Manual Postcolonial Moves: Medieval through Modern

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Such popularity comes with its own disadvantages: the novel is frequently reduced to its romance-like plot and readers quickly find themselves identifying with the leading characters. Thus, the novel's very success often prevents it from being understood as the highly complex and self-conscious piece of narrative art it is, and modern readers are prone to overlook the novel's dark ironies, the social brutality of the story and the terrifying gender relations that shape the protagonists' world. This course seeks to take a closer look at Pride and Prejudice in order to analyze the novel's complexities, its narrative art, its negotiations of ideological problems and the contextual issues it addresses either directly or indirectly.

Our attention will then shift to another novel by Jane Austen, Mansfield Park , a book that appears to form the starkest possible contrast to Pride and Prejudice but is just as sophisticated, or possibly even more so. The seminar is designed not simply to teach Jane Austen but also to provide a practical guide to literary criticism.

There will be a st rong focus on the nitty-gritty of the business of interpretation. We will, therefore, find ourselves digressing frequently from the novels themselves in order to discuss the fundamental problems involved in understanding literary texts. Kings and queens have always held a fascination for film-makers and television producers. Given their dynastic element, monarchies can easily be represented as soap operas, while due to their political role they provide ideal settings for subtle i n trigue and dramatic power struggles - and their pomp and circumstance tends to make for images of magnificent pageantry.

But not all cinematic or TV portrayals of monarchs and monarchies are the same or deal with the same kind of issues.


There is obviously a great difference between a Daenerys Tagaryen's using her husband's funeral in order to test the degree to which she is resistant to fire and Colin Firth's interpretation of George VI struggling to overc. Or is there? Today the monarchy is still an important aspect of British culture and politics, which is why the changing face of the British monarchy provides interesting insights into the changing face of British culture, society and politics in general.

The last two decades, in particular, have seen an increasing number of film-makers engaging with the role of the monarchy, and especially, with the role of the monarchy in a specifically modern society. A collection of shorter narratives - almost all of them in verse - the Tales plays a major role in the development of what we nowadays consider the canon of English literature and - not least because of its obvious affinities with Giovanni Boccaccio's Decamerone - simultaneously stakes a claim for English letters within the wider context of European literature. It betrays a fascination with tension and conflict, with debate and self-questioning that undermines all facile attempts to install the work and its author in the straightforward position of the fons et origo of an uninterrupted, glorious tradition of English literature.

On the contrary, the Canterbury Tales presents itself as a rigorous investigation into such diverse issues as the roles of tradition and history for literature, the problem of social conflict and its representation in literature, the tensions between religion and aesthetics, the power and limitations of ideology and the relationship between gender and authority, to name but a few.

Tolkien is one of the most astonishing cultural and literary phenomena of the twentieth century. His odd and idiosyncratic works jar with the modernist temper of his age. They seem to be devoid of anything that matters to contemporary human beings, e. Drawing on a vast range of medieval sources, the Oxford professor of medieval English language and literature created a fictional world all of his own, seemingly completely out of touch with the reality that surrounded him.

And not surprisingly, the protectors of high literary culture tend to dismiss Tolkien for his nostalgic escapism and sometimes even accuse his books of downright fascist tendencies. Nevertheless, his principal work, The Lord of the Rings , invariably comes out on top whenever the British are asked to name their favourite book. This course seeks to take a closer look at these issues and subject Tolkien's fiction to critical scrutiny. These are only some of the questions we will ask: Where does Tolkien take his ideas from?

Is he really that simple? Are there contemporary issues he responds to? Is there a theory behind his texts? What are the political notions that they negotiate? Does sexuality matter in his work? In this period of unprecedented wealth and globalisation, both in Britain and America issues concerning children and childhood occupied a highly visible position in the public arena and in the cultural imagination, while the childlike and the childish became fascinating to adults in a manner that had never been experienced before.

Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh Medievalism deals with the representation of the Middle Ages in later periods, and this refers to both scholarly and popular representations.

