English, 2017 curriculum - Free topic 3: Narrative: Theory and Practice + Cultural Encounters in Local and Global Contexts: Engagement Across Borders

Course content

Narrative: Theory and Practice

Departing from standard notions of mimesis and moving gradually into some of the most recent theories concerning the mechanisms and effects of literature, we will look at the principal constituents of narrative prose and examine the interplay between form and content, beginning and ending, voice and characterization, language, ambiguity, indeterminacy and discuss the engagement of the author and the reader with the text. We will study both verbal and visual works from different parts of the Occidental English speaking world: the Grand Narrative, self-reflexive and experimental stories and the so-called ‘post-postmodern’ novel of the twenty-first century.


Cultural Encounters in Local and Global Contexts: Engagement Across Borders

In this course we will look at a selection of literary texts and their representation of the issues at stake when non-Western cultures come into contact with the West across a colonial, postcolonial, or global divide that invariably generates instability and hybridity. The result is typically estrangement and loss, but this ‘predicament’ may also lead to new insights, empowerment, circumvention, or what the theorist Homi Bhabha has called a ‘superior cultural intelligence’. At the beginning of the course, we will discuss theoretical texts about cultural encounters, notably Mary Louise Pratt’s ideas of the ‘contact zone’, asymmetrical relations of power and transculturation. Following this, we will explore literary narratives, set in either historical, contemporary and/or future time as examples of what Pratt has called ‘the arts of the contact zone’ played out in encounters between Western cultural agents and those of (formerly) colonised territories.

Classes, with particular emphasis on reading primary and secondary texts, oral discussion and developing proficiency in English.

Narrative: Theory and Practice

Provisional reading list:

P. Cobley, Narrative (2001); E. Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847); P. Auster, The Invention of Solitude (1982); J. Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot (1984); J. Safran Foer, Here I Am (2016) along with a selection of shorter theoretical and narrative texts that will all be uploaded to ABSALON in due course.


Cultural Encounters in Local and Global Contexts: Engagement Across Borders

Provisional reading list:  Rudy Wiebe, A Discovery of Strangers (1995); Patricia Grace, Potiki (1986); Chimamanda Adichie, Americanah (2013); Amitav Ghosh, The Calcutta Chromosome (1995); Rana Dasgupta, Tokyo Cancelled (2005); Mary Louise Pratt, ‘Arts of the Contact Zone,’ Ways of Reading, ed. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petroksky (1999) along with a selection of other theoretical and critical texts that will all be uploaded to ABSALON.  

This course only leads to exams Free Topic 1, Free Topic 2 and Free Topic 3.

Type of assessment
Portfolio, A joint portfolio for both courses uploaded in digital exam: Deadline June 12th 2018
• A power point presentation at a student conference based on a synopsis and bibliography (app. 5 pages) in the course ‘Narrative: Theory and Practice’. The synopsis must be handed in in week 16 and the conference will take place in week 18 and/or 19; counts as ½ of the final grade.
• Final essay (11-15 pages) on set question(s) in the course ‘Cultural Encounters in Local and Global Contexts: Engagement Across Borders’ to be uploaded; counts as ½ of the final grade.
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • English
  • 409,5