SUMMER SEMESTER 2018


Nature | Art | Philosophy: Emerson and Thoreau

P4

Wed. 6:00-8:00, Room 106, Schellingstr. 3 (VG)

 

This seminar provides an introduction to two major figures of nineteenth-century American literature and culture: Ralph Waldo Emerson (the Sage of Concord, the father of Transcendentalism) and Henry David Thoreau (the proto-environmentalist who coined the term “civil disobedience”). Over the course of the semester, we will explore well- and lesser-known texts by these two thinker-writers and will reflect on how their writings can still have a transformative effect on the way we experience and think about nature, art, and philosophy. You should purchase the Norton Critical Edition of Thoreau’s Walden, Civil Disobedience, and Other Writings (3rd ed., ISBN: 978-0-393-93090-0). All other texts will be available in a reader and/or in electronic format through LSF. Course requirements include one oral presentation and one paper. Active participation in seminar discussions and regular attendance are strongly recommended for success in this class.



WINTER SEMESTER 2017-2018


Explorations in Literature, Media, and Art: Emerson, Pound, McLuhan

WP 1 Ü

Mon. 2:00-4:00, Room S 201, Schelling Str. 3


Ralph Waldo Emerson (the Sage of Concord, the father of Transcendentalism); Ezra Pound (one of the most influential and controversial American poets of the twentieth century, charged with treason for his fascist radio broadcasts during World War II and incarcerated for years in an asylum in Washington, D.C.); Marshal McLuhan (the Canadian media guru who coined the phrase “the medium is the message”). This course will take students on a fascinating exploration of selected works by these three hugely influential thinker-writers, probing their theories about literature, media (old and new), and art. All texts will be available in a reader and/or in electronic format through LSF. Course requirements include one oral presentation and one paper. Active class participation and regular attendance are strongly recommended for success in this class.



Love and Death in the American Short Story

P 4 Ü

Wed. 2:00-4:00, Room 242, Schelling Str. 3


In this course we will read a wide variety of short stories from the early nineteenth century to the present, ranging in style from realism to minimalism and postmodernism. In addition to the major aspects of  plot, character, point of view, narrative voice, and setting,  our discussion will focus on larger questions about the relationship between narrative, the act of reading, love, and death. Readings will include works by Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, James, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Carver, Dick, King, Sontag, Saunders, and Wallace, as well as critical essays on narrative ethics and short story theory. All texts will be available in a reader and/or in electronic format through LSF. Course requirements include one oral presentation and one paper. Since this course places a heavy emphasis on active student participation in class discussion, regular attendance is strongly recommended.



Colloquium for Thesis Writers


Details in LSF.



SUMMER SEMESTER 2017


Less Is More: The Ethics and Aesthetics of the American Short Story

(P 4 Literay History)

Thurs. 10:00-12:00, Room S 201, Schellingstr. 3


In this course, we will read a wide variety of short stories from the early nineteenth century to the present, ranging in style from realism to minimalism and postmodernism. In addition to the major aspects of  plot, character, point of view, narrative voice, and setting,  our discussion will focus on larger questions about the relationship between narrative, the act of reading, and ethics. Readings will include works by Irving, Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, James, Wharton, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Carver, Dick, King, Sontag, Saunders, and Wallace, as well as critical essays on narrative ethics and short story theory. All texts will be available in a reader and/or in electronic format through LSF. Course requirements include one ore two oral presentations and one 8- to 10-page paper. Since this course places a heavy emphasis on active student participation in class discussion, regular attendance is strongly recommended. 



WINTER SEMESTER 2016-17


Bomb Makers & Sentence-Makers: Terrorists and Writers in American Literature

(WP 1.3 FS Literary History)

Thurs. 4:00-6:00, Room S 201, Schellingstr. 3


“There’s a curious knot that binds novelists and terrorists,” says Bill Gray, the protagonist of Don DeLillo’s 1991 novel Mao II.  But what exactly is the relationship between sentence-makers and bomb makers, artistic creativity and terrorist violence, words and action? "Can terrorism ever be morally justified?" (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,  "Terrorism"). This seminar will explore these controversial questions—and others that students bring to the table—by engaging in detailed readings of selected works by American authors. Texts may include Henry James’s The Princess Casamassima (1886), Don DeLillo’s Mao II (1991), and Paul Auster’s Leviathan (1992). Please check this web page in late September/early October for details about the specific editions of the novels required for this course. Since this course is structured as a seminar and places a heavy emphasis on active student participation in class discussion, regular attendance is strongly recommended.


