Modern language tutorials

The languages and literatures of Britain’s European neighbours are the focus of well established and internationally recognised scholarship in Oxford. Students have the chance to study medieval as well as contemporary forms of each language and early literary forms as well as European cinema. The Language Centre provides resources in various media for independent language study, the Taylorian Institute had rich library resources, and proximity to Europe enables students to travel independently to practice their language skills among native speakers during the mid-term break.

The descriptions below are copyright University of Oxford and cover tutorial courses offered by the University to matriculated undergraduates. SSO students follow such courses as closely as is practicable, though there may be scope for minor variation to take into account students’ previous experience. Students will not necessarily cover all the material cited in the description (especially when they take the course as a secondary tutorial). All tutorials involve in-depth study: where the title might suggest a survey course, the content of the tutorial will involve focused study on part of the syllabus.

Modern languages: French

Early French Texts Prescribed for Study as Examples of Literature

This course consists of the close study of three varied texts which illustrate the incomparable richness and variety of medieval French literature: the Chanson de Roland, whose unique text is found in the Bodleian Library, is a heroic tale of military prowess and moral anguish, whose poetry and searching profundity are perennially relevant; Béroul’s Tristran tells the immortal story of doomed adulterous love in a narrative of bewitching subtlety; Villon’s Testament and Poésies Diverses recreate the complexity of life in the University and the back streets of Paris in the fifteenth century from the vantage-point of the socially marginal criminal-poet.

French Literature to 1530

Medieval France is the home of some of the masterpieces of European Literature and the aim of the course is to enable you to study the most celebrated examples, ranging from the `epic biography’ of Guillaume d’Orange to the great lyric poets of the fifteenth century, in such a way that they can be properly understood in the context of the types of society which produced them. You will also gain an insight into the precursors of many of the traditional genres and classic texts of French literature. To ensure fair coverage the period is divided into the years preceding the accession of the first Valois king, Philippe VI, in 1328 and those following. The earlier period includes works like the courtly romances of Chrétien de Troyes, the Tristan legend, Saints’ Lives, the secular stage, comic narratives, religious drama and Arthurian prose romances. In the second half of the period you will encounter lyric poets like Guillaume de Machaut, Alain Chartier, Charles d’Orléans, along with satires (Les Quinze Joyes de Mariage), chronicles (Froissart), allegorical poems, women writers such as Christine de Pizan. A high proportion of the texts studied is available in excellent and inexpensive editions in the series “Lettres Gothiques” (Livre de Poche).

Introductory reading: L.R. Muir, Literature and Society in Medieval France, 1985; J.C. Payen, La Littérature Française 1. Le Moyen Age, 1984; D. Poirion, Le Moyen Age II. 1300–1480, 1971.

French Literature, 1530–800

The period 1530–1800 sees French culture developing as a dominant force in Europe and in the world. The period embraces major cultural movements (e.g. Renaissance humanism, baroque, classicism, and the Enlightenment), genres such as tragedy, comedy, and the novel, and such major writers as Rabelais and Montaigne from the sixteenth century, Corneille, Pascal, Molière and Racine from the seventeenth, and Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau from the eighteenth. The object in preparing this paper is to study texts not only for their individual merits, but also in relation to each other within the broad framework of the period’s cultural developments. You can follow the development of literary genres: drama, poetry or the novel. You can explore thematic similarities between texts, such as the treatment of social class or gender, attitudes to authority, responses to the natural world, representations of the self. You can also consider texts for their contribution to the history of ideas, such as political and social reform, philosophical trends, religious faith and scepticism. There are no prescribed texts or authors; you are positively encouraged to develop your own interests and to read authors and explore topics of your choice. You can come to a relatively full understanding of one part of the period by concentrating on texts that fall within closely circumscribed chronological limits; alternatively, you may study texts across a broad time-scale, and so appreciate change and diversity within the period.

Suggested reading: J. Cruickshank [ed.], French Literature and its Background, vols 1–3, 1968–69 [these three volumes contain introductory chapters on major writers and topics in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries respectively]. The following works are, in different ways, landmarks in criticism: P. Bénichou, Morales du grand siècle, 1948; T. Cave, The Cornucopian Text: Problems of Writing in the French Renaissance, 1979; P. Hazard, La Crise de la conscience européenne, 1935; J. Starobinski, L’Invention de la liberté 1700–1789, 1964. Two very different, but both helpful and stimulating, reference guides to authors and topics in this and other periods of French literature are: A New History of French Literature, ed. D. Hollier, 1989; The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French, ed. P. France, 1995.

French Literature from 1715 to the Present

This course provides an opportunity to study a wide range of literary and cultural developments set against the background of the complex political and social developments which have formed modern France. The paper is not, however, seen as primarily historical in content or approach. It is possible to look at literary and intellectual developments in terms of the personal achievement of individual writers, as well as exploring larger movements and ‘schools’ of writing such as the Enlightenment, Romanticism, Realism, Naturalism, Symbolism, Surrealism, Existentialism, Theatre of the Absurd, or the nouveau roman. It is also possible to trace developments within individual genres (including less familiar genres from the récit to autobiography) and to consider the impact of non-mainstream groups, such as women, gay, and Francophone writers. The structure of the paper encourages the application of a range of theoretical approaches. Because of the sheer bulk and variety of the material which the paper potentially covers, the works studied will vary according to choices made in consultation with tutors. It is quite normal to limit coverage to a number of complementary topics in one or more parts of the period.

Authors commonly covered include: i) for the eighteenth century: Marivaux, Prévost, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Beaumarchais, Sade, and Chénier; ii) for the nineteenth century: Stendhal, Balzac, Flaubert, Sand, Zola, Maupassant, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Mallarmé; iii) for the twentieth century: Apollinaire, Valéry, Gide, Proust, Colette, Cocteau, Malraux, Camus, Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Mauriac, Genet, Ionesco, Beckett, Robbe-Grillet, Butor, Sarraute, Duras, Tournier. It is also possible to study a range of topics, that include these and other authors. In addition to approaches based on literary movements, possible topics include drame bourgeois, the epistolary novel, first-person fiction, Romantic drama, literature and the visual arts, literature and music, gender and writing, literary commitment, post-modern narrative, the representation of the city, the literary reflection of national identity, cultural marginalisation, and AIDS writing.

As well as reading a selection of basic texts, as advised by your tutor, you should also acquaint yourself with the historical and cultural background. Appropriate introductory works include: P. France (ed), The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French, 1995; D. Hollier (ed), A New History of French Literature, 1989; Sarah Kay, Terence Cave and Malcolm Bowie, A Short History of French Literature, 2003; Mary Lewis Shaw, The Cambridge Introduction to French Poetry, 2003; M.-C. Bancquart and P. Cahné, Littérature française du XXe siècle, 1992; Victoria Best, An Introduction to Twentieth- Century French Literature, 2002; D.G. Charlton (ed.), The French Romantics, 2 vols, 1984; A. Cobban, A History of Modern France 1715–1962, 3 vols, 1963–65; J. Cruickshank (ed.), French Literature and its Background, vols 3,4,5 and 6, 1968–70; L. Furst (ed.), Realism, 1993; J.-M. Goulemot, La Littérature des lumières en toutes lettres, 1989; Belinda Jack, Francophone Literatures: an introductory survey, 1996; A. Michel and others, Littérature française du XIXe siècle, Collection Premier Cycle, 1993; Christopher Prendergast (ed), Nineteenth- Century French Poetry: introductions to close reading, 1990; C. Robinson, Scandal in the Ink: Male and Female Homosexuality in Twentieth- Century French Literature, 1995; E.M. Sartori and D.W. Zimmerman (eds.), French Women Writers, 1991; Sonya Stephens (ed), A History of Women’s Writing in France, 2000; Timothy Unwin (ed), The Cambridge Companion to the French Novel: from 1800 to the present, 1997. The seven volumes of the Cambridge History of Modern France, covering 1815–1958, are useful for more detailed study of individual periods such as the Restoration or the inter-war years.

French Narrative Fiction

This paper introduces you to four narrative texts written between the Middle Ages and the mid- twentieth century: La Chastelaine de Vergy; Laclos, Les Liaisons dangereuses; Balzac, La Peau de chagrin; Proust, Combray. You will need to show that you can construct a clear, relevant, and interestingly written argument, supported at every stage by detailed knowledge of the text.

Introduction to French Film Studies

This course will introduce you to four twentieth- century film directors. In your essay writing you will be able to engage with their ideas and with their particular way of realising them. The prescribed films are: Jean Vigo, L’Atalante; Jacques Becker, Casque d’or; Jean-Luc Godard, A bout de soufflé; Bertrand Blier, Les Valseuses

Introduction to French Literary Theory

This course will introduce you to four twentieth- century literary critics. In your essay writing you will be able to engage with their ideas about literature and with their particular way of expressing them. You will be encouraged to apply these ideas to your own reading of texts. The prescribed authors are: Valéry, ‘Questions de poésie’ and ‘Poésie et pensée abstraite’, in Théorie poétique et esthétique, part of Variété: OEuvres, vol. I (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade) (Gallimard); Sartre, Qu’est-ce que la littérature? (Folio) [Sections I and II only]; Barthes, Critique et vérité (Seuil); Todorov, ‘La notion de littérature’, ‘L’origine des genres’, ‘Les deux principes du récit’, ‘Introduction au vraisemblable’ in La Notion de littérature et autres essais (recommended edition : Seuil)

Key Texts in French Thought

This course will introduce you to four thinkers from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. In both essay and commentary writing you will be able to engage with their ideas and with their particular way of
expressing them. The prescribed texts are: Descartes, Discours de la méthode (Garnier- Flammarion); Rousseau, Discours sur l’inégalité (Folio) ; Bergson, Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience (PUF) [Chapters I and II only].; Beauvoir, Le Deuxième Sexe (Folio), I, ‘Introduction’; ‘Mythes’; II, ‘La femme mariée’; ‘La mère’

Late-Medieval Responses to Le Roman de la rose

Le Roman de la rose established itself as a medieval mastertext from the appearance of its continuation by Jean de Meun in the late

thirteenth century. This course aims to answer the question: ‘what happened next?’, tracing the shifting and intersecting reputations of the text and its two authors, Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as the poem rapidly acquired controversy. Responses to the Rose retrospectively define it as an intellectual auctoritas, a misogynistic tirade, a travesty of allegorical writing, an interpretative minefield; Jean is lauded or lambasted, whilst Guillaume is usually forgotten. Texts for consideration take diverse forms and cover a range of genres (from prose epistle to dramatic monologue) and tones (from moralizing treatise to comic anecdote). It will be possible to consider the target, form, and literary context of a range of responses, including works by Guillaume de Machaut, Guillaume de Deguileville, Jean Le Fèvre, Christine de Pizan, Martin Le Franc, and Pierre Michault, and to explore the complex intertextual negotiations through which such writers acknowledge their indebtedness to, as well as their departure from, the Rose.

Introductory reading: P.-Y. Badel, Le Roman de la rose au quatorzième siècle: étude de la réception de l’oeuvre, Geneva, 1980; E. Hicks (ed.), Le Débat sur ‘le Roman de la rose’, Paris, 1977; S. Huot, The ‘Romance of the Rose’ and its Medieval Readers: Interpretation, Reception, Manuscript Transmission, Cambridge, 1993; Jean-Claude Mühlethaler, Poétiques du quinzième siècle, Paris 1983; R. B. Palmer (ed.), Chaucer’s French Contemporaries: The Poetry/Poetics of Self and Tradition, New York, 1999

Linguistic Studies I: The History of the French Language up to the Mid-Twentieth Century

This course offers you the opportunity to study the development of the French language from Vulgar Latin to Modern French. The course is divided into two sections to enable you to combine study in breadth with the more detailed exploration of a particular period or periods. Section A includes the history of the language from earliest times to the present day, or and historical linguistics as applied to French. Questions may cover phonological, orthographical, morphological, syntactic, lexical, semantic, stylistic and sociolinguistic topics, as well as ideas about the French language in an historical perspective. Section B is divided into a number of parts starting with the transition from Latin to French and the early history of the language and moving on to periods which correspond, roughly speaking, to the literary periods covered in other papers (1100–1530, 1530–1715, and 1715–1940. This makes it possible for you, if you so choose, to make fruitful links between your study of language and literature.

Linguistic Studies II: Modern French

You will study the structure and varieties of the modern French language, and learn to exploit and assess the usefulness of traditional and modern methods of linguistic analysis for this purpose. You will also become familiar with
some of the most important developments in the history of French, when these illuminate modern usage. Except for the introductory reading (see below), there are no set texts, although for various topics there are a number of important studies about which tutors will advise you. You will learn how to analyse spoken and written French in terms of its sound system (phonetics and phonology), its spelling, its word structure (morphology), and its syntax. You will also have the opportunity to consider the nature and causes of social variation in French speaking communities, the way discourse is structured in French, the effect on French of other languages, and the relationship between linguistic analysis and literary studies. For all the tutorials you will have to produce written work, as for literary topics. This may sometimes involve practical analysis as well as essays.

A good general introduction to this area is: A. Battye and M.-A. Hintze, The French Language Today, 1992. A very readable introduction to general linguistics: V. Fromkin and R. Rodman, An Introduction to Language, 5th edition, 1993.

Modern Prescribed French Authors I

This paper provides the opportunity to concentrate on and study in detail the work of two of a number of the most important French writers since the Renaissance. You will read widely within the work of your two authors, set them in their intellectual and historical contexts and study in detail a small number of central works with a view to close textual analysis. The descriptions below are designed to help you choose your authors. The suggested reading is intended simply to start you off. Tutors will provide more detailed guidance once you have made your choice.

You choose any two of:

  1. Rabelais (c. 1494–c. 1553): The five books of Rabelais’s chronicles of Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532–64) present the author’s enormous range of intellectual interests within a framework of coarse humour and wild fantasy. Reading Rabelais is challenging, fascinating and rewarding. He opens perspectives on his own times, the Renaissance and Reformation. He creates thought- provoking comedy out of topics as diverse as learning and ignorance, war and peace, marriage and cuckoldry, as well as medical, legal and theological issues. His whole work raises questions about language and literature, meaning and interpretation, laughter and seriousness. The books prescribed for special study are Gargantua and the Quart Livrè. Introductory reading: Daniel Ménager, Rabelais en toutes lettres, 1989 and Carol Clark, The Vulgar Rabelais, 1985 are succinct and useful. The two longer and more challenging works by Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and his World, 1968, on popular culture and carnival spirit, and Michael Screech, Rabelais, 1979, on the religious and intellectual background, provide a stimulating contrast.
  2. Montaigne (1533–92): The three books of Montaigne’s Essais (1580–1595) are a unique literary representation of a journey of self- exploration. Montaigne’s self-portrait reveals his life, his appearance, his likes and dislikes, but above all the workings of his mind as he experiments with different topics. The titles of the chapters prescribed for special study give an idea of these topics: Que philosopher c’est apprendre à mourir (I 20), De la Coutume (I 23), De l’Institution des enfants (I 26), De l’Exercitation (II 6), De la praesumption (II 17), Du Repentir (III 2), Sur des Vers de Virgile (III 5) and De l’Experience (III 13). The chapter-titles often playfully conceal the subject matter: Sur des Vers de Virgile is about men, women, sex, and marriage; Des Coches is about Spanish colonialism. You will be able to study the diversity of topics in the Essais, Montaigne’s individual manner of writing and his work in relation to its intellectual and cultural background: Renaissance, Reformation and the French religious wars. Introductory reading: John Holyoake, Montaigne, 1983 (Critical Guides to French Literature) deals with the topics in the Essais, whilst Peter Burke, Montaigne, 1981 (Past Masters) covers the broader intellectual background. R.A. Sayce, The Essays of Montaigne, 1973, gives the best overall view of the Essais.
  3. Pascal (1623–62): If in the course of his short life, Pascal was primarily known as a mathematician and scientist, his most enduring literary contributions lie in the wittily polemical Lettres provinciales, a virulent attack on the Society of Jesus, and in the fragmentary apology for the Christian religion, left unfinished at his death, but universally known as the Pensées, whose pessimistic imagery, rhetorical control and dogmatic conviction have left few readers indifferent. The Pensées constitute the major text for study, although certain of the Opuscules (De l’esprit géométrique et de l’art de persuader, Entretien avec Monsieur de Saci, Ecrits sur la grâce, and the preface to the Traité sur le vide) all throw important light on the central project. Parallels may then be drawn with the Lettres provinciales, notably in terms of the persuasive strategies deployed.Introductory reading: It is particularly important to read the Pensées in the prescribed edition (ed. G. Ferreyrolles et P. Sellier, in La Pochothèque [Livre de Poche/Classiques Garnier] ), which also contains the Opuscules and Lettres provinciales. A convenient brief introduction to Pascal is provided by A.J. Krailsheimer in the `Past Masters’ series (1980). A fuller survey is afforded by J. Mesnard, Les `Pensées’ de Pascal, 1976, and a more radical reading offered by Sara Melzer, Discourses of the Fall, 1986.
  4. Molière (1622–73): Molière remains one of the most popular French writers, popular among producers and theatregoers as well as among students and critics. He not only wrote plays, he also produced them and starred in them, creating in the process his own individual brand of comedy. His output is very varied, changing to suit the different needs of the audiences at court and in the public theatre in Paris. He is noted for introducing issues of burning topical importance into stock plots played out by stock character types, and he thereby transforms the tradition out of which his comedy grows. Molière can be credited with the invention of the comédie-ballet, a highly successful combination of comedy, dance, and music. All these aspects of his work can be seen in the plays prescribed for special study: L’Ecole des femmes, Le Tartuffe, Dom Juan, Le Misanthrope, Les Fourberies de Scapin and Le Malade Imaginaire. Introductory reading: The following two general works are good at setting Molière in an historical context and at opening up some lines of interpretation: J. Grimm, Molière en son temps, 1993. W.D. Howarth, Molière: A Playwright and his Audience, 1982. A more adventurous critical study embracing all Molière’s output, and including some stimulating and provocative readings of some of the plays prescribed for special study is: G. Defaux, Molière ou les métamorphoses du comique, 1980/1992.
  5. Racine (1639–99) Racine is the author of eleven tragedies and one comedy. His tragedies are often seen as the high point of French tragic drama and are still highly successful on stage. They explore the frequently fatal and always disorderly consequences of human passion in a most elegant and stylized form. The main characters are kings, queens and emperors; they are deployed in historical or mythological settings; for the most part, they use elevated vocabulary and speak in alexandrines. But they are susceptible to moments of aching sexual desire, excruciating jealousy, uncontrolled anger, and painful hopelessness that make them like all other human beings. You will have the opportunity to explore the sense of the tragic in his work and to sample the diverse critical readings to which his plays have given rise (among them, rhetorical, theatrical, structuralist, psychoanalytical, Marxist). You will be expected to acquire detailed knowledge of the six prescribed tragedies: Andromaque, Britannicus, Bérénice, Bajazet, Iphigénie, and Athalie, but also to read his other plays. Introductory reading: P. Yarrow’s Racine, 1978, is a clear and informative introduction, which also sets Racine in the context of the seventeenth-century theatre. A short introduction to the varied critical approaches to Racine is J. Rohou’s Jean Racine, Bilan critique, 1994. Two different approaches to Racine can be recommended as starting points for serious critical reading: D. Maskell, Racine: A Theatrical Reading, 1991. R. Parish, Racine: The Limits of Tragedy, 1993; An influential critical work for some years has been R. Barthes, Sur Racine 1963
  6. Voltaire (1694–1778): Dramatist, satirist, historian, philosopher, polemicist, poet, Voltaire is (with Diderot and Rousseau) one of the three major writers of the French Enlightenment. The texts prescribed for special study are his Lettres philosophiques (1734), one of his earliest and most trenchant satires, and some of his contes in prose and verse written in mid- and late career (Zadig, Paméla (pp.138–96), Candide, Contes de Guillaume Vadé (pp.339–453), La Princesse de Babylone, Les Lettres d’Amabed, Le Taureau blanc). In addition to these texts, you will study a selection of his other writings, chosen from among his histories (e.g. Le Siècle de Louis XIV), tragedies (e.g. Zaïre, Mahomet, Mérope) philosophical and polemical works (e.g. Dictionnaire philosophique, Traité sur la tolérance). Introductory reading: It is important that you read the Lettres philosophiques (ed. F. Deloffre, Folio) and the selection of contes specified above (Romans et contes, ed., E. Guitton, Pochothèque, Livre de Poche, 1994). You will also find H. Mason, Voltaire, a Biography, 1981, and his Voltaire, 1975, helpful introductions to the author, his work and his background. A more advanced study of the contes is R. Pearson, The Fables of Reason: A Study of Voltaire’s `contes philosophiques’, 1993.
  7. Diderot (1713–84): Probably the most varied and original of the Enlightenment writers, Diderot is a particularly stimulating author. The prescribed texts give some idea of the wide range of his intellectual activity: novels (Jacques le Fataliste), satire (Le Neveu de Rameau), philosophical dialogue (Le Rêve de d’Alembert), art criticism (Le Salon de 1765). In addition to these texts, you might expect to read other works in these same genres, or to explore other areas, e.g. his contributions to the Encyclopédie, his theatre and dramatic theory (Le Fils naturel, Le Père de famille and the associated theoretical writings), or his short stories. Introductory reading: a convenient short introduction to Diderot’s life and work is P. France, Diderot, 1983, and an annotated selection of his writings can be found in the very useful Diderot: Textes et débats, edited by J.-C. Bonnet, Livre de poche, 1984.

