British Literary & Cultural Studies (Prof. Frenk)

The time span we will discuss in this lecture course was turbulent and violent. In the field of literature, it led to an enormous diversity of experiments and writing styles. From late Victorian and Edwardian visions of the future to the aftermath of World War II, these few decades were replete with ruptures on all cultural levels. In this lecture course, we will both closely read canonical texts and look at selected literary and cultural contexts. Among the topics to be discussed are: the synchronicity of the old and the new, the late colonialism, diverse ‘isms’ within the project of modernism, war literature, the fragmented individual, changes in narrative techniques, formal experiments in poetry, old and new roles of art, changes of sex / sexualities / gender, generic innovations, the intermedial dialogue between literature and film. Among the authors to be discussed are: H. G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, George Bernard Shaw, Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, R. C. Sherriff, Vera Brittain, Virginia Woolf, William Butler Yeats, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Louis MacNeice, Aldous Huxley, Agatha Christie, Evelyn Waugh, Noël Coward, George Orwell, Graham Greene, Dylan Thomas.

 There will be a final test (45 mins) in the second half of the last lecture (19 July 2022).

In this seminar, we will first discuss the movement of modernism in general, which manifested itself in numerous artistic and intellectual domains at the beginning of the twentieth century. We will then closely read and contextualise two of the most canonical modernist texts in English literature. Since its publication in 1922, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land has come to be considered by many as the epitome of modernist poetry. Among other features, the poem’s many intertextual references and its demanding multiplicity, which can also be read as fragmentariness, have come to be considered as modernist. In Mrs Dalloway (1925), Virginia Woolf follows her heroine Clarissa through one day.  In a writing style that is markedly different from other novels written at the time, Mrs Dalloway gives its readers insights into Clarissa’s inner thoughts and into British upper and middle-class society after the First World War.

At the end of the seminar, we will discuss the 1997 film version of Mrs Dalloway (dir. Marleen Gorris) and, if we still have the time, the 2002 film The Hours (dir. Stephen Daldry).