Teaching

Summer 2017

17315 -GK- Surveying English Literatures I

The concept of ‘English literature’ is fraught with conflict and controversy. It is in a process of constant evolution as new novels, poems, plays or whole new genres jostle for recognition, and as formerly little known authors from the past (many women writers, for instance) are added to the canon or as previously marginalized areas of study (such as the postcolonial literatures) join the community of ‘Engl. Lit.’ In order to give students an overview of this field of study, which starts well before 1000 A. D., and is still changing and expanding, the English department offers a lecture series designed to summarize the main periods of English literature from the medieval and the early modern period, via the “long eighteenth century”, Romanticism, Victorianism, down to Modernism, Postcolonialism and Postmodernism. This is a team-taught lecture course in which a group of professors from the department contribute their respective expertise so as to give students an insight into the range of ‘English Literature’ over a millennium.

17322 -PS-Surveying English Literatures II: The Beauty of Survival - Writing the Second World War

Yet it is precisely this ambivalence that provides the basis for a number of recent complex literary attempts to re-fashion and interrogate the memory of the war, attempts focusing not only on the British experience – an experience highly diverse in itself – but also on that of other nations, peoples and communities. Thus, in literature written in English, the Second World War has become something of a perfect narrative theatre in which to stage issues of history and memory, identity and experience, story-telling and myth-making, and to cast these issues in terms of perspectives depending on the frequently conflicting dynamics of class, nation and gender.

17326 -PS-Medieval English Literatures II: The Rise and Fall of Camelot: Sir Thomas Malory

The Arthurian legends are amongst the best-known cultural legacies bequeathed to us by the Middle Ages. Introduced into the mainstream of medieval culture through the work of the twelfth-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, they quickly developed a literary life of their own, largely independent of their shadowy origins in migration period Celtic history. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s pseudo-historical Arthur soon became the stuff of romance and his court provided the literal point of departure for numerous chivalric adventures. Moreover, Arthur’s own role changed as the great warrior king became one of the corners of a tragic love triangle destined to destroy his kingdom, his life and his love. But even as Arthur transformed into a figure from romance and fairy tale he retained a particular cultural urgency for English audiences which is why shortly before the last quarter of the fifteenth century, in a period marked by defeat abroad and civil war at home, the English writer Sir Thomas Malory attempted a synthesis of the Arthurian material, presenting to his readers an encyclopaedic and yet decidedly English version of the story of Camelot. In the eyes of English readers, his rendering has become something like the definitive version of Arthur, but a closer look reveals the huge extent to which Malory’s Morte Darthur – an English book bearing a French title – is the product of conflicting traditions and cultural agendas, how it reflects not only the tensions of highly contradictory sources but also those of the ideological problems of the period it was written in. These are the issues this seminar seeks to address.

17393 -HS-Medieval English Literatures: The Canterbury Tales: The Gentils

The Canterbury Tales (c. 1387) is Geoffrey Chaucer’s best-known work. 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. Yet for all its indisputable canonicity the Tales is far more than a mere showcase of medieval poetic and narrative styles and genres. It betrays a fascination with tension and conflict, with debate and self-questioning that undermines 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. On the contrary, the Canterbury Tales presents itself as a rigorous investigation into such diverse issues as the role 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.

17394 -MÜ-Medieval English Literatures: The Canterbury Tales: The Churls

Companion course to The Gentils.

17394 -C-Englische Philologie Colloquien: Doktorandencolloquium

Das Doktorandencolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Winter 2016/2017

Research Semester

Summer 2016

17352 -S- Literatures of Medieval Britain: Modernity and Alterity in the Literature of Medieval Britain II: The Pearl Poet

The Pearl Poet's works (late fourteenth century) are amongst the most enigmatic and fascinating and also the most beautiful and polished literary texts transmitted to us from the Middle Ages. 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 allegorical narrative about a father mourning for his daughter. The two texts will make it possible for the class to gain insights into a wide variety of issues central to medieval literature in general as well as Middle English literature in particular and into the issue of how modern scholars deal with literary texts from an age very different from our own.

17355 -S- Literary Studies: Periods - Genres - Concepts: The Historical Novel

The historical novel presents a considerable challenge to literary scholars. A genre notoriously difficult to define and consistently denigrated by literary critics, the historical novel has been marginalized by academia – not only in spite of, but possibly precisely because of its evident popularity. The historical novel has been reviled for its alleged escapism, for its apparent tendency to employ conventional plots and narrative structures and for its alleged encouragement of politically problematic nostalgia. But this is only half of the story. After all, the genre’s important place in literary history is indisputable. Indeed, the dominant position of the novel in general during the nineteenth century owes much to the impressive successes of Sir Walter Scott’s historical fiction and, consequently, most of the nineteenth century’s canonical giants tried their hand at composing historical novels: Tolstoy, Flaubert, Dickens and Fontane, to name only a few. Moreover, postmodernism has reinvented the historical novel in various shapes and guises and thus succeeded in re-establishing the genre’s standing in educated circles. This course seeks to take a critical look at a selection of more recent examples of the historical novel in order to learn how the genre invites its audience to ask questions about history and literature, how the genre self-consciously investigates the issue of nostalgia and how it probes the possibilities and the limits of fiction. All the novels chosen display a self-conscious engagement not simply with literature and history, but also with literary history.

17397 -HS- Medieval English Literatures: Troilus and Criseyde

Geoffrey Chaucer’s romance Troilus and Criseyde (c. 1385) has been called the ‘first novel’ in the English language. And, indeed, there is something highly ambiguous about this tragic Trojan love story. On the one hand, it is a thoroughly medieval text that treats its antiquity from a chivalric perspective appearing at times to be more foreign to modern readers than even the world of Homer itself. On the other hand, the text’s fascination with complex psychological and ethical problems is such as to defy the traditional stereotypes we tend to associate with medieval literature. To make things even more complicated, the romance frames its sophisticated probings into subjectivity with investigations into the relationship between history and narrative. In other words, even as Troilus and Criseyde depicts the most private emotions and the way they are engendered and develop, it does so within a self-consciously deployed setting that links the issue of subjectivity with the grand historical panorama of the Trojan War. It is these many different layers of meaning in Troilus and Criseyde that this course seeks to unravel.

17398 -MÜ- Medieval English Literatures: The House of Fame

The House of Fame constitutes what one might call Geoffrey Chaucerʼs most complex and sophisticated dream vision. Following the Dreamer on his three-stage journey, the reader is plunged into a baffling allegory of literary history and poetic epistemology that ends on the most enigmatic note possible. Just as we are led to expect an authoritative solution to the problems the text raises, the poem breaks off: immediately after the narrator has announced a “man of grete auctoriteˮ he falls silent. Thus readers must make up their own minds. This course will investigate the poem in its many contexts in order to understand the rich layers of performative literary theory Chaucer offers his readers.

17453 -C- Englische Philologie Colloquien: Doktorandenkolloquium

Das Doktorandencolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben.Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Winter 2015/2016

17317 -PS- Surveying English Literatures II: Jane Austen

No other writer from English literary history enjoys the same present-day success as Jane Austen - with the exception of J. R. R. Tolkien, perhaps. Pride and Prejudice especially has become something like an all-time favourite and has spawned a whole industry of rewritings and cinematic adaptations. 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.

17325 -PS- Introduction to Cultural Studies II: Pomp and Circumstance: Filming the Monarchy

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.e his speech impediment. (Or is there? After all, in both cases we witness rulers seeking to maintain versions of the mystical qualities of king-/queenship.) As far as the portrayal of actual, historical kings and queens is concerned, the British monarchy/-ies especially has/have furnished the film industry with a sheer inexhaustible mass of material. 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. Thus cinematic/TV depictions of the trials and tribulations of British kings and queens have tended to become increasingly concerned with the constitutional role of the monarchy and with the way the monarchy responds to the challenges of the modern world with its mass media, its consumer society, its specifically bourgeois forms of privacy and its criticism of the culture of deference in which monarchies, and aristocratic systems in general, thrive.

Hence, this course is interested in the way films and television series have been interrogating the role of the monarchy in modern society and culture. We shall thus primarily be discussing films and TV-productions addressing the problems of a monarchy surviving in a modern world. Arguably, we witness the first steps towards this development during the reign of George III (1760-1820), a king whose madness greatly contributed to re-defining the monarch's constitutional role and whose private life - as opposed to the private lives of his sons - displayed a marked element of values destined to characterize the monarchy in more bourgeois times.

17333 -PS- Medieval English Literatures II: The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales (c. 1387) is Geoffrey Chaucer's best-known work - and perhaps the best-known literary work of the English Middle Ages. 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. Yet for all its indisputable canonicity the Tales is far more than a mere showcase of medieval poetic and narrative styles and genres. 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.

Since even in its unfinished form the Canterbury Tales is a vast and sprawling work, this course will be able to deal only with a selection of the tales.

17348 -VS- Modernity and Alterity in the Literatures of Medieval Britain II: J.R.R. Tolkien

J. R. R. 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.g. 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. 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?

