Graduiertenkolleg Funktionen des Literarischen in Prozessen der Globalisierung

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Hauptseminar Cannibal Tales: Narrating Transgressive Consumption

08.10.2014 – 28.01.2015


Prof. Dr. Tobias Döring

Zeit & Ort

Mi 10-12 Uhr ; Schellingstr. 3, RG, Raum 205

This seminar invites students to engage with strategies of story-telling that grapple to narrate the unnarratable. Cannibals are placed beyond a crucial boundary. As figures or as cultural fantasies, they serve to mark, maintain or move the limits of the human. If foodways generally function as a way to perform social structures, the particular food practices that cannibals are famed for seem to break such structuring, hence threatening to break the very basis of society. And yet their hunger for us fellow-humans may also seem a powerful performance of intimacy by ingestion and reunion. This is why their presence is regarded and narrated both with horror and desire, disturbingly both figuring repulsion and erotic longing.

Against this background, we shall read and discuss, in dialogue with relevant theoretical material, the following core texts (to be purchased and prepared BEFORE the start of the semester): D. Defoe, Robinson Crusoe; J. Conrad, Heart of Darkness; E.A. Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym; Y. Martel, Life of Pi. – In the second half of the semester, participants will have occasion to present their own examples (i.e. novels, films and other case studies) in project groups.

Please note that this seminar involves extensive reading as essential preparation. Participants are also advised to attend my lecture “Eating Culture: A Culinary History of English Literature” (Tuesday, 12-14h), which explores the broader background of our topic.