Winter term 2010/11

Below you will find all classes taught by staff members associated with the English, Postcolonial and Media Studies in winter term 2010/11.

Dr. Silke Stroh
Dr. Markus Schmitz
Dr. Christine Vogt-William
Carla Müller-Schulzke

Dr. Silke Stroh 

Medieval Literature: Transcultural Perspectives

095209 | Vorlesung | 2 SWS | Wedn 14-16 | AudiMax

This lecture course will explore different aspects of medieval literature (mainly but not exclusively from the British Isles) through the specific lens of transcultural perspectives. These have met with increasing scholarly interest in recent years, for instance in the context of the emergence of postcolonial medieval studies. At first sight, these recent theoretical approaches and medieval literature seem ‘strange bedfellows’, but such attempts at bridge-building between new theories and traditional British Studies offer fascinating insights: they allow us to see the medieval literary canon in different ways, and they also highlight the importance of literature beyond the canon, for example in minority languages. Previous knowledge of medieval literature, Middle English, or postcolonial/transcultural theory is not required. We will start with a general introduction to ideas of transculturalism, postcolonialism, multiculturality, and the nation, before embarking on a series of literary case studies which illuminate the huge cultural variety of medieval literature from the British Isles, the way in which literary influences moved from one cultural/linguistic context to another, the way in which cultural multiplicity and cultural minorities relate to (or clash with) medieval ideas of state and nation (does a nation have to be culturally unified?), and the way in which minorities, or foreign cultures, were portrayed in medieval literature. A basic introduction to Middle English will be provided; texts from other languages (Latin, Welsh, Gaelic, French) will be discussed through translations. Topics include: the Norman conquest and the relations between Anglo-Saxon, Welsh and Norman culture; the Arthurian legend as a transcultural text and a vehicle to negotiate cultural identity within the British Isles and elsewhere in Europe; nation, state and imperialism (political relations between England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland; and between British mainstreams and their Muslim and Jewish Others, especially during the Crusades); and the treatment of cultural minorities (‘Celts’, Jews, diasporic Black Africans). Authors and texts include Welsh chronicles, early Irish sagas, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, the travel writings of Giraldus Cambrensis on Wales and Ireland, the Mabinogion, Welsh and Gaelic court poetry, John Barbour’s The Bruce, Blind Harry’s Wallace, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Scottish writers who were influenced by Chaucer (e.g. Robert Henryson, Gavin Douglas), Richard Holland’s political bird fable The Buke of the Howlat, William Dunbar’s poems about Gaels and an African lady, as well as the Arthurian writings of Thomas Malory.

West African Literature

095380 | Seminar | 2 SWS | Wedn 10-12 | S3

This seminar will provide an introduction to West African literature in English. This entails an introduction to the general social, cultural and literary history of the region, followed by a more specific focus on colonial and postcolonial history and culture. We will then trace the emergence of anglophone postcolonial literature in different West African countries, specifically since World War 2. We will read one novel, a play, and a variety of short stories, poems, and secondary texts. We will also relate our close readings to postcolonial theory and other theoretical frameworks, both regional and international.

Our novel is: Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (no prescribed edition, though I recommend either the Penguin or the Heinemann edition)

Information on the other primary texts will be published in the near future.


National & Transnational Studies: Historical and Theoretical Foundations

096129 | Seminar | 2 SWS | Tue 10-12 | S3

This course will explore a wide variety of texts, issues and concepts which are central to the study of nationhood, nationalism and transnationalism. This will be done from an interdisciplinary perspective, focusing especially on the fields of history, the social sciences, as well as literary and cultural theory. Topics will include: pre-modern political and cultural (as well as national?) constructs of community; modernity and the nation state; the nation as ‘imagined community’; nation(alism) and colonialism/anti-colonialism/postcolonialism; nation and language; the role of minori­ties; regionalism; stateless nations; heterogeneity in terms of class and gender; as well as recent transnational developments in the fields of supra-national cooperation (for instance on EU or UN level), economic and cultural globalisation, migration and diasporas. We will explore these general topics by focusing on a number of national/regional case studies from different parts of the world, including the British Isles, America and Africa.

The reading list will be published in the near future.

Prerequisites: Students are expected to give an oral presentation and contribute regularly to discussions in class.

