S Living On the Waterfront: Regionalism and Liminality in Representations of East Anglia and the Fens

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COURSE OUTLINE

3.02.130: S Living On the Waterfront: Regionalism and Liminality in Representations of East Anglia and the Fens

  • [Module] ang613 - Regional Literatures and Cultures
  • [Credits] 6 KP
  • [Instructor] Dr. Christian Lassen
  • [Time] Wednesday, 12-1 pm: weekly chat (via "Meetings" on our Stud.IP page); Wednesday, 1-2 pm: video conference for presentation groups, designed to discuss the presentation scheduled for the following week
  • [Room] online; until further notice: weekly chat; video conferences for presentation groups (via "Meetings")
  • [Description] Reclaimed from the sea through draining, the Fens, not unlike the Frisian region, mark a liminal space where the boundaries between the land and the sea, the earth and the sky are constantly blurred. Situated along England's largest bay, the Wash, and stretching into Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, the Fen Country and its flat, coastal marshland have thus been prone to literary and cultural landscape constructions that highlight often uncanny notions of the in-between – where nothing is ever stable or permanent and where narratives have been fabricated to resist the constant flux of growth and decay, becoming and passing, even as they succumb to it. As a consequence, the Fens as well as other wetland regions of East Anglia have traditionally inspired three supposedly very different genre traditions: nature writing, the ghost story, and historiographic metafiction. The literary interaction between these genres, however, has shaped the idea of the Fens as a haunted country for a long time and moreover, it continues to produce ever new varieties of this regional literature, among them stories of the weird, the English eerie, new folk horror, or memoirs in which the identities of people and places are in fact inextricably intertwined.
  • [Office Hours] see Stud.IP; until further notice, office hours will be held via video conference. Please sign up for a time slot on my Stud.IP profile ("Sprechstunden") and you will receive a link to the virtual conference room.


PRIMARY TEXTS (MANDATORY READING)

  • James, M.R. Collected Ghost Stories. 1931. Oxford: OUP, 2013. Print. [selected short stories]
  • Malden, R.H. Nine Ghosts. London: Edward Arnold, 1943. n. pag. [selected short stories; available online, see below]
  • Johnson, Daisy. Fen. London: Vintage, 2016. Print. [selected short stories]
  • McGregor, Jon. This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You. 2012. London: 4th Estate, 2017. Print. [selected short stories]
  • Swift, Graham. Waterland. 1983. London: Picador, 2010. Print.
  • Parnell, Edward. Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country. London: William Collins, 2019. Print. [selected chapters; paperback edition available in October]


FURTHER TEXTS (RECOMMENDED READING)

  • Sebald, W.G. Die Ringe des Saturn. 1995. Frankfurt a.M.: Eichborn, 2008. Print.


ASSIGNMENTS

  • [Prüfungsleistung] asynchrones (Gruppen-)Referat (max. 4 Personen; 45-60 min.) mit Schriftlicher Ausarbeitung (10 Seiten) [oder in Ausnahmefällen: Hausarbeit (15 Seiten)]
  • [Aktive Teilnahme] 4 Abstracts, jeweils inklusive Thema, Forschungsstand, These und Outline des Arguments (je 1 Seite insgesamt)

Please note that written assignments (abstracts, short term papers, long term papers) need to be composed according to the style sheet ("Leitfaden")of the University of Oldenburg, which can be accessed via the 'Institutswiki'-page of the English department. The style sheet not only provides relevant information on how to write a correct bibliography but it may also help you to structure your work according to academic standards.

Please make sure to sign the "Erklärung zum 'Plagiat'" and to attach it to your research papers.

  • [Abgabefrist] 15. März 2020.




Session One, October 21, Introduction

Organisational Matters

  • Assignments

Assignments are graded and mandatory. In order to obtain 6 credits (KP), you will have to give a (group) presentation (Referat, 45-60 min.) on one of the presentation topics specified in the syllabus. In addition to that, you will have to hand in a short term paper (Ausarbeitung, 10 Seiten) by the end of term (March, 15). In exceptional cases, you may hand in a long term paper (Hausarbeit, 15 Seiten) instead of the above. However, an exception is only granted upon consultation.

