SoSe 15: S-Introduction to Cultural Studies:Vision and Visuality in Victorian Culture and Literature
The focus of this course is an issue that was as crucial for Victorians as it is for us today: the proliferation of visual experience, and its implication for one's understanding of self and the ... Lesen Sie weiter
The focus of this course is an issue that was as crucial for Victorians as it is for us today: the proliferation of visual experience, and its implication for one's understanding of self and the world. The nineteenth century has been consistently described in terms of an expansion of visuality, thanks to the rise of new optical devices and techniques of display, grand expositions and mass entertainment, consumerism and attention-grabbing advertisements, tourism, as well as photography. Yet how did Victorians situate themselves in an increasingly complex visual terrain, given the contradictory impulses of the supposed 'realism' of photography on the one hand, and the phantasmagoric illusion of devices such as the stereoscope, bioscope and panorama on the other? Did it result in a loss of a secure vantage point, or did it give rise to a new visual confidence? We will examine these questions through a range of critical perspectives and a variety of textual representations (realist novel, detective story, travel writing, social investigations of slum life, among others) as well as cultural phenomena (the Great Exhibition of 1851, the circus, the zoo etc.). The course will scrutinize a number of modalities of visual discernment: realist vision, the forensic gaze, the imperialist gaze, the philanthropic gaze, panopticism, (anti-)theatricality, flânerie and the (im)possibility of a female flâneur. We will also analyse the relationship between text and image through discussions of literary illustrations.
Students should purchase a copy of the following texts: Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (preferably the edition by Wordsworth Classics with George Cruikshank's illustrations) and Charlotte Brontë, Villette (preferably Wordsworth Classics). Students are strongly encouraged to read Oliver Twist in advance.
The course will be taught in English (level C1).