Postcolonial Translocations

096057 | Oberseminar | 1 SWS | Wedn 16-18 (14tägig) | 401

This research colloquium focuses on various theoretical approaches to the concept of translocation, and attempts to explore this paradigm for ongoing research projects in the field of postcolonial studies.

A detailed reading list will be finalised in consultation with the participants at the start of the winter semester.

Admission details for this colloquium can be requested by e-mail.

Postgraduate Class

096167 | Übung | 2 SWS | Tue 16-18 | S3

This is the first part of a two-semester postgraduate class which intends to assist students in choosing and defining fields of interest within the MA curriculum that are appropriate for independent study, and to present the first results of their independent research. In the first part, we will outline possible research areas, topics, and approaches that might be relevant for students’ own research project, and perhaps even already for the M.A. theses. We will also discuss key theoretical and methodological aspects within literary and cultural studies in general and this MA curriculum in particular, but focus will be on students’ needs for their own research. The class will be a combination of in-class discussions and presentations and individual supervision. Details will be discussed in the first class meeting.



Dr. Markus Schmitz

Post-Gibran: New Anglophone Arab Literature

095376 | Seminar | 2 SWS | Wedn 14-16 | S3

In 1920 the Arab Pen League was established in New York City by the Lebanese immigrant poet Kahlil Gibran and other Arab American writers. The members of this literary group, who wrote in Arabic as well as in English, produced what is known as the first émigré school of Anglophone Arab writing.
Although Anglophone Arab literature has been in existence since the late 19th century, it has only recently begun to be recognized as a research field in its own right. The last two decades have seen a dramatic increase in publication by Arab writers in English, creating both new spaces for their voices as well as new urgencies of expression.
Focusing on the post 9/11 era, this course offers a wide-ranging overview of the field of New Anglophone Arab literature produced across the world. It explores the recent transformation of literary practice in relation to the most important shifting social, political, and legal contexts that have pushed Anglophone Arab writers the foreground. At the same time it seeks to place these literary works within the larger nomenclature of postcolonial, emerging, or ethnic literatures.
Students are invited to explore and discuss issues such as dual belonging, border-crossing, racism, and integration in the various works of authors including Diana Abu-Jaber, Leila Ahmed, Rabih Alameddine, Raja Shehadeh, and Ahdaf Soueif.

First class meeting: 13.10.2010

History - Power - Literature: Introduction to Discourse Analysis

095232 | Hauptseminar | 2 SWS | Tue 12-14 |101

"In dealing with the ‘author’ as a function of discourse, we must consider the characteristics of a discourse that support this use and determine its differences from other discourses".
(Foucault: "What is an Author?", 1969/1977)
The writings of the French historian, literary critic, and philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984) have been of immense importance to developments in literary studies since the late 1970s. His analysis of discourse, more than any other theory, stands behind those new historicist and poststructuralist approaches that still dominate international literary studies.

This course provides a detailed introduction to discourse analysis with a particular emphasis on its relevance for literary theory and criticism. It aims at discussing the following questions: What is an author? What is a text? What is discourse, and what relation does it have to language and literature? What are the relations of language to context and the relations of cohesion within a text. How can a discourse as a system of power/knowledge, situated in a specific time and space regulate the production of literary meaning? How are in turn identity constructions, knowledge and social power-relations constructed through written texts?

Students are encouraged to ask critically whether literary narratives are indeed knowable, accessible and analysable without recourse to their constitutive historical forces, and whether authors can be simply understood as intentional individual agents independent of their dynamic construction in social and cultural discourses. Drawing on selected theoretical works and exemplary literary readings the course provides ways into understanding and using key concepts of discourse analysis such as subject/subjection, archive or power/knowledge. At the same time it explores the influence of Foucauldian discourse analysis on postcolonial and gender studies.   

First class meeting: 19.10.2010

Introductory Reading:
During, Simon. Foucault and Literature: Towards a Genealogy of Writing. London: Routledge, 1992 (Introduction + 68-91).

Students are expected to give an oral presentation and contribute regularly to discussions in class. For accreditation, a term paper (5.000 words, MLA-style) is required.
Introductory texts must be read before the beginning of the semester.


