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VL Intro to Literary and Cultural Studies

Lecture 1)
Medieval Literature
Old English period: approx 450-1100
Middle English Period: 1100-1500
-periods refer to stages of the development of the language
-different cultural influences

Old English
arrival of germanic settlers (Angles/ Saxons)
old germanic language
settlers brought beliefs and culture (not a lot of literature at that time, mainly religious texts) Texts in Latin- most important language
fewer than 30,000 lines of old english remain (lost due to war, time etc.)
Beowulf- Manuscript (written around year 1000(story is older, transmitted orally prior to being written ), setting: Scandinavia, Plot: Hero/ adventure (defeating monsters) -can be compared to J.R.Toilken Novels
Movies/videos games and books based on the story of beowulf, inspiration
Middle English
consequence of the Norman Conquest (1066): Norman Nobility (French speaking) ruled over England
Three Languages of the 12th Century
-English: everyday language
-French: language of court -Literature
-Latin: Religious texts
beginning of 13th Century
after 100year war against France 1339-1453
English is language of court

Chronicles: Historical, including supernatural, legends (first written in Latin) (considered scholar texts)
Saints Lives/ Legends: saint is presented as model (Cult of saints) (exists sice 8th Century)
Poetry: 3200 Middle englisch poems
Romances: 1116 romances survived to this day, based on Anglo- Saxon, Viking, french, Latin& Celtic sources (Theme: chivalry of knights/ Heros Fighting, adventure) love at first sight
Medieval Theatre: Late because theatre was thought to be immoral
Mystery plays- biblical/ apocryphal stories (satire/ ironic - disregarded by church because disrespect towards biblical stories)
Morality characters embody abstract ideas ( Person playing pride)
Saints play- saints conversion to christianity
Geoffrey Chaucer -famous author of the time; (The Canterbury Tales 1387-1400)
social ranks, professions, female perspective portrayed in his writings


British Literary History
Early Modern Period (language) / Renaissance (Culture) : 1500-1642
renewed interest in greek/. Roman Literature antiquity (church disapproves)
Origin: Italy
Sub-periods (reigning Monarchs)
Elizabethan Age: 1558-1603
Jacobean Age: 1603-1625
Theatre: 🏟
-Playwrights (Shakespeare) ( no females) / permanent Theaters (Globe Theatre)
-popular form of public entertainment ( affordable for all) (2,000-3,000 people)
-no roof- time of day had to be announced during play
-few props
-all roles played by men
-Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard - introduced to England
Origin: Italy
English Shakespearean sonnet:
- focus more on individual expression of emotions, attitudes and reflexions, thus evincing rather lyric qualities
-characterised by 14 lines, consistent meter and a structural division
3 quatrains + heroic couplet (surprising twist ending)
crated by Henry Howard not Shakespeare

The English Civil War and the Interregnum: 1642 - 59
-1642: Beginning ( royalists/ supporters of the King fight against supporters of parliament)
1649: King Charles 1 executed; England becomes a republic (Interregnum)
no theatre-illegal
religious text -important
impact of puritan
The Restoration Period: 1660 - 1685/ 1700
-1660 Monarchy restored (King Charles 2)
Theatre open- new genres (taste of upper class reflected)
women appeared on Stage and Playwrights
End of reign -1685 (Charles dead)
1700- John Dryden dead (restauration author) , new genres come after (end of century)
The Eighteenth Century : 1700-c. 1800
-(ongoing colonisation) (became more intense ) (Britain-imperialism)
-Industrial revolution 1760-1840 (England leading, very rich)
-Trade (slaves) (abolished 1807)
Impact of social changes on literature in the 18th century
middle class because subject of literature
the novel - narrative genre emerged
3 parts
about lecture answer 4 out of 6 questions ( dot have to memorize dates and titles
not multiple choice
describe charateristiscs of genre etc ...
analysis, comment etc


British Literary History
Romanticism 1789-1820s
→ poetry dominated (Frankenstein: not poetry, 1818)
→ Romanticism not primary about love
Characteristics of Romanticism
beauty of natural environment: reason, 18th century industrialised, making nature more important
powerful emotions, imaginations, dreams
criticism on child labor
support for abolition of slavery
political: liberty; social criticism & political interests fuelled by ideas of the french Revolution

Victorian Period 1837-1901
→ industrialisation & urbanisation continues
more factories built/ beginning 19th century majority of population lives on the land→ people start moving into the cities)
insight on work life in factories, work conditions (upperclass/ factory owners portrayed badly)
insight in slums
=suggests social reform
→ imperialism reached climax (imperialism viewed positively)
spreading imperial thinking
presenting the colonies as the other (exotic/ dangerous)
stressing that the colonies are needed for British wealth
fiction of empire: adventure stories (mogoli) portrays colonies as places for adventure
=promoting imperial thinking to children
→ class conscious society
(middle class = primary readers): impacted norms and values (working class)
→ Gender
separate Sphere ideology (women stay home/ men: breadwinner)
middle class idea
working class women had to work to support family ( factories / child labor )
unmarried middle class women job options: becoming a teacher/ or governess(tutor) (poorly paid)
reinforced binary gender concepts
→ so literary texts support these notions while others criticise ( Jane Eyre)

