Sommersemester 2012

PD Dr. Kai Merten und Dennis Büscher-Ulbrich gaben im Sommersemester 2012 folgende Kurse:

 

Titel: Film and Hyperculture: The Empire Gazes Back: Postcolonial Visual Culture

PD Dr. Kai Merten

Art der Veranstaltung: Seminar

Zeit und Ort: Di 12:00 - 14:00, LS6 - R.24/25

Inhalt: This seminar explores postcolonial visual culture following the notion, developed in recent Postcolonial Media Studies, that the visual culture of former British colonies understands itself among other things as a counter-representation of imperialist visualizations. The (ex-)Empire gazes back, so to say, and it does so by appropriating and redirecting media technologies and visualizing strategies which have formerly been used to subject it to the imperial world order. The media explored in this seminar will be film, photography, and comics/graphic narratives. We will mainly focus on Indian and African visual culture from (roughly) the 1960s until today but will also try to integrate a glance at the exciting movie scene of New Zealand, exemplifying visual practices in a settler colony. There will also be a couple of introductory sessions on the colonial gaze, its media and its cultural practices. Work in this seminar will e.g. consist of expert-team impulses and participant group in-depth studies of visual material presented to the course. For inspiration, please have a good look at the following web-sites:
http://www.christopherpinney.com/
http://www.pieterhugo.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bollywood
http://wp.stockton.edu/postcolonialstudies/hybridity-and-comics/
Please try to do some reading up and ‘looking up’ on the material presented and suggested by these venues. Perhaps you can already see what is particularly interesting to you…


Titel: Literary/Cultural History and Genres: Literature and Performance in Victorian Culture

Art der Veranstaltung: Seminar

PD Dr. Kai Merten

Zeit und Ort: Mi 12:00 - 14:00, LS6 - R.22/23

Inhalt: ‘Literature’ consists of texts to be read in silence and alone, doesn’t it? What about drama performances, poetry readings, and indeed lectures on literature though? Cannot literature also be seen as consisting of ‘scripts’ to be acted out, aloud and with other people? This seminar looks at the relationship of literature to its potential ‘live perfomance’ in the Victorian period in Britain (1837-1901) and will exemplify this relationship by studying the ‘intermediality’ (a term to be explored) of literature and theatre at that time.
Usually, literature and theatre are seen as being connected through the genre of drama. From the perspective of cultural history though, this connection is strongly problematized at the beginning of the Victorian period: the so-called ‘Theatre Regulation Act’, which severely restricted the performance of drama at British theatres, was still valid at the time. After the partial lifting of that law in 1843, literature should have been able to fully return to the theatre as ‘drama’, and it is one of the goals of this seminar to enquire if this return took place. However, we will also study the years before and enquire what literature did about its performance dimension when it had much greater difficulty in making it to the stage. And finally, we will study how literature reacted when it was once again censored away from public performance, as it happened with Oscar Wilde’s important proto-modernist drama Salome (1891/1894). Apart from the works by Oscar Wilde, the texts will be made available on Moodle at the beginning of the seminar. However, you can prepare a good performance in this seminar by reading Salome on you own during the term break.

 

Titel: Media, Culture, and Politics: 17th-Century Media Battles in Britain

Art der Veranstaltung: Seminar

PD Dr. Kai Merten

Zeit und Ort: Mi 10:00 - 12:00, LS6 - R.22/23

Inhalt: Are there media in 17th-century Britain, and if, in what way can they be seen as battling like today’s London tabloids? This seminar will show you that indeed there were media in Britain during the Civil War (1642-1651) and Oliver Cromwell’s subsequent dictatorship until 1660 – and that indeed a considerable part of this civil war took place in these media.
In our seminar, we will first differentiate between cultural media, political media and religious media, before using these categories as concepts enabling new and exciting observations regarding the many conflicts in 17th-century Britain:
(1) We will study the religious imagery (iconography) of this time and the inexorable fight againt it by the religious group of the Puritans led by Oliver Cromwell himself. Connected to their war against God’s image was one against the picture of the King as the central vision of political theology.
(2) This fight partly took place in pamplets, the second field of study in our seminar. However, pamphlets are usually seen as the key political media of their time. We will study them both in their different medial forms, such as broadsheets and newsbooks, and by way of the many different political conflicts that were acted out on their pages.
(3) Pamphlets were also used as carriers for fictional texts and symbolic meanings, i.e. they were used as cultural media. In this section of the seminar, we will study the poetry battle between the Royalists and the Republican as part of the aptly named ‘literature as civil war’ (Ingo Berensmeyer). Finally, we will contrast the paradoxical visualization of Cromwell’s Commonwealth in the visual arts and architecture in the 1650s with the triumphant return of the king in Restoration art from 1660.

 

Titel: Media, Culture, and Politics: Popular Culture in 18th-Century Britain

Art der Veranstaltung: Seminar

PD Dr. Kai Merten

Zeit und Ort: Do 14:00 - 16:00, LS6 - R.22/23

Inhalt: In this seminar, we will study what is arguably the central turning point in the history of popular culture. The 18th century saw an increasing urbanization and industrialization on the one hand and, on the other hand, an ‘enlightened’ interest in the study – and the improvement – of British culture in all its manifestations. In this context, popular culture came into focus as an important form of expression for the (new) urban ‘working class’. We will first look at the invention of the concept of ‘popular culture’ in Scottish Enlightenment thought and in British antiquarianism before we analyse the two main strands of the new popular culture:
(1) the former games, sports and holiday pastimes, mainly of the rural population, were now recast as leisure activities for urban workers. An important focus for this recontextualization was the so-called illegitimate theatre – a form of stage culture developed throughout the 18th-century which was legally allowed to stage everything but drama. Therefore, it brought to the stage, and literally domesticated, many of the entertainments, such as animal shows, circus arts, and pantomime, that used to divert the masses in open-air fair grounds.
(2) Secondly, the so-called fine arts, in particular painting and other visual arts, were made accessible to the poorer urban population by small-scale reproduction on paper on the one hand and by the large-scale reproduction of an alternative popular painting in ‘panorama’ buildings on the other.
For further information, there will be an open Moodle account from the end of the winter semester. Please read the introductory article posted there (you can also follow up its bibliography).