How I Prepared Post-Colonial Literature in 1 Week (UGC NET English)

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, film has undoubtedly been the most influential genre offering popular representations of the Middle Ages. Medieval film thus tends to display a hybrid sense of temporality as it looks to the past through the lens of the present. Increasingly, medieval film has become aware of this problem and sought to creatively address this question. The films we will discuss in this class have all been chosen for their self-conscious aesthetic fascination with the way the medieval and the modern intersect through an artistic medium which seems to embody the spirit of modernity like few others.

It betrays a fascination with tension and conflict, with debate and self-questioning that must needs undermine all facile attempts to install the Tales and its author in the straightforward position of the fons et origo of an uninterrupted, glorious tradition of English literature. Since even in its unfinished form the Canterbury Tales is a vast and sprawling work, this course will teach only half of the tales - i.

The two courses form a unity making it possible to read and understand the Tales as a whole. This course will take a closer look at what are arguably his most famous compositions, the chivalric romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight , a tale of love and adventure with a more than surprising sting in the tale, and the religious allegory Pearl , a compelling symbolic narrative about a father mourning for his daughter. Detective fiction, or crime fiction, to use a more inclusive term, is not generally considered a high-brow genre, yet the last few decades have seen literary scholars increasingly ennoble the subject by giving it their critical attention.

The British and American literatures possess a long and impressive tradition of detective fiction and of related genres like espionage fiction. In many ways, crime fiction follows the trends and developments to be witnessed in the literary periods it is written in, yet at the same time it has rules of its own, rules which are constantly being redefined as the crime genre continues to progress.

This course seeks to provide a survey of the most important types of crime and espionage fiction, primarily using British texts as examples. We will be interested in the history and development of the genre, its changing formal characteristics, its social and cultural affiliations and its links to other forms of writing. But, like King Arthur, he remains ultimately a legendary figure of whose historical origins we know little - indeed, he might not even have existed at all. Most of the things we think we know about him are part of a legend created in the Early Modern period, at a time when the historical Robin Hood - if he did exist - would have long been dead.

Thus, Robin Hood is remembered today as a man who took from the rich and gave to the poor, something the earliest poems about him do not tell us. There he did, indeed, take from the rich, but what he took, he kept. In this seminar, we will subject to critical scrutiny some of the earliest sources on Robin Hood, the ballads and poems from the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, and then move on to a selection of cultural representations ranging from Shakespeare to Hollywood and TV which will show us how the legend developed into what it has become.

A reader containing relevant material will be available to students when the course starts. Romance is one of the most problematic generic terms ever to have been invented in the English language. And as far as Shakespeare is concerned, it is a latecomer anyway, since Shakespeare and his contemporaries would never have applied it to drama. Yet, especially if seen before a specifically medieval backdrop the term does actually make considerable sense in a Shakespearean context. In order to investigate this issue we shall be reading not only the two plays themselves, but also their respective medieval sources, i.

As for the other texts, students are required to use standard scholarly editions in class, ideally the Riverside Chaucer and the Oxford Shakespeare. For more than two decades c. Today, even though there is still plenty of interesting New Historicist work being done, the New Historicism is decidedly past its prime - though it has not been supplanted by any other paradigm claiming a similar degree of dominance. This course is a deliberate attempt to look back at the New Historicism in order to assess its moment in critical history, to chart its genesis, to review its strengths and its drawbacks.

This course will be taught in English and requires a knowledge of the language commensurate with C1 or, preferably, C2. Archaeology both as a subject and as a metaphor has long been present in English literature. Even the Anglo-Saxons were fascinated by archaeological remains, by ruins, hidden treasures or buried artifacts.