17453 -C- Englische Philologie Colloquien: Doktorandenkolloquium

Das Doktorandencolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Summer 2014

17353 -S- Literary Studies: Periods-Genres-Concepts: Literary Studies II: Children’s Literature: The Edwardian Tradition

The Edwardian Age (1901-1910/14) is often seen as the Golden Age of children’s literature. 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. It is probably no coincidence that the archetypal children’s toy, the Teddy Bear, was invented in this period and named after an American president (Theodore Roosevelt) often accused of living a life of eternal boyhood. And just as the Teddy Bear is still with us as a powerful symbol of childhood, so does Edwardian children’s literature still exert its influence on present-day notions of the genre. This course will endeavour to unravel the dominant themes and preoccupations, structures and tropes of some of the most famous examples of Edwardian children’s literature: Sir James Matthew Barrie, Peter Pan (1904: play, 1911: novel); Edith Nesbit, The Railway Children (1905); Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (1908); Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden (1910/11); A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh (1926).

17368 -S- Culture-Gender-Media II: The Medieval Motion Picture

Within the last three decades or so, medieval studies has been invigorated by the rise of a new scholarly subject, ‘medievalism’. Medievalism deals with the representation of the Middle Ages in later periods, and this refers to both scholarly and popular representations. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, film has undoubtedly been the most influential genre offering popular representations of the Middle Ages. But even as films about the Middle Ages - nowadays termed ‘medieval film’, odd as that may sound - claim to portray a period in the distant past they inevitably derive their imaginative potential from problems and preoccupations of the present. 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. The following films will be discussed in class: Michael Curtiz, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938); Richard Lester, Robin and Marian (1976); John McTiernan, The Thirteenth Warrior (1999); Robert Zemeckis, Beowulf (2007); John Boorman, Excalibur (1981); Jerry Zucker, First Knight (1995); Mel Gibson, Braveheart (1995); Anthony Harvey, The Lion in Winter (1968); Richard Donner, Timeline (2003); Brian Helgeland, A Knight's Tale (2001); David Fincher, Seven (1995); M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense (1999); Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).

17406 -HS- Medieval English Literatures: The Canterbury Tales - The Gentils

The Canterbury Tales (c. 1387) is Geoffrey Chaucer’s best-known work. 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. Yet for all its indisputable canonicity the Tales is far more than a mere showcase of medieval poetic and narrative styles and genres. 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. On the contrary, the Canterbury Tales presents itself as a rigorous investigation into such diverse issues as the role 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. 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.e., those told by figures with aristocratic pretensions - while the other half will be dealt with in the tutorial. The two courses form a unity making it possible to read and understand the Tales as a whole.

17407 -T- Medieval English Literatures: The Canterbury Tales - The Churls

Companion course to The Gentils.

17458 -C- Englische Philologie Colloquien: Doktorandenkolloquium

Das Doktorandencolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Winter 2013/2014

Research Semester

17458 -C- Doktorandencolloquium

Das Doktorandencolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Summer 2013

17331 -S- Medieval English Literatures II: The Pearl Poet

The Pearl Poet’s works are amongst the most enigmatic and fascinating and also the most beautiful and polished literary texts transmitted to us from the Middle Ages. 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. The two texts will make it possible for the class to gain insights into a wide variety of issues central to medieval literature in general as well as Middle English literature in particular and into the issue of how modern scholars deal with literary texts from an age very different from our own. The two texts will be put at the participants’ disposal before the course starts.

17351 -V- Literary Studies: Periods-Genres-Concepts: Literary Studies I: Detective Fiction

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.

17366 -S- Introduction to Cultural Studies: Culture, Gender, Media II: Robin Hood

With the exception of King Arthur, perhaps, Robin Hood can arguably be called today’s most famous medieval Englishman. 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. Our present-day image of the hero is shaped by layers of interpretations, by successive attempts at making a figure of popular resistance more acceptable to aristocratic society, more fit for the intended readership of Victorian children’s books or more palatable to generations of American cinema-goers since the nineteen-twenties. 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.

17406 -HS- Medieval English Literatures: Shakespeare: Romance and Gender

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. After all, medieval romance self-consciously investigated, amongst other things, questions of gender through plots of adventure with fairy tale-like elements thrown in - and this is exactly what happens in Shakespeare’s so-called ‘romances’. This course is interested in the way that two of Shakespeare’s late plays, The Two Noble Kinsmen and Pericles, Prince of Tyre, negotiate questions of gender and genre within a self-consciously historicist literary framework. In order to investigate this issue we shall be reading not only the two plays themselves, but also their respective medieval sources, i.e. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale and Apollonius of Tyre from Gower’s Confessio Amantis. Gower’s romance will be made available to students. As for the other texts, students are required to use standard scholarly editions in class, ideally the Riverside Chaucer and the Oxford Shakespeare.

17454 -C- Doktorandencolloquium

Das Doktorandencolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Winter 2012/2013

17396 -T- Literary and Cultural Theories: Speaking with the Dead. The New Historicism in Retrospect

One of the most influential movements in late twentieth-century literary studies was the so-called ‘New Historicism’. For more than two decades (c. 1980 - 2000) it reigned supreme in those subdivisions of English literary criticism that dealt with literature from the past. 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.

A reader containing both theoretical material and typical examples of New Historicist analysis will be put at the students’ disposal before the course starts. This course will be taught in English and requires a knowledge of the language commensurate with C1 or, preferably, C2.

17398 - HS - Constructing Difference:Literary and Cultural Histories - Literary Archaeologies

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. Again and again, we see archaeology being employed as a powerful allegory for historical distance or as a way of conceptualizing human beings’ positions vis à vis the past. 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. This course will be taught in English and requires a knowledge of the language commensurate with C1 or, preferably, C2.

17399 - T - Constructing Difference: Ekphrastic Traditions - Ancient to Early Modern

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.e. an opening into the ever-expanding world of visual culture and interart studies.

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.

This course will be taught in English and requires a knowledge of the language commensurate with C1 or, preferably, C2.

17352 -S- Literary Studies II: Periods-Genres-Concepts: J.R.R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien is one of the most astonishing 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.g. 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. 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?

Students are expected to do a lot of reading for this class. Amongst other things we will be reading The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion (in that order). Other material will be put at the students’ disposal when the semester starts.

This course will be taught in English and requires a knowledge of the language commensurate with C1 or, preferably, C2.

17454 -C- Doktorandencolloquium

Das Doktorandencolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Summer 2012

17316 -S- Surveying English Literatures II: Jane Austen

Together with J.R.R. 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. Frequently, we find that Austen’s novels are regarded as something close to present-day chick lit or else that they are marketed as part of the United Kingdom’s burgeoning heritage industry. 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.

This course will take a closer look at two of Jane Austen’s novels, Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. They will be read with special attention to the basic skills and methods of literary interpretation but also with a view to understanding the political, cultural and social contexts which have shaped Austen’s novels. We will also discuss cinematic and TV-adaptations of the works in question and seek to understand the way modern audiences respond to the author’s works.

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.

17330 -V- Medieval English Literatures I: Languages, Texts and Genres c. 700-1500

The English literary Middle Ages is a complex period marked both by severe breaks and ruptures, such as the Norman Conquest of 1066, 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. 700-1500, focusing on the following topics: the confusing and constantly shifting linguistic situation of medieval England (amongst other things, Old English, Old Norse, Middle English, Latin and French were all spoken and written in during the period), the audiences and media of medieval English literature (oral vs. written, listening public vs. reading public), its genres, styles and themes (religious vs. secular) and examples of major works written during the eight hundred years that constitute the era, as well as the intellectual, cultural, social and political contexts relevant for these works.

A reader containing relevant primary and secondary sources will be made available to students at the beginning of the semester.

This course will be taught in English and requires knowledge of the language commensurate with C1 or, preferably, C2.

17406 -HS- Medieval English Literatures: Beowulf

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.

This course seeks to unravel the many secrets hidden under the text’s surface. 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.e. one containing the Old English text with a full apparatus of notes and a glossary (preferably: Klaeber’s Beowulf, eds. R. D. Fulk, R. E. Bjork and J. D. Niles, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008) by the beginning of the semester. It is also advisable to get hold of a Modern English translation of the poem.

17456 -C- Doktorandencolloquium

Das Doktorandencolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Winter 2011/2012

Research Semester

17456 -C- Doktorandencolloquium

Das Doktorandencolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Summer 2011

17353 -V/Ü- Literary Studies I: Der historische Roman

In einer Zeit, in der Twitter, Facebook und andere elektronische Medien den Moment der Gegenwart aufzuwerten scheinen, zählt der historische Roman zu den kommerziell erfolgreichsten literarischen Gattungen. Dieser Erfolg sticht in literatursoziologischer Sicht ebenso ins Auge wie ein gewisses Misstrauen seitens Literaturwissenschaft und -kritik. Dieses nimmt jedoch möglicherweise ab, wie etwa der Booker-Preis 2010 für Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall nahelegt. Beide Phänomene – der Erfolg und das Misstrauen – verlangen nach einer Erklärung.

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. Am historischen Roman lassen sich paradigmatisch Probleme der Fiktionalität literarischer Werke untersuchen, und woher ein Roman seine Autorität bezieht und worauf sich seine Souveränität gründet, gegen das Faktische zu sprechen, fragt sich bei jedem Roman, aber insbesondere beim historischen.