First World War 1914-1918
→ initial enthusiasm, patriotism, beliefe that war will be over soon
→ War Poetry
written by soldiers
Shift, initial patriotism→ notion of senseless slaughter
→ Memoirs
written by veterans ( years after war)
→ references to the war
trauma ( shell shock) in poetry, novels, etc written after war
characteristics: disillusion

Modernism 1910-1930s
→ disillusionment & pessimism after world war 1
→ criticism of 19th Century beliefs/ ideologies
separate Sphere ideology ( women independent during war / had to work etc)
imperialism criticised
explaining the character though process as real as possible (unfiltered) ( imitate how people think)
no punctuation, incoherent sentences etc (free verse)
Haikus used in Europe ( from Japan)
experiences of first world war and criticism and new ideas

Postmodernism 1950s
→ return to realism ( after experiments of Modernism)
→ adresses criticism / social problems
1960s: more experimental texts
→ after 2 world war empire was shrinking ( colonies independent )
1951 only 3% of population born outside of Britain
1948: arrival of the Empire Windrush, immigrants from Caribbean come to Britain
culturally more diverse
= fiction of migration/ diasporic Literature (experience of immigrants moving to Britain, racism, etc)
→ Gender
second womens Movement 1960s-70s ( increasingly reflected in literary texts)
queer characters introduced in Novels



American Literary History

Indigenous (oral) literature (songs, stories)
→ long before the arrival of European colonisers (Beginning of Literature was not Anglophone or European)
Warfare/ epidemic (europeans brought ) =mortality rate of Indigenous tribes sinks
deliberate genocide
Indigenous Cultures were not homogenous : distinct Language, traditions, social structures)

The colonial Period
(early 17th- mid 18the Century)
Anglophone: Literature beginn→ 17th century : closely associated to colonisation
Arrived east coast: mayflower-puritans/ pilgrims (Thanksgiving)
Christians (considered Church of England corrupt (too Catholic)
Goal=pure version of Christianity
Belief in predestination: chosen one before birth (God given if people are rich/poor , Powerful/weak)
founding myths (values/ texts)→(Thanksgiving)
(Ivy league Universities built during this period)
believed predestined that they start a colony: ideal colony( serve as model for rest)
-1692: Salem witch trials, mass hysteria=execution
Puritan Genre
Poetry (religious/ everyday experiences)
captivity narrative (being held by indigenous people)→ spread prejudice

The Early Republic

(mid18th- early 19th Century)
Struggle for Independence
economy based on agriculture
1790- first textile factories
1770-1830: population growth ( 2.2→12.9)
level of education was better than than in Britain
literacy rate higher than Britain
(no copyrights, so reprinting books from Europe was free and legal) =Americans weren't writing own books )
Indigenous / black Literature
Olaudah Equiano
Phillis Wheatley
Piece of Literature that played a role in the abolishment of slavery (later)


General developments in the 19th century
Industrialisation (changed economy)
Gender roles: separate spheres
first womens rights meeting in the US (women had no right to vote)
→ binary gender concepts
Expansion westward : manifest destiny
1830 “Indian Removal Act” : forced indigenous to leave their own land (move west of the Mississippi)

The history of slavery and its abolition (1)
American constitution
→ ‘three-fifth rule’= Southern delegates say: inslaved people dont count as full people only 3/5 of a person
American Independence
each state can decide whether slavery is legal or not
1777-1804 northern states ending slavery / states formed
south remained legal ans sates were formed
→ North-South divide
1850- 33% of the south ; 45.5% of lower south : population of enslaved people

instruments of abolitionists:
antislavery society
literary texts
testimonies by former slaves (Frederick Douglass)
→ emphasis on suffering, cruel treatment& fear, possibility of intellectual equality (if education were provided)
→ religious references (old testament)

American civil War: 1861-1865 ; the end of the civil war also means the end of slavery

Genres: primarily poetry
impact of French Revolution and its political ideas
Interest in the power of imagination, dreams & the supernatural
Genres: poetry, novels, short stories
focus on Americanness: growing independence from British literary models
Interest in the power of imagination, dreams & the supernatural
There are no rows in this table
American Transcendentalism
= philosophical & Literary movement ( intellectual elite in New England 19th Century)
criticism of conformity / emphasis on individuality; questioning boundaries
Nature: find your own true nature / purpose in life
in favor of the abolition on slavery
support feminist ideas
representatives: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry david Thoreau, Magaret Fuller

Poetry in the 19th century:
patriotic, American subject matters
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