Modern Prescribed French Authors II

This course provides the opportunity to concentrate on and study in detail the work of two of a number of the most important French writers since the Renaissance. You will read widely within the work of your two authors, set them in their intellectual and historical contexts and study in detail a small number of central works with a view to close textual analysis. The descriptions below are designed to help you choose your authors. The suggested reading is intended simply to start you off. Tutors will provide more detailed guidance once you have made your choice.

You choose any two of:

  1. Stendhal (1783–1842): Stendhal is widely regarded as one of the founders of nineteenth- century French realism, but he may just as fruitfully be read as a major figure in the European tradition of self-conscious fiction. He is best known for his five novels of which the prescribed texts, Le Rouge et le Noir (1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (1839) are considered to be the most important. He also wrote in a wide variety of other genres (short fiction, the diary, memoirs, biography, art history, travel writing, literary journalism), and there will be opportunities to explore, amongst others: Stendhal’s ‘chronicles’ of French and Italian society in the first decades of the nineteenth century (incl. Chroniques italiennes); the status of women in his works
    (with particular reference to the eponymous heroine of his unfinished novel, Lamiel); his autobiography (Vie de Henry Brulard); the writings on art and literature (Histoire de la peinture en Italie, Racine et Shakespeare).
    Introductory reading: the texts mentioned above are available in modern French editions (Folio, Garnier-Flammarion) but is advisable also to consult the critical material supplied in the Classiques Garnier or the Pléiade editions of the two novels prescribed for special study. Roger Pearson (ed.), Stendhal: `The Red and the Black’ and `The Charterhouse of Parma’, Modern Literatures in Perspective, 1994, provides an introduction to the secondary literature. Broader discussions of Stendhal as a novelist include Ann Jefferson, Reading Realism in Stendhal, 1988, and Roger Pearson, Stendhal’s Violin: A Novelist and his Reader, 1988. Stimulating essays on each of the prescribed novels may be found in René Girard, Deceit, Desire and the Novel (1966) for Le Rouge, and Leo Bersani, ‘Stendhalian Prisons and Salons’, Balzac to Beckett (1970) for La Chartreuse.
  2. Baudelaire (1821–67): Baudelaire is now widely considered to be the greatest and the most influential of nineteenth-century French poets. He is not just a great poet in verse, but was also a pioneering figure in prose poetry, and an influential critic of the visual arts and of contemporary literature. You will study Les Fleurs du Mal and Le Spleen de Paris in detail, and will need to have an understanding of the principal features of his art and literary criticism. In addition, you will be expected to have read his short story Le Fanfarlo and his Journaux intimes. Introductory reading: A useful general introduction would be M.A. Ruff, Baudelaire, 1966, or F.W. Leakey, Les Fleurs du Mal, Landmarks in World Literature, 1992. In addition, undergraduates will find the following works helpful: L.J. Austin, L’Univers poétique de Baudelaire, 1956; L. Bersani, Baudelaire and Freud, 1977; J.A. Hiddleston, Baudelaire and `Le Spleen de Paris’, 1987.
  3. Flaubert (1821–80): Flaubert’s work explores the conditions of modernity — irony, the inadequacy and the creative power of language — in the context of the social and historical changes and pressures of the nineteenth century in France. The texts prescribed for special study are Madame Bovary, L’Éducation sentimentale and Trois contes, and other texts you should read of his remaining work are his exotic novel Salammbô, Bouvard et Pécuchet and La Tentation de Saint Antoine. His correspondence (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade) is as revealing as his fiction is restrained.Introductory reading: you should read Madame Bovary and as many of Flaubert’s other works as you can. Amongst the many useful critical guides are A. Thorlby, Gustave Flaubert and the Art of Realism, 1957, and V. Brombert, The Novels of Flaubert, 1966, S. Heath, Madame Bovary, 1992, Alan Raitt, The Originality of ‘Madame Bovary’, 2002, and his Flaubert,`Trois contes’, 1991. A central work is J. Culler’s Flaubert: The Uses of Uncertainty, 1974, which searchingly questions the conclusions of earlier studies.
  4. Mallarmé (1842–98): Coming after Hugo and Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé dominates the history of French poetry in the last three decades of the nineteenth century. A contemporary of Verlaine and Rimbaud, he was revered by the younger generation of poets who called themselves Symbolists (from 1886 onwards). By the mid 1860s Mallarmé had already become conscious of the radical way in which he would pursue his calling as a poet: that is, by abandoning all effusive or ironic expression of a lyrical self (characteristic, respectively, of the Romantics and of Baudelaire) and by `ceding the initiative to words’. He soon developed a reputation for difficulty’, which has persisted to this day; but his poems (in prose as well as verse) become readily accessible when approached as verbal lacework in which no personal experience is narrated but rather the separate threads of meaning attaching to individual words are woven into new, quasi-musical patterns of significance. Patience and a large dictionary soon reveal many of the `mysterious relationships’ which Mallarmé found `pre- existing’ in language itself. In your reading you will be concentrating on the Poésies, published posthumously, which brings together (as he had intended) the majority of his poems in verse. You will also need to study `Un coup de Dés’ (1897), a boldly experimental poem which appears to dispense with the rules of versification, and his Divagations (1897), a collection of prose poems and revised newspaper and review articles (on music, religion, and the theatre, and on the nature of poetry and the role of the poet in society). As well as trying to arrive at coherent readings of his individual texts, you will become involved in discussion of Mallarmé’s aesthetic of poetry, its radical consequences and the central place which this aesthetic has come to occupy in the debate about the nature and meaning of Postmodernism. Introductory reading: the standard edition of Mallarmé’s work is his Oeuvres complètes, edited by Bertrand Marchal, 2 vols (Gallimard, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 1998–2003). Most of this edition, including the helpful ‘Notices’, is available in three inexpensive paperback volumes (also published by Gallimard): Poésies (1992), Igitur, Divagations, Un coup de dés (2003), and Vers de circonstance (1996). It is best to begin with ‘early Mallarmé’, the more accessible poems written before 1866. They you might proceed by focusing on ‘Hérodiade. Scène’, ‘L’Après-midi d’un faune’, ‘Prose (pour des Esseintes)’ and the major sonnets (particularly those grouped as ‘Plusieurs sonnets’ in Poésies. Brief and informative introductions to Poésies are provided by Rosemary Lloyd in the Grant & Cutler Critical Guides series (1984) and Pascal Durand in Gallimard’s Foliothèque series (1996). The best short introduction to Mallarmé’s aesthetic remains Claude Abastado, Expérience et théorie de la création poétique chez Mallarmé (Minard, 1970). Malcolm Bowie’s Mallarmé and the Art of Being Difficult (Cambridge, 1978) provides excellent accounts of ‘Prose (pour des Esseintes)’ and ‘Un coup de dés’.  More recent studies include Graham Robb, Unlocking Mallarmé (Yale, 1996), Roger Pearson, Unfolding Mallarmé: The Development of a Poetic Art (Oxford, 1996) and Mallarmé and Circumstance: The Translation of Silence (Oxford, 2004), and Michel Murat, Le ‘Coup de dés’ de Mallarmé: un recommencement de la poésie (Belin, 2005).
  5. Gide (1869–1951): The work of André Gide is central to the phase of literary experimentation that followed Naturalism and Symbolism. The texts prescribed for special study are: L’Immoraliste, La Porte étroite, Si le grain ne meurt and Les Faux-Monnayeurs. You will be expected therefore to have a broad knowledge of Gide’s writing in several genres (short prose fiction, novel, and autobiography) and an understanding of the issues raised by these, including ethical concerns relating to the individual in society, the question of homosexuality, the problems of self-conscious writing, and the relationship between fiction and reality, writing and life. In practice, you will read widely from Gide’s oeuvre and acquire a grasp of its literary and intellectual context. Introductory reading: alongside the four prescribed texts, you should read: G. Brée, André Gide: l’Insaisissable Protée, 1970; A. Goulet, André Gide, écrire pour vivre, 2002; M. Tilby, Gide: `Les Faux-Monnayeurs’, 1981; C. Tolton, Gide and the Art of Autobiography, 1975; D. Walker, André Gide, 1990; The following website is also of interest:
  6. Sartre (1905–80): There are four texts prescribed for special study: La Nausée, Les Mouches, Les Séquestrés d’Altona and Les Mots are the texts from which commentaries will be set, but you will be expected to read a selection of Sartre’s other plays and novels, and perhaps to dip into his philosophical, critical or political writings, according to what most appeals to you. Sartre is an exciting choice of author, for his existentialism will take you into areas outside the narrowly literary, and broaden your horizons in many different and unexpected ways. Introductory reading: you should read the prescribed texts, of course, and also, if you have time, plays such as Huis clos, Les Mains sales, and Kean. You might also like to try some of Les Chemins de la liberté, perhaps L’Age de raison, the first volume. Many good critical works are available, including: Benedict O’Donohoe, Sartre’s Theatre: Acts for Life, 2005; M. Contat (ed), Comment et pourquoi Sartre a écrit “Les Mots”, 1997; R. Goldthorpe, Sartre: Literature and Theory, 1984; C. Howells, Sartre: The Necessity of Freedom, 1988; C. Howells, Sartre, Modern Literatures in Perspective, 1995; Other excellent critics include: R. Aronson, Jean-Paul Sartre: Philosophy in the World, 1980; H. Barnes, Sartre, 1974; F. Jeanson, Sartre [Ecrivains de toujours]; D. LaCapra, A Preface to Sartre, 1978.
  7. Marguerite Duras (1924–1996): There are four texts prescribed for special study: Un Barrage contre le Pacifique, Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein, L’Amant and Hiroshima, mon amour (film script). You will also be expected to read a selection of Duras’s other works, such as to enable you to study Duras’s contribution to the novel, autobiography/auto-fiction and film as genres. Film will be looked at in its literary aspect, which raises issues of ‘filmic technique’ in the other writings. Introductory reading: You should read the set texts, but you should also read a selection of further works, e.g. Moderato cantabile, Le Square, Le Vice-consul and L’Amant de la Chine du nord. Useful critical approaches will be found in the following works: L. Hill, Marguerite Duras: Apocalyptic desires, Routledge 1993. L. Adler, Marguerite Duras, Gallimard 1998. C. Hofman, Forgetting and Marguerite Duras, (Up of Colorado, 1991). J. Kristeva, ‘La Maladie de la douleur: Duras’, in Soleil Noir. Dépression et Mélancolie, (Gallimard, 1987).  J. Bradley Winston, Postcolonial Duras: Cultural Memory in Post-War France, (Palgrave, 2001).

Short Texts in French

This course will introduce you to the techniques of close reading through the study of six short works arranged in three complementary pairs:

  1. Montaigne, ‘Des Coches’ from Essais III Mme de Graffigny, Lettres d’une Péruvienne
  2. Baudelaire, a selection of poems from the section ‘Spleen et Idéal’ of Les Fleurs du Mal Aimé Césaire, Cahier d’un retour au pays natal
  3. Racine, Phèdre Beckett, En attendant Godot

Translation from Modern French and Translation into Modern French: Advanced Level

This course develops the skills needed to translate both into and from modern French. Passages for translation from French will be taken from post- 1800 texts, and those for translation into French from post-1900 texts. A range of styles and registers will be covered, e.g. narrative, descriptive, analytical, reflective, and journalistic.

Translation from pre-modern French: Advanced Level

This course develops the skills needed to translate into English passages written in pre-modern French. The material covered will include prose and verse ranging from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries.

Written French: Advanced Level

This course develops the skills needed to write essays in French on a range of literary, linguistic, and general cultural topics.

Modern Languages: German

Descriptive Analysis of German as Spoken and Written at the Present Day: Advanced Level

This course is concerned with the form and structure of the kinds of linguistic knowledge that native speakers of German possess. You will learn about sounds, words and sentences and will see that a native speaker’s linguistic knowledge consists of a set of discrete units and a set of rules for combining them. This rule system is responsible for the infinite creativity of language and explains why there is no longest German word or sentence and why all German speakers can be language innovators. In other words, it is part of a speaker’s mental system and not to be confused with a set of prescriptive rules that tell German speakers how they should speak (as e.g. The preposition wegen may be used only with the genitive and not with the dative.). Given our interest in describing, rather than prescribing, a German speaker’s rule system, our focus will be on the spoken language, which, as you will learn, may differ considerably among speakers from different regions and social groupings.

A second question that arises regarding linguistic knowledge is how it is acquired by children. The course also provides an opportunity to learn about studies and theories of German child language, including what explains the perhaps surprising fact that German-speaking children acquire the word-final sound in ich long before the one in das, when it is the former and not the latter which English learners of German find difficult.

Finally, a child must become not just a speaking but also a communicating member of society, i.e. the child must acquire the conventions which govern linguistic exchanges. A third question that arises regarding linguistic knowledge is then how it is put to use in communication. Here, you will learn about the extralinguistic factors, such as class, sex, and age, which influence a German speaker’s use of language in conversations and address.

Introductory reading: J. Boase-Beier & K. Lodge, The German Language: A Linguistic Introduction (Oxford 2003); A. Fox, The Structure of German. Oxford: (Oxford, 1990); C. Russ, The German Language Today. (London & New York, 1994)

Early Modern German Culture , 1450– 1730: Texts, Contexts and Issues

This period ranges from the invention of printing to the dawn of the Enlightenment. It includes such intellectual milestones as the Renaissance and the Reformation and sees the creation of many art forms still flourishing today, for instance opera, ballet, and the novel. There is no compulsion to cover the whole period, though you will be encouraged to see texts and authors in context and to study genres and themes across a chronological range. You can study Luther and his writings in the context of the Reformation. You can contrast the carnival plays of Hans Sachs with sixteenth-century biblical drama. You can trace the development of German comedy from the late sixteenth century to the end of the seventeenth. You can examine early modern conceptions of gender in such works as Grimmelshausen’s Courasche and Lohenstein’s tragedies. You can read works by a whole range of women authors from Caritas Pirckheimer (1467– 1532) to Margaretha Susanna von Kuntsch (1651–1717). You can read Grimmelshausen, one of the greatest novelists in the German language, whose tales of adventuring during the Thirty Years’ War are also profound religious and moral allegories. You can choose from a number of outstanding poets, e.g. Opitz, Gryphius, Fleming, Greiffenberg, Scheffler, Kuntsch, Hofmannswaldau, or Günther. You can study the tragedies of Lohenstein, the greatest political dramatist in German before Schiller, as well as those of Gryphius, Haugwitz, or Weise.