Die Diskussion des historischen Romans ist untrennbar verbunden mit dem umkämpften Begriff ‚Realismus‘, den die Autoren unterschiedlich verstehen und bewerten. So gehört es zu den Anfängen des Romans, dass der Autor die Wahrhaftigkeit des Erzählten in einer Anmerkung bekräftigt, und dies zeichnet viel später noch historische Romane aus. Zeitgenössische historische Romane beinhalten demgegenüber häufig eine distanzierende Anmerkung, in welcher der Autor versichert, gerade nicht den Anspruch zu verfolgen, geschichtliche Ereignisse wahrheitsgetreu darzustellen. Die Erforschung der Struktur und Geschichte dieser Paratexte kann Aufschluss über die Funktion historischer Romane und den geschichtlichen Status des Romans im Literatursystem überhaupt geben.

Mit dem quasiobligatorischen Paratext verbinden sich Fragen nach der inhärenten bzw. eben nicht inhärenten Metafiktionalität des historischen Romans und nach der engen Beziehung des Genres zum postmodernen Erzählen; dies auch deshalb, weil der historische Roman sich als überaus hybrides Genres erweist, das Allianzen mit dem Thriller, Fantasy oder dem Generationsepos eingeht.

Der historische Roman bringt dem Leser das Historische seines Sujets notwendigerweise anhand von Charakteren nahe. Während Georg Lukàcs forderte, die Figuren des Romans müssten sowohl individuell als auch typisch sein, um die Zeitverhältnisse objektiv darzustellen, erscheint es uns sinnvoll, über mögliche Veränderungen der Charakterkonzeption sowie über das Verhältnis von ‚großer’ und ‚kleiner’, öffentlicher und privater Geschichte in historischen Romanen verschiedener Epochen nachzudenken.

Dieser kurze Überblick über wesentliche Aspekte des historischen Romans zeigt bereits, dass, wer sich diesem Genre zuwendet, unweigerlich mit den zentralen Problemen von Literaturwissenschaft und –kritik in Berührung kommt.

Diesen Problemen wollen wir uns in dieser interdisziplinären Ringvorlesung stellen. 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. Sie richtet sich sowohl an Studierende als auch an ein breiteres Publikum und wird ihres interdisziplinären Zuschnitts wegen in deutscher Sprache gehalten.

17405 -HS- The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales (c. 1387) is Geoffrey Chaucer’s best-known work. 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.

Yet for all its indisputable canonicity the Tales is far more than a mere showcase of medieval poetic and narrative styles and genres. 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. On the contrary, the Canterbury Tales presents itself as a rigorous investigation into such diverse issues as the role 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.

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., Oxford UP, 1988) or the Penguin Classics edition (Jill Mann, ed., Penguin, 2005).

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.

The course will be taught in English, level C1 is required.

17407 -T- Dreaming Chaucer

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. e. poems in which the rather naïve narrator falls asleep and experiences a number of encounters with allegorical, historical and literary figures who seem to help him to come to terms with some of the central questions of literature. Chaucer’s dream visions are complex narrative poems exploring the nature of poetry itself. 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. This course will concentrate on two of his dream visions, The House of Fame and The Parliament of Fowls.

17456 -C- Doktorandencolloquium

Das Doktorandencolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Winter 2010/2011

17348 -VS- Modernity and Alterity II: Beowulf

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.

This course seeks to unravel the many secrets hidden under the text’s surface. 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.e. one containing the Old English text with a full apparatus of notes and a glossary (preferably: Klaeber’s Beowulf, eds. R. D. Fulk, R. E. Bjork and J. D. Niles, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008) by the beginning of the semester. It is also advisable to get hold of a Modern English translation of the poem.

17353 -VS- Literary Studies II: The Historical Novel

The historical novel presents a rare challenge to literary scholars. A genre notoriously difficult to define and consistently denigrated by literary critics, the historical novel has been marginalized by academia – not only in spite of, but possibly precisely because of its evident popularity. 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. After all, the genre’s important place in literary history is indisputable. Indeed, the dominant position of the novel in general during the nineteenth century owes much to the impressive successes of Sir Walter Scott’s historical fictions and, consequently, most of the nineteenth century’s canonical giants tried their hand at composing historical novels: Tolstoy, Flaubert, Dickens and Fontane, to name only a few. Moreover, postmodernism has reinvented the historical novel in various shapes and guises and thus succeeded in re-establishing the genre’s standing in educated circles.

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:

Barry Unsworth, Morality Play, 1995.

Lawrence Norfolk, The Pope’s Rhinoceros, 1996.

Kazuo Ishiguro, When We Were Orphans, 2000.

17397 -HS- Shakespearean Medievalism

The Middle Ages is one of the most important themes of Shakespeare’s oeuvre. 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. Both in his politico-historical and in his rather more literary investigations into England’s past Shakespeare displays a skeptical inquisitiveness with respect to myths of origin, celebrated historical ruptures and ideologically charged legends of legitimation. 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:

Henry V

Pericles

The Two Noble Kinsmen

17398 -T- Inventing the Middle Ages in the 20th Century: Texts and Theory

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. Since the invention of the Middle Ages originated in the process of the Renaissance’s self-parturition and self-definition, this course will be of especial interest not only to medievalists but equally and perhaps even more so to students of the Renaissance and to students interested in the complex relations of literature and history.

A reader will be made available to students via blackboard.

17456 -C- Doktorandencolloquium

Das Doktorandencolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Summer 2010

17315 -V/Ü- Surveying English Literatures I: From Medieval to Modern (with Russell West-Pavlov)

The history of literatures written in English stretches back over a millennium and now encompasses texts written all around the world. This course offers you an overview of the various periods of literature written in English from Medieval and Early Modern, via the ages of “Enlightenment” and Romanticism, the Victorian period, Modernism, through to contemporary writing since the Second World War, taking us into the early twenty-first century. The course aims to provide you with a larger sense of context into which your more focussed study of specific periods, genres, or themes in English literature at the “Aufbau” and “Vertiefung” levels can be placed.

Texts: Scripts of the lectures will be available on Blackboard.

Additionally, you may want to peruse Paul Poplawski (ed.), English Literature in Context (Cambridge University Press 2008).

Language of instruction: English (C1)

17348 -VS- Modernity and Alterity II: Early Middle English Romance

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. But like so many other images of the medieval that have taken hold in the modern imagination, this reflects a romantic cliché rather than the complex realities of the medieval texts that have come down to us. In medieval English literature, romance took long to develop and never fully assumed the shape(s) known to us from French literary history. Instead of displaying a polished, fairy-tale-like world of supposedly ideal chivalry, early English romance presents us with a baffling picture of conflicting traditions, local concerns and political traumas so varied that scholars regularly debate the applicability of the term ‘romance’ to the texts in question.

This course will take a look at the odd assortment of fictional narratives that were written in England between 1200 and 1350. Students will be provided with the texts via Blackboard. The seminar will be taught in English, level C1 is required.

17367 -VS- Culture, Gender, Media II: Espionage in Fiction and Film

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. 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).

Students are required to buy and read the following novels/collections of short stories BEFORE the course starts:

John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps, 1915

William Somerset Maugham, Ashenden: Or the British Agent, 1928

Ian Fleming, From Russia with Love, 1957

John Le Carré, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, 1963

Furthermore, students are advised to familiarize themselves with the following films BEFORE the course starts:

The Lady Vanishes, dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1938

North by Northwest, dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1959

The Day of the Jackal, dir. Fred Zinnemann, 1973

17406 -HS- Literature and Politics c. 1400

In 1399 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. Though widely hailed as the nation’s saviour, the new king soon faced considerable opposition – not least because of the violent nature of his accession and a general feeling that he and his dynasty lacked legitimacy. 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. Amongst other things, this led to the posthumous elevation of Geoffrey Chaucer to the position of national poet and fons et origo (‘source and origin’) of English poetry.

This class is designed to take a closer look at the specifically political aspects we encounter in English literature from c. 1375 to c. 1425. 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 attending this course are advised to attend also the tutorial “Dreaming of Love”, i.e. course 17 408.

Students are asked to acquire a copy of the Riverside Chaucer (Larry D. Benson ed., Oxford UP, 1988/2008) before the semester starts. The course will be taught in English, level C1 is required.

17408 -T- Dreaming of Love

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.

Designed in tandem with course 17406, this seminar will introduce students to the fascinating world of two of Chaucer’s dream visions, The House of Fame and The Parliament of Fowls, texts not only supremely sophisticated but also remarkably funny.

17456 -C- Doktorandencolloquium

Das Doktorandencolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Winter 2009/2010

17 332 -AS- Medieval English Literatures II: Middle English Romance

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.

For various reasons, most of England’s contribution to this body of literature is remarkably late and uneven in quality, especially if compared to the grand products of Old French and Middle High German literature written in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. 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. Precisely because Middle English Arthurian romance is so diverse, and in some cases even odd, does it give us a remarkable insight into the tastes and habits of thought of a broad segment of the late medieval English reading/listening public and, thus, into the various aesthetic, ideological and cultural uses to which Arthurian romance could be put.

A reader containing the relevant primary texts will be made available to students at the beginning of the semester.

The language of instruction is English (required level C1).

17 347 -VS- Modernity and Alterity II: Readers, Writers, Texts: The Idea of the Vernacular in Late Medieval English

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 seminar’s aim is to take a closer look at how English writers of the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries thought of themselves and their work. 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. literacy? 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?