  • Presentation Topics, Presentation Groups, Video Conferences for Presentation Groups

Presentation Topics are specified on your syllabus. In order to prepare your presentations, please pick a topic, get together in groups (see below) and write up a power-point presentation. Add your audio commentary to the presentation, save the file and send it on to me so that we can discuss your presentation in the video conference for presentation groups (see below). After that, you make your file available on Stud.IP on the Friday before your presentation so that all participants can read/ watch the presentation in time, i.e. before the session/ weekly chat.

Requests regarding your choice of presentation topics can be send to me via e-mail, starting on Monday, October 12. I will sign you in in the order of the requests' arrival. Please check this page regularly to see if your requests have been met.

Video Conferences for presentations take place in the second part of the weekly sessions, i.e. Wednesday 1-2 pm. Please make sure that you attend the video conference the week before your presentation is due.

  • Active Participation

Active Participation is ungraded but mandatory. In order to fulfil the requirements, you will have to write four abstracts, each including a topic, a state of research, a thesis statement, and a brief outline of your argument (approx. 1 page), in the course of the seminar. You can choose your own topic; however: all abstracts have to address different primary texts. In other words, your abstracts will have to cover four out of five primary materials. They are due by the end of the week (i.e. Friday) that marks the ending of the respective sections, i.e. due date Ghost Stories: November, 13; due date Fen: November, 27; due date This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You: December, 11; due date Waterland: January 15; due date Ghostland: January 29.

  • Weekly Chat

In order to discuss the presentations and related topics, I will be in the chatroom Weekly Chat ("Meetings" on our Stud.IP page) during the first part of each session, i.e. Wednesday 12-1 pm. Please make sure to read/ watch the presentations before you join the chat. The second part of each session, i.e. Wednesday 1-2 pm, is booked for the respective presentation groups (see video conference for presentation groups)

  • Seminarapparat

Relevant secondary material will be made available on Stud.IP. Please note that, additionally, the syllabus includes an extensive bibliography that may be helpful with regard to your presentations and written assignments (abstracts; short/ long term papers).

   Summary: Presentations

1. Pick a presentation topic and contact me via e-mail (starting October, 12). Check below for available places. Presentation groups may consist of a maximum of 4 people. (This number may change, depending on the number of participants.)

2. Contact the other members of your group and prepare your presentation, i.e. power-point presentation with audio commentary.

3. Send me your presentation 8 days before your presentation is scheduled.

4. Discuss your presentation with me in a video conference 7 days, i.e week, before your presentation is scheduled. Video conferences take place on Wednesday, 1-2 pm.

5. Upload your file on the Friday before your presentation is scheduled.

6. Join the weekly chat and be ready to answer questions on the day of your presentation. Weekly chats take place on Wednesday, 12-1 pm.


On East Anglia and the Fens: A Brief Introduction

Session Two, October 28: Theory Session - Regionalism

Theory Texts

Guiding Questions

  • What does the term regional refer to and in what ways has the meaning of the term changed over the years?
  • How can a region be defined as a space? Is it independent, self-sufficient, a world in and by itself? Or is it interdependent and part of a whole? Is it 'natural' and 'authentic' or 'man-made' and 'construed' - both figuratively and literally?
  • What are the effects of the dichotomy regional/local/rural versus national/international/global/urban, etc.?
  • What are its specific effects with regard to conflicting narratives and histories? Local narratives and grand narratives? In the Fen Country, what role does 'draining' play in this context?
  • In what ways do specific regions shape the people who live in them, i.e. their identities? What do these people identify with? And what about disidentification? (Think about Scottish identites and their respective links to their 'own' space, to Britain, or Europe?)
  • According to the secondary texts, how is East Anglia/ how are the Fens construed in regional literature? In what ways does the geographical (and geological) specificity of this region also ascribe meaning - in a literary/cultural sense - to this place?
  • In view of next week's session, why would the term liminality lend itself to the cultural construction of the Fens, or indeed the East Anglian wetlands more generally?

Session Three, November 4: Theory Session - Liminality

Theory Texts

[For a more extensive account of this approach, see: Achilles, Jochen, and Ina Bergmann. "'Betwixt and Between': Boundary Crossings in American, Canadian, and British Writing." Liminality and the Short Story: Boundary Crossings in American, Canadian, and British Writing. Eds. Jochen Achilles and Ina Bergmann. New York and London: Routledge, 2014. 3–31.]

  • Turner, Victor. "Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage." The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual. Ed. Victor Turner. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1967. 93–111. Print.