Introductory reading: Gisela Brinker-Gabler (ed.), Deutsche Literatur von Frauen, vol. 1: Vom Mittelalter bis zum Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts (Munich, 1988); Werner Röcke and Marina Münkler (eds.), Die Literatur im Űbergang vom Mitterlalter zur Neuzeit, Hansers Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur, vol. 1 (Munich, Vienna, 2004); Peter Burke, The European Renaissance, Centres and Peripheries (Oxford, 1998); C. Scott Dixon (ed.), The German Reformation (Oxford, 1999); Albert Meier (ed.), Die Literatur des 17. Jahrhunderts, Hansers Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur, vol.2 (Munich, Vienna, 1999); Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly, The early modern period (1450-1720), in The Cambridge History of German Literature (Cambridge, 1997); C.J. Wells, German. A Linguistic History to 1945 (Oxford, 1985), especially chapters V and VII; A fuller reading list is available at http://www.mod-; The ‘Digitale Bibliothek’ ( offers Die deutsche Literatur von Luther bis Tucholsky. Die Grossbibliothek and : a searchable DVD text database of most significant German texts from the early sixteenthth century to the Weimar Republic, in reasonably good editions. The same company at also has Deutsche Literatur von Frauen as a down-load (130 MB)with a large range of texts that are otherwise inaccessible.

Early Modern Literary Texts

The early modern period in German (from the invention of printing in 1440 to the dawn of the Enlightenment around 1730) is one of the key periods in German literature and thought. It is in this period that many features of modern Germany and many important genres in modern German literature become established. Students study a selection from the following six topics:

  1. Luther: Von der Freyheyt eynis Christenmenschen and Von weltlicher Obrigkeit (both available on via Oxlip)
  2. Reformation controversy: Hans Sachs, Die Wittenbergisch Nachtigall (Reclam), and Caritas Pirckheimer, Denkwurdigkeiten (
  3. Religious Poetry: Andreas Gryphius,Gedichte (Reclam) and Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg, Gedichte (
  4. Secular Poetry: Paul Fleming, Gedichte (Reclam) and Sybille Schwarz, Gedichte (
  5. The novel: Historia von D. Johann Fausten and Grimmelshausen: Courasche (both Reclam)
  6. Baroque tragedy: Daniel Casper von Lohenstein: Cleopatra and Sophonisbe (both Reclam)

Introductory reading: C. Scott Dixon (ed.), The German Reformation, (Oxford, 1999); Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly, Chapter III, ‘The early modern period’, in: Watanabe-O’Kelly (ed.) The Cambridge History of German Literature, (Cambridge, 1997); Paula S. Datsko Barker, ‘Caritas Pirckheimer: A Female Humanist Confronts the Reformation’, Sixteenth Century Journal 26 (1995/2), 259–72; Nicola Kaminski, Andreas Gryphius, (Stuttgart, 1998); Barbara Becker-Cantarino, ‘Dr Faustus and Runagate Courage. Theorizing Gender in Early Modern German Literature’, in The Graph of Sex and the German Test. Gendered Culture in Early Modern Germany 1500–1700, ed. Lynne Tatlock, (Amsterdam, 1994); Sarah Colvin, The Rhetorical Feminine: Gender and Orient on the German Stage 1647–1742, (Oxford, 1999)

Early Texts Prescribed for Study as Examples of Literature

The study of Middle High German texts provides an opportunity for you to broaden your experience of literature by tackling literary works that are separated by hundreds of years from the present, and which nonetheless deal with themes that are still recognisably the domain of literature today: love and revenge, personal identity and destiny, the individual and society, gender roles. The four set texts represent distinct literary genres (heroic epic, courtly romance, religious drama, love lyric), but they are chosen above all for their literary quality:

  1. Nibelungenlied. C.1200. The German heroic epic, based on the oral poetry of an earlier period, tells the story of Siegfried’s marriage to the Burgundian princess Kriemhilt and his murder by Hagen, the vassal of her brothers, the Burgundian kings. In the second part of the work Kriemhilt is married again, this time to Etzel, king of the Huns, and takes her revenge by bringing about the total destruction of the ‘Nibelungen’ (the name given to the Burgundians after the theft of Siegfried’s treasure, the ‘Nibelungen hoard’). (Prescribed passages: Nibelungenlied, ed. K. Bartsch et al. (Reclam 1997), avent. 1, 14–17, 23–
    30, 36–39.)
  2. Wolfram von Eschenbach: Parzival. c.1210. This work combines the theme of Arthurian romance with the story of the Grail. Parzival fails to put the question of compassion expected of him, when he meets the sick Grail King, thus failing to meet a condition necessary for the fulfilment of his destiny. After years spent seeking the Grail and in love-service of Condwiramurs he miraculously achieves what had seemed impossible and is summoned to be Grail King. (Prescribed passages: Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival, books 3, 5 and 9.)
  3. Das Osterspiel von Muri; Das Innsbrucker Osterspiel. The Easter plays are a form of elaboration, in dramatic form, of the events after Christ’s death, generally beginning with the watchmen at the grave, and including such scenes as the Harrowing of Hell, the devils’ claims on the sinful souls, the visit of the three Marys to the tomb, and encounters with Jesus after the resurrection. The fragmentary play from a manuscript found in Muri is the earliest example of an Easter play in German (northern Switzerland, c.1240–60). The second play, preserved in a manuscript at Innsbruck, is a complete text from Thuringia, dated 1391, which permits the study of the intrusion of social satire, burlesque and parody into the religious framework.
  4. Heinrich von Morungen: Lieder. The dominant form of the medieval German lyric is the ‘Minnesang’, a form which centres around the themes of the male lover and his fruitless love- service of a lady. The songs of Heinrich von Morungen (died c.1220) permit the study of this genre at the hands of the one of the most masterly Middle High German poets, famous for his handling of imagery, his range of literary forms, and his bold handling of such themes as love beyond the grave and the lovers’ farewell at dawn. (Prescription: Heinrich von Morungen, Lieder (Reclam 1975), with an invaluable commentary.)

Introductory reading (you have to learn to read these texts in the original language, using parallel editions as an aid. Work set may include translations, commentaries, and essays): A Companion to the ‘Nibelungenlied’, ed. Winder McConnell (Columbia, SC, 1998); Ursula Schulze, Das Nibelungenlied (Stuttgart, 1997); A Companion to Wolfram’s ‘Parzival’, ed. Will Hasty (Columbia, SC, 1999); Joachim Bumke, Wolfram von Eschenbach, 8th rev. ed. (Stuttgart, 2004); Timothy McFarland, ‘The Emergence of the German Grail Romance: Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival’, in The Arthur of the Germans, ed. W. H. Jackson and S. A. Ranawake (Cardiff, 2000); Hansjürgen Linke, ‘Germany and German-speaking Central Europe’, in The Theatre of Medieval Europe, ed. Eckehard Simon (Cambridge, 1991)

German Film Studies

The course focuses in particular on the cinema of the Weimar Republic. There are four set films. In each case the preferred edition is listed first.

  1. Der Student von Prag (1913, Rye) available in an American edition from the UK Amazon site (the Faculty has the necessary multi-region DVD players) – it is also available from Alpha Video as a video;
  2. Der letzte Mann (1924, Murnau) in the Transit classics edition, but also available (as The Last Laugh) from Eureka Classics;
  3. M (1931, Lang) in the Ufa classics edition, also available from Eureka and as a video cassette from BFI;
  4. Das blaue Licht (1932, Riefenstahl) available as DVD from ArtHaus, through

The course will examine the development of film style and film technology in the 1920s and early 1930s, as well as putting the films in the wider context of German culture after the First World War. Work set may include commentaries on sections of the set films, and essays relating to questions of film form and technique, and to thematic issues.

Introductory reading: David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction (6th or 7th edition); Sabine Hake, German National Cinema (London: Routledge, 2002).


Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749–1832) not only holds a central position in German literature, comparable to those of Shakespeare in English and Dante in Italian literature, but wrote in an astonishing variety of genres. As a novelist, he took Europe by storm with the impassioned letter-novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1774), produced the key Bildungsroman in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1795–96), and wrote a novel of manners with tragic depths in Die Wahlverwandtschaften (1809). Besides Parts One and Two of Faust, a cosmic drama that spanned his entire creative life, his plays include the vivid early historical drama Gotz von Berlichingen (1773), the proto-feminist enactment of classical humanism Iphigenie auf Tauris (1787), and the portrayal of an emotionally fragile poet among calculating courtiers in Torquato Tasso (1790). Not least, he produced a vast body of lyric poetry, bearing a complex relationship to his own emotional life, and including the frank eroticism of the Romische Elegien (1795) and the attempt in the West-ostlicher Divan (1819) to bridge the gulf between European and Islamic culture. The paper makes it possible to gain an overview of Goethe’s literary work, and, for those who wish, to explore his autobiographical and travel writings, or to examine his problematic reactions to the French Revolution, his controversial scientific researches, or his attempt with Schiller to establish a German classicism.

Introductory reading: Barker Fairley, A Study of Goethe (Oxford, 1947); T. J. Reed, Goethe, Past Masters (Oxford, 1984); John R. Williams, The Life of Goethe (Oxford, 1998); The Cambridge Companion to Goethe, ed. Leslie Sharpe (Cambridge, 2002).

Key Texts in German Thought

The focus of this course is on close reading of four short texts. Translations may be consulted, but students are expected to develop a good grasp of the original works. Work set may include commentaries on passages taken from the texts studied, plus essays on subjects which invite wider discussion of the questions raised by the texts and the relationship between them.

The texts are: Kant, Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht [electronic text available at]; Marx und Engels, Das kommunistische Manifest (various editions incl. Stuttgart:; Reclam, 1999); Nietzsche, ‘Zur Naturgeschichte der Moral’ in Jenseits von Gut und Böse (various editions, incl. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1988); Freud, Warum Krieg? in Freud, Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (various editions, incl. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1994)

Linguistic Studies I: the Development of the German Language, from 1170 to the Present

The history of the German language is a mirror of the literary, social, political and cultural history of the German-speaking countries. This paper covers the Middle High German (up to c.1450), the Early New High German (c.1450-1750) and Modern German periods. You will be expected to familiarize yourself with the salient phonological and grammatical aspects of these different periods, but in your study of the linguistic history of German you will be encouraged to make a more detailed study of individual themes and topics rather than to attempt to survey everything.

Popular areas of study, in addition to basic historical grammar, are: loan words from the various European languages at different times, Middle High German ethical and abstract vocabulary, the language of the medieval German mystics, the language of Bible translation (focussing on Luther), the ‘Sprachgesellschaften’ in the seventeenth century, linguistic ‘Purism’ (from the seventeenth century to the present day), the language of National Socialism, the language of a divided Germany (1945–1989). It is also possible to study topics with a more theoretical character, e.g. problems of the periodization of the German language, the conceptual differences between historical grammar and linguistic history, the emergence of standard norms, grammatical codification, and the questions that arise from interaction with other speech communities.

There are three prescribed texts (Werner der Gärtner, Helmbrecht, dating from c.1270, Reclam edn; Luther’s Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen – ed. K. Bischoff, pp. 6/7-28, l. 21/29, l. 22, and pp. 36- 57; Gryphius, Verliebtes Gespenst – Die geliebte Dornrose, Reclam edn.) These should be studied individually for their intrinsic linguistic interest and should also be used as material for the study of the development of German phonology and grammar. The Gryphius text provides an opportunity to study a historical example of dialect literature, in this case exemplifying Silesian dialect in the seventeenth century. The Taylor Institution Library (University library for modern languages) holds versions of the set texts in electronic form.

Introductory reading: R.E. Keller, The German Language (London, 1978); Peter von Polenz, Deutsche Sprachgeschichte. Vom Spatmittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, 2nd edn., 3 vols (Berlin, 2000– ); C.J. Wells, German. A Linguistic History to 1945 (Oxford, 1985)

Linguistic Studies II: Old High German

The Old High German paper provides an opportunity to study the earliest recorded stages of the German language, from the period c.800- 1100. The course is based on the study of prescribed texts, which have been chosen to demonstrate a range of different uses of the language, including examples of the heroic lay, secular, and religious poetry, Bible translation and even a set of phrasebook-style ‘conversations’ (with forthright expressions for ‘give me my shield’ and ‘get lost’). At the centre of the work for this paper lies the acquisition of a basic reading knowledge of Old High German, but there is also considerable scope for acquiring a familiarity with the literary and cultural context in which written records in the vernacular have been preserved (especially the early German monasteries, such as Fulda and St. Gallen, and the Carolingian court). In addition to studying the set texts, students will acquire a familiarity with the historical grammar of the earliest stages of German, with the principal differences between the Old High German dialects (as represented by the set texts), with the manuscript context of the individual surviving works, and with developments in vocabulary (including the question of loan words). They also come to an understanding of the place of Old High German within the history of the German language. The prescribed texts, in the Althochdeutsches Lesebuch, comprise the following sections: V Gesprache, VIII Isidore, cap. iii; XX Tatian, subsections 2, 4 and 7; XXIII Notker, subsections 1 and 13; XXVIII Hildebrandslied; XXIX Wessobrunner Gebet; XXX Muspilli; XXXII Otfrid, subsections 7 (Missus est Gabrihel angelus) and 21 (De die judicii); XXXVI Ludwigslied; XLIII Ezzos Gesang, Strasbourg version only. It is also important to work systematically through the prescribed texts using the glossary in Braune’s Althochdeutsches Lesebuch and the Old High German grammars.

Introductory reading: J. Knight Bostock, Kenneth C. King, David R. McLintock, A Handbook on Old High German Literature (Oxford, 1976); Wilhelm Braune, Althochdeutsches Lesebuch, 17th edn., revised by Karl Helm and Ernst A. Ebbinghaus (Tübingen, 1994); Wilhelm Braune, Althochdeutsche Grammatik, 15th edn., revised by Ingo Reiffenstein (Tübingen, 2004); R.E. Keller, The German Language (London, 1978);
C.J. Wells, German. A Linguistic History to 1945 (Oxford, 1985)

Medieval German Culture to 1450: Texts, Contexts and Issues

The period of fifty years from 1170 to 1220 saw the development of a sophisticated courtly literature in German that is a landmark of world literature. There are poems of travel and warfare such as the Alexander romances (Strasburger Alexander), the Eneide of Heinrich von Veldeke which combines the journeying and battles that led to the foundation of Rome with a love romance, Herzog Ernst’s adventures in the Orient combined with a story of intrigue and civil war at the German imperial court (Herzog Ernst), and the story of Charlemagne and Roland’s battles against the Saracen in Spain, recast under the influence of the Crusades (Rolandslied). The new genre of the Arthurian romance, imported from France, exploits an idealized presentation of love and of knighthood to discuss broader questions such as partnership in marriage, the identity of the individual in society, as well as religious themes (Hartmann von Aue’s Erec and Iwein, Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival). The Tristan romances of Eilhart von Oberge and Gottfried von Straßburg exploit the ethical and aesthetic potential of an adulterous, and ultimately tragic, love relationship played out against the tensions of the royal court. There are important religious poems such as Hartmann von Aue’s Gregorius, which discusses questions of sin and redemption in the context of a story of incest between mother and son. With the Nibelungenlied, from about 1200, narrative traditions that had been passed on by oral performers for hundreds of years are amalgamated into a great epic poem dominated by the conflicts of forceful characters who bring about the destruction of the whole world in which they live. This is also the period of the finest German love poetry, the ‘Minnesang’, which ranges from the sophisticated songs of courtly love through more openly erotic genres such as the woman’s lament and the parting of lovers at dawn, to the burlesque peasant world of Neidhart. The poets studied include Der von Kürenberg, Friedrich von Hausen, Reinmar, Heinrich von Morungen, Wolfram von Eschenbach, and Walther von der Vogelweide. Walther is also important for his political and didactic poetry. Most students begin by making a study of this central period. After that they may go on to consolidate this work by further reading from the ‘High Middle Ages’. Alternatively they may choose to explore the earlier, Old High German period, where there are individual poems of great interest and importance, such as the Hildebrandslied – the only surviving heroic lay; the Ludwigslied – about a victory over the Vikings; and the Evangelienbuch of Otfrid von Weißenburg – the Old High German biblical epic. Another approach is to expand into the German literature of the later Middle Ages. Here it is possible to study the writings of the mystics (in particular Mechthild von Magdeburg, Meister Eckhart and Heinrich Seuse), the popular and frequently scurrilous short-story genre (‘Märendichtung’), the later heroic epics (Kudrun, Eckenlied, Dietrichs Flucht), the demanding peasant epic by Heinrich Wittenwiler in which a brawl at a village wedding leads to a world war of cosmic dimensions (Der Ring), and the poems of Oswald von Wolkenstein.

Introductory reading: Kurt Ruh, Hofische Epik des deutschen Mittelalters. vol. 1: Von den Anfangen bis zu Hartmann von Aue; vol. 2: Reinhart Fuchs, Lanzelet, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Gottfried von Strasburg, 2 vols (Berlin, 1977–1980); Olive Sayce, The Medieval German Lyric, 1150–1300: The Development of its Themes and Forms in their European Context (Oxford, 1982); Brian Murdoch, Old High German Literature (Boston, Mass., 1983); W.H. Jackson, Chivalry in Twelfth-century Germany: The Works of Hartmann von Aue (Cambridge, 1994); Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly (ed.), The Cambridge History of German Literature (Cambridge, 1997), chapters 1–2 (1.‘The Carolingian Period and the Early Middle Ages 750–1100’, by Brian Murdoch; 2. ‘The High and Later Middle Ages 1100–1450’, by Nigel F. Palmer)

Modern German Literature, from 1730 to the Present: Texts, Contexts and Issues

The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of modern literature written in German. It runs from the mid-eighteenth century, which saw the emergence of classical drama, domestic realism, and hymnic poetry addressed to God and nature, down to the present day, in which writers are exploring the implications of German unification and the experiences of under- privileged groups (women, homosexuals, immigrants). During this period, modern German literature developed an enormous richness and diversity, influenced by (and sometimes influencing) a series of dramatic historical events: the French Revolution, Napoleon’s conquests, the post-1815 repression under Metternich, the 1848 revolutions, the founding of the German Empire in 1871, the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the First World War and the establishment of German and Austrian republics, the Third Reich, war and genocide, the division of Germany into capitalist and communist states, and the collapse of the Eastern bloc. It is important to see the literature of the period within this historical framework.