Dr. Christine Vogt-William

Queerness in Contemporary Film 

Mon. 12–14 | SAC

In this seminar a range of films will be examined with regard to queer identity articulations in diverse cultural contexts. Matters to be discussed will include how gender and sexuality are constructed and performed, as well as elucidating how queerness is deployed in challenging heteronormative prejudices and stereotypes. Additional issues to be addressed among others comprise of how queer desire may be instrumental in engendering alternative domestic spaces and family constellations. Pertinent to queer readings in this seminar are the theoretical works of Anna-Marie Jagose, Gayatri Gopinath, Judith Butler, Judith Halberstam, Rajinder Dudrah, Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick among others. A folder with secondary material will be provided in the library – please make sure you have copies of these for your own use. DVDs of the films will be made available in the SAC and participants are required to have watched them before the seminar begins. Participants are required to also have read Hanif Kureishi’s play My Beautiful Laundrette and Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray – these texts will be read alongside the films.

Primary Texts:

Chutney Popcorn (1999)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) [Hanif Kureishi’s play 1985]
Fire (1996)
Kal Ho Naa Ho (2005)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (2009) [Oscar Wilde’s novel first published 1890]
Priscilla Queen of the Desert (2005)
To Wong Foo with Love (1995)


Twins in Literature              

Tue. 12–14 | 032

Twins – identical and fraternal – have fascinated natural scientists and cultural scholars alike. This is an introductory foray into literary fictions encompassing different cultural contexts, where twins are the main protagonists, who, in their doubleness, address abstract concepts like the Self and the Other, the disabled and the able-bodied, good and evil, spirituality and corporeality among other things. A folder with secondary material will be provided in the library and students are expected to be familiar with the texts by the time the semester begins. Students are also expected to bring their primary texts to class and have copies of the secondary material provided. The film will be made available in the SAC – please make sure you have watched it. The language of instruction will be English. Active participation is the name of the game.

Primary Texts:

Arundhati Roy. The God of Small Things. London: Flamingo.1997.
Diana Evans. 26a. London: Vintage. 2006.
Barbara Kingsolver. The Poisonwood Bible. London, New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 2005.
Kim Edwards. The Memory-Keeper’s Daughter. London: Penguin Books. 2005.
[FILM The Memory-Keeper’s Daughter. 2008]
Helen Oyeyemi. White is for Witching. London: Picador. 2009.



Carla Müller-Schulzke

Music and Identity: Popular Music in the UK

Seminar | 2 SWS | Mon 16-18 | 401

This course aims at discussing the following questions: What is the relation of music and culture? How are cultural identities constructed in popular music? How are global musical styles appropriated and transformed on a local level? How can music be grasped as part of social and economic power relations, and how, in turn, is music used as a form of rebellion and critique?
Taking the culturally diverse forms of musical production in the UK as a starting point, and looking at musical styles such as hip-hop, reggae, dubstep or UK bhangra, students are encouraged to investigate musical production as a social phenomenon and an identity-building process.
Besides looking at the relevant theoretical approaches which deal with concepts of music, culture and identity, students will be encouraged to do research on a special aspect or musical style of their choice to gain insights into the specific historical, social, and mediatized relations of popular music culture.
Introductory Reading:
Frith, Simon. “Music and Identity.“ Hall, Stuart and Paul du Gay (eds.), Questions of Cultural Identity. London: Sage, 1996. 108-127.

Students are expected to give an oral presentation and contribute regularly to discussions in class. For accreditation, a term paper (MLA-style) is required.
The introductory text can be found as a master copy in the department library and must be read before the beginning of the semester.

First class meeting: 11.10.2010

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Research Workshop “Doing Discourse Analysis”

Tue, 02.11.2010, 12-14, Rm S3
Tue, 30.11.2010, 12-14, RmS3
Tue, 11.01.2011, 12-14, Rm S3

This research workshop is complementary to the seminar on “History - Power - Literature: Introduction to Discourse Analysis” and gives students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the key concepts of literary discourse analysis and to investigate how these concepts and methods can be applied to literary texts.
There will be three set dates during the semester, where the whole group comes together to discuss aspects that are closely related to the topics brought up the seminar. Besides that, there will be the opportunity to meet individually or in small groups to discuss, and get feedback on, the special topics which students develop as part of their independent study.
Further details will be announced at the beginning of semester.

For accreditation, the attendance to all three sessions of the research workshop is obligatory. Besides that, students are expected either to prepare a brief oral presentation to be presented in one of the following sessions of the main seminar “History - Power – Literature”, or to hand in a review of a text of one’s choice. Alternatively, students are offered to discuss their independent research topics during the office hour (see above).
First class meeting: 02.11.2010

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