A reader containing the relevant primary texts will be made available to students at the beginning of the semester. The language of instruction is English (required level C1).

17 457 -C- Forschungskolloquium

Das Forschungscolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Summer 2009

17315 -V/Ü- Surveying English Literatures I: From Medieval to Modern

What we call ‘English literature’ is a difficult field of study to grasp, as it continues to evolve, as new novels, poems, plays are written by the day, and as formerly unknown authors in the past (such as women writers, for instance) are added to the ‘canon’ or previously unconsidered areas of study (such as the postcolonial literatures) join the community of ‘Engl. Lit.’ In order to give you an overview of this field of study, which starts well before 1000 A. D., and is still adding to its catalogue in 2009, we offer a lecture series designed to summarize the main periods of English literature from the medieval and the early, via the “long eighteenth century”, Romanticism, Victorianism, through to Modernism, Postcolonial and Postmodernism (the contemporary period). This is a team-taught lecture course in which a group of professors from the department contribute their respective expertise so as to give you some feel for the range of ‘English Literature’ over a millennium.

17346 -V/Ü- Modernity and Alterity I: Populär, pittoresk, politisch? Das Mittelalter im Mainstream-Kino

Das Mittelalter hat seinen festen Platz in der Filmgeschichte: Robin Hood, König Artus und die Jungfrau von Orléans – sie alle sind von großen Stars verkörpert oder von bedeutenden Regisseuren in Szene gesetzt worden. Seit rund 100 Jahren stellt der Film damit das vielleicht wirkungsvollste Medium zur Verbreitung von Mittelalterbildern dar, denn kaum etwas prägt das populäre Bewusstsein so sehr wie der Film.

Doch sind die Bilder vom Mittelalter, die uns dieses populäre und in weiten Teilen hochkommerzielle Medium bietet, alles andere als unschuldig. Gerade weil das Mittelalter uns scheinbar so fern ist, bietet es sich als ideale Projektionsfläche an, um die kollektiven Ängste und Wünsche der Gegenwart auszudrücken. Die Politik macht vor dem Artushof nicht Halt. Im Gegenteil: Die visuellen Gegebenheiten des Films machen es möglich, ideologisch gesättigte Botschaften noch im scheinbar harmlosen Abenteuerfilm oder in der romantischen Komödie zu transportieren, aber auch zu hinterfragen. Wenn die Feinde Camelots sich gebärden wie internationale Terroristen und ihre Armbrüste halten wie Mafiosi ihre Pistolen, dann ist das mehr als ein hübscher Anachronismus. 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. Wegen des internationalen und interdisziplinären Charakters der Veranstaltung werden die Vorträge zum Teil in deutscher, zum Teil in englischer Sprache gehalten.

17348 -VS- Modernity and Alterity II: Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde

Geoffrey Chaucer’s romance Troilus and Criseyde has been called the ‘first novel’ in the English language. And, indeed, there is something highly ambiguous about this tragic Trojan love story. On the one hand, it is a thoroughly medieval text that treats its antiquity from a chivalric perspective appearing at times to be more foreign to modern readers than even the world of Homer itself. On the other hand, the text’s fascination with complex psychological and ethical problems is such as to defy the traditional stereotypes we tend to associate with medieval literature. To make things even more complicated, the romance frames its sophisticated probings into subjectivity with investigations into the relationship between history and narrative. In other words, even as Troilus and Criseyde depicts the most private emotions and the way they are engendered and develop, it does so within a self-consciously deployed setting that links the issue of subjectivity with the grand historical panorama of the Trojan War.

It is these many different layers of meaning in Troilus and Criseyde that this course seeks to unravel. Students are expected to have acquired the Riverside Chaucer (Larry D. Benson (ed.), Oxford University Press, 1988) and have read the text before the semester starts. 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.

17405 -HS- The Canterbury Tales: The Gentils

The Canterbury Tales (c. 1387) is Geoffrey Chaucer’s best-known work. 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.

Yet for all its indisputable canonicity the Tales is far more than a mere showcase of medieval poetic and narrative styles and genres. 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. On the contrary, the Canterbury Tales presents itself as a rigorous investigation into such diverse issues as the role 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.

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.e., those told by figures with aristocratic pretensions – while the other half will be dealt with in the tutorial. Students are strongly advised to attend both the Hauptseminar and the tutorial. The two courses form a unity making it possible to read and understand the Tales as a whole.

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., Oxford UP, 1988) or the Penguin Classics edition (Jill Mann, ed., Penguin, 2005).

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.

17406 -T- The Canterbury Tales: The Cherls

The Canterbury Tales (c. 1387) is Geoffrey Chaucer’s best-known work. 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.

Yet for all its indisputable canonicity the Tales is far more than a mere showcase of medieval poetic and narrative styles and genres. 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. On the contrary, the Canterbury Tales presents itself as a rigorous investigation into such diverse issues as the role 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.

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. Students are strongly advised to attend both the Hauptseminar and the tutorial. The two courses form a unity making it possible to read and understand the Tales as a whole.

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., Oxford UP, 1988) or the Penguin Classics edition (Jill Mann, ed., Penguin, 2005).

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.

17461 -C- Examenskolloquium

Das Colloquium richtet sich an Studierende, die das Staatsexamen oder das Magisterexamen zu absolvieren wünschen. Es wird literaturwissenschaftliches Grundwissen wiederholt, es gibt mock exams und praktische Tipps. Beim genauen Ablauf werden die Wünsche der Studierenden berücksichtigt. Die Unterrichtssprache wird überwiegend Englisch sein.

Es handelt sich hiermit wahrscheinlich um das letzte Examenscolloquium für Magistrand/inn/en und Staatsexamenskandidat/inn/en, das überhaupt noch angeboten wird.

17462 -C- Forschungskolloquium

Das Forschungscolloquium richtet sich an Interessenten mit gezielten Forschungsvorhaben. Die Teilnahme erfolgt auf persönliche Einladung.

Winter 2008/2009

17347 -VS- Modernity and Alterity II: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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. Surviving in a single manuscript and composed in what appears to be a provincial dialect and a highly traditional poetic style, the text deals with an Arthurian subject matter that was already being branded as old-fashioned by Chaucer’s circle of metropolitan writers and connoisseurs. Especially if read in the context of contemporary London’s literary scene, the poem bespeaks a conflicted nostalgia that takes us deep into the heart of the cultural and social conflicts of its age.

Students will be provided with a reader at the beginning of the class. This will contain the Middle English text and further materials. 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. and introd. by Bernard O’Donoghue, London: Penguin, 2006).

17352 -VS- Literary Studies II: J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien is one of the most astonishing 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 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. 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.

This course seeks to take a closer look at these issues and subject Tolkien’s fiction to critical scrutiny. 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 convey? Does sexuality matter in his work?

Students are expected to do a lot of reading for this class. In order to participate one must have read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion before the class begins. Other material will be put at the students’ disposal when the semester starts. There is no time to lose, get started!

17405 -HS- Shakespeare’s Romes

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. Yet it is certainly true that the period frequently referred to as the ‘Renaissance’ developed new perspectives on the age known as classical antiquity.

These perspectives were far from simple and straightforward. On the contrary, just like the Middle Ages itself, the Renaissance possessed a complex variety of multiple antiquities. Shakespeare is a case in point. In his plays, classical culture is less an ideal model to be followed than a terrain to be explored, a variegated field of historical options where different political cultures jostle for dominance and where contradictory images of the past are linked to competing literary traditions – traditions not only handed down from antiquity itself but equally from the Middle Ages and from Italian Humanism.

This course seeks to take a look at the way different literary, cultural and political approaches to the ancient world are interrogated on the Shakespearean stage. We will read the following three plays that take us from the tragedies of Seneca through the biographies of Plutarch down to that world of legend where antiquity ends and the Middle Ages begin: Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar and Cymbeline. Students are expected to acquire critical editions of these dramas, preferably either the Arden or Oxford texts.

17446 -S- Literatur und Medien im Kontext des Englischunterrichts

This course investigates the question of how literature and visual media interact. We will take a close look at the way in which canonical literary texts are adapted to the visual medium of film and how this process of adaptation and interpretation, in turn, spawns new texts which enter into complex dialogues with the literary and cultural traditions they derive from.

The seminar aims at students who want to become schoolteachers but it is not primarily concerned with didactic or pedagogical concerns. Rather, it seeks to equip future schoolteachers with the intellectual and academic competence to discuss complex literary issues at a scholarly level.

The text chosen for this class will be Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet which we will discuss in comparison with Franco Zeffirelli’s and Baz Luhrman’s film versions of the play, as well as with John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love.

Students are expected to have acquired a critical edition of Romeo and Juliet, Arden or Oxford being the preferred options. The screenplay of John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love must also be acquired. It is available in the series Fremdsprachentexte from Reclam Universal-Bibliothek.

17461 -C- Forschungskolloquium/Research Forum

Das Forschungscolloquium gibt Studierenden, die an Dissertationen oder Examensarbeiten mit spezieller Forschungsperspektive arbeiten, die Gelegenheit, ihre Thesen zu diskutieren. Zudem werden methodisch-theoretische Fragen diskutiert, die insbesondere für das Mittelalter und die Frühe Neuzeit relevant sind. Das Colloquium richtet sich nicht an Examenskandidat/inn/en im allgemeinen Sinne.