You may, in consultation with your tutor, have tutorials on individual authors or on several texts grouped by genre or theme; different tutors approach this period in diverse ways. Subjects most often studied include Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Kleist; the Romantic ‘Märchen’; the nineteenth-century ‘Novelle’; Büchner, Heine, Fontane, Hofmannsthal, Thomas Mann, Rilke, Kafka, Brecht; Naturalist drama; Expressionist poetry and drama; documentary drama of the post-war period; the literature of the GDR; such post-1945 writers as Böll, Grass, Frisch, Christa Wolf, and Ingeborg Bachmann. With each author you study, you should try to read enough texts to gain an overview of the individual oeuvre, but also to place each writer in the wider literary and historical context. There is no canon or list of prescribed authors. Through sampling a succession of writers, you should become aware of literature as a historical phenomenon in which there are both constants and changes. As the blank spaces on your map of the period get filled in, you should look out for essentials, be ready to make comparisons, and take an interest in larger developments – of form, style, ideas, choice of subjects etc. – beyond the individual work and individual writer. Reading should be going on throughout your course: you should be reading more works by writers on whom you have already worked, preparing writers on whom you intend to work (often with the help of lectures); and generally exploring the detail and layout of the period.

Introductory reading; Besides reading as many primary texts as possible, you should also consult books that help to structure your developing knowledge of the period, e.g.:; F. J. Lamport, German Classical Drama: Theatre, Humanity and Nation, 1750–1870 (Cambridge, 1990); T. J. Reed, The Classical Centre: Goethe and Weimar, 1775–1832 (London and New York, 1980); Siegbert Prawer (ed.), The Romantic Period in Germany (London, 1970); The Cambridge Companion to German Romanticism, ed.
Nicholas Saul (Cambridge 2009); Eda Sagarra, Tradition and Revolution: German Literature and Society, 1830–1890 (London, 1971); Roy Pascal, From Naturalism to Expressionism: German Literature and Society, 1880–1918 (London, 1973); Ronald Taylor, Literature and Society in Germany, 1918–1945 (Brighton and Totowa, 1980); Rolf Grimminger (ed.), Hansers Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur, 5 vols (Munich, 1980–92); Gabriele Brinker-Gabler (ed.), Deutsche Literatur von Frauen, 2 vols (Munich, 1988); Keith Bullivant (ed.), After the ‘Death’ of Literature: West German Writers of the 1970s (Oxford, New York and Munich, 1989); J.H. Reid, Writing Without Taboos: The New East German Literature (New York and Oxford, 1990); Mary Fulbrook, A Concise History of Germany (Cambridge, 1990); Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly (ed.), The Cambridge History of German Literature (Cambridge, 1996), chapters 4–9; David Wellbery (ed.), The New Harvard History of German Literature (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, 2004), pp. 350–975; The ‘Digitale Bibliothek’ (www.digitale– offers Die deutsche Literatur von Luther bis Tucholsky. Die Grossbibliothek: a searchable DVD text database of most significant German texts from the early 16th century to the Weimar Republic, in reasonably good editions.

Modern Prescribed Authors

This paper complements the broader sweep of the period papers by providing the opportunity to study in depth the work of two of the most important and challenging German writers from the early modern period to the present. You will read widely within the work of your two authors, set them in their intellectual and historical context, and study closely one (or two) central works that are prescribed for special study, with a view to detailed textual analysis.

