“Unhappy is the land that needs a hero”
Male and Female Authors Engaging and Clashing With the Titans of Western Patriarchal Culture
Anglistik Room 5, Fri 12.00 (c.t.) -14.00
Painting by Arik Brauer "Fliegehut" ( www.arikbrauer.at )
THEORY - SCRIPTS
--> For Kristeva's Theory of the Semiotic and the Symbolic - see Reader Mc Affee
GUIDED READING - MEMOS
Session May 25 (Part 1)- Presentations Atwood's Penelopiad
The Brechtian title quote sets the topic for this course, where we will trace the journeys of three heroes - Ulysses, Parsifal, Robinson - emerging in epochs which were decisive for the establishment of the Western cultural repertoire (classical antiquity/Christian-medieval/colonialism-capitalism). Focussing on the exclusive male gendering of such cultural heroes and their consequent function as universal representatives, feminist poststructuralist theory speaks of a interlacing of mythos and logos which installs a patriarchal economy of signification. However, considering the implication that the emergence of the hero is a sign of (cultural) discontent, these readings also consider the hero as an emblem of instability and insecurity.
Theories on “master-narratives” and how they can be “re-written and counter-written” will allow us to approach this double meaning in literary texts (17 th -21 st cent.) which all critically negotiate these heroes. We will trace how male authors challenge the patriarchal master-text by either subversively transforming (Joyce) or nostalgically affirming (Tennyson) the hero's function, or dissentively manifesting a new destiny (Defoe) for the hero altogether. We will then comparatively analyse how female authors comment these “his-stories” with a focus on the marginalised female voice to reveal the conflicts within patriarchy and the need for alternative cultural syntheses: either by weaving the story anew with the voices of the silenced (Atwood), or by silencing the hero (Woolf), or by making a woman speak the hero's story (Spark).
Required Readings :
Parts (!) of: Joyce, James. Ulysses . (1922) - Atwood, Margaret. The Penelopiad . (2005)
Tennyson, Alfred. “ The Holy Grail” (poem/1870) - Woolf , Virginia . The Waves . (1931)
Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe . (1719) - Spark, Muriel. Robinson . (1958)
There will be 2-3 film-screenings (e.g. Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man (1995)).
A “Reader ” will be provided including myths & feminist theoretical texts.
regular attendance & portfolio-notes, participation in critical discussions, oral presentation of a chosen topic (10 mins), final written exam.