CANCELLED: English - Free topic 2: (Ad)dressing the Wound: trauma stories in narrative and theory and Frame and Frame-Break in American Literature

Course content




(Ad)dressing the Wound: trauma stories in narrative and theory (Anne Sophie Taagaard)

In this course, we will discuss a selection of contemporary novels that re-explores histories of hurt and pain from the therapeutic approach offered by trauma studies. As is well-known from trauma theory, trauma is an ‘unclaimed experience’ (cf. Cathy Caruth, 1996) and traumatic memory cannot readily be translated into narrative memory. The voicing or representation of trauma is always in conflict with the simultaneous urge in the traumatised individual to both forget and remember. The ‘telling’ of traumatic experience annihilates order and continuity in representation and destabilises referential meaning as the traumatic impact has blocked full access to language. We will look at how contemporary novels engage with and process traumatic experiences in the attempt to ‘represent the un-representable’ through an experimentation with genre and narrative technique.


Frame and Frame-Break in American Literature (Inge Birgitte Siegumfeldt)

How do narrative frames determine a text? What happens when established frames are broken or doubled or called into question?

In this course, we will focus specifically on the nature and function of narrative frames in contemporary American fiction and discuss the ways in which a selection of writers use overt and covert frames to flaunt heterogeneity, instability and unreliability in prose, poetry, drama and essay writing. We will discuss relevant theories by Waugh, McHale, Clare, James and Seshagiri, among others, and apply it to such literary texts as Ronald Sukenick’s The Death of the Novel, 1969, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, 1987, Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love, 2005. Morrison’s Beloved bridges the two sections of this module. It will be studied from the different perspectives determined by the theoretical angles of the two courses.

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

(Ad)dressing the Wound: trauma stories in narrative and theory

Preliminary reading list: Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987); Michael Ondaatje, Anil’s Ghost (2000), Zoë Wicomb David’s Story (2002); Taiye Selasi, Ghana Must Go (2013); Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer (2015)

A course selection of theoretical and critical texts will be uploaded along with the course plan on Absalon.


Frame and Frame-Break in American Literature

Please note that this is but a provisional reading list.

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

Type of assessment
Portfolio, A joint portfolio uploaded in digital exam: Deadline June 10th 2020
First: 2 essays (5-7 pages each) during and ending part one (each counting 25 % of the final grade)
Then: student conference at the end of part two (counts 50 % of the final grade).
Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • English
  • 409,5