  1. Luther (1483–1546): Luther has made a mark on modern Europe greater than that of any other German. Such pamphlets as An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation present a fascinating combination of Renaissance ideas, nationalist rhetoric and intense personal piety. Why it was he who acted as a catalyst for the Reformation is an interesting question which bears on history, theology and literature. Luther’s social teaching, as expounded in his many writings on marriage, his translation of the Bible, which made its indelible mark on the modern German language, his ideas about secular authority, his theory of translation and his development of such forms as the hymn in German are some of the aspects which might be explored in this option. The set text is Von der Freyheyt einis Christenmenschen, Luther’s defence of his central theological idea – justification by faith.Introductory reading: Euan Cameron, The European Reformation (Oxford, 1991); Bernhard Lohse, Martin Luther. Eine Einfuhrung in sein Leben und sein Werk (Munich, 1991); R.W. Scribner, The German Reformation (London, 1986); Heiko Oberman, Luther: Mensch zwischen Gott und Teufel, 2. ed. (Berlin: Severin und Siedler, 1983), English trans. 1989; Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation. A History (Harmondsworth, 2003)
  2. Gryphius (1616–64): Gryphius is equally remarkable as a poet and as a dramatist. His poetry, which laments the passing of time and the fragility of life here on earth, is full of memorable images and magnificent language. The Reclam volume Deutsche Gedichte, ed. Adalbert Elschenbroich, is the set text. As a dramatist his plays cover a wide range of genres and themes. In Carolus Stuardus, for instance, a so-called martyr tragedy, we are shown Charles I of England as a Christ-figure murdered by his barbarous people on their distant northern island. In Leo Armenius we see the political tensions which result when a usurper takes the throne. Catharina von Georgien shows us how a weak woman can triumph in death over the lustful advances of an infidel aggressor and, in a radical departure from contemporary theories of tragedy, Cardenio und Celinde uses ordinary characters and ordinary language to explore questions of love, lust and marriage, heaven and hell from a Christian perspective. The comedies are different again. There is the glorious fun of Horribilicribrifax, in which the efforts of two boastful but cowardly soldiers to avoid each other are woven round a series of sub-plots on the theme of false and true love. Das verliebte Gespenst-Die geliebte Dornrose intersperses acts of a mini-opera, in which a lover has to pretend to die to gain the woman he loves, with acts of a dialect peasant play whose plot is a mirror-image of the opera. Herr Peter Squentz, based on an episode from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is used to spoof the sixteenth-century Meistersinger drama and to force us to meditate on the world as a stage.Introductory reading: Nicola Kaminski, Andreas Gryphius (Stuttgart, 1988); See also the comprehensive introductions in Hugh Powell’s editions of Carolus Stuardus, Cardenio und Celinde, and Herr Peter Squentz.
  3. Grimmelshausen (1622–76): Grimmelshausen is one of the greatest novelists in the German language, combining racy narrative and humour with religious profundity. His most important novel is Simplicissimus, the tale of a young man’s adventures in Germany during the Thirty Years’ War. It can be read simply as a good story, but also as an allegory on the life of the good Christian or on the theme of knowledge and ignorance. It has also been shown to have a complex structure based, among other things, on astrology. Grimmelshausen himself indicated that such other works as Courasche, the tale of a female counterpart to Simplicissimus, Springinsfeld and Das wunderbarliche Vogelnest, parts I and II, all of which pick up elements and characters from Simplicissimus and develop them further, formed part with Simplicissimus of a cycle of works which must be read as a whole, thus opening further fascinating narrative perspectives. Courasche, the basis for Brecht’s Mutter Courage, has been the subject recently of interesting feminist analysis. Springinsfeld sets its tale of an old soldier during the Thirty Years’ War within a framework which explores in a sophisticated and surprisingly modern way the way in which reading and writing are two aspects of the same endeavour.Introductory reading: Kenneth Negus, Grimmelshausen (New York, 1974); Dieter Breuer, Grimmelshausen-Handbuch (Munich, 1999); Günther Weydt, Hans Jacob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (Stuttgart, 1971)
  4. Goethe (1749–1832) as dramatist: Goethe’s dramatic work is extraordinarily varied. The text prescribed for special study, Part One of Faust, takes the archetypal German myth of the unsatisfied intellectual who makes a pact with the Devil and combines this with the new genre of domestic tragedy to produce a cosmic drama of good and evil. An early draft of Part One, discovered in 1887 and known as the Urfaust, should also be read. Besides Faust, Part One, you will be expected to study at least three other plays by Goethe, though the commentary passage will come only from Faust, Part One. The ambitious will want also to read Faust, Part Two, which portrays the rest of Faust’s life, his death, and his ascent into heaven, providing a symbolic survey of Western culture and a mysterious drama of redemption. The earlier plays include two historical dramas, Gotz von Berlichingen and Egmont. Gotz, set in the age of Luther, marks the explosive irruption of Shakespeare into German drama; the more restrained Egmont celebrates resistance to tyranny while querying the political role of the charismatic leader. Clavigo centres on one of Goethe’s lasting concerns, the complex psychology of the indecisive hero.Goethe’s plays in classical form include Iphigenie auf Tauris, a Greek drama adapted to explore women’s relation to moral and political power, and the tragedy of an artist, Torquato Tasso, which examines, with lyrical intensity and novelistic subtlety, the relationships among a small group of characters surrounding the awkward, disturbed, and fascinating genius Tasso. A number of less well-known plays (Die Aufgeregten, Der Burgergeneral, and above all the enigmatic tragedy Die naturliche Tochter) articulate Goethe’s largely hostile response to the French Revolution.Introductory reading: T. J. Reed, Goethe (Oxford, 1984); John R. Williams, Goethe’s Faust (London, 1987); Nicholas Boyle, Goethe: The Poet and the Age, vol. 1 (Oxford, 1991); vol. 2 (Oxford, 2000).
  5. Schiller (1759–1805): Schiller is unsurpassed as a political dramatist. His explosive early play Die Rauber sets youthful rebellion against a familial, social, and ultimately cosmic background, while Kabale und Liebe treats a cross-class love-affair within the petty tyranny of a German court (clearly based on Schiller’s experience of absolutist Württemberg). Don Carlos, a massive play of political intrigue in which principle is pitted against friendship, marks the end of Schiller’s first dramatic period. After a ten-year interval he returned to the stage with the historical trilogy Wallenstein, set in the Thirty Years’ War and centring on the charismatic but inwardly undecided general who, by planning treachery, imposes a conflict of loyalties on his closest devotees. This trilogy is the text prescribed for special study. Schiller followed it with a series of historical tragedies that increasingly turn on guilt and redemption (Maria Stuart, Die Jungfrau von Orleans, and Die Braut von Messina) and explore the tension between politics and myth-making, which is most apparent in Wilhelm Tell. Besides reading all the plays, you should also read Schiller’s principal essays on tragedy (collected in the Reclam volume no. 2731 as Schiller, Vom Pathetischen und Erhabenen). Start with ‘Über das Erhabene’, the most essential, and work back. You should also read at least the last section of Schiller’s great work of literary criticism, Uber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung, for its discussion of two character-types, the realist and the idealist, who also feature in his dramas.Introductory reading: T. J. Reed, Schiller (Oxford, 1991); E. L. Stahl, Friedrich Schiller’s Drama: Theory and Practice (Oxford, 1954); Lesley Sharpe, Friedrich Schiller: Drama, Thought and Politics (Cambridge, 1991)
  6. Hölderlin (1770–1843): Hölderlin is generally regarded as one of the most important poets of the German language. His poetry is a poetry of contradictions. Visions of wholeness stand side by side with moments of disappointment, and celebrations of ideal fulfilment give way to painful isolation. Hölderlin is often thought of as a classical poet, and indeed, the most complete manifestation of the ideal was for him to be found in ancient Greece. Figures from Christianity, classical mythology, and his local Swabian landscape are blended together to make a uniquely compelling mythical and personal poetry. But he was also committed to his own time, which he saw as a time of darkness, and, like many of his contemporaries, he was inspired by hopes for change embodied in the French Revolution. Famously, he spent the last 36 years diagnosed as incurably insane in a tower-dwelling in Tübingen, where he continued to write poetry which he signed with strange names. You will be expected to know his poetry after 1797, from the ‘Diotima’ poems, written with his beloved Susette Gontard in mind, to the odes, great elegies and hymns. The set text is Gedichte, ed. Gerhard Kurz and Wolfgang Braungart, Reihe Reclam (ISBN 3 15 056267 8). In this edition, you must read the poetry written from 1798 to 1806. This set reading could usefully be supplemented with the most recent edition of Michael Hamburger’s dual-language anthology listed below. From there, you may follow your interests in one of the bigger Hölderlin editions. You should also read the epistolary novel Hyperion (available in Reclam, 559) the story of a young Greek and his pursuit of the ideal, and Empedokles, ed. by Maurice Benn (Oxford, 1968), a tragedy which Hölderlin saw through three versions, but did not finish.Introductory reading: David Constantine, Holderlin (Oxford, 1988); Howard Gaskill, Holderlin’s Hyperion (Durham, 1984); Michael Hamburger, Poems and Fragments, 3rd edn. (London, 1994); Thomas Beckermann and Volker Canaris (eds.), Der andere Holderlin: Materialien zum “Holderlin”- Stuck von Peter Weis (Frankfurt, 1972)
  7. Kleist (1777–1811): Kleist belongs by period, if not always by definition, to the Romantic generation, his work representing a bold challenge to that of Weimar Classicism despite his veneration for Goethe. His world is one of violent extremes and destabilization, of paradoxes and ambiguities, and it reflects something of the turmoil and confusion caused by the aftermath of the French Revolution and its impact on Germany. Kleist himself was a compulsive traveller and journeyed through post-revolutionary France on many occasions, drawn especially by the stimulus of Paris, which was at the time a cultural mecca, and by his fascination with the ambiguous figure of Napoleon (he tried twice to join Bonaparte’s army of invasion of England!). Another well-documented strand in Kleist’s work is his inheritance of Kantian ideas, especially in the field of epistemology: Kleist drew from Kantian writings a firm conviction in the impossibility of interpreting accurately the phenomena we perceive in the external world through sense impressions. This explains the prevalence in his works of the themes of illusion and deception. Typically, Kleistian characters, whose psychological make-ups are marked by volatility and emotional instability, are brought face to face with crisis situations (e.g. earthquakes, rape, murder, war) which force out often destructive qualities which have been lying hidden beneath the surface (e.g. Michael Kohlhaas, Penthesilea). For all that, however, like the very greatest writers, Kleist’s works encompass the extremes of tragedy and comedy; Der zerbrochne Krug is one of the greatest comedies in the German language, if not the greatest, and Amphitryon, is a true tragicomedy in which the two elements complement one another convincingly. Prinz Friedrich von Homburg, the set text, depicts the conflict between duty to the state and individual will, and places an ambiguous, anti-heroic figure at the centre of the action. Whereas in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century it was Kleist’s dramas which were most acclaimed, nowadays critical attention has been principally focussed on the prose tales, which have been admired by many twentieth-century writers, including Kafka and Thomas Mann. Particularly remarkable features are his unique and distinctive style and syntax – lean, compressed and tightly structured – and the subtle ironic stance of his narration. You should endeavour to read a wide selection of the Erzahlungen (e.g. Michael Kohlhaas, Das Erdbeben in Chili, Der Zweikampf, Die Verlobung in St. Domingo) but do not neglect the dramas; of these, in addition to the prescribed text, you should read Die Familie Schroffenstein, Der zerbrochne Krug, Penthesilea and Amphityon.Introductory reading: Seán Allan, The Plays of Heinrich von Kleist (Cambridge, 1996); The Stories of Heinrich von Kleist; Fictions of Security (Rochester, NY & Woodbridge, 2001); Hilda Meldrum Brown, Heinrich von Kleist: the Ambiguity of Art and the Necessity of Form (Oxford, 1998).
  8. Hoffmann (1776–1822): E.T.A. Hoffmann is one of the greatest German Romantics, but his fiction also contains a healthy dose of realism which puts his Romantic aspirations in an ironic perspective without dismissing them. The short works prescribed for special study are Der goldne Topf, described in its subtitle as ‘a modern fairy-tale’, and the horror-story Der Sandmann: each treats the plight of the artist in a philistine society, from opposite viewpoints. Ever since Freud wrote an interpretation of Der Sandmann, Hoffmann’s stories have provided a testing- ground for psychoanalytic approaches to literature. Hoffmann wrote many other humorous and poetic fairy-tales (Meister Floh, Klein Zaches genannt Zinnober, and above all Prinzessin Brambilla); relatively realist ‘Novellen’ turning on psychological enigmas (e.g. Rat Krespel, Das Fraulein von Scuderi) or the situation of the artist (e.g. Die Jesuitenkirche in G—, Des Vetters Eckfenster); and two novels. Of these, Die Elixiere des Teufels is a complicated thriller centring on a runaway monk who is plagued by a terrifying double and other supernatural visitants, while the unfinished Lebensansichten des Katers Murr is a masterpiece of Romantic irony, juxtaposing the comical autobiography of a conceited and philistine cat who has learnt to write with the fragmentary and tragic biography of the genuine artist Kreisler (Hoffmann’s fictional alter ego).Introductory reading: Glyn Tegai Hughes, Romantic German Literature (London, 1979), chapter 7; Kenneth Negus, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Other World: The Romantic Author and his “New Mythology” (Philadelphia, Penn., 1965); Brigitte Feldges and Ulrich Stadler, E.T.A. Hoffmann: Epoche – Werk – Wirkung (Munich, 1986); Hilda M. Brown, E.T.A Hoffmann and the Serapiontic Principle. Critique and Creativity (Rochester , NY & Woodbridge, 2006)
  9. Heine (1797–1856): Heine stands out in German literature as a great humorous and ironic poet, a self-conscious Jew, a journalist of genius, and a radical political writer (though his politics are not easy to pin down). His vast body of poetry extends from the ironical late-Romantic love-poetry of the early Buch der Lieder via the biting political satire of his middle years to the bitterly humorous, searching, and mythopoeic poems written during the fatal illness that brought him back to a problematic belief in God. The texts prescribed for special study are the two verse-narratives of the 1840s, Atta Troll: Ein Sommernachtstraum and Deutschland: Ein Wintermarchen. In the first, the eponymous figure of the dancing bear who escapes from captivity gives rise to political satire but also enables the narrator to explore an imaginative world of myth, while in the latter, an actual journey that Heine made through Germany becomes the occasion for a satirical review of German society and politics and reflections on the poet’s share in revolution. The most recent anthology is Heine, Poems, with an introduction by Ritchie Robertson (Bristol Classical Press, 1993). There is a useful annotated edition of Atta Troll and Deutschland by Barker Fairley (Oxford, 1966). Heine’s extensive prose works include travel-sketches, popular accounts of German philosophy and Romantic literature, reports on life in Paris, memoirs, and much else, all highly readable and with a dense poetic texture. You might start with Die Harzreise and Ideen. Das Buch Le Grand, which begin the series of Reisebilder that first made Heine famous in the 1820s.Introductory reading: S. S. Prawer, Heine, the Tragic Satirist: A Study of the Later Poetry, 1827–1856 (Cambridge, 1961); Jeffrey L. Sammons, Heinrich Heine: The Elusive Poet (New Haven, Conn., 1969); Nigel Reeves, Heinrich Heine: Poetry and Politics (London, 1974); Ritchie Robertson, Heine (London, 1988); Anthony Phelan, Reading Heinrich Heine (Cambridge, 2007)
  10. Rilke (1875–1926): Rilke’s poetic career was spent in an attempt to find the unity which he felt modern humankind had lost; a unity that could embrace life and death, the visible and the invisible. His poetry laments the curse of consciousness, the banality and fragmentation of modern man who is shamed by the greater integrity of plants, animals and works of art. Yet paradoxically, Rilke also recognizes that the material world can be redeemed only by the uniquely human act of transforming the world into lasting artistic form. The supreme formal skill of his work can be seen as an attempt to combat forces of disintegration through art. The mixture of the metaphysical and the material is a hallmark of his work from the subjective mood and intangible musicality of Das Stunden-Buch (1905) to the final Sonette an Orpheus (1922). Rilke is an intensely visual poet who was inspired by a series of encounters with visual artists: the ‘Jugendstil’ artists of a colony in Worpswede, his time spent working as a secretary to the sculptor Rodin, and a return to the most modern impulses in painting, most important of which was Cézanne. The prescribed text, which you should aim to know very well, is Neue Gedichte (the first part). This collection contains many of Rilke’s most famous individual poems. They can be read with his monograph on Rodin in mind and are characterized by plasticity and supreme craftsmanship. Themes of transience and the redeeming possibilities of art are also present. These are taken up once again in the Duineser Elegien, a cycle of ten poems written in two bursts of creativity over a decade apart. They form Rilke’s supreme lament for the disjunction of human life, but are also an attempt to endorse human experience in the face of the transcendental beyond, which is represented by terrible and supremely beautiful angels. Apart from these works you would be expected to read a number of uncollected poems and short prose works. There is also Rilke’s novel, Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge, a visionary and pathological account of the disintegration of an artist figure who has come to Paris, and who is haunted by the squalor of the modern city and by disturbing memories of childhood. This text, based on Rilke’s own experiences, is a key document of literary Modernism and charts the crisis of identity and language experienced by many artists in the first decade of the twentieth century.Introductory reading: Käte Hamburger, Rilke: Eine Einfuhrung (Stuttgart, 1976); Eudo C. Mason, Rilke (Edinburgh, 1963); Rilke- Handbuch. Leben – Werk – Wirkung, ed. Manfred Engel (Stuttgart, 2004); The Cambridge Companion to Rilke, ed. Karen Leeder and Robert Vilain (Cambridge, 2009)
  11. Thomas Mann (1875–1956): Thomas Mann is among the central figures of modern German literature. His reputation as a heavyweight philosophical novelist (based partly on the faulty English translations of his works) has sometimes hindered readers from appreciating the irony and humour, the detailed realism, and the political implications of his fiction, and from realizing that he treats ideas both seriously and playfully. The text prescribed for special study is Die Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull. In addition, you are expected to read a wide range of Mann’s short fiction (e.g. Der kleine Herr Friedemann, Gladius Dei, Beim Propheten, Tristan, Tonio Kroger, Der Tod in Venedig, Der Weg zum Friedhof, and the inter-war stories Unordnung und fruhes Leid and Mario und der Zauberer) and, most importantly, at least two of the major novels. Buddenbrooks, Der Zauberberg, and Doktor Faustus are obvious choices, the last especially because it reworks an intensely German myth as a means of exploring the complex relations between art, the intellect, and the inhumanity of politics. Among Mann’s medium-length novels, Lotte in Weimar stands out, the latter for its portrayal of Goethe as the exasperating yet irresistible centre of Weimar life. With Mann’s political books and essays, including the problematic Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen of 1918, one can follow a responsible but uncommitted writer adjusting to the Weimar Republic, opposing Nazism, and reflecting on the Germans’ character and history.Introductory reading: Erich Heller, The Ironic German: A Study of Thomas Mann (London, 1958) T. J. Reed, Thomas Mann: The Uses of Tradition, 2nd edn. (Oxford, 1996) The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann, ed. Ritchie Robertson (Cambridge, 2002)
  12. Kafka (1883–1924): Kafka’s fiction, though indebted in many ways to such nineteenth- century writers as Kleist and Dostoevsky, has long been recognized as central to Modernism and is still a vital presence in contemporary literature. Besides the three novels, none of which Kafka considered complete (Der Verschollene, Der Proces, Das Schloß), there are a number of Novellen published in his lifetime (Das Urteil, Die Verwandlung, In der Strafkolonie), collections of short fiction (Ein Landarzt and Ein Hungerkunstler), and a mass of teasingly enigmatic, often humorous short stories, parables and aphorisms which have been extracted from his notebooks. Anyone studying Kafka should be familiar with the whole of his Samtliche Erzahlungen (available as Fischer paperback, no. 1078) or at least with Ein Landarzt und andere Drucke zu Lebzeiten (Fischer paperback no. 12441). The text prescribed for special study is Der Proceß, in the version edited by Malcolm Pasley: this text is available as a Fischer paperback (either no. 11413 or no. 12443: both cost the same, but are differently paginated; the latter also contains a four-page account of Kafka’s life in tabular form). In addition, you should read the other two novels and at least sample Kafka’s diaries and letters.Introductory reading: Heinz Politzer, Franz Kafka: Parable and Paradox (Ithaca, NY, 1962); Ritchie Robertson, Kafka: Judaism, Politics, and Literature (Oxford, 1985); Kafka. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2004); Mark Anderson, Kafka’s Clothes: Ornament and Aestheticism in the Habsburg fin de siecle (Oxford, 1992); The Cambridge Companion to Kafka, ed. Julian Preece (Cambridge, 2002)
  13. Brecht (1898–1956): Brecht is one of the major European dramatists of the twentieth century. You might well have some awareness of, even familiarity with, his work from school or the theatre. Reading him after the fall of the Eastern bloc raises new questions about political literature and the uneasy relationship of both post-war German states to this most famous writer and his work. In the early years critical opinion was often characterized by crude political polarisations. However, Brecht has also attracted attention from a number of most important writers, philosophers and critics, and more recently there have been interesting attempts at revision from, for example, poststructuralist and feminist perspectives. Brecht was a prolific author in a variety of genres, and slippery in all of them. Tracing the development of his writing takes you from his anarchic Expressionist beginnings via his Marxist conversion and the work of his antifascist exile years to the late works penned in the newly founded German Democratic Republic. In your study of his work you should certainly cover a variety of the major plays and have a good knowledge of at least some of his poetry; beyond that you are free to place the emphasis on poetry, prose or theory, as you wish. The play about the achievements and limitations of the modern scientific revolution, Leben des Galilei (in the final 1955 version), is the text prescribed for special study (Suhrkamp BasisBibliothek, ISBN 3 518 18801 0). In addition you should read a cross-section, chronologically, of his dramatic works, from the bleakly lyrical early text Baal through to the famous later plays written in exile: Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder, Der gute Mensch von Sezuan, Der kaukasische Kreidekreis. Brecht is perhaps best known for his radical experimentation with theatrical convention. You should certainly look at his ‘Lehrstücke’ (e.g. Die Masnahme) and familiarize yourself with the essays in which he sets out and develops his commentary on literary and theatrical practice. Brecht is also one of the most significant German poets of the twentieth century. You might like to start with the provocative early collection of religious parodies, celebrations of material existence and ballads of social deprivation: Bert Brechts Hauspostille, before moving to the antifascist exile collection Svendborger Gedichte and the more spare and lyrical poetry of the late years, the Buckower Elegien. One way into his large and varied output of poems is the volume Ausgewahlte Gedichte ed. Siegfried Unseld and Walter Jens (Frankfurt, 1964).Introductory reading: Keith A. Dickson, Towards Utopia: A study of Brecht (Oxford and New York, 1978); Walter Hinderer (ed.), Brechts Dramen: Neue Interpretationen (Stuttgart, 1984); Jan Knopf, Brecht- Handbuch, 5 vols. (Stuttgart, 2001)
  14. Grass (b. 1927): Grass has written a great deal and is still writing. He is one of the most controversial and compelling of contemporary storytellers. The text prescribed for special study is Die Blechtrommel (1959), the first half of which has since been made into a famous film by Volker Schlöndorff. This is an account of the years of the Third Reich and after, in which the post-war German economic miracle is portrayed as a mixture of the grotesque, the humorous, the fantastic, the blasphemous and the provocatively obscene. It stands in the tradition of the picaresque novel, and its archly self-conscious narrator Oskar Matzerath is a hunch-back dwarf who, considered insane and accused of murder, drums up his tale from his hospital bed. You should make sure you have looked at Katz und Maus and perhaps Hundejahre, which together with Blechtrommel became known as the Danzig Trilogy. Beyond that you could look at some of the shorter texts e.g. Ortlich betaubt, Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke, Kopfgeburten, Das Treffen in Telgte etc. Constants in all these texts are complex narrative style, play with time levels, and an interrogation of memory and the possibilities of art. A special focus of interest is Der Butt which offers an alternative history of the world focussing on sex and cookery, told by a talking flounder derived from fairy-tale. It is a hilarious and yet shocking text which at once probes gender politics and narratives of history. While Die Rattin continues this interest, mixing fairy-tale and the grim reality of a post-holocaust world, Unkenrufe and Ein weites Feld focus on the problems of re- unification and a specifically German history. Although Grass could be linked with Magic Realism (there is a famous correspondence with Salman Rushdie), his work is also marked by a constant and very specific political commitment. He is known as a controversial essayist and outspoken commentator (and one-time campaigner for the SPD) but has also produced a number of dramas, poetry (from early surrealist texts to more explicitly political pieces), and a large body of etchings and drawings, some of which feature on the covers of his works but which have recently gained attention in their own right.Introductory reading: Volker Neuhaus, Gunter Grass, 2nd edn. (Stuttgart, 1993); Manfred Durzak (ed.), Zu Gunter Grass: Geschichte auf dem poetischen Prufstand (Stuttgart, 1985); John Reddick, The ‘Danzig Trilogy’ of Gunter Grass (London, 1975)
  15. Christa Wolf (1929– ): Christa Wolf became known as one of the most distinguished writers of the former German Democratic Republic. Recently, she has been championed in the West by a body of feminist criticism, but alongside her commitment to record an explicitly feminine experience of contemporary reality runs a larger humanist and socialist vision. Her works also document a progressive disillusionment with the proclaimed socialist utopia. Metaphors of illness become dominant to chart the marginalisation and stultification of the individual in a contemporary socialist society. Early texts like the famous story of ‘star-crossed lovers’ and the Berlin Wall, Der geteilte Himmel, can be set against the background of the young socialist state, Cold- War politics and the prescriptions of socialist realism. The text prescribed for special study, Nachdenken uber Christa T., is a far more oblique and challenging text about the assertion and disintegration of personal identity. Later texts turn away from specifically socialist themes to embrace the threat of ecological destruction, dark visions of nuclear menace and intense concern with gender politics as well as an obsessive review of Wolf’s own possibilities as a writer, and those of literature itself. You will be expected to read widely among her later texts including the controversial Kindheitsmuster which attempts to come to terms with the fascist past: Kein Ort. Nirgends which records a fictional meeting of the Romantic writers Kleist and Karoline von Günderrode: Storfall, written in the wake of the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, and the key text Kassandra (along with the Frankfurt lectures Voraussetzungen einer Erzahlung of which it was originally the final one). Kassandra offers a revision of the myth of the fall of Troy from the perspective of the prophetess Kassandra herself and the women who have been written out of successive versions of history, whilst also providing a bleak insight into the ideological stalemate of the 1980s. Almost all of Wolf’s work draws more or less explicitly on autobiographical sources, and challenges conventional genre categories (she has also published a large body of essays and correspondence). Reading her work after the fall of the Berlin Wall raises new and difficult questions about the role of the writer in the GDR, censorship, and the nature of morality and political commitment. Wolf’s 1990 text Was bleibt, which documents her treatment at the hands of the secret police, initiated a large-scale literary debate in the newly united Germany about political engagement and aesthetics. This was taken up again in 1991 after it was revealed that Wolf herself was, for a short time, involved with the ‘Staatssicherheitsdienst’.Introductory reading: Angela Drescher (ed.), Dokumentation zu Christa Wolf: ‘Nachdenken uber Christa T.’ (Hamburg, 1991); Marilyn Sibley Fries (ed.), Responses to Christa Wolf: Critical Essays (Detroit, Mich., 1989); Sonja Hilzinger, Christa Wolf (Stuttgart, 1986)
  16. W. G. Sebald (1944–2001): Over the past two decades, W.G. Sebald has emerged as one of the most distinctive and important voices in contemporary German literature. His academic career as professor of German at the University of East Anglia is reflected in his literary works, which are underpinned by a complex network of intertextual references to authors as diverse as Adalbert Stifter, Robert Walser, Franz Kafka, Joseph Roth and Thomas Bernhard. Yet while Sebald’s writings self-consciously inscribe themselves into a wider literary tradition, they also stand out through their use of innovative literary techniques, in particular through their use of photography and other illustrations, which lends his texts a particular sense of immediacy. Indeed, Sebald’s prose narratives skilfully blur the distinction between fiction and documentary, a strategy which gains particular relevance for Sebald’s central concern, question of memory, testimony and remembrance. His narrators are restless travellers whose journeys across Europe and beyond are driven by the goal of recovering stories and events from the margins of history and collective consciousness. This theme is most prominent in the last novel, Austerlitz, the text prescribed for special study, which deals with the traumatic effects of genocide, exile and persecution. A similar sense of dislocation informs his other prose texts, Schwindel. Gefuhle, Die Ausgewanderten and Die Ringe des Saturn, which chart the experiences of people who are in one way or another alienated from their lives and surroundings. Yet while Sebald’s texts often betray a deeply-rooted sense of melancholy, they also contain many moving reflections on nature, art, history and literature – themes which are also taken up in his theoretical essays. Anyone studying Sebald as special author should read the volumes Die Beschreibung des Unglucks, Unheimliche Heimat and Logis in einem Landhaus, which contain his essays on literature and art, as well as his historical study Luftkrieg und Literatur. Of further interest are the posthumously published text Campo Santo and the volume Unerzahlt, which emerged from Sebald’s collaboration with the painter Jan Peter Tripp.Introductory reading: Anne Fuchs, Die Schmerzensspuren der Geschichte: Zur Poetik der Erinnerung in W.G. Sebalds Prosa (Cologne, 2004); Mark Richard McCulloh, Understanding Sebald (Columbia, 2003); W. G. Sebald: A Critical Companion, ed. J.J. Long and Anne Whitehead (Edinburgh, 2004); Helmut Schmitz, On Their Own Terms. The Legacy of National Socialism in Post-1990 German Fiction (Birmingham, 2004), chapter 10.
  17. Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945–82): The set film is Katzelmacher (1969). There are a number of ways of establishing a wider context for this film. One is to see how it arises from Fassbinder’s theatre of the late 1960s. He wrote theatre versions of Katzelmacher (1968), Der amerikanische Soldat (1968) and Die bitteren Tranen der Petra von Kant (1971) before he made films with the same material in 1969, 1970 and 1972 respectively. Another way to contextualize Katzelmacher is to compare the treatment of similar material in the film Angst essen Seele auf (1974), which Fassbinder made under the influence of the melodramatic techniques of the Detlev Sierck (Douglas Sirk once in Hollywood in 1937) and in particular the film All that heaven allows (1956). Der Handler der vier Jahreszeiten (1972) similarly works with Sirk as a model. The filmstyle of Katzelmacher can also be compared with the techniques prompting both identification and analytic distance in the later films. Die Ehe der Maria Braun (1979) is normally analysed as part of the ‘BRD trilogy’, Lola (1981) and Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (1982), but is equally interesting to analyse it alongside the very different, and more personal film In einem Jahr mit dreizehn Monden (1978) that Fassbinder made alongside Maria Braun and shot and edited himself. Lola can also be usefully compared with Sternberg’s Der blaue Engel, starring Marlene Dietrich, of which it is a modernisation, and Veronika Voss watched alongside the Ufafeatures made in the 1930s, such as Hotel Sacher (1938), starring Sibylle Schmitz, the figure on whom the character of Voss is modelled. Finally, Fassbinder was a re-reader of literary texts other than his own as well as a re-maker of films, as can be seen in his film versions of Fontane Effi Briest (1974) and Berlin Alexanderplatz.Introductory reading: David Barnett, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and the German theatre, Cambridge studies in modern theatre (Cambridge, 2005); Christian Braad Thomsen and Martin Chalmers. Fassbinder: the life and work of a provocative genius, Faber film (London, 1997); Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Samtliche Stucke (Frankfurt am Main, 1991); Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Michael Töteberg, Filme befreien den Kopf: Essays und Arbeitsnotizen. Originalausg. (Frankfurt am Main, 1984); Hans Günther Pflaum, Rainer Werner Fassbinder: Bilder und Dokumente (München, 1992); Hans Günther Pflaum and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Das bisschen Realitat, das ich brauche: wie Filme entstehen. Ungekürzte Ausg. (Munich, 1979); Special issue on Rainer Werner Fassbinder, New German Critique (1994).
  18. Elfriede Jelinek (1946- ): Elfriede Jelinek is a contemporary Austrian author who won the Nobel prize in 2004. She is a controversial writer: a feminist, one-time Marxist, both reviled and celebrated in her home country, who sometimes cultivates shock as part of her political aesthetic. She has a substantial oeuvre in all genres: from her early poetry Lisas Schatten (1967) to her experiments with satirical prose, like wir sind lockvogel baby! (1970) or Michael: Ein Jugendbuch fur die Infantilgesellschaft (1972), books which satirize popular culture and its duplicitous presentation of ‘the good life’. She became well known with her novels Die Liebhaberinnen (1975) (a short satirical text and a good way into her work), Die Ausgesperrten (1980) and the autobiographically based Die Klavierspielerin (1983), which was made into an acclaimed film by Michael Haneke in 2001. Die Klavierspielerin is the text prescribed for special study. These novels each present a pitiless world where a regime of violence and submission keeps human beings, especially women, in check. She demonstrates how the entertainment industry’s clichés seep into people’s consciousness and paralyse opposition to class injustices and gender oppression. Her disturbing satire of pornography, Lust (1989), offers a hard- hitting presentation of sexual violence against women as the template for our culture. This line is maintained, seemingly in a lighter tone, in Gier: Ein Unterhaltungsroman (2000), a study in the cold-blooded practice of male power. In her drama she has also developed from fairly traditional models (like Was geschah nachdem Nora ihren Mann verlassen hatte which picks up the story of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House where Ibsen leaves off), to much more radical pieces that do without roles in a traditional sense but present voices that allow various levels of the psyche and history to be heard simultaneously, e. g. Totenauberg, Raststatte, Wolken.Heim, Ein Sportstuck, In den Alpen, Das Werk. Her most recent published works for drama, the so-called ‘princess dramas’ (Der Tod und das Madchen I–V, 2003 and Bambiland; Babel, 2005), are variations on one of the writer’s basic themes, the inability of women fully to come to life in a world where they are painted over with stereotypical images. Jelinek has long been an outspoken critic of Austria: depicting it as a realm of death in her massive phantasmagorical novel, Die Kinder der Toten (1995). In this her writing builds on a lengthy Austrian tradition of linguistically sophisticated social criticism, with precursors such as Johann Nepomuk Nestroy, Karl Kraus, Ödön von Horváth, Elias Canetti, Thomas Bernhard, and the Wiener Group.Introductory reading: Christa Gürtler, Gegen den schonen Schein: Texte zu Elfriede Jelinek (Frankfurt am Main: Neue Kritik, 1990; new edition 2005); Marlies Janz, Elfriede Jelinek (Stuttgart, 1995); See also the Text & Kritik volume on Jelinek ed. by Heinz Ludwig Arnold (1993); Allyson Fiddler, Re-writing Reality: An introduction to Elfriede Jelinek (Oxford: Berg, 1994).