Indeed, in some respects one might even say that archaeology as a literary theme may often express notions of history for which a given culture possesses no adequate conceptual vocabulary. This course seeks to assemble and interrogate a wide range of heterogeneous material concerned with archaeology in its many and fascinating literary guises. A reader with relevant material will be provided at the beginning of the semester. Ekphrasis is one of the oldest and the most fascinating phenomena literary studies has to offer. Originally, the rhetorical term referred to any kind of detailed description.

But soon a specialized notion of ekphrasis developed, denoting verbal representations of works of art - even though this notion was theorized no earlier than the twentieth century. These works of art are, however, frequently fictional. Examples are to be found as early as Homer and Virgil and they were quickly imitated by self-conscious poets in antiquity and after. Ekphrasis is so interesting to literary scholars because of the many meanings and functions that are attached to it.

Ekphrasis addresses central problems of representation, story-telling and fiction. It is through their use of ekphrasis that poets in history have time and again sought so inscribe themselves into the literary tradition. And, for literary scholars, ekphrasis provides a bridge into the realm of the visual, i. A reader will be made available to students at the beginning of the course.

It will contain texts by Chaucer and Shakespeare and translations of texts by Homer, Virgil and Ovid. Tolkien is one of the most astonishing literary phenomena of the twentieth century. Students are expected to do a lot of reading for this class. Together with J. Tolkien, Jane Austen can arguably claim the position of the most popular English novelist of all times. Her novel Pride and Prejudice , especially, continues to fascinate a world-wide audience. But this type of popularity is not always helpful. Thus her texts are under constant threat of becoming overgrown by all kinds of products of a highly commercialized Austen-cult.

Yet at the same time, that cult itself has produced many interesting re-readings and continues to spawn intelligent new interpretations. Students are expected to acquire the Norton Critical Editions of the two texts. These are the preferred editions because they provide extra material which the course will draw on. In addition to that students are expected to have carefully read both novels before the actual course work starts.

Participants will be given the opportunity to prove their textual knowledge in two short tests. This course will be taught in English and requires knowledge of the language commensurate with C1 or, preferably, C2. The English literary Middle Ages is a complex period marked both by severe breaks and ruptures, such as the Norman Conquest of , and long-lasting continuities, some of which extend to this very day.

This course seeks to provide a broad overview of the major developments and events in English Medieval literature from c. A reader containing relevant primary and secondary sources will be made available to students at the beginning of the semester. Beowulf is the most canonical of all Old English texts. An epic about an aristocratic warrior hero who slays monsters and a dragon, the text is often seen as the epitome of the archaic culture of the Early Middle Ages. Closer scrutiny reveals, however, the extent to which the poem analyses, critiques and questions the cultural world it depicts.

Far from being a mere reflection of the tastes and values of a noble class essentially similar to its protagonists, the text is a self-consciously poetic and narrative achievement that deploys a wide range of stylistic and aesthetic devices all of which contribute to making it a tragic, haunting and, above all, highly sophisticated and polished literary masterpiece. We will, therefore, approach the poem from as many different angles as possible. Since we will be reading the text in the original Old English, the seminar will commence with a crash course on Old English.

Students are expected to have acquired a critical edition of the poem, i. Fulk, R. Bjork and J. Niles, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, by the beginning of the semester. It is also advisable to get hold of a Modern English translation of the poem. Dieser Erfolg sticht in literatursoziologischer Sicht ebenso ins Auge wie ein gewisses Misstrauen seitens Literaturwissenschaft und -kritik. Der historische Roman steht von jeher in einer spannungsreichen Beziehung zur Geschichtsschreibung: Ob oder inwieweit er Geschichte wahrheitsgetreu darstellen kann, darf oder soll, sind zentrale Fragen.

Der historische Roman bringt dem Leser das Historische seines Sujets notwendigerweise anhand von Charakteren nahe. Sie wird von einer Reihe von Forschern aus der Anglistik, der Amerikanistik, der Germanistik, der Romanistik, der klassischen Philologie und sogar aus der Philosophie getragen. Students are expected to have acquired an edition of the complete text by the first session of the course. This edition must be in the original Middle English and possess a full-fledged critical apparatus.