 

Titel: Visual and Media Theory

Art der Veranstaltung: Seminar

PD Dr. Kai Merten

Zeit und Ort: Di 14:00 - 16:00, OS75/S2 - R.23

Anmerkung: Dieses Seminar steht interessierten Studierenden aller Studiengänge des Englischen Seminars offen und kann auch als Hauptseminar belegt werden.

Inhalt: Das Textkorpus richtet sich auch nach den Interessen der Teilnehmenden und soll sich im weitesten Sinne im Bereich der Medien- und Visualitätstheorie bewegen. Neben Theorie und (Literatur-)Geschichte der Visualität würden mich etwa auch Theorie und Geschichte des Gedankens einer ‚Mediendemokratie‘ interessieren. Zu den Sitzungen werden Textauszüge, nicht ganze Bände vorbereitet. Unverbindliche Textvorschläge für die ersten Sitzungen wären z.B.:
Whitney Davis, A General Theory of Visual Culture. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011.
Jacques Rancière, Der emanzipierte Zuschauer. Wien: Passagen Verlag, 2009.

 

Titel: Literary/Cultural History and Genres: American Écriture Féminine: From Whitman to Acker

Art der Veranstaltung: Seminar

Dennis Büscher-Ulbrich

Zeit und Ort: Di 14:00 - 16:00, LS4 - R.021/022

Inhalt: Crudely, where American feminist criticism is concerned with feminine history, French feminist literary theory is concerned with “the feminine” as a category of discourse. Influential feminist theorists like Hélène Cixous, Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigary separate “the feminine” from “women as people” and are concerned to analyze how a specific kind of writing, designated “feminine,” challenges the linguistic and metaphysical conventions of Western discourse at large. Grounded in the deconstructionist notion that the repressions of a patriarchal society create silences, things that cannot be said, and that these silences are disrupted by the practice of écriture feminine – which may be produced equally by men and women – French literary feminism has posed a radical challenge to the idea of a universal “gender essence.” The “feminine” here becomes not the sex of individual women but instead the symbol of otherness, alterity and the unconscious, or, the “Imaginary” of Lacanian psychoanalysis.
The overall aim of the course is twofold. We will use the critical-theoretical concept of écriture feminine: first, to get acquainted with foundational and contemporary theoretical texts at the crossroads of (Marxist) feminism, post-structuralism and psychoanalysis; second, to approach the disruptive, genre-defying and thoroughly provocational writing of WALT WHITMAN, GERTRUDE STEIN, WILLIAM BORROUGHS, KATHY ACKER, BRUCE ANDREWS and HARRYETTE MULLEN. We will situate these exciting writers in the larger contexts of modern US-American literary and cultural history, in an attempt to trace the writing’s cultural significance and study the inscription of the feminine body and female difference in language and text. For preparation, please read Cixous’s manifesto-like theoretical essay “The Laugh of Medusa” (1975) as well as the American feminist critic Elaine Showalter’s “Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness” (1981). Both texts will be carefully explicated and discussed in the seminar, collectively. All relevant texts will be made available via OLAT.

 

Titel: Media, Culture, and Politics: 'More than Meets the Eye': Reading Audiotexts, Sounding Auditory Culture

Art der Veranstaltung: Seminar

Dennis Büscher-Ulbrich

Zeit und Ort: Di 8:00 - 10:00, LS10 - R.201

Inhalt: Notwithstanding the widely popularized notion of Western culture’s “second orality” and the constant audio-visual stimulation provided by today’s media culture, relatively little critical attention has been given to the aural dimension of cultural experience. Due to a general emphasis on sight over sound the cultural significance of sound is frequently underestimated. In recent years, however, such diverse interdisciplinary fields as acoustic ecology, literary sound studies and cultural musicology have offered numerous studies of the various ways in which listening subjects are a) profoundly affected by sound and b) produce and negotiate musical meaning through discourse and social practice. When it comes to reading audiotexts, however, certain problems arise. Whereas all music, for instance, can be said to have cultural meaning despite its lack of the referential density found in words or images, musical meaning can be made explicit only by language. Such a process of ‘translation’ presupposes some sort of vital relationship between music and text, while the nature of that relationship remains problematic. However, precisely because it is semantically underdetermined, music can be said to render the inevitable gap between meaning and the object of meaning much more palpable than texts or even images do. It is in this sense that, as Lawrence Kramer notes, “music emerges as perhaps the paradigmatic object of constructive description.”
How, then, are we to read particular audiotexts in a methodologically justifiable fashion, and why should we conceive of sound as text in the first place rather than focusing on its affective force? As listening subjects ourselves – a notion which we will have to discuss – we will carefully describe, analyze, contextualize and historicize audiotexts from a broad range of different audio cultures in an attempt to sound auditory culture at large. Students are invited to theoretically reflect on all kinds of musical and non-musical sound and audiotexts from “Beethoven’s 4th” to John Cage’s “4’33,” sound poetry to dance music, muzak to avant-garde jazz, anti-folk to drum ‘n’ bass, national anthems to corporate jingles, noise music to film score, ring shout to rap music, grindcore to urban soundscapes, and so forth. For preparation, please reflect on your own (musical) listening behaviour and auditory experience. Key theoretical texts and audio recordings will be made available via OLAT.