Winter term 2006/07

Prof. Dr. Mark Stein
Dr Marga Munkelt
Dr. des. Silke Stroh
Dr. des. Markus Schmitz

Prof. Dr. Mark Stein

Literature of the South Asian Diaspora

No.:  094139     Vorlesung              2 SWS            Wedn. 10:00 - 12:00         room: Sch5 Scharnhorststraße Soziologie

This lecture course provides a survey of South Asian Diaspora literature. It includes a selection of diasporic writers with Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Sri Lankan backgrounds who are based in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific as well as in the UK and North America. The focus is predominantly on post-Second World War writing, but some earlier texts will also be considered.


Rushdie and Rushdieitis: Cultural Capital and Anxieties of Influence

No.:  094598     Hauptseminar        2 SWS            Blocktermine

Salman Rushdie's work has been highly influential, so much so that it is sometimes alleged that many younger writers have caught 'Rushdieitis'. This charge needs to be seen both, in the context of Western readerships seeking out 'representative' Indian narratives and a publishing scene in which authors acquire cultural capital that gains them influence and enables them to endorse other writers. Younger writers may look to more established figures for guidance but they may also yield to the attraction of well-trodden paths. This seminar will explore these issues by reading texts from postcolonial and cultural theory as well as Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children, The Vintage Book of Indian Writing, 1947-1997, ed. S. Rushdie and Elizabeth West and other texts.


'Tell me the landscape in which you live and I will tell you who you are:' Pastoralism and 20th Century Literature

No.:  094731     Hauptseminar        2 SWS            Tues. 16:00 - 18:00         room: H 20 Englisches Seminar

This seminar focuses on the interconnections of place and identity; it is interested in how identity and place frequently converge in literature (and art, theatre, music, and forms of popular culture). We will explore how 20th-century anglophone writers have interwoven personal identity with a sense of "home" and belonging. We will consider to what extent sub-genres of the past relating to landscape are employed, modified or rejected. Finally, we will connect our readings to issues of place and space in contemporary culture. The course requires the ability and the willingness to read and discuss a range of both theoretical and literary texts and to present your own research in class.

Set texts:

  • Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient, Bloomsbury, 2004.
  • Paul Scott, Staying On, Arrow, 1999.
  • Graham Swift, Waterland, Picador, 1992.
  • Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust, ed. Robert Murry Davis. Penguin Modern Classics. Penguin, 2000.

Postcolonial Studies

No.:  094750     Kolloquium            2 SWS            Wedn. 16:00 - 18:00         room: 032 Englisches Seminar

This colloquium is addressed to advanced students who want to increase their knowledge of Postcolonial Studies, and, more specifically, of postcolonial theory.

Betreuungsseminar Examensvorbereitung

No.:  094947     Oberseminar          1 SWS             Mond. 16:00 - 18:00 every fortnight   room: 117 Englisches Seminar

Diese Veranstaltung ist ein Forum in welchem sich ExamenskandidateInnen und Post-Graduierte mit Transnationalen Literaturen und neuerer Kulturtheorie auseinander setzen.

Dr. Marga Munkelt

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

No.:  094291     Proseminar             2 SWS            Thurs. 10:00 - 12:00         room: H19 Englisches Seminar

With this autobiographical work, his first novel (1916), Joyce earned the reputation of "literary rebel". The novel itself has been praised as "by far the most living and convincing" account of a Catholic boyhood in Ireland and "the struggle through sin and sanctity towards self-expression." Our analysis will focus on the phases of the protagonist's development and their connection with the structure and language of the novel. We will also examine the interdependence of psychological growth and narrative techniques as well as Joyce's place in and impact on early modernism.


  • Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Intr. Jeri Johnson. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford: OUP, 2000.

The Theatre of the Absurd: Selected Playwrights

No.:  094200     Proseminar             2 SWS            Wedn. 10:00 - 12:00        room: 032 Englisches Seminar

The seminar will be concerned with three major playwrights who are associated with a mode of playwriting that has become known as absurdist theatre and which flourished especially in the 1950s and 1960s. The phrase "theatre of the absurd" was probably coined by Martin Esslin in his The Theatre of the Absurd (1961; rev. 1968). It identifies plays that are based on the view of existential philosophy (expressed, for instance, by Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus), which regards human beings as "lost" and "thrown into the world" and which exposes human life as devoid of meaning and the individual as separated from his or her environment. The theatre of the absurd reflects this absence of beliefs and truths, of values and emotional ties, of reliable relationships and intelligible communication, by ignoring the traditional literary and theatrical functions of form and content or of character and language.

