VL Intro to Literary and Cultural Studies

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Übung Intro Literary/ Cultural Studies

Studienleistung: digital schicken, betreff Wednesday 14-16

Sylvia Plath: selected poems (available on eCampus)
William Shakespeare: Hamlet - please purchase
Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea - please purchase
the reader
read chapter 1 + poetry part

Studienleistung: personal connection with topic (women portrayed as mad in literature)
Format: Essay, poem, sketch, monolog
!Start with Essay question -worth 50% of grade!

madness-constructed against certain individuals
madness viewed as a gift, blessing in some cultures, societies
madness silenced, dealt different ways throughout history(lobotomy)
instrument used to silence women, social construct
patient back to normality ( correction)
madness lacks language
mad people- those not as productive as the others ( do not add to the power of the majority)
binary opposition

History of Madness:


(Silvia Plath Poetry)
1.1 Defining Literature
What qualifies as Literature?
Literature- more than just written text, especially in historical context where literacy was a privilege ( Literature transmitted orally instead)
- Literature involves novels, poems, (screen)plays, etc., while systematically excluding non-fictional texts
Problems: up to 19th Century factual text subsumed as ‘literature’ (times change/ opinions vary- was might have been considered factual then could now be fiction/ or depending on how it is interpreted)
- defines literary texts on the basis of aesthetic criteria (formal characteristics, exceptional language)
Problems: Uniform ‘normal’ language, What is normal?/ There are many literary text in everyday speech (conscious imitation)/ texts that deviate from everyday speech but arent considered Literature (Jokes, newspaper headlines etc)
-unlike texts such as manuals recipes, literary texts do not have any immediate practical purpose
Problems: Literature may serve practical purposes (how somebody reads and uses a text and not on characteristics of what is written)
Literary Canon
Problems: judgments may be highly subjective and historically variable
CONCLUSION: Definitions are shaped by historical and cultural contexts, all texts display cultural values and norms, being embedded in social power structures: polyvalent
-Literary studies is the analysis of formal, structural, aesthetic features of literary texts as well as at a cultural and historical contextualisation; decoding
-mimesis- reflect the world accurately
-creating versions of the world, trying to give ideas of the world for us to reflect, analyse

1.2 Genres
- three main literary genres (prose, poetry, drama) (Hybrid genres)
-as well as numerous subgenres (generally identified on the basis of a description of features)(evolve)
1.3 Literary history
-literary periods
-(Era - share certain themes and/or formal features) Various socio-historical factors may help to explain similarities between literary works from one and the same period
cultural, historical, political and philosophical developments
-a division of literary history into distinct periods is always a construct and a simplification of largely gradual changes within literature(literary works from the same period aren't always homogenous)
Literary periods- centuries, reigns, historical events, literary or cultural currents
2.) Poetry
-a word means more in a poem than in a narrative
-usually shorter
-song like text
2.1 The communication model of poems
- author of a poem is not per se identical with the fictional speaker (‘lyrical I’ or fictional voice)
- distinction between the external communication level (author – reader) and the internal one (fictional speaker – fictional addressee).
-text-internal -‘lyrical I’ addresses a fictional addressee that can be either implicit (= not referred to directly) or explicit (“Come not when I am dead,/To drop thy foolish tears upon my grave”
2.3 Meter, stanzas and rhyme patterns
iambic (noun: iamb): an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one
examples: “tonight”, “destroy”
trochaic (noun: trochee): a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one
examples: “meaning”, “function”, “sentence”
anapaestic (noun: anapaest): two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed one
examples: “understand”, “engineer”
dactylic (noun: dactyl): a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables
examples: “commonly”, classify”
2.3.2 Rhymes
- end rhyme: words rhyme from their last stressed vowel onwards
- masculine rhyme: the rhyming lines end with a stressed syllable each
- feminine rhyme: the rhyming lines end with an unstressed syllable each
- internal rhyme: words in the same line rhyme
- half rhyme / imperfect rhyme / slant rhyme:
consonance: only the consonants of the rhyming words match but not the vowels (example: “loads” and “lids”)
assonance: only the vowels of the rhyming words match but not the consonants (example: “foam” and “moan”)
identical rhyme: a rhyme formed by the repetition of the same word at the end of the rhyming lines
rhyming couplet: aa bb cc
alternate rhyme: abab cdcd
embracing rhyme / enclosed rhyme: abba cddc
tail rhyme: aab ccb / abc abc
chain rhyme: aba bcb cdc

