paper, final written exam.
The Irish Comic Tradition - B.A. Reading Skills Course (2010)
In this course we will take a diachronic look at the Irish Comic Tradition. Discussing texts from the 18th to the 20th century, we will focus on the hybrid pedigree of what at first sight seems to be typically ‘Irish’: the fusion of the domestic Gaelic heritage of Middle Irish
satirical parody (A Vision of Mac Conglinne, 11th ct., anonymous) with foreign source
material such as the Hellenistic tradition of the fantastic journey (Lucian, 2nd ct. A.D.), the early modern folk culture of laughter (François Rabelais, 16th ct.), enlightened wit and anti-English satire (‘long’ 18th ct.). An analytical key will be provided by Mikhail Bakhtin’s ‘carnivalesque’ approach to the grotesque, macabre and the fantastic. Furthermore the semi-colonial status of Ireland dominated by English culture will have to be considered. Texts to be prepared: Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Oscar Wilde, The Importance
of Being Earnest (1895), John Millington Synge, The Playboy of the Western World (1907),
Samuel Beckett, Waiting For Godot (1952/3/4), Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman
Excerpts from other works by Swift, William Butler Yeats, Laurence Sterne, James Joyce etc. will be provided in electronic format.
Assessment: class participation; final exam based on a reading list which includes the texts discussed in class and a personal selection of approximately eight additional texts related to the topic of the course. The final exam subdivides into a written textual knowledge test and a colloquy.