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HS Neo-Victorianism : Course Description

Course Description ^top


subject area: English literature
language: English
reading: A. Carter, "The Fall River Axe Murders" (1985); S. Waters, Affinity (1999); C. Tóibín, The Master (2004); A.S. Byatt, Possession (1990); K. Summerscale, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (2007); W. Gibson + B. Sterling, The Difference Engine (1991)
additional reading: texts on Neo-Victorianism will be made available on studOn by the beginning of the term

Parricide! Infanticide! Lesbian sex! Ghosts! Lost manuscripts! Steampunk! Sounds exciting? Then this seminar might be just right for you!
In this course, we will explore a currently emerging field of literary and cultural studies: Neo-Victorianism, a term designating contemporary appropriations of the Victorian past. The novels we will read cover diverse aspects: we will talk about spiritualism, murder and crime writing, steampunk, Victorian biography and historiographic metafiction. However, this is not an ordinary course: after several ‘conventional’ sessions in order to introduce the novels, we (and you!) will prepare a course-conference. You will have four weeks to prepare conference papers (which will later become your ‘Hausarbeit’); a seminar ‘wiki’-page is there for you to discuss your progress and results as well as to support you during this preparatory phase. The conference will take place at a weekend (23rd/24th of January 2010) and consists of a keynote lecture, your conference papers, lively discussions, and, naturally, a conference dinner. You can then use the feedback on your paper to finalise your essay.
This student conference will prepare you for ‘the real thing’: the international conference “Fashioning the Neo-Victorian. Iterations of the Nineteenth Century in Contemporary Literature and Culture” (Erlangen, 8th-10th April 2010). You are all invited to attend the conference, and the best students will be given the chance to present their papers at the conference (during a graduate forum, 8th April).

Reading List ^top


Please keep in mind that the reading load for this course is heavy especially during the first weeks of the semester. You should therefore have finished reading at least Affinity, The Master and Possession by the beginning of the winter term – preferably all primary texts!
We will cover the primary texts in the following order:
  • Angela Carter, "The Fall River Axe Murders"
  • Sarah Waters, Affinity (1999)
  • Colm Tóibín, The Master (2004)
  • A.S. Byatt, Possession (1990)
  • Kate Summerscale, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (2007)
  • William Gibson + Bruce Sterling, The Difference Engine (1991)