Heike Mißler

Proseminar "In-Yer-Victorian-Face: Neo-Victorian Fiction"
Do 14-16 Uhr
C 5 3, Raum 120

In the past few decades, there has been an explosion of neo-historical fiction in Britain. Fuelled by a renewed and ever-growing interest in the past, neo-historical texts revisit and re-write historical epochs from a contemporary perspective. Neo-Victorianism is a particular strand of writing situated within this literary practice, engaging with the Victorian era (1837-1901) in a number of ways. Not only does the neo-Victorian text "write back to something in the nineteenth century, it does so in a manner that often aims to re-fresh and re-vitalise the importance of that earlier text to the here and now" (Llewellyn 170). When author Sarah Waters was asked in 2008 why she thought neo-Victorianism had experienced such a hype in the past twenty years, she answered:

"I've sometimes thought that it's a way of addressing issues that are still very, very current in British culture, like class and gender, and submerged sexuality or sexual underworlds. Things that we think we're pretty cool with, and actually we're not at all, and we keep on wanting to go back to the nineteenth century to play these out on a bigger scale, precisely because they're still very current for us."

In this course, we are going to look at three texts that all deal with issues which were often eclipsed, neglected, or presented in a one-sided manner in canonical Victorian literature, e.g. slavery and colonial exploitation in Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), sexuality and adultery in A.S. Byatt's Possession (1990), and homosexuality and pornography in Sarah Waters's Fingersmith (2002).

Texts: Please purchase the following editions and read Wide Sargasso Sea before the start of term.
Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. Ed. Hilary Jenkins. London: Penguin Student Editions, 2001. Print.
ISBN-10: 0140818030 ISBN-13: 978-0140818031
Byatt, A.S. Possession: A Romance. London: Vintage, 1991. Print.
ISBN-10: 0099800403 ISBN-13: 978-0099800408
Sarah Waters, Fingersmith. London: Virago, 2005. Print.
ISBN-10: 1860498833 ISBN-13: 978-1860498831


Proseminar "Sisters Wild: The Fiction of the Brontës"
Di 16-18 Uhr
C 5 3, Raum E20

"Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be," British poet Robert Southey wrote in a letter to Charlotte Brontë in 1837. The Brontë sisters, however, could not have envisaged a life without literature. They lived far away from the excitement of Britain's metropolitan centres in a Yorkshire village called Haworth. In the biographical notice to her sister's now classic novel Wuthering Heights, Charlotte Brontë explains: "We were wholly dependent on ourselves and each other, on books and study, for the enjoyments and occupations of life. The highest stimulus, as well as the liveliest pleasure we had known from childhood upwards, lay in attempts at literary composition." The result of these "attempts" are stories about abusive and/or incestuous relationships, moral cruelty, hypocrisy, and love across boundaries of class.

In this course we are going to look at how three of the best-known works of the sisters, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847), Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847) and Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848), challenge Victorian constructs of class, gender and sexuality.

Texts: Please purchase the following editions and read Jane Eyre before the start of term.
Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Ed. Stevie Davis. London: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print.
ISBN-10: 0141441143 ISBN-13: 978-0141441146
Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Ed. Pauline Nestor and Lucasta Miller. London: Penguin Classics, 2003. Print.
ISBN-10: 0141439556 ISBN-13: 978-0141439556
Brontë, Anne. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Ed. Stevie Davis. London: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print.
ISBN-10: 0140434747 ISBN-13: 978-0140434743


Übung "British Feminism from Queen Elizabeth I to the Spice Girls (Cultural Studies II - UK and Ireland)"
Mi 14-16 Uhr
C 5 3, Raum 120

In this course we are going to look at the cultural history of British feminism from the sixteenth century to today through the lens of various cultural artefacts, from literary and journalistic texts to paintings, music video clips and films. We will analyse the work of eminent British women and men who fought for gender equality, from a time before the term “feminist” was even invented to the age of postfeminism. You will be expected to prepare selected readings for each session.

Texts: The texts will be made available on Moodle.