Eine vorherige persönliche Anmeldung in meiner Sprechstunde ist für die Teilnahme erforderlich.

Summer 2008

17353 -VS- Literary Studies II: Elizabethan Prose Fiction

This seminar seeks to explore the complex field of Elizabethan prose fiction. Though Elizabethan prose fiction has ceased to be the undiscovered continent of Renaissance Studies, most students encounter these texts only as sources of the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

Here, we wish to discuss these texts as interesting contributions to the Elizabethan literary scene in their own right. We will take a close look at the traditions they drew on, the contexts that shaped them and the specific aesthetics the different texts represent. Although most of our texts are romances of one form or another they display a surprising diversity testifying to the rich narrative possibilities available in the days before the novel. These are the texts we are going to read: George Gascoigne, The Adventures of Master F.J. (1573), John Lyly, Euphues or the Anatomy of Wit (1578), Robert Greene, Pandosto: The Triumph of Time (1588), Thomas Deloney, Jack of Newbury (c. 1597).

Students are expected to have acquired a copy of the following book by the beginning of the semester: An Anthology of Elizabethan Prose Fiction, Oxford World’s Classics, ed. and introd. by Paul Salzman, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

This course will be taught in English and requires a knowledge of the language commensurate with C1 or, preferably, C2.

17354 -VS- Literary Studies II: Early Modern Ekphrasis

Ekphrasis is one of the most fascinating phenomena literary studies has to offer. Originally, the rhetorical term referred to any kind of detailed description, but it soon acquired a specialized meaning, denoting verbal representations of works of art. 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. What makes ekphrasis so particularly interesting to literary scholars is 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 to inscribe themselves into the literary tradition. And, for literary scholars, ekphrasis provides a bridge into the realm of the visual, i.e. an opening into the ever-expanding world of interart studies.

A reader will be made available to students at the beginning of the course. It will contain texts by Chaucer, Lyly, Sidney, Spenser and Shakespeare.

This course will be taught in English and requires a knowledge of the language commensurate with C1 or, preferably, C2.

17414 -HS- Alliterative Morte d’Arthure/Stanzaic Morte d’Arthur

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table with their tales of love and chivalry were the most popular subject of late medieval secular literature and even today they manage to entrance readers and movie-goers alike. Yet as is often the case in literary history, later audiences have received only a narrowed view of the material. For centuries William Caxton’s edition (1485) of Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur (1470) constituted the principal English version of the Arthurian tradition, a version based largely on the early thirteenth-century French Prose Vulgate Cycle. But much as Malory may stress the continental origin of his sources, he actually made extensive use of two other texts, one of which, the alliterative Morte Arthure, represents a stunning example of an alternative and thoroughly insular late medieval interpretation of King Arthur’s time. The alliterative Morte Arthure, probably written c. 1400, consciously goes back to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the British Kings (twelfth century) and rejects the French tradition of a romanticized, fairy-tale Camelot. Indeed, the very place-name ‘Camelot’ is nowhere to be found in the alliterative Morte Arthure. Its Arthur is an imperialist warrior king, a stern ruler and ambitious politician, so that the tragic conflict between the values of love and chivalry we associate with the world of Camelot remains conspicuously absent from an alliterative poem that glories in its grim realism and epic scope. By contrast, the stanzaic Morte Arthur (c. 1350), which, too, influenced Sir Thomas Malory, is much closer to the French model. Nevertheless, it caters for an English audience much humbler than that of its source and sacrifices the dilatory pace and psychological complexities of the French text for a condensed narrative full of action and suspense.

The two versions of King Arthur’s fall will enable us to study different styles of Middle English story-telling. They will provide us with insights into the varying ideological projects to which the figure of King Arthur was harnessed during the later Middle Ages and, especially in the case of the alliterative Morte Arthure, will show us how, by the end of the fourteenth century, English literature was struggling to come to terms with the grand political ambitions of the Hundred Years War and with the disillusionment that was the inevitable product of this terrible conflict.

A reader will be made available to students at the beginning of the semester.

This course will be taught in English and requires a knowledge of the language commensurate with C1 or, preferably, C2.

17415 -T- Beowulf

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.

This course seeks to unravel the many secrets hidden under the text’s surface. 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.e. one containing the Old English text with a full apparatus of notes and a glossary) by the beginning of the semester. I recommend either the revised version of Klaeber’s edition or Bruce Mitchell and Fred Robinson’s student edition. It is also advisable to get hold of a translation of the poem.

This course will be taught in English and requires a knowledge of the language commensurate with C1 or, preferably, C2.

17452 -C- Colloquium für Examenskandidat/inn/en

Das Colloquium richtet sich an alle Studierenden, die das Staatsexamen oder das Magisterexamen zu absolvieren wünschen. Es wird literaturwissenschaftliches Grundwissen wiederholt, es gibt mock exams und praktische Tipps. Beim genauen Ablauf werden die Wünsche der Studierenden berücksichtigt. Die Unterrichtssprache wird überwiegend Englisch sein.

Winter 2007/2008

17315 -V/Ü- Surveying English Literatures I

What we call ‘English literature’ is a difficult field of study to grasp, as it continues to evolve, as new novels, poems, plays are written by the day, and as formerly unknown authors in the past (such as women writers, for instance) are added to the ‘canon’ or previously unconsidered areas of study (such as the postcolonial literatures) join the community of ‘Engl. Lit.’ In order to give you an overview of this field of study, which starts well before 1000, and is still adding to its catalogue in 2006, we offer a lecture series designed to summarize the main periods of English literature from the medieval and the early, via the “long eighteenth century”, Romanticism, Victorianism, through to Modernism, Postcolonial and Postmodernism (the contemporary period). This is a team-taught lecture course in which a trio of professors from the department avail themselves of their respective expertise so as to give you some feel for the range of ‘English Literature’ over a millennium.

17330 -AS- Medieval English Literatures II: The Rise and Fall of Camelot: Sir Thomas Malory

The Arthurian legends are amongst the best-known cultural legacies bequeathed to us by the Middle Ages. Introduced into the mainstream of medieval culture through the work of the twelfth-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, they quickly developed a literary life of their own, largely independent of their shadowy origins in migration period Celtic history. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s pseudo-historical Arthur soon became the stuff of romance and his court provided the literal point of departure for numerous chivalric adventures. Moreover, Arthur’s own role changed as the great warrior king became one of the corners of a tragic love triangle destined to destroy his kingdom, his life and his love.

But even as Arthur transformed into a figure from romance and fairy tale he retained a particular cultural urgency for English audiences which is why shortly before the last quarter of the fifteenth century, in a period marked by defeat abroad and civil war at home, the English writer Sir Thomas Malory attempted a synthesis of the Arthurian material, presenting to his readers an encyclopaedic and yet decidedly English version of the story of Camelot. In the eyes of English readers, his rendering has become something like the definitive version of Arthur, but a closer look reveals the huge extent to which Malory’s Morte Darthur – an English book bearing a French title – is the product of conflicting traditions and cultural agendas, how it reflects not only the tensions of highly contradictory sources but also those of the ideological problems of the period it was written in. These are the issues this seminar seeks to address.

17347 -VS- Modernity and Alterity II: Robin Hood

With the exception of King Arthur, perhaps, Robin Hood can arguably be called today’s most famous medieval Englishman. 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 been long dead. Our present-day image of the hero is shaped by layers of interpretations, by successive attempts at making a figure of popular resistance more acceptable to aristocratic society, more fit for the intended readership of Victorian children’s books or more palatable to generations of American cinema-goers since the nineteen-twenties. 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 the Hollywood of the 1990s which will show us how the legend developed into what it has become.

17359 -VS- Culture, Gender, Media II: Queen Elizabeth I: Sovereign, Poet, Cultural Phenomenon

Elizabeth I is probably the most famous of all English monarchs. Epitomizing the English Renaissance with all its ideological implications, the ‘Virgin Queen’ remains a larger-than-life figure to this very day, the protagonist of numerous modern novels and films.

To a certain extent, the foundations of this phenomenon were laid by the queen herself, by the carefully crafted cult of her which turned her life into a never-ceasing pageant, a spectacle whose glittering symbolic forms were of considerable political significance. Thus all manner of cultural artefacts and artistic and literary genres were pressed into the service of shaping the image of the queen. And Elizabeth, herself a gifted poet, orator, letter-writer and dancer, brilliantly played the part of the monarch in a world where the state was weak and the exercise of monarchical power had to rely on the arts of propaganda and persuasion to an extent one would hardly be able to believe if one accepted at face value the contemporary rhetoric of royal power and sovereign majesty.

This course will take a look at Elizabeth’s cultural role, at the world of late Tudor court culture, and especially at Elizabeth’s own contributions to the culture of her times, at the speeches, letters and poems through which the queen fashioned herself.