Texts not meeting these standards will not be accepted in class. I recommend either the Riverside Chaucer Larry D. Benson, ed. Since students will be given the opportunity to prove their knowledge of the text in a series of tests beginning in the third week spread over the whole semester, they are advised to have read the Canterbury Tales from beginning to end at least once before the course starts.

Though nowadays Geoffrey Chaucer is best remembered as the poet who wrote The Canterbury Tales and the author who produced what might well be called the first novel in the English language, Troilus and Criseyde , his oeuvre contains many other works equally fascinating. All through his poetic career Chaucer wrote dream visions, i. Indeed, it is in the dreams visions that Chaucer probes most incisively into the many tensions of the literary text, into its relationship to history, to tradition and to politics.

The historical novel presents a rare challenge to literary scholars. The historical novel has been reviled for its supposed escapism, for its supposed tendency to employ conventional narrative and conventional plots and for its supposed encouragement of politically problematic nostalgia. But this is only half the story. This course seeks to take a critical look at a selection of recent examples of the historical novel in order to learn how the genre invites its audience to ask questions about the history and literature, how the genre self-consciously investigates the issue of nostalgia and how it probes the possibilities and the limits of fiction.

Students are expected to have acquired copies of and read the following novels by the beginning of the term:. Whereas early in his dramatic career the playwright was primarily interested in the late medieval foundations of Tudor politics and nationhood, he later turned to the question of periodization itself and to that of the literary heritage the medieval period bequeathed to the Renaissance.

While the opening scene of Henry V depicts in cynical vividness the degree to which historical narrative is always embedded in contemporary politics, the Chorus of Pericles embodies the issue of historical alterity both linguistic and religious and the prologue to the Two Noble Kinsmen addresses literary tradition with an irony bordering on the irreverent. These are the problems that will concern us in this course. Students are expected to have acquired critical editions either Oxford or Arden of and read the following plays by Shakespeare by the beginning of the term:.

This course aims at analyzing the way historical periods are constructed in historiography, literary and cultural theory. The example that will serve us is the Middle Ages, whose earliest construction as a period took place at the beginning of the Renaissance and continues to this very day. Even though the Middle Ages is our point of departure, we will actually be delving deep into contemporary theory, taking a look at various approaches to the past.

The history of literatures written in English stretches back over a millennium and now encompasses texts written all around the world. Additionally, you may want to peruse Paul Poplawski ed. Romance is one of the genres — perhaps even the genre — that springs to mind most readily when modern readers think of medieval literature. It is associated with adventurous quests, knights errant and damsels in distress. In medieval English literature, romance took long to develop and never fully assumed the shape s known to us from French literary history.

This course will take a look at the odd assortment of fictional narratives that were written in England between and Students will be provided with the texts via Blackboard. The seminar will be taught in English, level C1 is required. Espionage fiction and film are often seen as typically British genres. And it is certainly true that many of the best-known and earliest examples of espionage novels were written by British authors and that the world of espionage film has strongly been informed by the plot structures, themes and stereotypes developed in British espionage fiction.

This has a lot to do with history: the first modern spy novels appeared in the two decades preceding the First World War, a period when the rivalries of an increasingly international capitalism and the visible and invisible power struggles between the major players of global imperialism began to undermine the supposedly stable confidence that the British middle classes had displayed during the Victorian era. Hence, from its very inception the genre of espionage fiction betrays an obsession with the dark side of Western modernity.

Often presented in the guise of mere popular entertainment, espionage novels frequently probe the limits of genre fiction and display curious affinities with the aesthetic developments to be found in more highbrow fiction.

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Similar things can be observed in espionage movies which, under the veneer of the superficially adventurous, question the cultural distinctions that constitute the very basis of the concept of adventure. This course will trace some of the more important strands of espionage fiction and film and seek to unravel the discursive and aesthetic structures and traditions that have shaped some of the better-known examples of the genre s.

