The environmental turn in literary and cultural studies emerged as a self-conscious movement little more than a dozen years ago, though the environmental discourse has an antiquity and durability which encompasses the whole of Christian history, the Bible being often seen as the root cause for Western technodomination. The increase of scientific knowledge during the 18th and 19th century changed for ever the relationship and perception of nature and human beings as well as the perception of human beings themselves.
Environmental, cultural and economic issues are inseparably interlinked. The study of “eco-literature” investigates the relationship, uses and representations of nature and the environment in literature based amongst others on Max Horkheimer’s mid-twenties-century definition of the role of literature as “the voice of all that is dumb […] and the organ of nature for making known her sufferings” (The Eclipse of Reason 1947, 100). Vice versa it also focuses on the role that the (changing) natural environment has on literary works as diverse as the Bible, Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey”, Melville’s Moby Dick, Jack London’s The Call of the Wild or the film Blade Runner.
As “scientific ideas grow out of specific cultural conditions” (Worster, xi), we will explore the construction and representation as well as the deconstruction of (human) nature in literature and discuss modern industrial society’s growing inability to manage its unintended environmental consequences as demonstrated by the non-human societies e. g. in the speculative fiction of Margaret Atwood.
The seminar is open to Master Students, BA students in the 5th and higher terms as well as students in the Hauptstudium of the “Magister” (and “Lehramt”) courses and Literary Translation.
Margaret Atwood Oryx and Crake (2003) [Penguin Classics 2008]
Armitav Ghosh The Hungry Tide (1862) [Oxford University Press 1998]
Texts have been ordered with our Campus Stern-Verlag. Doyle’s stories as well as excerpts from theoretical texts will be provided in a reader or online.
Vertiefungs-/Aufbaumodul/Proseminar: Literatur und Kultur GB und Irlands
Dr. Ingrid-Ch. Wolter
Sensational Innocence and “Tales of Our Times”
Di 09-11.00 h
The Sensation Novel was a literary genre of popular fiction in Great Britain in the 1860s and 1870s. Typically the Sensation Novel focused on shocking subject matter including adultery, theft, kidnapping, insanity, bigamy, forgery, seduction and murder which are discussed within a domestic setting. The multi-voiced, self-reflexive narratives dramatise covert or explicit power struggles within Victorian culture and the “criminality, tensions and passion beneath respectable surfaces” (Kalikoff, 120) of the Victorian society.
The Sensation Novel makes use of a rapidly changing literary marketplace to cater for the demands of a growing and diversified reading public in using serialised publication as well as plays. We will explore the complex relation of the Sensation Novel to contemporary cultural movements and debates and the expressed anxieties about the breaching of cultural and social boundaries and explore its use of literature and drama as new and popular media to disseminate the central themes.
The contemporary mania for the “sensational” raises a number of aesthetic questions such as that of “high” or “popular” culture and its literature or that of the interaction of literary forms with the social and intellectual processes that surround and shape them. On both of which we will be focussing during the seminar.
Even though Sensation Novels formed a minor sub-genre of British fiction that flourished in the 1860s to die out a decade or two later, they live on in several forms of popular culture, e. g. in their most direct offspring: the modern detective, mystery story and/or suspense fiction and films.
The seminar is open to BA students as well as students in the Grundstudium of the “Magister” (and “Lehramt”) courses and Literary Translation.