Required texts:


Mao II, Penguin, ISBN: 978-0140152746

Leviathan, Faber and Faber, ISBN: 978-0571276561

The Princess Casamassima, Penguin, ISBN: 978-0140432541

 

You can purchase these books from the Words’Worth Bookstore (Schellingstr. 3) or on Amazon. Please use the ISBN and Amazon’s  “Advanced Search” feature (“Erweiterte Suche”) to make sure you get the right edition.

 


In Search of the Great American Novel

(WP 1.2 Ü Literary History)

Tues. 2:00-4:00, Room HS 007, Schellingstr. 3


Love them or hate them, there are some books that, as a student of  American literature, you simply can’t ignore. To this group of “hyper-canonical” texts belong the four novels we will read (or reread) in this class, all of which, at one time or another, have been considered likely candidates for the title of Great American Novel (GAN): Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850), Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884),  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925), and Toni Morrison’s Beloved. (1987). Please check this web page in late September/early October for details about the specific editions of the novels required for this course. Active class participation and regular attendance are strongly recommended for success in this class!


Required texts:


The Scarlet Letter and Other Writings, Norton, ISBN: 978-0393979534

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Norton,  ISBN: 978-0393966404

The Great Gatsby, Penguin Classics, ISBN: 978-0141182636

Beloved, Vintage Classics, ISBN: 978-0099540977 or Vintage, ISBN: 978-0099760115

 

You can purchase these books from the Words’Worth Bookstore (Schellingstr. 3) or on Amazon. Please use the ISBN and Amazon’s  “Advanced Search” feature (“Erweiterte Suche”) to make sure you get the right edition.

  



SUMMER SEMESTER 2016



An American Hauntology: Ghosts in American Literature and Culture

(P4 Literary History)

Tues. 2:00-4:00, Room 112,  Amalienstr. 73A


In this class, drawing on Jacques Derrida’s intriguing notion of “hauntology” but putting a  slightly different spin on it, we will engage in detailed readings and interpretations of selected American novels, short stories, poems, and probably a couple of  films that employ ghosts and haunting as central tropes. Why do the dead sometimes return to haunt the living? What kind of political and cultural work do literary and cinematic ghosts perform? These are only some of the questions we will tackle over the course of the semester. Each session will include a brief opening lecture, followed by extensive class discussion of the issues raised in the lecture and in the readings assigned for that day. Primary texts may include but will not be limited to: Cotton Mather, excerpts from Wonders of the Invisible World. 1693; Henry James, The Turn of the Screw. 1898. 2nd ed.New York: Norton, 1999 (ISBN: 978-0393959048)*; Edith Wharton, selections from Ghosts. 1937; Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. 1976. New York: Vintage, 1989 (ISBN: 978-0679721888)*; Toni Morrison, Beloved. 1987. London: Vintage Classics, 2010 (ISBN: 978-0099540977)*; selections from Stephen King, Bag of Bones. 1998. The books that you are required to purchase are those marked with an asterisk  (please do not use any editions of James’s, Kingston’s, and Morrison’s novels other than the ones officially assigned). Additional readings will be available in electronic format through LSF. A tentative course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class. Requirements include two oral reports and one 8- to 10-page paper.  Active class participation and regular attendance are crucial for success in this course!




SUMMER SEMESTER 2015



Towards a Posthuman(ist) American Studies: Theory, Literature, Film

(P4 Literary History)

Mon. 11:00-1:00; Room S 201


What is posthumanism? What is its relation to Western humanism and post-anthropocentrism? Should, and if so, how can American Literary and Cultural Studies include a stronger posthuman(ist) component? These are only some of the questions we will explore in this course. The first portion of the class is devoted to articulating a critical genealogy of posthumanism  from Donna Haraway’s “Manifesto for Cyborgs” (1985) through Katherine Hayles’s How We Became Posthuman (1999) to Rosy Braidotti’s The Posthuman (2013), Stefan Herbrechter’s  Posthumanism: A Critical Analysis (2013), and Giorgio Agamben’s The Open: Man and Animal (2013). As a counterpoint to this theoretical moment, in the rest of the course, we will engage in detailed readings and interpretations of selected American novels, short stories, and probably a couple of  films that exemplify the emergence of a posthuman(ist) sensibility or problematic. A tentative course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class. Texts include: Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968); Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2 (1995); Octavia Butler, Lilith’s Brood (2000, previously published as Xenogenesis); Laurence Gonzales, Lucy (2010). Additional readings will be  available in electronic format.