In England was shaken by a tremendous political upheaval. King Richard II — whose glittering court contemporaries saw as the epitome of royal magnificence — was deposed and supplanted by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, who became King Henry IV. His son and successor, Henry V, soon sought to remedy this by claiming the role of a national king and using foreign war as a safety valve for tensions at home. At the same time he seems to have initiated a cultural propaganda offensive at the centre of which English Literature with a capital L rose to a prominence it had never possessed before.

This class is designed to take a closer look at the specifically political aspects we encounter in English literature from c. A reader containing a corpus of relevant texts will be made available to students via Blackboard before the semester starts. The course will be taught in English, level C1 is required. Students are asked to acquire a copy of the Riverside Chaucer Larry D. Benson ed. One of the most popular genres of late medieval English literature is the dream vision, usually a heavily allegorical and longish narrative poem that features a lover falling asleep and in his dreams experiencing encounters with mythological beings or historical personages in very artificial surroundings.

Foreign and distant as these courtly works may seem to a modern reader, they tend to contain complex interrogations of the emotions and of questions of interiority, of ethical, erotic and political issues and of the nature of literature itself. Romance is probably the medieval genre whose traditions have best survived into twenty-first century popular imagination. Figures such as Sir Perceval or Tristan and Iseult are known to a broad modern audience through different media such as opera and film, and even more so King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere, eternally locked as they are in their romantic triangle.

It is only in the second half of the fifteenth century that an English author, Sir Thomas Malory, undertakes to create a version of the Arthurian cycle whose ambition is to rival that of his French models. But what, from the point of view of more traditional literary criticism, looks like a rather embarrassing feature of Middle English literature can also be seen as peculiar advantage. A reader containing the relevant primary texts will be made available to students at the beginning of the semester.

This course takes us into the vibrant vernacular literature of the later Middle Ages, a period when English was still struggling to establish itself as a literary language alongside the clerkly Latin and the aristocratic French.

~ The Online Graduate Journal of Medieval Studies

What notions of authorship did they entertain? How did they conceptualize the literary? Did they understand themselves as part of a literary field? What did it mean to write in English rather than in Latin or in French? How did they negotiate the complex issue of orality vs. Did they have a sense of belonging to a literary tradition?

What kind of literary theory did they draw on? Did the issue of genre matter to them? The language of instruction is English required level C1. Das Forschungscolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Politik macht vor dem Artushof nicht Halt. Es ist ein Kommentar zur Weltlage.

Dieser Dimension des Mittelalterfilms soll in dieser Ringvorlesung nachgegangen werden. Wissenschaftler aus dem In- und Ausland sind daran beteiligt. Students are expected to have acquired the Riverside Chaucer Larry D. They will be given the opportunity to display their familiarity with the romance in a test which will take place in the third week of the semester. It betrays a fascination with tension and conflict, with debate and self-questioning that must needs undermine all facile attempts to instal the Tales and its author in the straightforward position of the fons et origo of an uninterrupted, glorious tradition of English literature.

Since even in its unfinished form the Canterbury Tales is a vast and sprawling work, this course will teach only half of the tales — i. Students are strongly advised to attend both the Hauptseminar and the tutorial. Since even in its unfinished form the Canterbury Tales is a vast and sprawling work, this course will teach only half of the tales — those told by the pilgrims not associated with aristocratic culture — while the other half will be dealt with in the Hauptseminar. Es wird literaturwissenschaftliches Grundwissen wiederholt, es gibt mock exams und praktische Tipps. The anonymous Arthurian romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of the most canonical texts of medieval English literature.

A chivalric narrative of adventure and deception, it also represents a haunting meditation on complex questions such as social norms and inner values, illusion and reality, literature and history, public appearance and private morals. Told in a gripping and suspenseful manner, the poem nevertheless conveys its message with a lightness and elegance perfectly encapsulating the spirit of late fourteenth-century court culture. And yet the text is also shrouded in mystery.