Translation from Modern German: Advanced Level

This course is designed to develop the skills needed to translate from German into English. Passages for translation will be taken from texts written in the modern or contemporary period. Passages will be in a range of styles or registers (e.g. narrative, descriptive, analytical, reflective, or journalistic).

All language tutorials will take account of the competencies, experience, and particular needs of the individual student, and their content will vary accordingly.

Translation from Pre-Modern German: Advanced Level

This course is designed to develop the skills needed to translate from pre-modern German into English. Passages for translation will be from the period 1150–1730.

All language tutorials will take account of the competencies, experience, and particular needs of the individual student, and their content will vary accordingly.

Translation into German and Essay in German: Advanced Level

This course develops the skills needed to translate material into German, and to write essays in the language. Passages for translation into German will be from text written after 1900, in narrative, reflective, or journalistic registers. Essays will be on a range of topics, and will be written in an accessible Feuilleton style aimed at a well- informed general reader. This part of the course is designed to test and develop linguistic proficiency, and specialist knowledge is not required.

All language tutorials will take account of the competencies, experience, and particular needs of the individual student, and their content will vary accordingly.

Modern languages: Italian

Dante’s Commedia

This course consists in the close and intensive study of the greatest work of literature to come out of medieval Europe. Through a study of the Commedia, in particular two of its three
`cantiche’, as well as a range of Dante’s other works, you will be introduced to the history, politics, philosophy and theology of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Florence, the Italian peninsula, and Europe beyond, as well as to the rich literary qualities of the text itself. Studying Dante also opens up fascinating insights into every other area of Italian literature, and significant moments in modern European literature also, from Gogol to Eliot to Beckett. The sheer breadth of the material makes this paper one of the most challenging available, but also one of the most rewarding. The Commedia should be read in its entirety using an annotated edition, such as those edited by Sapegno, or Bosco and Reggio. Parallel text editions, such as that by Sinclair, may be useful in the early stages. Of Dante’s other works, perhaps the most important are Vita nuova and Convivio, but De vulgari eloquentia, Monarchia, and the Rime are also significant works in themselves.

There is a vast range of criticism on Dante in both Italian and English. Of the following list, start with Holmes and parts of Jacoff and for the historical background see Larner: G. Contini, Un’idea di Dante; T.S. Eliot, `Dante’ (in his collected essays); K. Foster, The Two Dantes; E. Gilson, Dante et la philosophie (also in English); G. Holmes, Dante; R. Jacoff (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Dante; R. Kirkpatrick, Dante’s Inferno: Difficulty and Dead Poetry; J. Larner, Italy in the Age of Dante and Petrarch; B. Nardi, Dante e la cultura medievale; E. Moore, Studies in Dante; J.F. Took, Dante: Lyric Poet and Philosopher (on minor works)

Early Prescribed Italian Authors

This course provides an opportunity to concentrate on and study in depth the work of TWO (out of a prescribed list of five) of the most important writers between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. You will read widely within the oeuvre of each author, set them in their intellectual and historical contexts and study closely a smaller number of central works with a view to detailed textual analysis.

Authors and texts: any two of the following:

  1. Petrarch, with a special study of the Canzoniere, Nos. 1–12; 16–24; 30; 34–7; 50– 4; 60–2; 70; 72; 77; 80–1; 90–2; 102; 119; 125–6; 128–9; 132–4; 136; 142; 145; 148; 159–60; 164; 197; 211; 219; 263–4; 268; 272; 279–80; 287–92; 302–4; 310–11; 315; 327; 353; 359–60; 346–6. Candidates will further be expected to study a representative selection of Petrarch’s other Italian poems and of works originally written in Latin.
  2. Boccaccio, with a special study of the Decameron. I. 1–3; II, 2, 5, 10; III, 2; IV, 1, 2, 5, 7, 9; VI, 1, 9, 10; VII, 4, 9; VIII, 3, 8; IX, 1, 2; X, 2, 9, 10. Candidates will further be expected to study a representative selection of other parts of the Decameron and of other works by Boccaccio.
  3. Machiavelli, with a special study of Il Principe. Candidates will further be expected to study a representative selection of Machiavelli’s other works, including I discorsi and La mandragola.
  4. Ariosto, with a special study of Orlando furioso, cantos I–XIII.45; XVIII.146–XXIV; XXVIII–XXX; XXXIV; XLV–XLVI. Candidates will further be expected to study other parts of the Orlando furioso and a selection of the Satire.
  5. Tasso, with a special study of Gerusalemme liberata, cantos I–VII, XI–XVI; XIX–XX, and Aminta. Candidates will further be expected to study other parts of the Gerusalemme liberata. You will be expected to read as widely as possible within the authors’ oeuvre, and in any case well beyond the texts prescribed.

To help you choose your two authors from the list, a general description and some initial suggestions for reading for each author are provided below. For background reading, see also the appropriate books recommended for preparation for the Medieval period and the Renaissance period. More detailed guidance will be provided by your tutor once you have made your choice.

Petrarch (1304–1374): You will concentrate on Petrarch’s lyric poetry, but you will also read other works by him originally written in Latin. For whilst Petrarch is best known now as one of the greatest European lyric poets, he was also the author of treatises, dialogues, biographies, polemical tracts, an epic, and a vast number of letters. He was enormously influential in both Italian and Latin and you will have the opportunity to gauge what made him so important. The prime text is the Canzoniere (also known as Rime sparse, Rerum vulgarium fragmenta). You will also read the Secretum, Invective contra medicum III and selections from Petrarch’s letters, as well as his other volume of Italian poetry, I trionfi. You should read as many of the texts mentioned above as you can, and as a general introduction to Petrarch, N. Mann, Petrarch, and /or P. Hainsworth, Petrarch the Poet. For the historical background see J. Larner, Italy in the Age of Dante and Petrarch.

Boccaccio (1313–1375): You will concentrate on Boccaccio’s Decameron but will also have the opportunity to read other works by him. As well as the collection of a hundred stories that make up the Decameron, Boccaccio wrote other narrative works in prose and verse which proved immensely influential, such as the Filostrato which forms the substantial basis for Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, and the Teseida which was re-cast as Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale. He also wrote a celebratory biography of Dante, and in Latin, an account of mythology, Genealogia Deorum, which includes an important discussion of the nature of poetry. Apart from the Decameron, you will also read selections from: Filostrato, Fiammetta, Teseida, Trattatello in laude di Dante, Genealogia Deorum Books XIV–XV (in translation). You should read as much of the Decameron as you can. Historical background is most conveniently studied in J. Larner, Italy in the Age of Dante and Petrarch.

Machiavelli (1469–1527): One of Italy’s most controversial writers, Machiavelli was not just the author of the book that shocked his own and later generations, Il principe. He was also a political thinker and historian of considerable originality (his Discorsi are for many more controversial than Il principe), as well as the author of probably the best Italian Renaissance comedy, La mandragola. You will have an opportunity to read both his famous and less well known works in order to come to your own conclusions about his true worth. You should read the whole of Il principe, as well as selections from the Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, and the two comedies, La mandragola and Clizia.The best introductions to Renaissance political ideas and to Machiavelli are: Q. Skinner, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, vol.I; Q. Skinner, Machiavelli

Ariosto (1474–1533): You will concentrate on the Orlando furioso, but will also look at some of the Satire and comedies. Ariosto’s epic poem, with its unique blend of ironic humour and seriousness, has remained a bestseller since his own day, and was a strong influence on writers as diverse as Spenser in Elizabethan England, and Calvino in contemporary Italy. Apart from the Orlando furioso, you will also read selections from Ariosto’s Satire, and his comedies, La lena, and Il negromante. You should read as much of the Orlando furioso as you can. The best introduction to the poem is C. P. Brand, Ariosto. A Preface to the “Orlando furioso” (Edinburgh, 1974).

Tasso (1493–1569): You will concentrate on the Gerusalemme liberata but will also read some of Tasso’s minor works. Tasso’s epic poem represents the high-point, in terms of seriousness and sublimity, of the chivalric poems popularised by Boiardo and Ariosto. It is worth reading in its own right as well for the light it sheds on Counter-Reformation culture and the profound influence it exercised on the English poets Spenser and Milton. You will read the whole poem, examining in detail some of the twenty canti (specified above) for special study and commentary. You will also read selections from Tasso’s lyric poetry as well as his pastoral drama, Aminta. The best introduction to the poem is C.P. Brand, Torquato Tasso.

Essay in Italian

This course is designed to develop the skills needed to write essays in Italian, on a range of questions on social, literary, linguistic and general cultural topics as well as on current affairs. Equal importance is attached to i) content and structure and ii) linguistic proficiency.
Students need to keep up to date with current affairs by familiarizing themselves with the Italian media. Students are also encouraged to use the resources of the Language Centre Library.

For techniques of essay writing, the following texts are suggested: Francesco Bruni, Gabriella Alfieri, Serena Fornasiero and Silvana Tamiozzo Goldmann, Manuale di scrittura e comunicazione (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1997); Marco Santambrogio, Manuale di scrittura (non creativa) (Bari: Laterza, 2006). All language tutorials will take account of the competencies, experience, and particular needs of the individual student, and their content will vary accordingly.

Italian Translation and Prose

This course focuses on the skills needed for translation from and into Italian (prose). Passages of post-1900 creative English and Italian prose will be used. All language tutorials will take account of the competencies, experience, and particular needs of the individual student, and their content will vary accordingly.

Linguistic Studies I: History of the Italian Language from the Earliest Times to the Twentieth Century

Italy is distinguished among western European nations by a profusion of widely divergent dialectal varieties which it conserves to this day, and by its lack, until very recent times, of a common language spoken and understood by the populace at large. This paper offers the opportunity to understand the nature and origins of Italy’s linguistic fragmentation, and to chart, with especial reference to textual evidence, the complex processes by which one of the dialectal variants (Tuscan, and more specifically Florentine) rose to pre-eminence as a literary, scientific and administrative language, and subsequently to establish itself as the common language of the Italian people. The detailed study of the evolution of the lexicon, grammar and sound system of Italian will in turn illuminate many aspects of the grammar of the modern language, and an understanding of the structure of other dialects will throw light on much of the variation found in the modern language. Students will be expected to develop and display skills in formal linguistic analysis, and to apply the insights thus gained to the study of the historical interaction between the language and Italian culture and society.

The course involves studying a range of texts (particularly from the late 10th century to the 15th, and covering a wide range of text-types from legal documents, through lyric poetry to private letters), plus the ‘internal’, structural evolution of Italian and the dialects, and the ‘external’ history of Italian, examining, for example, the rise of the standard language.

Introductory reading: M. Dardano Manualetto di linguistica italiana, 1991; M. Maiden A Linguistic History of Italian, 1995; C. Marazzini La lingua italiana. Profilo storico, 1998

Linguistic Studies II: Modern Italian

About a third of the population of Italy does not habitually speak Italian. A small but significant proportion cannot speak it. Very many Italians speak varieties strikingly different from ‘standard’ Italian. Just over a century ago perhaps as few as 2.5% of Italians used any Italian at all. Against this background, reading for this paper should provide answer to the following questions: What is Italian?; What is its internal (grammatical and phonological) structure?; What are the varieties of Italian?; What are the Italian dialects? The study of the ‘internal’ structure of Italian illuminates such topics as: the sound-system of Italian; the appropriate use of various verb forms, such as the subjunctive or the passato remoto; stylistic and other principles governing word order; the structure of the pronoun system. Such a study has both a practical side, in that it will help develop your knowledge of Italian grammar, idiom, and pronunciation, and a theoretical side, in that it will introduce you to the techniques and problems involved in the structural description of a language.

The study of the ‘external’ structure (social, regional, and contextual varieties of Italian) deals with such things as written vs spoken Italian, formal vs informal styles, standard language vs. dialect and popular and regional vs literary Italian, specialist uses of Italian, for example in advertising or journalism, etc. Once again you will have the opportunity to expand your knowledge of the modern language, while at the same time gaining an initial understanding of the methods of sociolinguistic and stylistic analysis.

Introductory reading: A-L. Lepschy and G. C. Lepschy, The Italian Language Today, 1988; M. Dardano, Manualetto di linguistica italiana, 1991; N. Vincent ‘Italian’ in M. Harris and N. Vincent (eds.), The Romance Languages, 1988; C. Andorno, Dalla grammatical alla linguistica: basi per uno studio dell’italiano, 1999; A Sobrero (ed.), Introduzione all’italiano contemporaneo, 2 volumes, I: Le strutture and II: La variazione e gli usi, 2007 or previous editions.

Medieval Italian Literature, 1220–1430

Early Italian literature is linguistically approachable and includes some of the greatest works ever to have been written in Italian. The country was politically disunited but your work will explore the emergence of what would prove to be a national tradition. You will read lyric poetry up to and including Petrarch, the stories of Boccaccio and some work by other prose writers, but you will also get to know a variety of works by other figures, including works by Dante, other than his La divina commedia.

You will start by studying Dante, Vita nuova; Cecco Angiolieri (selection in Contini, Poeti del duecento); Petrarca, Canzoniere; Boccaccio, Decamerone. You will then read further, choosing from a large range of authors, including: the Sicilian school; Guittone d’Arezzo; Guido Guinizzelli; Guido Cavalcanti; Cino da Pistoia; Rustico Filippi; Folgore da San Gemignano; religious poetry by Jacopone da Todi and Bonvesin de la Riva; stories from the Novellino and Sacchetti’s Trecentonovelle and selections from the chronicles of Dino Compagni and Giovanni Villani; Dante’s Rime, De vulgari eloquentia (in translation). You may also study the early phases of humanism through selections from Latin works by Petrarch and Boccaccio (in translation).

Preparation: It is important to know the historical and cultural context; for history : J. Larner, Italy in the Age of Dante and Petrarch; for culture : C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image.

Modern Italian Literature (from 1750 to the Present) and Cinema

This course provides an opportunity for you to study a wide range of literary texts and films set against the background of Italy’s emergence as a modern nation state and its development during the twentieth century. It moves from the Enlightenment period to the Risorgimento and the liberal state, to Fascism and finally the modern Republic. You will get to know some canonical literary works by Manzoni, Leopardi, Verga, and Pirandello, and choose among a variety of other literary and film works from throughout the period. The latter will include the possibility of studying writers and film directors living and working today.

You will start by studying a selection of canonical literary works: Manzoni, I promessi sposi; Leopardi, I canti; Verga, I Malavoglia, Vita de’campi; Pirandello, Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore, Enrico IV, Cosi è (se vi pare). You will then read further, choosing from a large range of literary works, including: Foscolo, Ultime lettere di Jacopo Ortis, Dei sepolcri d’Annunzio Il piacere, Trionfo della morte, Alcyone; Svevo, La coscienza di Zeno, Senilità; Montale, Ossi di seppia, Le occasioni, La bufera e altro; Quasimodo, Tutte le poesie; Gadda, La cognizione del dolore; Bassani, Il giardino dei Finzi- Contin, Gli occhiali d’oro; Morante, Menzogna e sortilegio, La storia; Calvino, Il cavaliere inesistente, Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore; Eco, Il nome della rosa, Il pendolo di Foucault.

