Narrating Nonhuman Nature: Literary Realism (GERM 592 A, ENGL 559 A)
Instructor: Jason Groves
Meetings: W 1:30-4:20. LOW 111.
This seminar will offer an introduction to the problems of representation, narration, and description in nineteenth-century prose, particularly with respect to nature and the physical world, waste and pollution, and the everyday and the ordinary. Focusing on the novella, the genre most associated with literary realism, the course considers how realism’s strategies of containment—in which territorial borders and fences organize and enclose landscapes, where dikes and ditches organize waterways, where sexuality is sublimated, and where excessive narrative framings structure stories of violence and death—struggle to contend with rapid environmental transformations associated with industrialization, urbanization, and the expansion of international capitalism. Accordingly, this seminar will advance ongoing investigations into the approach of the environmental humanities and apply it to an epoch widely regarded as the forerunner of modern environmentalism. All primary readings available in both German original and English translation; most secondary readings in English. Course discussion in English. Requirements: all assigned reading, class participation, reports, and a final paper.
Authors include Droste-Hühlshoff, Fontane, Gotthelf, Grillparzer, Keller, Raabe, Storm, and Stifter. Critical and theoretical readings from Adorno, Jacobsen, Jameson, Lukacs, Sebald, as well as contemporary eco-critics.