Proseminar “Shakespeare and Constructions of (British) National Identity” (Winter 2023/24)
When asked to list famous British authors, one of the first names that comes to many people’s minds is William Shakespeare. Not only did Shakespeare had a significant impact on the country’s literature and language, but his works also played a crucial role in shaping British/English national identity. This applies especially to Shakespeare’s history plays, which depict the lives of former British Kings and important historical events. In this seminar, we will take a closer look at two examples, Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry V, in order to investigate the images of Britishness they construct. In our discussion, we will also take the representations of regional identities, e.g. Scottish and Welsh, as well as that of different social classes into consideration. As a basis for our analyses, the seminar will also introduce students to Early modern theatre as well as to key theories and concepts about national identity. Moreover, the seminar will also provide an outlook into the present as we will investigate the ways in which Shakespearean notions of Britishness persist until this day as well as how the Bard is now used as a signifier for Britishness for various purposes.
Aufbauseminar Culture (Winter 2023/24)
Grundseminar Culture (Winter 2023/24)
Archive (Advanced seminars only)
Proseminar “Contemporary British Historical Fiction” (Summer 2023)
In the last couple of years, there has been a significant tendency in British culture and society to look back to the country’s past. This can for instance be observed in Brexit’s central slogan ‘take back control’, which nostalgically promises the restoration of an allegedly lost golden age, or the popularity of the historical fiction genre. Drawing on current research, we will discuss the main characteristics of this genre and compare different ways in which these cultural products represent and engage with British history. In doing so, the seminar will also touch upon key issues such as national identity, gender, class, nostalgia, and revisions of history. In our analysis, we will take different media forms such as novels, films or TV series and the differences between them into consideration.
Previous Seminars at Other Universities
Universität Paderborn: “Borders and National / European Identity: (Northern) Irish and British Perspectives” (Winter 2022-23)
Ruhr-Universität-Bochum: Nostalgia in Contemporary British Culture and Society (Summer 2021)
Ruhr-Universität-Bochum: BrexLit: Literary Responses to Brexit and Current British Politics (Winter 2020-21)
Universität Paderborn: Teaching Popular Culture (Summer 2019)
Universität Paderborn: Teaching Literature in the EFL Classroom (Winter 2018-19)
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