Summer 2007

17339 -AS- Medieval English Literatures II: The Middle English Lyric

The study of later medieval English literature focuses to such an extent on narrative poetry that the rich lyrical tradition of the Middle English period is often obscured. To a certain extent, this is the case because the largely anonymous Middle English lyrical corpus was, for a long time, considered to be merely ‘popular’, i.e. written by lower-(or middle-)class writers for a lower-(or middle-)class audience with lower-(or middle-)class concerns. Recent criticism has, however, entered into a major process of re-evaluation of the later medieval English lyric, emphasizing not only the great variety and high quality to be found in the Middle English lyric but also the complex issues dealt with by the poems. This course will seek to give a broad but certainly not exhaustive overview of the types and subgenres of Middle English lyrical verse. The focus will predominantly be on anonymous work, but there will also be occasion to take a closer look at a poem or two by Chaucer.

17356 -VS- Modernity and Alterity II: The Postcolonial Middle Ages

Postcolonial criticism has long become a major force in English literary and cultural studies, though at first glance it might seem to be a force relevant only to students of modern or postmodern literature. After all, when medieval literature was being produced, the New World had not yet been discovered and most of the regions we associate with postcolonial literatures still lay beyond the cultural horizons of European writers. Besides, there is in post-colonial studies a strong tendency not to interrogate many of the implicit historiographical assumptions inherent in the postcolonial project, so that postcolonial methodologies easily contribute to the marginalisation of pre-modern or pre-early modern literatures. Nevertheless, in recent years medievalists have increasingly been turning to postcolonial themes and methodologies and have produced a wide variety of new readings of familiar medieval texts as well as introducing interesting shifts within the canon of medieval English literature itself. This course seeks to investigate the uses that postcolonial theories and methodologies have for the medievalist by reading a number of Middle English texts from a postcolonial perspective.

17364 -V/Ü- Literary Genres I: Detective Fiction

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 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.

17368 -VS- Literary Concepts II: When Hitler Won the War: Parahistory and Parahistorical Novels

“What if Hitler had won the War?” For a long time, respectable historians would have refused even to ask such a question, let alone answer it. Writers have not been quite as queasy about the issue and in recent years eminent historians have begun to follow suit. The counterfactual in history is becoming an acknowledged methodological tool amongst academic historians, while writers of fiction have long been exploiting its exciting narrative possibilities. This course will take a look both at the practice and theory of counterfactual or alternative history, comparing fictional versions of alternative history with those produced by historians or popular historical writers. The focus of this class will, therefore, be not only on the literary issues involved but also on questions of epistemology and historiographical method. The majority of alternative history texts that our examples will be taken from deal with the idea of Germany having won World War II.

Apart from a number of shorter texts written by historians, which students will be provided with at the beginning of the term, we will be reading the following novels: Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle (1962), Robert Harris, Fatherland (1992), and Stephen Fry, Making History (1996). Students are expected to have acquired copies and read them before the semester starts.

Winter 2006/2007

17326 -AS- Surveying English Literatures II: The Beauty of Survival - Writing the Second World War

As the generation which actively took part in the Second World War is dying out, that most terrible of military conflicts is being subjected to ever-increasing scrutiny. For the British especially, the memory of the Second World War is fraught with ambivalence. On the one hand, it conjures up images of “their finest hour” (Winston Churchill, June 18th 1940), on the other, its glories are tarnished by the supposedly shameful appeasement policies that led up to it, by the Allies’ relative inaction in the face of the Holocaust and by the systematic strategic bombing of Germany, directed primarily against the civilian population. Besides, the war crucially accelerated the decline of Britain as an empire.

Yet it is precisely this ambivalence that provides the basis for a number of recent complex literary attempts to re-fashion and interrogate the memory of the war, attempts focussing not only on the British experience – an experience highly diverse in itself – but also on that of other nations, peoples and communities. Thus, in literature written in English, the Second World War has become something of a perfect narrative theatre in which to stage issues of history and memory, identity and experience, story-telling and myth-making, and to cast these issues in terms of perspectives depending on the frequently conflicting dynamics of class, nation and gender.

This course will seek to trace some of these narrative trajectories in the novels The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje, 1992), Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (Louis de Bernières, 1994) and Atonement (Ian McEwan, 2001). Students are presumed to have acquired copies of these novels and to have read them before the course starts. They will be given the opportunity to prove their familiarity with the texts in a series of short tests.

17355 -V/Ü- Modernity and Alterity I: Issues of Orality and Literacy in Medieval English Literature

The first English poet known to us by name is Caedmon. We learn of him from the eighth-century historian Bede, who describes how Caedmon was inspired in a dream to produce poetry on religious themes in a style that had hitherto been reserved for heroic tales.

It is a beautiful and moving story, though much of its beauty derives from the way it seems to underpin our most basic assumptions on pre-modern literature, most of all our ideas on orality. Caedmon was, after all, an illiterate who composed poems that were meant to be listened to, not read, and that were written down only later – or so we are led to believe.

The relationship between orality and literacy in medieval English and European literature has become a hotly debated problem, and many well-established theories on the primacy of the oral are being fiercely contested. During the last three or four decades, scholars have increasingly been realizing that the oral and the literate are much more difficult to disentangle than we used to think and that aesthetically sophisticated notions of the oral were held already in the Middle Ages.

This lecture course will take a look at some of the theories, problems and ideological positions involved and relate them to a selection of excerpts from medieval English texts. The course intends to show that the great divide between orality and literacy is a construct, a cultural myth that originated in the Middle Ages itself, and that the relationship between the oral and the literate is complex and constantly shifting.

17356 -VS- Modernity and Alterity II: Old English Poetry: Elegiac and Heroic

The two most important modes of Old English poetry are the elegiac and the heroic, and they often occur in combination. While Old English poetry in general is characterized by a strong longing for the great deeds of a heroic past, the poems also tend to be suffused with a sense of loss and even of futility, throwing into high relief that nostalgic desire they express.

Two poems which exemplify particularly impressive instances of the way the heroic merges with the elegiac are Deor and The Battle of Maldon. Whereas the former conjures up a mythical past of Germanic legend and history, the latter projects its heroic vision onto an event of contemporary, i.e. late tenth-century history: a battle seen by many as emblematic of the crisis of the Anglo-Saxon world at the turn of the millennium.

Since we will be reading both poems in the original language, the first third of the seminar will be dedicated to a crash-course in Old English to enable participants to acquire a modicum of basic reading skills. Students will be given the opportunity to prove their newly gained linguistic competence in a series of short and simple tests. A reader will be made available at the beginning of the semester.

17368 -VS- Literary Genres II: Shakespeare’s Romances

Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, his romances arguably display the greatest degree of alterity. Their fairy-tale-like plots and settings, the highly improbable course their action tends to take and their stylistic borrowings from the genre of the court masque make them seem particularly alien to modern audiences. Yet the plays’ fascination with the wonderful should not blind us to the tension-ridden political landscapes they unfold, to the issues of power and ideology they debate and to their highly self-reflexive interrogations of notions of the theatrical and the aesthetic in general.

Besides, for all their fairy-tale-like character, they are full of allusions to contemporary issues and problems the material impact of which would have been felt in the daily lives of their original viewers. The Tempest, for instance, taps into Early Modern discourses of exploration and colonisation, while in Pericles the brothels that formed the immediate environment of the Elizabethan and Jacobean play-houses come to life.

In this course, we will read first Pericles, Prince of Tyre, and then the Tempest. Students are expected to have acquired a critical edition of each of the texts (preferably either the Arden or the Oxford Shakespeare) and to have become familiar with the plays by the beginning of the semester.

17420 -C- Colloquium für Examenskandidat/inn/en

Das Colloquium unterstützt Studierende darin, sich auf die Abschlussprüfungen im Bereich der Literaturwissenschaft und/oder der mittelalterlichen Literatur und historischen Sprachwissenschaft vorzubereiten. Die Unterrichtsformen und -inhalte orientieren sich an den spezifischen Bedürfnissen der Teilnehmer/innen, wobei das mock exam im Zentrum stehen wird, welches es Studierenden ermöglicht, gefahrlos Examensluft zu schnuppern.

Summer 2006

17340 -V/Ü- Medieval English Literatures I: Languages, Texts and Genres c. 700-1500

The English literary Middle Ages is a complex period marked both by severe breaks and ruptures, such as the Norman Conquest of 1066, 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. 700-1500, focussing on the following topics: the confusing and constantly shifting linguistic situation of medieval England (amongst other things, Old English, Old Norse, Middle English, Latin and French were all spoken and written in during the period), the audiences and media of medieval English literature (oral vs. written, listening public vs. reading public), its genres, styles and themes (religious vs. secular) and examples of major works written during the eight hundred years that constitute the era, as well as the intellectual, cultural, social and political context relevant for these works. A reader containing relevant primary and secondary sources will be made available to students at the beginning of the semester.

The reader to this course is available for printing at the alpha copy shop in the philological library.

17386 -HS- The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales (c. 1387) is Geoffrey Chaucer’s best-known work. 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.

Yet for all its indisputable canonicity the Tales is far more than a mere showcase of medieval poetic and narrative styles and genres. 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. On the contrary, the Canterbury Tales presents itself as a rigorous investigation into such diverse issues as the role 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. These are only some of the problems this class will discuss in its attempt to understand both the alterity and the modernity of Chaucer’s book.

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., Oxford UP, 1988) or the Penguin Classics edition (Jill Mann, ed., Penguin, 2005).

