Bauer, Matthias, Prof. Dr.
Self-Imposed Fetters: The Poetics of Form & Myth
Zeit: Mo 10-12
Ort: Neuphilologicum,306
Beginn: 24.10.2016

In this seminar, we will pursue the effect of deliberate restrictions when it comes to the production of literary texts. Do writers seek to impose restrictions upon their work so as to set free their powers of imagination? I.e., do they paradoxically get more by choosing less? What is it that those restrictions bring about? We will primarily consider three kinds of restrictions:

(1) Restrictions of form. We will pursue this by analyzing a number of poems which adopt a strict form, such as the sonnet, the villanelle, or the rhyme royal stanza, and consider its effect. In particular, we will discuss poems reflecting on this formal restriction, such as Wordsworthā€™s sonnet ā€¯Nuns fret not at their convents narrow roomā€¯.
(2) Restrictions of plot and subject matter (ā€¯mythā€¯). This can best be seen when a writer chooses a historical subject to which s/he will be bound if the text is to be seen as a representation of that subject. Our example will be Shakespeareā€™s Julius Caesar. What is the effect of Shakespeareā€™s binding himself to events familiar from historiography? How far could he go in deviating from them?
(3) Restrictions of the scope of representation. An example of these are the (neo-)classical unities of time, space, and action imposed upon drama. We will pursue this aspect by reading a novel, Emma by Jane Austen, a writer who deliberately imposed spatial and social restrictions on her representations.
Please buy and read in advance:
The Arden edition of Shakespeareā€™s Julius Caesar, ISBN 978-1903436219
The Penguin Classics edition of Jane Austenā€™s Emma, ISBN 978-0141439587
A selection of poems will be provided/named in the seminar.
Anmeldung: per E-mail direkt beim Dozenten anmelden