English - Free topic 5: Time in Victorian Literature + New Literature, Media and Time

Course content

Time in Victorian Literature (Maria Damkjær)

Literature happens in time; it unfolds, it endures, and it develops as we read. All stories, simply by virtue of putting words after one another, structure time in the telling. And, as Frank Kermode has shown, all texts are influenced by their inevitable endings.


This course reads literary works both for their narrative strategies of telling time, and for the cultural images of temporality which inform them. Scientific discoveries have uncovered the vast age of the world, time’s relativity and the time of consciousness. Similarly, technologies like clocks, railways, and smartphones have shifted how we live with time and in time. We will read the British novel from Emily Brontë to Virginia Woolf, and the course will introduce theory by Kermode, Bakhtin, Ricœur and others. The class will focus on developing the students’ skills in applying theory in their writing.


New Literature, Media and Time (Tina Lupton)

This second part of the MA course takes up issues raised in the first in a contemporary register. Here we will look at how fiction has developed with twentieth-century media and technology in ways that continue to make time a question of representation and imagination. We will ask anew, against the backdrop of our multi-media reading environment, what it means for a book or an image or a poem to be situated in time, and whether media themselves can now be considered responsible for our sense of time. Have we outsourced time itself to machines, and what might this mean for our own agency? We will also look at new forms of time – queer time; deep time; recursive time; new versions of futurity – that have emerged in recent literary critical discussions. Above all, students taking this module should be interested in engaging deeply and in a sustained way with both literary and philosophical texts. We will read secondary texts by Bernard Stiegler, Friedrich Kittler, Mark Hansen, Lee Edelman, and Dipesh Chakrabarty. 

Time in Victorian Literature
‘Time in Victorian Literature’ will be taught in weeks 37-44. Students on the 2017 Studieordning will take it together with ‘New Literature, Media and Time’ (see below).

New Literature, Media and Time
‘New Literature, Media and Time’ will be taught in weeks 44-50. Students on the 2017 Studieordning will take it together with ‘Time in Victorian Literature’ (see above).

Time in Victorian Literature

Preliminary reading list:

  • Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847)
  • Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (1854-55)
  • Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925)


New Literature, Media and Time

Primary literature:

  • Ben Lerner, 10.04
  • Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
  • Jennifer Egan, Visit From the Goon Squad

Ali Smith, How to Be Both


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 January 9th 2019
A portfolio for the two courses, which will consist of:
• Two essays (5-7 pages) for ‘Time in Victorian Literature,’ to be submitted in week 40 and 44. Each will make up ¼ of the final grade.
• An essay (5-7 pages) and a book review (5-7 pages) for ‘New Literature, Media and Time’, to be submitted in week 47 and 50. Each will make up ¼ of the final grade.
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • English
  • 409,5