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Subgenres Poetry
The sonnet: focus more on individual expression of emotions, attitudes and reflexions, thus evincing rather lyric qualities
-popular during the Renaissance
-characterised by 14 lines, consistent meter and a structural division
The ballad: characterised by distinctly narrative elements in that they tell stories, present characters and a plot. (transmitted orally) (typically tells a story of tragic love, death and/or the supernatural)
- it originated in the late Middle Ages and remained popular until the 19th century
-song like structure
The ode: individual expression of emotions, attitudes and reflexions, thus evincing rather lyric qualities/ a long lyric poem characterised by a serious subject, elevated style and rather formal language
The dramatic monologue: the entire poem is a monologue given by a single speaker in a moment of crisis (all of the information is filtered through the poetic speaker’s consciousness)-subjective

Lecture - 29.11.23

Shakespeare plays
classical (5 acts)
not open from
also not closed form
dramatic structure
no unity of plot, place, time

verses /exposition
-vibe of play
concrete information given at beginning
(isolated - long monolog at beginning explaining)
Hamlet- no info given at beginning (long integrated exposition)
what doesn't give us info gives us a vibe about the play - atmosphere of the play
→ to be or not to be
Hamlet- revenge tragedy
only after the ghost appears information is given
ghost of hamlets dead father explains
Hamlet known for its Monologs
hamlet has 8 long monologs

Hamlet characterised
-only wears black clothes, murmuring to himself, melancholic

describe the difference between prose and vers Language

hamlet has to die at the end because he overthinks everything
he looses control over his life after killing the wrong person

murdering the king is unspeakable- some does this, causing disorder
hamlet can set it right but isnt able to, hes failing by killing the wrong people out of revenge
personalfaliure has to die so that next character can set things right

tragedy: order disturbed →
someone comes to restore order

Elizabethan Era
daughter of King Henry 8 (only heir)
first queen (strange for this time) (fight hard to create image and keep it ) good in reigning
virgin queen- never married had children-no heir
Killed her cousin
heir her nephew (king of scotland and Britain)
reign was never secure, she was constantly in danger that someone might kill/ overthrow/ backstab

"Hamlet" is a five-act play that follows the traditional structure of a Shakespearean tragedy.
The play is written in blank verse and prose,
featuring Shakespeare's characteristic use of iambic pentameter
no adherence to the ‚three unities
the first scene represents a strong dramatic introduction: establishing an atmosphere of insecurity, fear, instability
the successively integrated exposition runs over the whole first act

Why is Hamlet Famous
germans love hamlet, because they are insecure in regard to national identity
sin revenged
hamlet personification of german young intellectuals thinking about the future of germany
complex characters
universal themes
iconic soliloquies
intricate plot
language and poetry
cultural impact
exploration of human condition
historical significance

Atmosphere of hamlet the same as to the time(Elizabethan era, right before she is going to die / unsettling because she is the most powerful and has no heir
political climate (ending reign) (in the end restored)
social hierarchy and class structure
religious and philosophical influences of the Renaissance
cultural believes about ghosts
gender roles
theatre as a social institution (play within the play!)
Overall, the socio-political climate during Shakespeare's time was marked by a mix of stability and change, cultural renaissance, political intrigue, and social hierarchies. These factors, among others, influenced the themes and characters in Shakespeare's plays

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