The course work will focus on the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett (who would have been a hundred years old in 2006), the English dramatist Harold Pinter (this year's Nobel Prize laureate) and the American playwright Edward Albee, still alive at 98. We will explore the absurdist orientations of these authors by studying one play of each as a representative of the theatre of the absurd. Another goal is to further examine the plays' genres in terms of their potential for comedy and/or black humor and their theatrical qualities in general - including their connections with the so-called epic theatre. Attention will also be paid to the possible literary origins of absurd plays and their immediate foreign-language predecessors, as, for example, Eugène Ionesco.

Mandatory Reading:

  • Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (1954);
  • Harold Pinter, The Birthday Party (1958);
  • Edward Albee, The American Dream (1961) and The Sandbox (1960), and, if time allows,
  • Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1966).
  • Recommended Reading: Esslin, Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd (1961; rev. 1968; 3rd ed. 2004).

Texts (publishers):

  • Albee: Penguin (in The Zoo Story and Other Plays; ISBN 040251138)
  • Beckett: Reclam (ISBN 3150092140)
  • Esslin: Random House (ISBN 1400075238)
  • Pinter: Grove (in Complete Works, Vol. 1)
  • Stoppard: Reclam (ISBN 3150091853)

Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaftlicher Grundkurs I

No.:  094143     Grundkurs             2 SWS            Tues. 16:00 - 18:00            room: AudiMax Englisches Seminar

This introduction to literary and cultural studies will extend over two semesters and will be concluded with a written exam (Modulabschlussklausur) after the second semester (SS 2007). For this exam, students in the "Zwei-Fach BA" curriculum and those aiming for the "Gym/Ges BA" must also independently study (preferably in the break between the two semesters) selected works from a reading list that will be made available to them at the beginning of Grundkurs I.

The goal of Grundkurs I is to teach students how to study texts professionally and how to classify them. Thus, in addition to presenting basic possibilities of defining literature, culture, text, and medium, the course will focus on literary genres, the history and canonisation of literature, editorial theory, and textual criticism. The theoretical introductions to these aspects will be supported and illustrated by examples from a variety of primary works (lyric and epic poems, narrative texts, and plays).

In order to stimulate and assist students' future independent literary and cultural studies, the course will acquaint the participants with relevant research tools (printed as well as electronic versions) such as dictionaries and glossaries for different purposes, general reference works, specific companions and guides in our field, and selected literary histories.


  • Bradford, Richard, ed. Introducing Literary Studies. London: Pearson Education, 1996.
  • Fabian, Bernhard. "Text und Textausgaben." Ein anglistischer Grundkurs: Einführung in die Literaturwissenschaft. Ed. Bernhard Fabian. 9. Aufl. Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag, 2004. 1-28 (Kapitel I). 

The Bible and Tragedy

No.:  094234     Hauptseminar          2 SWS           Wedn. 16:00 - 18:00           room: H 20 Englisches Seminar

The Bible has a unique status not merely in terms of the religious history of the western world but also in literary history. According to Stephen Prickett, the Bible is a "monument to intertextuality," and biblical approaches to universal questions have served not only as models for the creation of literature throughout the centuries but also as a basis for literary criticism.
The course work will emanate from biblical passages and retrieve their echoes or analogues in secular literature. Emphasis will be on those aspects that invite parallels with concepts of tragedy or the tragic. Our text of the Bible will be the King-James translation (1611; also called the "Authorized Version"). In it, we will examine actions of disobedience and rebellion against established values or authorities (e.g., Adam and Eve, Cain, Jacob, David), study biblical figures associated with suffering (e.g., Job, Joseph or Daniel), and investigate biblical themes (e.g., temptation, evil, sin [of Lucifer], redemption and salvation [of Mary-Magdalen], passion and sacrifice [of Jesus]) as well as verbal references that have become associated with tragedy or tragic experiences in literature.

Our definitions of tragedy and the tragic will range from Aristotle's idea of a great man's error of judgment and the medieval concept of a "fall from high to low" to the twentieth-century interest in the "common man" as tragic protagonist. Shakespeare's notions of ambition, on the one hand, and suffering, on the other, as central ingredients of tragedy will also play a major role.