Since students will be given the opportunity to prove their knowledge of the text in a series of tests spread over the whole semester (beginning in the third week), they are advised to have read the Canterbury Tales from beginning to end at least once before the course starts.

17341 -AS- Middle English Arthurian Romances

Arthurian Romance – the so-called ‘Matter of Britain’ – 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.

For various reasons, most of England’s contribution to this body of literature is remarkably late and uneven in quality, especially if compared to the grand products of Old French and Middle High German literature written in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. 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. Precisely because Middle English Arthurian romance is so diverse, and in some cases even odd, does it give us a remarkable insight into the tastes and habits of thought of a broad segment of the late medieval English reading/listening public and, thus, into the various aesthetic, ideological and cultural uses to which Arthurian romance could be put.

The reader to this course is available for printing at the alpha copy shop in the philological library.

Winter 2005/2006

52 547 -SE- Shakespeare’s Othello

Othello is perhaps Shakespeare’s most oppressive tragedy, if only for its tightly organized plot whichadheres more closely to Aristotle’s famous unities of time, place and action than any other ofShakespeare’s plays. The impression of closeness is enhanced by the greater part of the plot being onecharacter’s doing, Iago’s. It is Iago’s supposedly “motiveless malignity” (Coleridge) which sets in motionthe series of actions which will, in the end, lead to Othello’s murdering Desdemona. Yet for all itsoppressive closeness the play and its characters betray the influence of a bewildering number ofdiscourses and have been read in many different ways by many different critics.

This course will seek not only to offer an introduction to the world of Shakespearean drama but also toexplore as many of Othello’s different facets as possible.

Students are expected to have acquired and read a critical edition (preferably Oxford or Arden) of thetext before the semester begins. They will be given the opportunity to prove their textual knowledge in ashort but nevertheless detailed test scheduled for the third week of the semester.

52 612 -HS- Chaucer: Troilus and Criseyde

Geoffrey Chaucer’s romance Troilus and Criseyde has been called the ‘first novel’ in the Englishlanguage. And, indeed, there is something highly ambiguous about this tragic Trojan love story. On theone hand, it is a thoroughly medieval text that treats its antiquity from a chivalric perspective appearingat times to be more foreign to modern readers than even the world of Homer itself. On the other hand,the text’s fascination with complex psychological and ethical problems is such as to defy the traditionalstereotypes we tend to associate with medieval literature. To make things even more complicated, theromance frames its sophisticated probings into subjectivity with investigations into the relationshipbetween history and narrative. In other words, even as Troilus and Criseyde depicts the most privateemotions and the way they are engendered and develop it does so within a self-consciously deployedsetting that links the issue of subjectivity with the grand historical panorama of the Trojan War.

It is these many different layers of meaning in Troilus and Criseyde that this course seeks to unravel.Students are expected to have acquired the Riverside Chaucer (Larry D. Benson (ed.), Oxford UniversityPress, 1988) and read the text before the semester starts. They will be given the opportunity to displaytheir familiarity with the romance in a test which will take place in the third week of the semester.

Summer 2005

52 640 -HS- William Langland, Piers Plowman

William Langland’s long alliterative poem Piers Plowman, written and rewritten from 1365 to Langland’sdeath in 1386, is one of the oddest texts in English literary history: deeply religious, yet also a flamingcritique of the late medieval Church, obsessed with matters spiritual, yet also redolent with the materialrealities of fourteenth-century English social life, deeply conservative yet also driven by a powerfuldesire for radical reform. It was the latter quality, especially, that forced William Langland to revise histext again and again, since, we must assume, his poem quickly attracted the attention both of therevolutionary peasants who stormed London in 1381 and of supporters of the Lollard heresy, whichwas spreading rapidly, enjoying support from the highest echelons of English society. Thus Langland’swork was viewed with suspicion by the authorities while his figure @Piers Plowman@ sparked off awhole genre of political poetry continuing well into the fifteenth century.

This seminar will seek to situate Langland’s text within a network of contemporary discourses,ranging from politics to theology, from ecclesiastical reform to education and the law. Students mustget hold of a copy of the Everyman edition of the text before the course starts: William Langland. The Vision of Piers Plowman: A Critical Edition of the B-Text Based on TrinityCollege Cambridge MS B.15.17. A. V. C. Schmidt (ed.). London: J. M. Dent, 1995.

52 641 -HS- Law and Literature in Medieval and Early Modern England

Shylocks ungläubige Frage und ihr Kontext in Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice (4.1.311)können ein erstes Schlaglicht auf den Gegenstand dieses Seminars werfen. Wir wollen sowohl einzentrales Kapitel englischer Rechtsgeschichte von Mittelalter bis Früher Neuzeit gemeinsam erkundenals auch immer wieder nach den systematischen Zusammenhängen zwischen juristischem undliterarischem Diskurs und nach ihrer Interaktion in spezifischen literarischen Texten fragen. ImMittelpunkt wird dabei das problematische Verhältnis von law und equity stehen. Aber es wird auchum die philosophische Frage nach Gerechtigkeit (und die historische Frage nach den Ursprüngenunterschiedlicher Gerechtigkeitskonzepte) gehen. Nicht zuletzt werden wir eine Reihe literarischerTexte vertieft studieren; unter ihnen Chaucers Knight’s Tale und Franklin’s Tale sowie Shakespeares Merchant of Venice und Measure for Measure. Diese Texte müssen (in guten, kritischen englischenEditionen) angeschafft und vor Semesterbeginn gelesen werden. Bitte beachten Sie: eine Teilnahmean diesem Seminar nach der zweiten Woche ist nicht möglich.

Winter 2004/2005

52 613 PS/HS (HU Berlin): Thomas Hoccleve: Bureaucracy, Interiority and Literature

Thomas Hoccleve (?1369 - 1426) was one of the oddest poets in English literary history. A servant of the Crown, a member of late medieval England’s minuscule bureaucracy, he was over-anxious to please his monarchs and produced literature bordering on blatant political propaganda. Yet even as Hoccleve sought to become something like England’s first Poet Laureate, the official poetic voice of the nascent nation state, his mental condition barred him from achieving his ambition. It is not possible to determine precisely what happened, but if we are to believe Hoccleve’s own testimony then he must have suffered from some kind of nervous breakdown, perhaps even from a bout of schizophrenia, an event that put an end to his lofty social ambitions, but not to his writing. His later poetry in particular is directed to probing the effects o f his illness, the isolation he experienced and the suspicion he encountered in a medieval society not particularly sympathetic to madness. One might, without too much exaggeration, call him the inventor of the English autobiography.

Hoccleve’s poetry thus provides us with an insight not only into a poetic culture developing at the core of the late medieval state machinery but also into a process of literary self-fashioning that draws on the experience of social exclusion peculiar only to the mentally ill.

A reader comprising a selection of Hoccleve’s writings will be deposited in the library at the beginning of the semester.

52 631 -HS- (HU Berlin) J.R.R. Tolkien: Writer - Scholar - Cultural Phenomenon

J. R. R. Tolkien is arguably the most popular and best-known writer in English literary history. His creative personality found expression in many roles, that of the historical linguist, the poet, the author of children’s books, the novelist, the mythographer, the critic and even the literary theorist, though what he is undoubtedly most universally famous for is The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien can easily be credited with having single-handedly invented the fantasy genre, and the literary market is flooded with more or less inspired imitations of his works. Nevertheless, academic critics have been reluctant to take Tolkien seriously - and not merely because of his extraordinary success. Tolkien’s books do not seem to fit the literary climate of their age. They slam the door on modernism with a vigour that can be frightening. They have brought forth forms of adoration acutely hostile to critical inquiry and quite often they seem incapable of engaging even the most basic issues we expect in serious literature such as sexuality, gender relations or interiority.

Yet Tolkien has become a cultural force to be reckoned with and it is clear that he is here to stay. More than three decades after his death and half a century after the publication of The Lord of the Rings this course seeks to explore the literary side to the Tolkien-phenomenon, to trace the traditions Tolkien drew on, to gauge his works’ aesthetic characteristics and to examine their ideological investments.

Since most participants probably already own copies of one or more of Tolkien’s major texts, it would seem tyrannical to attempt to impose a canonical edition on this course. Students are expected to be in possession of and have read the following of Tolkien’s texts before the course starts: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings (all three parts), The Silmarillion

Students must also buy the following edition of essays by Tolkien: J. R. R. Tolkien, The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), London: HarperCollins, 1997 (first published by Allen and Unwin in 1983).

Students will be given the opportunity to prove their textual knowledge in a series of tests starting in the third week of the course.

Summer 2004

52 589 -PS/HS- Chaucer’s House of Fame

Chaucer’s House of Fame is the most theoretical of his poems, the one most concerned with issues of poetry and fiction. In this poem Chaucer turns away from the French poetic models of his early career and engages head-on the newly established literary tradition of what we have come to term Renaissance Italy, the work of Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio. Drawing on Virgil and Ovid, contemporary science and a plethora of literary traditions Chaucer develops a deeply sceptical theory of fiction which transforms itself into a theory of history - or vice versa. Thus, this odd (and also extremely funny) poem represents a typically Chaucerian scandal of literary history: a medieval poet embarking on a critique of humanism and its incipient modernity. Open-ended - or merely unfinished? - like so much of Chaucer’s work the House of Fame is also very much a poem to enjoy, since it offers its readers amongst other things a short-cut through the Aeneid, a flight in the claws of an eagle and a house built at the very end of the world - and a riddle at the very end of the text!