Those deciding to

you to study a wide range of literary texts and films set against the background of Italy’s emergence as a modern nation state and its development during the twentieth century. It moves from the Enlightenment period to the study Italian cinema can choose from a range of films including: Blasetti, Vecchia guardia; Gallone, Scipione l’africano; Visconti, Ossessione; Rossellini, Roma città aperta, Paisà; De Sica, Ladri di biciclette, Miracolo a Milano; Fellini, La dolce vita; 8 e ½; Taviani, Kaos; Moretti, Aprile, Il caimano; Giordana, I cento passi

You will also be able to approach a range of topics, including eighteenth century theatre, Romanticism, Verismo, Modernism and the Avant-garde (Futurism), neorealist literature and cinema, modern poetry, women writing, post- modern narrative. As well as reading as many of the core texts as possible (and watching the core films for those interested in cinema), you should also get acquainted with the historical and cultural background: Martin Clark, Modern Italy 1871– 1982; Christopher Duggan, A Concise History of Italy, ch. 4–9; Paul Ginsborg, History of Contemporary Italy; David Forgacs, Italian Culture in the Industrial Era, 1880–1980; F. W.Hemmings, The Age of Realism; M. Bradbury, Modernism; Zygmunt Baranski and Rebecca West (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Modern Italian Culture.

Modern Prescribed Italian Authors

This course provides an opportunity to concentrate on and study in depth the work of two (out of a prescribed list of seven) of the most important writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. You will read widely within the oeuvre of each author, set them in their intellectual and historical contexts and study closely a smaller number of central works with a view to detailed textual analysis.

Authors and texts: any two of the following:

  1. Manzoni, with a special study of I promessi sposi. Candidates will further be expected to study Manzoni’s tragedies and a selection of his other works.
  2. Leopardi, with a special study of I Canti. Candidates will further be expected to study the Operette morali and a selection of Leopardi’s other writings.
  3. D’Annunzio, with a special study of Alcyone. Candidates will further be expected to have studied a selection of D’Annunzio’s other works in verse and prose.
  4. Verga, with a special study of I Malavoglia and Mastro-don Gesualdo. Candidates will further be expected to study a selection of Verga’s other fiction.
  5. Pirandello, with a special study of Il fu Mattia Pascal, Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore, and I giganti della montagna. Candidates will further be expected to study a representative selection of Pirandello’s drama and prose work.
  6. Montale, with a special study of `Ossi di seppia’ in Ossi di seppia, Section IV of Le occasioni, `Finisterre’ in La bufera e altro and
    `Xenia I’ in Satura. Candidates will further be expected to study a representative selection of Montale’s other poems.
  7. Calvino, with a special study of Il cavaliere inesistente and Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore. Candidates will further be expected to study other works representative of Calvino’s development as a writer. You will be expected to read as widely as possible within the authors’ oeuvre, and in any case well beyond the texts prescribed.

To help you choose your two authors from the list, a general description and some initial suggestions for reading for each author are provided below. For background reading, see also the appropriate books recommended for preparation for the modern period course. More detailed guidance will be provided by your tutor once you have made your choice.

Manzoni (1785–1873): Manzoni’s I promessi sposi is the most important novel to have been written in Italian, and his influence on the development of modern Italian literature and language in the period leading up to Unification and beyond has been immense. He also relates in unusual and interesting ways to trends in the European culture of his time, such as Romanticism or the Historical Novel. You will concentrate primarily on I promessi sposi, but will also look at some of his verse tragedies (Il conte di Carmagnola and Adelchi), his poetry (eg. Inni sacri, Il cinque maggio) and his essays on history, language and literature (e.g., Storia della colonna infame, Sul Romanticismo, Del romanzo storico). Preparation: as well as reading I promessi sposi and some of his other works, you should read: B. Chandler, Manzoni Leopardi (1798–1837): Considered by many critics second only to Dante in his importance as a poet, Leopardi represents the high point of nineteenth-century lyric poetry and also a leap towards the idiom and rhythms of modern poetry. His Canti combine Romantic and Classicizing elements to express his bleak vision of the human condition, also outlined in his philosophical dialogues, the Operette morali. His views and his works were fed by notes and essays, including some of social critique, which make him philosophically and politically an interesting figure also. You will study the Canti and the Operette morali and make use also of his extensive personal notebook, the Zibaldone, and essays such as Discorso sopra lo stato presente dei costumi degl italiani, and Discorso di un italiano intorno alla poesia romantica. Preparation: as well as reading the prescribed texts, and particularly the Canti closely, you might like to look at: G. Carsaniga, Leopardi; I. Origo, Leopardi: A Study in Solitude

D’Annunzio (1863–1938): The most flamboyant and charismatic figure of his day, D’Annunzio was a poet, novelist and dramatist as well a notorious soldier, airman, womanizer, invader of Fiume, and self-promoter. His shaping of his decadent life to fit his decadentist work, the influence of Nietzsche and Wagner, and his undoubted flair for sensual, symbolic, often erotic, and often absurd writing make him the most vibrant representative of turn-of-the-century literature. Everyone after him felt his influence, even if only in rejecting him. You will begin by studying his most accomplished work of poetry, Alcyone, as well as some of his prose work (Il piacere, L’innocente, Trionfo della morte) and plays (La figlia di Iorio). Preparation: as well as reading Alcyone, Il piacere and a number of the other works mentioned, you might look at: N. Lorenzini, Gabriele D’Annunzio; J.R. Woodhouse, Introduction to Alcyone; J.R. Woodhouse, Gabrielle D’Annunzio: Defiant Archangel

Verga (1840–1922): Verga was the major novelist in the late nineteenth century in Italy, and the leading exponent of the Italian school of realism, known as `verismo’. After a series of early works reflecting his immersion in the bourgeois, cultural elites of Florence and Milan, he returned to Sicily and to novels and stories of poverty and struggle, fashioning a new literary language and style for this new subject matter. He was a powerful influence on twentieth-century narrative, particularly Sicilian (Pirandello, Vittorini, Sciascia etc.). You will concentrate on his two `veristic’ novels I Malavoglia and Mastro- don Gesualdo, but will also look at examples of his earlier work (Eva, Tigre reale) and of his short stories (Vita dei campi, Novelle rusticane). Preparation: as well as reading the prescribed texts and some of the other works mentioned, see also: G. Carsaniga, `Realism in Italy’ in F. W. Hemmings (ed.), The Age of Realism, ch.7 R. Luperini, Giovanni Verga

Montale (1896–1981): Montale is perhaps the most important Italian poet of the twentieth century. His work, almost entirely lyrical in nature, spans the main phases of modern Italian history, from the Fascist period to the industrialised society of the 1970s. He is a continuously evolving poet, and yet has his own particular consistency. In his earlier writings he creates a rich network of images: in his later work he is surprisingly, and entertainingly, prosaic. You will concentrate on Montale’s poetry up to and including his 1971 collection, Satura. You will also read selections from his later poetry and some of his prose-texts in Farfalla di Dinard, as well as some of the important discussions of poetry and literature in Sulla poesia and Auto da fè.  Preparation: it is most important to read the poems specified for commentary beforehand and as many other poems as you can. See also J. Becker, Eugenio Montale; C. Scarpati, Invito alla lettura di Eugenio Montale.

Pirandello (1867–1936): Pirandello is one of the key figures in modern European drama. His semi- philosophical plays repeatedly challenge and attempt to dismantle received notions of identity and coherence in the individual, by setting up his characters for an existential fall. He does this in a wide variety of settings, from the theatre itself, to middle- and lower-middle- class society, to the mythical landscapes of his latter works. He also explored these fundamental issues in important novels and short stories. You will concentrate on Pirandello’s first mature novel Il fu Mattia Pascal, and two plays which deal in different ways with the nature of theatre, Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore and I giganti della montagna. You will also work on any number of his other plays (start with Enrico IV, Ciascuno a suo modo, Così è (se vi pare), Vestire gli ignudi), novels (Uno, nessuno e centomila) and a selection of short stories (Novelle per un anno – eg in Manchester University Press anthology).  Preparation: as well as reading as many of the primary texts as possible, see also: R. Barilli, Pirandello. Una rivoluzione cultural; O. Ragusa, Pirandello. An Approach to his Theatre; J.L. Styan, The Dark Comedy. The Development of Modern Comic Tragedy

Calvino (1923–1985): Commonly regarded as Italy’s most successful twentieth-century novelist, Italo Calvino’s writings are characterized by originality, variety, and close affinity with the most interesting names in contemporary fiction (Borges, Perec, Vargas Llosa, etc.). You will concentrate on Calvino’s Il cavaliere inesistente and Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore, two works which expand the traditional notion of the novel. You will also be expected to read other works representative of Calvino’s development as a writer. You should read the whole of Il cavaliere inesistente and Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore, as well as some of these other major works: Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno, I nostri antenati, Le cosmicomiche, Le città invisibili, Palomar. Preparation: You should read all of Il cavaliere inesistente and Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore, and as many of Calvino’s other works as you can. The best introductions to Calvino are: K. Hume, Calvino’s Fictions: Cogito and Cosmos; M. McLaughlin, Italo Calvino; C. Milanini, L’utopia discontinua. Saggio su Italo Calvino.

Renaissance Italian Literature, 1430– 1635

This paper allows you to study the literature and culture of one of the most exciting periods in Italian history. Apart from famous poets who were to prove so influential in other European literatures (Poliziano, Ariosto, Tasso), the period also boasts writers who are crucial for the study of politics and history (Machiavelli, Guicciardini), the court (Lorenzo de’ Medici, Castiglione) and the creative arts (Alberti, Michelangelo, Cellini). There is a great variety of material to be studied, including historical questions about the origins and extent of the Renaissance as well as a plethora of different literary genres: from prose dialogues and novelle, to comedy, lyric poetry, epic, and pastoral.

You will start by studying: Machiavelli, Il Principe, La mandragola; Ariosto, Orlando furioso; Castiglione, Il cortegiano; Tasso, Gerusalemme liberata. You will also read further, choosing from a large range of topics, genres and

authors, including: History: Origins of the Renaissance, Humanism, the questione della lingua, court culture; Politics: humanist treatises of Alberti (Della famiglia) and Palmieri (Della vita civile); Machiavelli (Discorsi) and Guicciardini (I ricordi, Storia d’Italia); The Novella: Bandello, Le novelle; Court Literature: Pulci, Poliziano, Lorenzo de’ Medici; The Arts: Alberti (Della pittura), Michelangelo (Rime), Cellini (La mia vita), Vasari (Le vite); Comedy: Ariosto (Il negromante, La lena), Machiavelli (Clizia), Bibbiena (La Calandra), Aretino (Il marescalco); Lyric: Poliziano, Lorenzo, Bembo, Michelangelo, women poets (Gaspara Stampa, Vittoria Colonna, Tullia d’Aragona); The Epic: Boiardo (Orlando innamorato); Pastoral: Poliziano (Orfeo), Tasso (Aminta), Guarini (Il pastor fido).

The best preparation for the Renaissance paper is to familiarize yourself with the historical and cultural background:

  • On the Renaissance you should read: J. Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (Penguin) [old-fashioned (1860), but still a point of reference for all Renaissance historians] and any one of the following three surveys: P. Burke, The Renaissance; A. Brown, The Renaissance; R. Black (ed.), RenaissanceThought. A Reader
  • On Humanism, read two of the following: ; E. Garin, L’umanesimo italiano, 1954 (Italian Humanism, tr. P. Munz) [contains good intro];
    H. Baron, The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance [important for the concept of ‘civic humanism’]; G. Holmes, The Florentine Enlightenment 1400–50; A. Rabil (ed.), Renaissance Humanism: Foundations, Forms and Legacy; J. Kraye (ed.), Cambridge Companion to renaissance Humanism

Translation from Pre-Modern Italian

This course focuses on the skills needed for translation from pre-Modern Italian. Verse and prose passages taken from the period from 1300 to 1900 will be used. All language tutorials will take account of the competencies, experience, and particular needs of the individual student, and their content will vary accordingly.

Modern languages: Portuguese

Brazilian Cinema

This course will allow you to develop the skills for the critical analysis of film and examine the evolution of Brazilian cinema since the 1950s. You will explore major movements in the history of Brazilian cinema, such as the highly political and groundbreaking Cinema Novo movement of the 1950s and 1960s, as well as more recent productions which have emerged since the so- called renaissance, or retomada, of Brazilian cinema of the 1990s. The course will consider representations of history, national identity, race, class and gender in a selection of films, normally chosen from the following list: Rio, 40 Graus (Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1955), Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol (Glauber Rocha, 1964), Como era Gostoso o meu Francês (Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1971), Bye Bye Brasil (Carlos Diegues, 1980), Eles não Usam Black-Tie (Leon Hirszman, 1981), Como Nascem os Anjos (Murilo Salles, 1996), O Primeiro Dia (Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, 1998), Santo Forte (Eduardo Coutinho, 1999), Domésticas (Fernando Meirelles and Nando Olival, 2001), Cidade de Deus (Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, 2002) and Ônibus 174 (José Padilha, 2002).

Contemporary Brazilian Literature

This course will allow you to explore current trends and new voices in recent Brazilian prose fiction, focusing on how it engages with the country’s post-dictatorship experience and with pressing social questions, such as urban violence and poverty, which affect Brazilian society today. You will study established contemporary writers such as João Gilberto Noll, Milton Hatoum, Bernardo Carvalho, Luiz Ruffatto and Adriana Lisboa. In addition, the course will survey the output originating from traditionally marginalized sections of Brazilian society, the inhabitants of the favelas being a case in point. The course will include a study of Paulo Lins’s acclaimed novel Cidade de Deus, which paved the way for this so-called literatura marginal, deeply associated with contemporary Brazilian counterculture (including hip-hop and cyberliterature), as well as works by Conceição Evaristo and Ferréz.

Latin-American Fiction in Portuguese from 1940

This subject allows you to explore the evolution of Latin American fiction from the 1940s through the ‘Boom’ and up to the present day. In the process you will undertake the specialised study of at least three authors. The Brazilian authors are Jorge Amado, João Guimarães Rosa and Clarice Lispector. The Spanish American authors are Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Julio Cortázar, Fernando del Paso, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, and Mario Vargas Llosa.

Linguistic Studies I: The History and Structure of the Portuguese Language

This course provides an introduction to the descriptive linguistics of modern Portuguese, and of the historical development of the modern forms of Portuguese in Portugal, Brazil, Africa, and Asia. You are expected to acquire basic skills of phonetic transcription and syntactic analysis, and to understand the basic principles of linguistics as applied to Portuguese. The principal topics covered by the course are: Portuguese phonetics and phonology (with special reference to vowel quality, stress and vowel reduction, nasality); Portuguese morphology (verb morphology and stem alternations; noun inflection; derivational morphology); Portuguese syntax (noun phrases; verb complementation; tense and aspect; mood); the sociolinguistics and dialectology of the Portuguese-speaking world; the Portuguese lexicon – word fields, lexical expansion; forms of address in Portugal and Brazil. In tutorials, you will have the option of giving greater or lesser weight to practical phonetic and syntactic analysis or issues of linguistic theory.

Modern literature in Portugal and Brazil

This course allows you to familiarise yourself with the literature and culture of the modern period in Portugal and/or Brazil (in practice most students choose to study writers from both countries). The starting point is at least one of the major canonical writers in each country: Machado de Assis in the case of Brazil and Eça de Queirós or Fernando Pessoa in the case of Portugal. Students then select from a wide range of topics and/or authors (with the additional possibility of including some African authors) such as the following:

  • The nineteenth-century construction of Brazilian national identity (José de Alencar, Machado de Assis, Aluísio de Azevedo);
  • Modernism and the Quest for Brasilidade (Oswald de Andrade, Mário de Andrade, Manuel Bandeira, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, João Cabral de Melo Neto)
  • City and Sertão in Brazilian Fiction (Graciliano Ramos, Rachel de Queiroz, Jorge Amado, Guimarães Rosa);
  • Contemporary Fiction: Dictatorship and Beyond (Clarice Lispector, Lygia Fagundes Telles, Paulo Lins, Conceição Evaristo, Milton Hatoum, Adriana Lisboa);
  • Images of Portuguese Society in nineteenth – century Literature (Almeida Garrett, Camilo Castelo Branco, Eça de Queirós, Cesário Verde);
  • Poetry and the literary avant-garde (António Nobre, Sá-Carneiro, Fernando Pessoa, Florbela Espanca);
  • Contemporary fiction during the Dictatorship (Irene Lisboa, Carlos de Oliveira, Vergílio Ferreira);
  • Contemporary fiction after the Revolution (José Saramago, Lídia Jorge, Maria Gabriela Llansol, António Lobo Antunes);
  • The literature of colonial and post-colonial Africa: (Luis Bernardo Honwana, Mia Couto, Paulina Chiziane, Lília Momplé).

Portuguese Drama in the Sixteenth Century

Portuguese drama in the sixteenth century is broad in scope. Gil Vicente wrote nearly 40 plays in a great variety of styles, and this paper will give you an opportunity of getting to know some of them better. If you are interested in popular theatre, you can read works by the black African dramatist Afonso Álvares or by António Prestes and António Ribeiro Chiado. There is also much more to neo-classical theatre than the Castro. The neo-classical comedies of Ferreira (Bristo and Cioso) and of Sá de Miranda (Os Estrangeiros and Os Vilhalpandos) are beginning to become available in good editions and provide an unusual vision of early modern society. Camões was an interesting dramatist and the Auto de Filodemo is an ingenious fusion of classical and popular styles. There is a good edition by Vanda Anastácio (Porto: Caixotim, 2005). Finally there are the numerous plays written by the Jesuits, of which Luís da Cruz, Prodigus, is an accessible example (with translation into Portuguese).