Students will be provided with a reader at the beginning of the class. This will contain the Middle English text and further materials.

Postcolonial Middle Ages?

Participants are expected to familiarize themselves with the content of the poem before the semester starts. One way of doing this is by reading the Penguin Classics translation of the text Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, transl. They seem to be devoid of anything that matters to contemporary humans including psychology and sexuality.

Drawing on a vast range of medieval sources the Oxford professor of medieval English language and literature created a fictional world all of his own, seemingly completely out of touch with the reality that surrounded him. Nevertheless, his principal work, The Lord of the Rings, invariably comes out on top whenever the British are asked to name their favourite book. Where does Tolkien take his ideas from? What are the political notions that they convey? There is no time to lose, get started! The Renaissance is often defined as a period when classical antiquity was rediscovered.

Like all great cultural myths, this is neither quite true nor absolutely false. Since knowledge of antiquity had never been lost during the Middle Ages, one can hardly speak of a rediscovery. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, Postcolonial theory is presently one of the newest and most influential contemporary concepts threading its way through the humanities and social sciences. In the past decade however, scholars have begun to incorporate other areas of interest into the postcolonial arena.

The first surveys works which have been written in recent years that apply postcolonial theory to medieval studies; this section is particularly useful for understanding existing discourse. The second section discusses historical phenomena relating to medieval colonialism and concepts of race. This last section focuses predominantly on contemporary misunderstandings of the Middle Ages and the devastating impacts of memoricide.

The series includes, or will include, works discussing the application of postcolonial theory to Renaissance, Romantic, Modernist, Victorian, Eighteenth-Century, and Post-War British literature. The goal of the series is to introduce readers to new applications of postcolonial theory within literature. Thus, readers of medieval, Renaissance, or Romantic fiction etc. The monograph begins with an extremely useful timeline of events that covers the entire medieval world—not only Western Europe—in detail. The timeline cites major political events and works of literature from c.

After this point, the entries of major events and works become less frequent as LW focuses on medieval works perpetually influencing the modern era, rather than listing every important event which occurred during this period, with the timeline bringing us into She does an excellent job of discussing the problematic position of medieval studies as it relates to postcolonialism, and why a prejudice towards medieval studies still exists in the academic arena. She defends the use of this theory in medieval studies in a number of ways, including the argument that medieval groups were themselves colonized and colonizers.

Her discussion of these works helps readers to understand their importance, what the major works discuss, and where postcolonial studies currently fits in academic discourse. She then goes on to explain why postcolonialism needs to include medieval studies by breaking the theory into its major parts: the need to decentre Christianity and rethink race; Orientalism, Nationalism, Colonialism; and the roots of the theory. Her second section begins by addressing Islam in the Middle Ages, an aspect of history often overlooked by contemporary non-medievalists.

She begins with discussing one of the most cosmopolitan parts of Western Europe, al-Andalus Islamic Spain. She stresses the importance remembering parts of the past which include cosmopolitan spaces such as al-Andalus rather than forget their existence. In this section she also includes analyses of the pseudo-imperialistic Normans and their colonisations, discussing how such interactions created a multitude of problems relating to medieval concepts of identity; an issue that is fundamentally linked with postcolonial discourse. It is from this discussion that LW moves on to race theory and why medieval romance can give the modern era new and better ways of understanding ourselves.

Summer 2017

She stresses that this must be done because it is only through understanding real world histories of race and ethnicity can we truly understand the real roots of modern concepts of the same. She discusses the building of a mosque in central Cologne, and the perpetuation of the normative Christian identity of Europe by current politicians who claim that by allowing structures such as mosques and minarets to be built, society condones the detrimental change of the visual landscape and negatively impacts European identity and culture.

LW cites similar discussions and bans in countries such as Switzerland and France. The third section finishes by considering contemporary works of fiction which resist the memoricide being committed by so many politicians and political groups throughout Western Europe.