Fachbereich 7

Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft

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The Romance of Rights: The Novel as a Site of Resistance and Empowerment

DozentIn: Prof. Dr. phil. Peter Schneck

Veranstaltungstyp: Seminar

Ort: 41/E02

Zeiten: Mo. 16:00 - 18:00 (wöchentlich)

Beschreibung: The emergence of the modern novel coincides with the emergence of central cultural, ethcial and legal notions about the human subject as a bearer of natural and universal rights. There is an intimate and mutually invigorating relation between the literary and the legal imaginary in regard to what during the era of romanticism was called 'the rights of man' and what we today understand as human rights.
What could be called 'the romance of rights' became a founding form of emplotting, dramatizing, and individualizing the universal subject of human rights - as a suffering victim of torture and inhumane punishment, a wrongly persecuted refugee or captive, or a slave attempting to regain her freedom. Justice and rights have been - and still are - central topics for a literature of human rights.
The seminar will tackle this relation and dynamics between 'writing and righting' (Lindsey Stockbridge) by looking at and discussing a selection of novels and secondary texts in order to better understand in what way the novel can be looked as a medium for human rights, an effective discourse to shape our ideas and imagination about the essential features and the limits of 'the human.'
The main subject of our discussion will be four texts from different periods and contexts:
Mary Shelley. Frankenstein. (1818)
Frederick Douglass. The Narrative and Life of Frederick Douglass (1845)
Mark Behr. The Smell of Apples (1996)
Dave Eggers. What is the What (2006)
You are strongly encouraged to obtain copies of the works above, and to use them to prepare and take part in class discussions.
For a detailed schedule with session tasks and further readings, please download the schedule file.
Regular attendance, active participation and written contributions are required from all students to complete the course with success.

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