Besides attempting to sketch some of the problems alluded to, this course will seek to give students an introduction into Medieval literature in a more general way and also provide basic experience with reading texts written in Middle English.

We will read from the following edition: Larry D. Benson (ed.), The Riverside Chaucer, 3rd ed., Oxford: Oxford UP, 1988.

52 601 -HS- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was long considered to be the most medieval of late medieval English narrative poems. Archaic in style and language, it was taken to embody most perfectly the doomed tradition of alliterative verse. Its stylised traditionalism seemed to encapsulate a civilization on its last legs, fighting a valiant yet ultimately futile provincial rearguard action against the metropolitan modernity we associate with Chaucer. But our view of this romance and the literature it belongs to has been changing progressively during the last two decades. More and more do scholars now acknowledge the text’s highly complex investigations into such issues as love, history, religion, and, above all, subjectivity. More and more do we realize how the poem self-consciously plays with its Arthurian material and with the aristocratic norms and values it appears, at first glance, to be celebrating so uncritically.

This course will locate SGGK within contemporary English culture, with a special focus on aristocratic and royal politics, religion and gender. But we will also consider the text’s specifically literary aspects, especially its aesthetic traditionalism, and in the latter third of the semester we will attempt to see the poem through the eyes of the era’s most brilliant literary critic, Geoffrey Chaucer, by comparing SGGK to the Squire’s and the Franklin’s tales.

Students are required to have acquainted themselves with the text by the third week of the semester and will be given the opportunity to prove their knowledge of the poem’s content in a short and simple test in that week.

Our reading will be based on the following edition, containing both the Middle English text and a facing translation: W. R. J. Barron (ed.), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Text, rev. ed., Manchester: Manchester UP, 2001.

Winter 2003/2004

17 302 -Ü/PS- How to Make a King: Late Middle English Literature and the Lancastrian Propaganda Machine

The year 1399 saw a major upheaval in English politics. Richard II, the rightful andanointed king was deposed by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford and Earlof Derby, who ascended the throne as Henry IV. Thus the House of Plantagenet came toan end and was supplanted by the house of Lancaster. By contemporary standards,Richard II’s rule had become tyrannical and it seemed necessary to remove him. Yet itwas one thing to consider a monarch unfit to rule and quite another to actually to deprivehim of his crown.

So, even while the Lancastrian Henry was welcomed as a liberator his reign was tainted,especially since the former king was murdered in captivity less than a year after thechange took place. In order to compensate for their lack of legitimacy the Lancastrians,both Henry IV and his son Henry V, embarked on an unprecedented propagandacampaign. Never before had chroniclers and poets been so aggressively pressed intopolitical service as under the first two Lancastrian kings. Indeed, the literary breakthroughof the English language owes much to the Lancastrian desire for recognition.

This course will take a look at a wide range of texts by such authors as Geoffrey Chaucerand John Gower, Thomas Hoccleve and John Lydgate, the Westminster Chronicler andAdam of Usk. All of them responded to the Lancastrian revolution but they did so withvarying intensity and enthusiasm. It is through their eyes that we will try to see the literaryand political scene in England between c. 1390 and 1422.

Students who wish to gain insight into the kinds of problem we will discuss in this courseare advised to read Paul Strohm, England’s Empty Throne: Usurpation and the Languageof Legitimation 1399-1422, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.

17 312 -Ü- Introduction to Middle English Language and Literature

1066 changed a lot, though not everything. The Normans conquered England, initiatingand enabling a vast range of political, social and cultural change. Within the shortestspace of time Old English vanished as a strong and flourishing literary language and formore than a century hardly any texts were written in English at all. But when, at thebeginning of the thirteenth century, English texts began again to be produced, the Englishlanguage looked very different from what it had been before. If Old English hadpossessed something close to a written standard, Middle English, as we now call thatnewly emerged type of language, consisted of many different dialects. If Old English hadpossessed a predominantly West-Germanic vocabulary then Middle English absorbed allkinds of foreign linguistic influence.

This course will provide an overview over the linguistic, literary and cultural situation inEngland between 1066 and 1475, the Middle English period, and pay special attention tothe second half of the fourteenth century when Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) wrote hispoetry. It is the General Prologue to his Canterbury Tales that will form the textual basis ofthis course.

Summer 2003

17 303 -Ü/PS- The Decline and Fall of Camelot in Two Versions: The Stanzaic Morte Arthur and the Alliterative Morte Arthure

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table with their tales of love and chivalry werethe most popular subject of late medieval secular literature and even today they stillmanage to entrance readers and movie-goers alike. Yet, as is often the case in literaryhistory, modern audiences have received only a narrowed view of the material. Forcenturies, William Caxton’s edition (1485) of Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur (1470)constituted the principal English version of the Arthurian tradition, a version based largelyon the early thirteenth-century French Prose Vulgate Cycle. But much as Malory maystress the continental origin of his sources, he actually made extensive use of two othertexts, one of which, the alliterative Morte Arthur (alternative spelling Morte Darthur, aswith many medieval texts, scholars have tended to use a variety of spellings), representsa stunning example of an alternative and thoroughly insular interpretation of King Arthur’slife and times. The alliterative Morte Arthur, probably written c. 1400, consciously goesback to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the British Kings (twelfth century) and rejectsthe French tradition of a romanticized, fairy-tale Camelot. Indeed, the very place-name‘Camelot’ is nowhere to be found in the alliterative Morte Arthure. Its Arthur is animperialist English warrior king, a stern ruler and ambitious politician. Thus the tragicconflict between the values of love and chivalry we associate with the world of Camelotremains conspicuously absent from an alliterative poem that glories in its grim realism andepic scope. By contrast, the stanzaic Morte Arthur (c. 1350), which, too, influencedMalory, is far closer to the French model. Nevertheless, it caters for an English audiencemuch humbler than that of its source and sacrifices the dilatory pace and psychologicalcomplexities of the French text for a condensed narrative full of action and suspense.

Winter 2002/2003

17 304 -Ü/PS- The Lollards: Religion, Politics and Literature in Late Medieval England

The late Medieval English public was not used to the smell of burning human flesh. Thiswas to change dramatically when the priest William Sawtry was burned at the stakebefore a huge crowd at Smithfield in February 1401. Sawtry was a Lollard, a member ofthe heretical sect associated with the name of John Wyclif, a theologian who died in 1384.Wyclif challenged many of the fundamental tenets of the medieval Christian Church, suchas the dogma of transsubstantiation, the power of the Pope and the efficacy of pilgrimage.His ideas were eagerly adopted by many English contemporaries in an age when dissatisfactionwith the Church and its teachings was wide-spread and the cry for ecclesiasticalreform echoed all through Europe.

This course will attempt to convey an image of the social and cultural problems of medievalreligion that made Lollardy possible and to sketch the impact of Lollardy on latemedieval England. Thus, we shall focus not so much on issues theological, but rather onthe way these issues affected the lay population. A reader containing excerpts from textsnot only by such celebrated literary and intellectual figures like John Wyclif, William Langland,Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Hoccleve, Margery Kempe and Reginald Pecock butalso by lesser known writers and anonymous authors will be available to students at thebeginning of the semester.

Students who wish to acquaint themselves with Lollardy before the course starts areadvised to read Margaret Aston’s book Lollards and Reformers (Oxford 1984)which is the most comprehensive study of the subject.

Summer 2002

17 302 -Ü/PS- Chaucer’s Dream Visions

Though nowadays Geoffrey Chaucer is best remembered as the poet who wrote TheCanterbury Tales and the author who produced what might well be called the first novel inthe English language, Troilus and Criseyde, his oeuvre contains many other works equallyfascinating. All through his poetic career Chaucer wrote dream visions, complex narrativepoems exploring the nature of love and of poetry itself. Thus, the course of Chaucer’spoetic development, from his French beginnings to his Italian maturity, can best becharted through a comparison of his four great dream visions The Book of the Duchess, The House of Fame, The Parliament of Fowls and the Prologue(s) to The Legend of GoodWomen. By reading these delightful works we shall try to sketch Chaucer’s poetic andcritical biography and discover to what extent Chaucer himself both supports us in thisendeavour and simultaneously foils our attempts.

17 320 -HS- Beowulf

Beowulf is the most canonical of all Old English texts. Long forgotten and notrediscovered before the nineteenth century, the poem nonetheless epitomizes theGermanic origins of the English literary tradition, a tradition inspiring writers so diverse asJ. R. R. Tolkien and Seamus Heaney. The epic has meant many things to many readers.More often than not it has been cast in a particularly archaic role and, thus, been used forespecially anti-modernist purposes.

This course aims at investigating some of Beowulf’s most pressing tensions and complexities,paradoxes and contradictions and to ask in what way a text so indisputablyancient can yet be made to speak to modern readers.

Students are advised to acquire Bruce Mitchell’s and Fred Robinson’s edition of Beowulf(Oxford: Blackwell, 1998) and to acquaint themselves with the content of the poem wellbefore the course starts. They shall have the satisfaction of displaying their knowledge ofthe epic’s plot and action in a short test at the beginning of the third session of the course.