Graduiertenkolleg Funktionen des Literarischen in Prozessen der Globalisierung

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Vorlesung English Literature in Postcolonial Perspectives: Rereading and Rewriting

25.04.2017 – 25.07.2017


Prof. Dr. Tobias Döring

Zeit & Ort

Di 12-14 Uhr; Schellingstr. 3, S005

Why are daffodils iconic English flowers? Why is a cup of tea the universally acknowledged sign of Englishness? What does the sugar at its bottom signify? And what do we actually say or mean by "Englishness" and its related discourses or symbols?

This lecture invites students of literature to explore such questions through a critical reading, or rather rereading, of central texts from the English tradition since the 16th century, by central writers such as William Shakespeare, Daniel Defoe, William Wordsworth, Charlotte Brontë, Arthur Conan Doyle or Rudyard Kipling. Yet their assumed centrality, precisely, is at stake: why and how have these works in particular gained their place in the so-called canon?

Since the 1960s, postcolonial writers e.g. from Africa or Asia or the Caribbean have offered new and often very different versions of what was once considered the defining texts or figures from a cultural tradition, which has since been lastingly exposed to very diverse and often dissenting global views, questioning the very basis of national claims or designations. For this reason, all students should consider such rewritings carefully and think about the ways in which they complicate any simple understanding of what we do when we engage with"‘English" literature.

Texts to be discussed include Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Othello, Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative, J.M. Coetzee’s Foe, Derek Walcott’s Pantomime, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, David Dabyeen’s Turner, or Marina Warner’s Indigo. Participants will only benefit from the lecture if they read as many of the texts are possible.

An introductory account of the field is Tobias Döring, Postcolonial Literatures in English (Stuttgart: Klett, 2008); the following reader offers useful critical material: Peter Childs, ed., Post-Colonial Theory and English Literature (Edinburg: Edinburgh UP, 1999).