Reprinted in: Turner, Victor. "Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage." Reader in Comparative Religion: An Anthropological Approach. Eds. William A. Lessa and Evon Z. Vogt. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1979. 234-43. Print.

Guiding Questions

  • What characterises liminality and the liminal? What concept(s) does it serve to describe? How can liminality be defined in a relational structure?
  • What is the difference between the terms liminal and liminoid?
  • How can the analysis of the following aspects benefit from the concept of liminality: identity; form/genre; setting; life/death distinction; human/animal distinction; gender; etc.? You may also come up with examples from our primary texts.
  • In what ways does the short story as a narrative form meet the conceptual demands of liminality? Is the short story particularly apt to express liminal structures? And if so, why? Do your findings hold true for the liminoid as well? Or does it change the form of the short story?
  • Think about ways to correlate and/or connect regionalism and liminality. How do regional observations (particularising representations like draining, coastal erosion, silt and siltation vs. universalising representations like global warming, rising sea levels, climate change) relate to concepts of liminality?

Session Four, November 11: Regionalism and Liminality in Ghost Stories from East Anglia and the Fens

Primary Material

Secondary Material

Further Material

Group Work

  • Group 01: James, M.R. "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad."
  • Group 02: James, M.R. "A Warning to the Curious."
  • Group 03: James, M.R. "The Fenstanton Witch."
  • Group 04: Malden, R.H. "Between Sunset and Moonrise."
  • Presentation Group:

Video Conference

  • Video Conference Group: Dana Kirikova, Kira Döding, Luise Jöllenbeck, Maria Kruse
   November, 13: Abstract Ghost Story due

Session Five, November 18: Exploring Genres - New Folk Horror and Other Experimental Genres in Fen

Primary Material

  • Johnson, Daisy. "Blood Rites." Fen. London: Vintage, 2016. 15-26. Print.
  • Johnson, Daisy. "Language." Fen. London: Vintage, 2016. 72-90. Print.

Secondary Material

Further Material

Presentation

  • Uncanny Incorporations, or: the Language of Horror and the Horror of Language in Fen
  • Presentation Group: Dana Kirikova, Kira Döding, Luise Jöllenbeck, Maria Kruse

Video Conference

  • Video Conference Group: Jana Hagemann, Svea Schneider-Pungs, Christina Peters, Julia Tirrel, Anna Hinrichs

Session Six, November 25: Exploring Gender - Re-writing the Female in Fen

Primary Material

  • Johnson, Daisy. "Starver." Fen. London: Vintage, 2016. 3-14. Print.
  • Johnson, Daisy. "A Heavy Devotion." Fen. London: Vintage, 2016. 105-17. Print.
  • Johnson, Daisy. "Birthing Stones." Fen. London: Vintage, 2016. 155-66. Print.
  • Johnson, Daisy. "The Lighthouse Keeper" Fen. London: Vintage, 2016. 177-92. Print. [optional]

Secondary Material

Further Material

Presentation

  • Becoming Eel and Birthing Stones, or: Deterritorialization, Posthumanism and Anthropomorphism/Zoomorphism in Fen
  • Presentation Group: Jana Hagemann, Svea Schneider-Pungs, Christina Peters, Julia Tirrel, Anna Hinrichs

Video Conference

  • Video Conference Group: Jill-Dean Rose, Sebastian Bobe, Richard Ott, Finnja Klatt, Lukas Voigt
   November, 27: Abstract Fen due

Session Seven, December 02: Exploring Form - Genre, Hybridity, and (Meta-)Poetics in This Isn't the Sort of Thing

Primary Material

  • McGregor, Jon. "In Winter the Sky." This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You. 2012. London: 4th Estate, 2017. 5-35. Print.
  • McGregor, Jon. "New York." This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You. 2012. London: 4th Estate, 2017. 107-12. Print.
  • McGregor, Jon. "Wires." This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You. 2012. London: 4th Estate, 2017. 160-75. Print.

Secondary Material

Presentation

  • Hybrid Aesthetics, or: The Function of Genres, Maps, and Poetics in This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You
  • Presentation Group: Jill-Dean Rose, Sebastian Bobe, Richard Ott, Finnja Klatt, Lukas Voigt

Video Conference

  • Video Conference Group: Florian Macke, Anna Luisa Clasen, Maximilian Müller, Lisa Baisch

Session Eight, December 09: Exploring Landscapes - Speculative Fiction and the Construction of Space in This Isn't the Sort of Thing

Primary Material

  • McGregor, Jon. "If It Keeps On Raining." This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You. 2012. London: 4th Estate, 2017. 57-74. Print.
  • McGregor, Jon. "Supplementary Notes to the Testimony of Appellants B & E." This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You. 2012. London: 4th Estate, 2017. 147-56. Print.
  • McGregor, Jon. "I Remember There Was a Hill" This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You. 2012. London: 4th Estate, 2017. 215-7. Print.

