This introductory lecture course offers a survey of British literature in English from the early seventeenth to the mid-eighteenth century. We shall consider the historical and cultural context of the period before, during and after the English Civil War as well as developments in literary production and reception. This entails explorations of the political, social, theological, technological, and (natural) philosophical dimensions of early modern British literature. While major emphasis will be placed on the rise of the novel in the eighteenth century, we will also explore various forms of drama and poetry as well as non-fictional prose writing.

In this course, we shall explore late Victorian prose in the context of dominant social discourses such as class, race, gender, empire, and technology. How, we will ask, does narrative fiction respond in formal terms to the challenges of the late nineteenth century? How does it articulate and negotiate cultural pessimism? In the writings of Thomas Hardy, Bram Stoker, H. Rider Haggard, Oscar Wilde and others, we examine growing apprehensions about former social, religious, and philosophical certainties, the legitimacy of imperial ambitions and the dangers and advantages of scientific and technological progress.

In this course, we shall explore Shakespeare’s use of, and experimentation with, dramatic genres such as comedy, tragedy, and the history play. This entails studying the generic conventions of the Elizabethan stage, such as they were, but also the specific deviations from them in Shakespeare’s plays. In our readings of Richard II, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, and Troilus and Cressida, we shall examine his combinations of existing forms as well as his innovations. Viewing genre as a convention for meaning-making, we will consider the interactions between form and its social, political, and philosophical contexts.

English Renaissance revenge tragedy as a genre is deeply concerned with questions of personal agency, transgressions, the question of what is ‘right’ (in the judicial as well as moral sense) and the handling of grief. At the same time, it is a genre defined by spectacular violence, transgressive acts (from necrophilia to incest) and a rather bleak sense of dark comedy. In this seminar, we will contextualize the treatment of revenge in its time; see how revenge tragedy relates to the theatre of its time; and trace the development of a ‘spectacular’ (in every sense of the word) genre from its inception to its eventual decline. We will also read in detail three revenge tragedies (The Spanish Tragedy, The Revenger’s Tragedy and ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore), noting the different ways that the ‘abstract model’ can look in practical terms.

Tuesday 12-14 hrs, NW II, S 75

This course provides an introduction to major British dramatists and plays from the 1950s to the present. We will look at texts and contexts, and trace patterns of development in British theatre over a period of sixty years. We will also attend various theatre productions and a guided tour/workshop at the Staatstheater Nürnberg.

The following plays will be considered:
Shelagh Delaney, A Taste of Honey (1958)
Peter Shaffer, Equus (1973)
Caryl Churchil, Top Girls (1982)
Sarah Kane, Blasted (1995)
Roy Williams, Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads (2002)
Chris Thorpe, Status (2018)

Additional reading assignments will be made available on the e-learning platform. This is part two of a two-semester introduction to British drama. Each course can also be taken separately. The course is limited to 20 participants.

Tuesdays, 10-12, NW II, S 75

This seminar provides an introduction to selected British poetry from the Victorian Age to the present. We will engage in close readings of these texts and look at their historical and cultural contexts. Following Billy Collins Introduction to Poetry (1986), we will hold these poems up to the light, drop questions into them, walk inside their rooms and feel the walls for a light switch, perform them and read them aloud, and we will think about what reading poetry means to us today.

This is part two of a two-semester introduction to British poetry. Each course can also be taken separately. Reading assignments will be made available on the e-learning platform. The course is limited to 20 participants.

Monday 14.00-16-00, NW III, S 133

As 2019 saw the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, it is time to take another look at football in British literature, theatre and film, and in the performance of everyday life. In this seminar we will study the literary and cultural purposes to which football has been put, such as the negotiation of sexuality and gender identities, race relations and the state of the nation.

The following texts and films will be considered:

Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch (1992)
John King, The Football Factory (1996)
Bend it Like Beckham, dir. Gurinder Chadha (2002)
Roy Williams, Sing Yer Heart Out For the Lads (2002)
[John Donnelly, The Pass (2014)]
Patrick Marber, The Red Lion (2015)

[Additonal films: You'll Never Walk Alone (2017), The Other Final (2003)]

Please note: due to Freshers' Day on Oct 15, our first meeting will be on Oct 21!

Monday, 12.00-14.00, NW III, S 133

What do contemporary African women playwrights and theatre workers write about? There is no neat and simple answer to this question, but we will engage with recent playtexts and performances to identify some of the themes and issues that occupy a new, exciting generation of creative practitioners from the African continent; Sara Shaarawi (Egypt), Zainabu Jallo (Nigeria), Thembelihle Moyo (Zimbabwe), Adong Judith (Uganda), JC Niala (Kenya), and Koleka Putuma (South Africa). We will also look at the African Women’s Playwright Network (AWPN) – established in a move towards decolonial methodologies and practice – which connects practitioners physically and digitally across the continent and beyond.

Yvette Hutchison and Amy Jephta (eds), Contemporary Plays by African Women. London: Methuen Drama, 2019.

Additional reading assignments will be made available on the e-learning platform. The course is limited to 20 participants.

This course starts on Oct 21, due to Freshers' Day on Oct 14!