Portuguese Literature to 1540

This course studies Portuguese and Galician- Portuguese Literature from the earliest texts (c. 1200) to 1540. The central elements are the poetry of the Galician-Portuguese Cancioneiros and the Cantigas de Santa Maria; the historical prose of Fernão Lopes and Zurara, and its origins in early chronicles and the Livros de Linhagens; the early theatre and Gil Vicente; Arthurian Romances and the pastoral novel Menina e Moça; the poetry of the Cancioneiro Geral. There are no set texts.
You are expected to read widely in all genres of the period and to acquire a good knowledge of the cultural and historical background of Hispanic and European medieval literature.

Portuguese Literature, 1500–1697

This course is mostly concerned with the group of extraordinarily talented writers who were born roughly between 1470 and 1535. You will study their imaginative response to the most exciting and important events of Portuguese history, the discovery of new lands (to Europeans) in Africa and Asia. You will also be able to see how the new philosophical and aesthetic ideas of the Renaissance changed writers’ responses to the dominant themes of the literature of all times: God, money, and sex.

The course starts and ends with Camões, the greatest of all writers in Portuguese. We begin with Os Lusíadas, the central text of Portuguese literature, which tells the story of the first voyage to India and, in doing so, explores the heights and depths of which humanity is capable. Your final assignment will be to read a selection of his lyric poems, in which he explores his personal difficulties with great rhetorical force, using an extraordinarily wide range of poetic forms to do so. In between you will read some of the following:

  • Works about the new worlds the Portuguese had revealed to Europeans, and the impact of the overseas adventure on life in Portugal, by Fernão Mendes Pinto, Damião de Góis, and Sá de Miranda;
  • Books in which writers grapple with the religious, economic and sexual aspects of human behaviour by Gil Vicente, Bernardim Ribeiro, and António

The course allows you to read extensively in all forms of literature: prose, verse, and drama.

Portuguese Medieval Prescribed Texts

This course gives an introduction to Portuguese medieval literature by the detailed study of extracts from two major bodies of work from the medieval period, namely the poetry of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and the historical prose of the fifteenth century.

The set texts are E. Gonçalves and M.A. Ramos A Lírica Galego-Portuguesa, Lisbon 1985; W. Mettmann Cantigas de Santa Maria de D. Afonso X el Sabio Madrid (Castalia), vol I ; Fernão Lopes Crónica de D. João I (extracts ed. T. Amado) Lisbon, Seara Nova; G. E de Zurara Crónica da Guiné chaps 1–25 (no edition specified: we recommend the edition by T. de Sousa Soares). You are expected to be acquainted with the broad features of the work, corpus or genre from which the texts are drawn, and with the general features of medieval Hispanic literature.

Portuguese Renaissance Prescribed Authors

This course is designed to provide an opportunity to concentrate on the work of two of the most celebrated Portuguese and Brazilian writers since the Renaissance. You will read widely within the oeuvre of each author, set them in their intellectual and historical contexts, and study closely a smaller number of central works with a view to detailed textual analysis. The work set for this course will generally include both essays and commentaries.

Two authors are chosen from:

  1. Gil Vicente (c. 1465–c.1536). Astonishingly varied in subject matter, form and tone, his short plays give a fascinating insight into the social, political and religious preoccupations of early modern Portugal. Among the vast range of characters created by Gil Vicente there stand out his peasants and his women, the former tough in the face of adversity, the latter independent and defiant of every law of God and man. Set texts: Auto da Alma, Auto da Feira, Farsa de Inês Pereira, Dom Duardos, Farsa dos Almocreves, Triunfo do Inverno.
  2. João de Barros (1496–c.1570). Barros was the official historian of the Portuguese explorations and conquests in Africa and Asia. His Décadas, conceived on a global scale, are one of the first manifestations of European imperialism, but also reveal a humanistic interest in the lands and peoples of the East. In Ropicapnefma Barros reveals the religious problems of his own country at a time when Christianity was still competing with Islam and with Judaism. Set texts: Décadas, ed. A. Baião (Vol. 1 only), Rópica Pnefma
  3. Luís de Camões (c.1524–1580). The epic poem Os Lusíadas is the central text of Portuguese literature. Far more than just the narrative of the first voyage to India, Camões’s poem explores the problematic of the Discoveries from a multiplicity of points of view. His lyric poems (of which you read a selection) incorporate incidents from his own adventurous life in Lisbon and in India and record with unmatched power his emotional turmoil and his intellectual doubts and convictions. Set texts: Os Lusíadas, Líricas (ed. R. Lapa)
  4. António Ferreira (1528–1569). Ferreira’s verse tragedy Castro is, with Os Lusíadas, the supreme expression of Portuguese classicism. In it he explores, with great psychological penetration, the relationship between justice and political expediency, taking as his point of departure the murder in the fourteenth century of Inês de Castro, the mistress of the heir to the throne. The remainder of the Poemas Lusitanos reveals above all the humanistic concern with the necessity of culture in a country preoccupied with the social changes that had arisen as a consequence of the Discoveries. There is an opportunity too to explore classical comedy in Bristo and Cioso. Set texts: Bristo, Cioso, Poemas Lusitanos (incl. Castro)
  5. D. Francisco Manuel de Melo (1608–1666). With Melo’s multifarious and witty writings you will enter the world of seventeenth- century aristocratic court culture. You will come across Melo the historian (Epanáfora política), analysing the revolt which led to the re-establishment of Portuguese independence from Spain in 1640, the observer of current affairs (Relógios falantes and Carta de guia de casados, first translated into English as early as 1697), the literary critic (Hospital das letras) and comic dramatist (O fidalgo aprendiz, possibly one of the sources of Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme).

Portuguese Modern Prescribed Authors

This course concentrates on the work of two of the most celebrated Portuguese and Brazilian writers since the Renaissance. You will read widely within the oeuvre of each author, set them in their intellectual and historical contexts, and study closely a smaller number of central works with a view to detailed textual analysis. The work set for this course will generally include both essays and commentaries.
Two authors are chosen from:

  1. Almeida Garrett (1799–1854). Garrett was the foremost Portuguese writer of the Romantic period. He was also an active politician, and in his novels and plays (especially in the famous tragedy Frei Luís de Sousa) he explores the effects on individuals of political change. You will also have the opportunity of reading Garrett’s highly perceptive account of the state of early nineteenth-century Europe, Portugal na balança da Europa, and the very intimate verse collection, Folhas caídas. Set texts: Portugal na balança da Europa, Frei Luís de Sousa, O arco de Sant’Anna, Viagens na minha terra, Folhas caídas
  2. Eça de Queirós (1845–1900). Observant, witty and profoundly human, Eça is easily Portugal’s best-known novelist. You will be expected to know in detail the early Naturalistic masterpiece O crime do Padre Amaro, Os Maias, perhaps Eça’s greatest work, and the late novel A ilustre casa de Ramires, in which he shifts his gaze from the urban scene to the countryside of Portugal and its early history. Eça is irrestistibly readable and you will be encouraged to explore his work beyond the texts set for special study.
  3. Machado de Assis (1839–1908). Machado was the greatest novelist produced by Brazil in the nineteenth century. His work is fascinatingly different from Eça’s, and a comparison between the two writers forms a most rewarding exercise. Machado’s daringly experimental novels, his complex irony and his profound understanding of flawed human personality foreshadow many developments of twentieth-century fiction. The set texts are the three great novels of Machado’s maturity, Memórias póstumas de Brás Cubas, Quincas Borba, and Dom Casmurro.
  4. Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935). Pessoa is the best-known Portuguese poet of the twentieth century and one whose exploration of disintegrating personality has made a great impact abroad. The poems set for special study constitute a small but representative sample of Pessoa’s versatile adoption of different literary masks. They include two diametrically opposed types of verse published under his own name: a selection of his most famous lyric poetry, contained in volume 1 of the Ática edition, and Mensagem, which provides an interpretation of Portuguese history.  Nevertheless, any study of Pessoa needs to take in the poetry he attributed to his heteronyms (the many alternative personalities that, according to him, existed within himself). The work of Álvaro de Campos, his most prolific and dramatic heteronym, was selected as a set text to exemplify his uncanny ability to express himself as ‘other’.
  5. Graciliano Ramos (1892–1953). Graciliano was the greatest novelist of the Brazilian North- East; the region of the country which was first settled by Europeans and which by the mid- twentieth century was in a period of long-term decline. Graciliano’s bleakly deterministic fiction explores the tensions between rich and poor, urban and rural, at a time of great social change. In what is perhaps his masterpiece, Vidas secas, he contrives to portray the mindset of a family of illiterate farmworkers, forced off the land by drought and oppression. Graciliano’s own life provided much of the raw material of his writing, and it is particularly interesting to compare the different treatment he gave to this material in his novels and in the avowedly autobiographical Infância. Set texts: Caetés, Angústia, Vidas secas, Infância
  6. Clarice Lispector (1920–1977). Clarice Lispector’s challenging, philosophical and psychologically charged literature has gained her a devoted readership both in Brazil and more internationally. Ostensibly, her multifaceted novels are concerned with the issues facing women in modern urban society, but they also deal with more metaphysical, existential problems. Deceptively simple, her writing eschews conventional syntax, grammar and a linear structure, in favour of streams-of- consciousness, in her efforts to capture reality and emotion through language. Set texts: Perto do Coração Selvagem, A Paixão segundo G.H., and A Hora da Estrela
  7. Mia Couto (1955–). Mia Couto is arguably the most prominent post-colonial Mozambican writer alive today. His fiction blends fact and fantasy, to create a cathartic interpretation of Mozambique’s recent history. The prescribed texts take in both the damaging civil war in the aftermath of independence, on which his collection of short stories Vozes anoitecidas centres, and the emergent peace process from the ninety nineties onwards, which forms the backdrop of his seminal novels Terra sonâmbula and A varanda do frangipani.

The Development of the Auto

You will study the historical evolution of a literary genre, the unique Portuguese dramatic form known as the Auto. You will read short plays written in the sixteenth century by Portuguese dramatist Gil Vicente, one play from the Portuguese Romantic period, authored by Almeida Garrett, and two twentieth-century Brazilian plays by João Cabral de Melo Neto and Ariano Suassuna respectively. You will be encouraged to think how the Auto developed over time and was appropriated by dramatists from different social/historical backgrounds and with varying aesthetic intents. The set texts are: Gil Vicente, Auto da Índia and Auto da Barca do Inferno (edited by A. J. Lappin, Oxbow Books.Copies available on Amazon); Almeida Garrett, Um Auto de Gil Vicente; João Cabral de Melo Neto, Morte e Vida Severina; Ariano Suassuna, Auto da Compadecida. The work for this course will include a combination of essays and critical commentaries.

The Galician-Portuguese Cancioneiros

This paper comprises a close study of the Galician-Portuguese lyric, as preserved in the Cancioneiros (Cancioneiro da Ajuda, Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional, Cancioneiro da Vaticana) and more recently discovered fragments, and the manuscripts of the Cantigas de Santa Maria.You are expected to arrive at an appreciation of the history and composition of the Cancioneiros, the division into genres of the Galician-Portuguese lyric, and the questions of origins, authorship and attribution.

The Literature of Portuguese-Speaking Africa

This course provides you with the opportunity to study a selection of major prose writers, normally chosen from the following list: from Angola, Pepetela and Ondjaki; from Mozambique, Luis Bernardo Honwana, Mia Couto and Lília Momplé, and from Cape Verde, Baltasar Lopes, Orlanda Amarílis. The literature of Portuguese- speaking Africa is strongly committed to examining the pressing social and political issues facing its people in recent history. Simultaneously, it is undeniable that the questioning and representations which arise out of this wide-ranging body of works are conveyed through a number of sophisticated literary techniques. We will therefore study these writers a view to understanding how their individual style allows each of them to convey country-specific and powerful insights into the colonial and post- colonial periods.

The Portuguese Expansion in Asia

The arrival of Vasco da Gama in India in 1498 was one of the most important moments in world history. This course looks at a series of texts which are indispensable for understanding the growth and decline of the Portuguese maritime empire in Asia. This paper will be an opportunity for you to get to know literary works like Os Lusíadas and the Peregrinação of Fernão Mendes Pinto, if you have not already done so. But you can also go straight to the historical literature: you could start with João de Barros’s epic account of the first voyage to India and compare it to Álvaro Velho’s very different but first-hand narrative. Albuquerque’s letters, and his son’s reworking of them into continuous narrative, tell of battles won and lost, and also of the administrative difficulties of controlling a chain of forts which led from Africa to the Far East. The narratives of the Tragic History of the Sea (História Trágico-Marítima) are tales of shipwreck which can be read as sensational popular literature or as criticism of the aristocrats who commanded the Portuguese fleets. When in 1543 a typhoon blew a Portuguese ship navigating the South China seas hundreds of miles to the north to Tanegashima Island in Japan, a new and unexpected encounter was born. Soon, both merchants and missionaries were travelling regularly to the country that Marco Polo had referred to as ‘Zipangu’ in his Il Milione. As news of the ‘discovery’ of Japan reached Europe, hundreds of books were published in various languages with the reports and correspondence of the Portuguese and other Europeans who travelled with them. They were eager to describe their perceptions of and experiences with Japanese people and culture. You will read some of these sixteenth-century ‘bestsellers’, including excerpts from authors such as Luís Fróis and João Rodrigues, who were pioneers in observing and studying early modern Japan. This is very much a course where you can Portuguese drama in the sixteenth century is broad in scope. Gil Vicente wrote nearly 40 plays in a great variety of styles, and this paper will give you an opportunity of getting to know some of them better. If you are interested in popular theatre, you can read works by the black African dramatist Afonso Álvares or by António Prestes and António Ribeiro Chiado. There is also much more to neo-classical theatre than the Castro. The neo-classical comedies of Ferreira (Bristo and Cioso) and of Sá de Miranda (Os Estrangeiros and Os Vilhalpandos) are beginning to become available in good editions and provide an unusual vision of early modern society. Camões was an interesting dramatist and the Auto de Filodemo is an ingenious fusion of classical and popular styles. There is a good edition by Vanda Anastácio (Porto: Caixotim, 2005). Finally there are the numerous plays written by the Jesuits, of which Luís da Cruz, Prodigus, is an accessible example (with translation into Portuguese). follow your own interests.

Translation from Portuguese (European and Brazilian)

The tuition for this subject is intended help you advance your command of textual analysis and stylistics. Translation from Portuguese into English provides an extremely useful training in the use of your own language to convey complex and sometimes unusual ideas and states of mind.

Translation into Portuguese and Essay

subject will help you to handle more complex syntactical structures, acquire a richer active vocabulary and gain a command of abstract written Portuguese, as well as of narrative and descriptive prose. The tuition in essay writing is designed to enable you to address sophisticated political and cultural issues in clear, coherent, and complex Portuguese

Twentieth-Century Fiction

You will read and study three twentieth-century works of fiction, none of them long, but all widely different in style and subject matter. All three are modern classics, and each represents a major strand in modern Lusophone literature.

The set texts are Mário de Sá-Carneiro, A confissão de Lúcio; Mia Couto, Vinte e Zinco; Clarice Lispector, Laços de família. The work for this course will include a combination of essays and critical commentaries.

Twentieth-century Portuguese and Brazilian Women Writers

The course will invite you to think about women writers in a variety of twentieth century socio- political contexts (republic, dictatorship, democracy) and geographical locations (Brazil and Portugal). This course will allow you to re- visit the modern period from a woman-centred perspective. You will undertake the specialised study of several authors, chosen in consultation with your tutor (they might include the Portuguese Florbela Espanca, Irene Lisboa, Hélia Correia, Olga Gonçalves, Maria Gabriela Llansol and Lídia Jorge, and/or the Brazilians Rachel de Queiroz, Carolina Maria de Jesus, Lygia Fagundes Telles, Clarice Lispector and Adriana Lisboa). Ever mindful of differing literary practices and social concerns, we will nevertheless attempt to identify some of the common thematic and stylistic features at work in the writings of these women.

Varieties of Portuguese

This course applies the tools of linguistics to the description of different forms of Modern Portuguese. The course focuses on the description of the main varieties of Portuguese, including European Portuguese and its dialects, Brazilian Portuguese and its dialects, the Portuguese of Africa, and Portuguese-based creoles. Principal topics covered by the course are: systems of phonetics and phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon; the sociolinguistics and dialectology of the Portuguese-speaking world; Brazilian and European Portuguese; creoles and creolisation.

Modern Languages: Russian

Tutorials in the following Russian language, literature, and linguistic subjects can be arranged. Please contact the DC staff if you are interested in a Russian tutorial and they can liaise with Oxford staff to devise a tutorial that meets your needs and your level of Russian.

  • Advanced Russian Language Paper I: Translation into Russian and Short Essay in Russian
  • Advanced Russian Language Paper II: Translation from Russian
  • Advanced Russian Language Paper III: Translation from Pre-modern Russian
  • Early Russian Texts Prescribed for Study as Examples of Literature
  • Modern Prescribed Authors I: Pushkin, Gogol, Mandel’shtam, Mayakovsky, Bulgakov
  • Modern Prescribed Authors II: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Solzhenitsyn
  • Russian Drama of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
  • Russian Linguistic Studies I: The History of the Russian Language
  • Russian Linguistic Studies II
  • Russian Literature from 1953 to the Present Day
  • Russian Literature to 1660
  • Russian Literature, 1660–1830
  • Russian Literature, 1820–1953
  • Russian Women’s Writing

You might also be interested in:

Scio Scholars Semester In Oxford Square
Read More

Scholars’ Semester in Oxford

SSO course outline

Scio Study Abroad Oxford Tutorial Jonathan Thorpe
Read More

The tutorial

The heart of both our programmes

Scio Study Abroad Oxford Radcliffe Camera
Read More

The Oxford Experience

One of the most beautiful cities in the world

Vines Roof Sunny And City Centre 108
Read More


Your home away from home

Scio Study Abroad Seminar Oxford Square
Read More

Undergraduate Research Seminar

Undertake your own research at Oxford

For information on the impact of the coronavirus on SCIO activities click here.  For other information you can get in touch with us via our form, give us a ring on +44 1865 355 620, or download our prospectus here. DOWNLOAD PROSPECTUS
Back To Top
Get in Touch