Secondary Material

Presentation

  • Dystopian Landscapes, or: Representing Environmental Issues in This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You
  • Presentation Group: Florian Macke, Anna Luisa Clasen, Maximilian Müller, Lisa Baisch

Video Conference

  • Video Conference Group: Matthias Himstedt, Arne Höppner, Thorben Höppner, Esther Gödecke
   December, 11: Abstract This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You due

Session Nine, December 16: Exploring History - Waterland as Historiographic Metafiction

Primary Material

  • Swift, Graham. Waterland. 1983. London: Picador, 2010. Print.

Secondary Material

Presentation

  • (Re-)Writing the Past, or: Historiographic Metafiction and the Desintegration of History and Its "Grand Narratives"
  • Presentation Group: Matthias Himstedt, Arne Höppner, Thorben Höppner, Esther Gödecke

Video Conference

  • Video Conference Group: Alexandra Bock, Susann Huischen, Vivian Grimme, Vivian Fili, Janna Poppen

Session Ten, January 06: Exploring Guilt - Waterland as Confession and Trauma Narrative

Primary Material

  • Swift, Graham. Waterland. 1983. London: Picador, 2010. Print.

Secondary Material

Presentation

  • Narrating the Self, or: Trauma and the Struggle for a Coherent Self-Narrative
  • Presentation Group: Alexandra Bock, Susann Huischen, Vivian Grimme, Vivian Fili, Janna Poppen

Video Conference

  • Video Conference Group: Paula Priewe, Lukas Fischer, Fiona Koren, Bennet Tierock, Hauke Wollek

Session Eleven, January 13: Exploring Nature - Ecocriticism and the Representation of the Environment in Waterland

Primary Material

  • Swift, Graham. Waterland. 1983. London: Picador, 2010. Print.

Secondary Material

Presentation

  • Against Nature, or: Rising Sea Levels, Liminality and the Futility of Human 'Achievements'
  • Presentation Group: Paula Priewe, Lukas Fischer, Fiona Koren, Bennet Tierock, Hauke Wollek

Video Conference

  • Video Conference Group: Lisa Meinlschmidt, Nils Reese, Marvin Hinrichs, Lea Bihlmeyer
   January, 15: Abstract Waterland due

Session Twelve, January 20: Exploring Culture - Space, Literature and and the Processes of Meaning-Making

Primary Material

  • Parnell, Edward. Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country. London: William Collins, 2019. Print. [selected chapters]

Secondary Material

  • Varia

Presentation

  • Construing Literary Landscapes, or: Intertextuality, Referentiality, and Visual Culture as Meaning-Making Devices
  • Presentation Group: Lisa Meinlschmidt, Nils Reese, Marvin Hinrichs, Lea Bihlmeyer

Video Conference

  • Video Conference Group: Lenara Antonia Bias, Timo Willmann, Kristin Weber, Lisa Graber, Franciska Wendel

Session Thirteen, January 27: Exploring Healing - Memoirs, (Anti-)Pastoral Elegies and the Comfort of Ghosts

Primary Material

  • Parnell, Edward. Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country. London: William Collins, 2019. Print. [selected chapters]

Secondary Material

  • Varia

Presentation

  • The Haunted Self, or: Reclaiming and Reinventing Literary Spaces and Genres of Loss
  • Presentation Group: Lenara Antonia Bias, Timo Willmann, Kristin Weber, Lisa Graber, Franciska Wendel
   January, 29: Abstract Ghostland due

Session Fourteen, February 03: Work-in-Progress Session

Guidelines for finding your topic:

Your topic needs to be related to at least one of the primary texts

   March, 15: Term Paper due

Please upload your paper to the folder "Ausarbeitungen und Hausarbeiten" on our Stud.IP page.

Bitte stellen Sie Ihre Prüfungsleistung in den Ordner "Ausarbeitungen und Hausarbeiten" auf unserer Stud.IP-Seite ein.