Among the biblical texts chosen for analysis are chapters from Genesis, Exodus, Samuel, Job, Daniel, Isaiah, the four Gospels, and the Book of Revelation. The literary counterparts are William Shakespeare's Richard the Second, Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Doris Lessing's “Notes for a Case History,” and selected poems.

  • The Bible. Authorized King James Version. Intr. Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett. Oxford World's Classics. Oxford: OUP, 1998 (ISBN: 0-19-283525-4);
  • Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Oxford World's Classics);
  • McLeish, Archibald. "J.B." (1956). Best American Plays 1957-1963, 5th Ser. 1957-1963. Ed. John Gassner. New York: Crown, 1963. 589-631;
  • Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman (Reclam);
  • Lessing, Doris."Notes for a Case History" (1963). Stories. New York: Vintage Books / Random House, 1980. 379-95 (first publ. in A Man and Two Women, 1963);
  • Shakespeare, William. King Richard the Second. Ed. Andrew Gurr. New Cambridge Sh. (or any other modern critical edition).

Dr. des. Silke Stroh

Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaftliche Übung "Reading and Analytical Writing", Gruppe VI

No.:  094253     Sprachpraktische Übungen    2 SWS   Thurs. 16:00 - 18:00      room: H 18 Englisches Seminar

This course with student accreditation involves the reading and discussion of selected primary and secondary literary texts from the different literary genres. It will provide students with the opportunity to read, discuss and analyse these texts as well as to consolidate and develop their practical language skills orally and in written form.

Rewriting Chaucer: Transcultural Readings from Medieval England to 20th-Century Nigeria

No.:  094249     Proseminar              2 SWS            Tues. 10:00 - 12:00            room: 032 Englisches Seminar

One of the most famous features of postcolonial literature is the 'writing back' to, or rewriting of, canonic 'classics' of English literature - Shakespeare being an especially popular example. This class will look at (somewhat less frequently noticed) rewritings of another English classic: Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (late 14th century). Apart from selected excerpts from Chaucer's own narrative poetry (no previous knowledge of Middle English is required, though it might be helpful), we will study Karen King-Aribisala's Kicking Tongues (1998 - a mixture of prose and poetry which transplants these stories to modern Nigeria), shorter poems by Black British writers Patience Agbabi and Jean 'Binta' Breeze, as well as the BBC's transcultural film version of the Tales (2004).
Texts: Students should equip themselves with a copy of King-Aribisala's Kicking Tongues and, if possible, The Riverside Chaucer. Remaining texts will be made available at the start of term.

Dr. des. Markus Schmitz

Culture of 'Homelessness' in the 20th Century: Exile as Human Experience, Literary Topic, and Model for Critical Practice

No.:  094268     Proseminar              2 SWS            Blocktermine

The 20th century was the age of the refugee, the displaced person, and of mass immigration. The difference between earlier and 20th-century exiles is the vast scale of human migration in the wake of imperialism, decolonization, wars, economic and political revolutions, and ethnic cleansing.
While, for many, this experience has been one of mutilation, loss, and estrangement, some have also transformed the condition of exile into a potent motive of modern culture. A whole genre of 20th-century literature is written by and about exiles. However, the transnational experience of existential "unsettlement" did not only produce new narrative forms, but also gave rise to critical practices and transgressive theories that abandon fixed positions. In so doing, they provide enriching alternatives to totalizing concepts about borders, group identities and exclusions – regardless of whether organized around concepts such as nation, class, gender, or race. This criticism takes up the dominant discussion of "home" in terms of its very opposite, "homelessness."
Without overstating a metaphoric understanding of displacement that ignores the dramatic historical and socio-political dimensions of a condition, legislated to deny identity and dignity, the seminar focuses on exile as a key impulse for cultural production throughout the 20th century.
In class, we will read and critically reflect upon selected literary and theoretical texts ranging from Joseph Conrad's Amy Foster (1901) to Edward W. Said's Out of Place (1999) and from Georg Lukács' Theory of the Novel (1920) to Homi K. Bhabha's The Location of Culture (1994).

While introducing class participants to seminal debates on literary exile and exilic criticism, the seminar encourages students to develop a critical relationship to their own subject position (or home position) as readers of Anglophone literatures and cultures in the age of post-colonial exile.