Teaching WS 07/08
North American Literature and Culture from 1607 - 1890
Thu 15-17, Unterrichtsraum (ab 11.10.), 303/K222
The course is intended to offer an introduction to literary and cultural documents produced in NorthAmerica from the first British settlements in the early 17 th century to the closing of the frontier in the USA. This year (the quartercentenary of the foundation of the first permanent English colony in Jamestown) one focus will be on texts produced in the South and their contexts in the colonial and early federal periods and in the antebellum. Recent studies have documented the remarkable cultural life in the South, for instance in Virginia (cf. Thomas Jefferson’s achievements), in spite of the ‘peculiar institution’, the cosmopolitan atmosphere in South Carolina before the Civil War, and the subsequent cultural decline. These insufficiently known facts will be illustrated by excerpts from verse and prose, included in a Reader (for instance, John Smith’s account of nativewhite relations [Pocahontas!], poems and tales by E. A. Poe, excerpts of historical fiction by J. P. Kennedy, or W. G. Simms, “the Southern [J. F.]
Cooper”) and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and by some visual material in the form of documentaries and films.
These texts and films will be juxtaposed with the early slave narratives and contrasted with documents reflecting the Puritan heritage in New England (e.g. William Bradford’s Plymouth Plantation) and its secularized offshoots (e.g. Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography). The course will also consider the 19 th century counterpoint to Puritanism in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s transcendentalist prose and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s struggle with the Puritan heritage. Texts to be purchased: Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and a Reader containing poems, stories, and excerpts from longer texts.
Students are advised to consult relevant chapters of literary histories, for instance, Richard Gray’s A History of American Literature, Oxford: Blackwell, 2004, or Nordamerikanische Literaturgeschichte, ed. Hubert Zapf (Metzler 2004).
There will be a written exam at the end of the course.
Mapping Lives and Regions: Landscapes and Mindscapes
Wed 10-12, Unterrichtsraum (ab 10.10.)
The course will deal with poems and short fiction, especially from the 19 th and 20 th centuries, in which primarily U.S.American and Canadian writers present the formative experiences of individuals which have shaped their lives and given them a sense of identity. These crucial experiences are largely linked and rooted in specific landscapes, often rural, which are recovered and represented in the texts. The participants will use a reader containing, among others, excerpts from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Matthew Arnold, Robert Frost, C. D. G. Roberts, D. H. Lawrence, and T. S. Eliot. Short fiction by Flannery O’Connor and Henry Kreisel will also be studied, as will be William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Requirements: Regular attendance, active participation, and an oral presentation; a research paper (about 3500 words), and a final written test on the texts discussed in class.
Literary Seminar: "Collective Memories and Cultural Encounters in the Canadian West"
Tuesday, 16-18, Room 5
Since the recognition of the multicultural foundations of the country, the literature of Canada has increasingly been shaped by the articulation of the ethnic heritages of writers whose ancestors did not belong to the founding nations. In the genre of ‘life writing’ the recovery of alternative heritages (‘allophone’ backgrounds) and the exploration of cultural encounters and interaction has played a central role.
This seminar traces various stages in this development and will explore cultural contact and processes of acculturation since the involvement of ethnic settlers in the ‘Great (European) War’, which has been a significant factor in the emergence and construction of a Canadian collective identity. The texts to be analyzed in the seminar will be chosen from the works of writers who had their formative experiences or spent a great part of their life in the west of Canada, on the prairies or on the West Coast. Attention will also be paid to the cultural encounters and interaction of indigenous writers with the majority culture.
Participants in the seminar will be asked to acquire the following texts:
Margaret Laurence, A Bird in the House;
Henry Kreisel, The Almost Meeting;
Jack Hodgins, Broken Ground.
A reader containing additional stories and relevant documents will be provided, among them texts by Emily Carr, Lee Maracle and Wayson Choy.
The seminar will also serve as preparation for a projected interdisciplinary field trip to the West of Canada in the course of which critics, scholars and creative writers will be met at various universities.
Advanced Cultural Studies: Canada - Interdisciplinary Lecture Course
Waldemar Zacharasiewicz et al., Mon 17-19, Unterrichtsraum (ab 8.10.)
The interdisciplinary lecture series is intended to make students of several disciplines familiar with the various aspects of the cultural diversity of Canada. Experts from various disciplines (English and American Studies, Romance Studies, History, Geography, Political Science, Philosophy and Cultural Anthropology) will deal with the ethnogenesis and the construction of Canadian identities (both collective and individual) and the conflicts between the “founding nations”, the development of multilateral relationships between Canada, the United States and Europe, the challenges of the integration of First Nations and their strategies of survival, and problems of immigration in the 20 th century.
Participants will have the option of taking a written exam at the end of the semester on the basis of reading lists and materials used during the lecture series.