Students acquire insight into the literary works discussed and into the process of canon formation and cultural memory; they hone their abilities to conduct independent research, to report on this research in speech, writing, and by means of other media, and to present their research in academic format.
Britain is remarkably successful at marketing its cultural past, particularly its writers: apart from Shakespeare’s new Globe and a spate of Austen films, the Brontës, Dickens and Mrs Gaskell have become the focus of heritage industries, as have more recent authors or those born outside Britain, such as Wilde, Eliot, Yeats and Joyce. Such cults may be commercial or merely driven by the enthusiasm of amateurs, such as bloggers or writers of fan fiction. Some have an international outreach: in the Netherlands, we have the annual amateur Shakespeare at Diever, the Deventer Dickens festival, and a local branch of the Jane Austen Society. Dutch Joyceans have celebrated Bloomsday on 16 June Hague, in various locations in the Netherlands.|
In this course, we shall deal with one of the authors mentioned above, the modern age responds to him, her, or them, in the British Isles and abroad. What aspects go into the construction of this particular author’s or these particular authors’ cultural memory?
The starting point in this course is one or two novels form the author’s or authors’ oeuvre(s), which we shall read both in light of its original contexts and its afterlife. After a series of lectures and tutorials, students present, in teams of two or three, an assignment (referaat) on some aspect of the author’s or authors’s literary heritage either orally or by means of a short video presentation. Students also work individually on an academic paper (nota) dealing with one or more aspects of the author’s or authors’ afterlife / afterlives. Questions to be addressed include: how does the work or do the works function in today’s society? What meanings are invested in them? Apart from manifesting nostalgia by various means, are they also expected to speak to contemporary issues?
The course studies literary works and their afterlives, which is an important aspect of the workings of the modern literary marketplace. The research, presentation, and writing skills taught in this course are also relevant to the work environment.
In its entire composition, the course also stresses the absolute necessity of academic integrity.