2008 AM Historical Novels

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  • Time and Location: Tuesdays 10-12 am, A01 0-004
  • Language tutor office hours: Tuesdays 5-6 pm, A6 2-211
  • Tutorial: Tuesdays 6-8 pm, A6 0-009

Course Description

The historical novel is one of the classical subgenres of the modern novel. This course will introduce students to the beginnings and the early history of the genre. In the first half of the semester, we will read Walter Scott's Waverley (1814) and become familiar with the main characteristics of a genre which invites its readers to reflect on the relation in which their romantic past stands towards their current modernity. In the second half of term, we will encounter a set of shorter eighteenth-century texts which were also called 'historical novels', although they were not at all concerned with 'history' in the modern sense. We will analyse a selection of these texts, attempt to identify their generic features and examine their differences to the modern form. In doing so, we will also seek to understand the developments that led from one type of historical novel to the next. By the beginning of term, students should have purchased and read Walter Scott, Waverley; or, 'Tis Sixty Years Since, ed. Claire Lamont, Oxford World's Classics, Oxford University Press, 1998. As introductory reading please consult the essays by Borgmeier and Trevor-Roper (cf. below, reading materials)

Course Requirements for credits as a Aufbaumodul:

  1. Regular attendance and active participation (you may miss up to two meetings, whatever the reasons).
  2. An oral presentation of ca. 20 minutes that will form the basis for your subsequent term paper (you present information and develop an argument that must allow you to formulate research questions concerning a particular text and topic, which will then be discussed by the seminar).
  3. Joining one of three 'expert groups'.
  4. A term paper (generally dealing with one or several of the issues raised in your oral contribution; length ca. 10 pages; deadline September 1, 2008).


  • Fulfilling all four requirements successfully will earn you a total of six credit points towards your module (6 KP)
  • Fulfilling only the first three requirements will earn you a total of three credit points towards your module (3 KP). [For students who plan to take 3 KP it is especially important to be active in an 'expert group'.]

Expert Groups

There are three Exptert Groups that deal with specific topics, questions and problems related to the various historical novels encountered throughout the seminar. These are Writing of History, Problems of Genre and Textual Analysis


Introduction. Technicalities.
Distribution of Presentations. Constitution of Expert Groups.


Skills and Goals in presentation and discussion.
(Distribution of Presentations. Constitution of Expert Groups [Group 1: The Writing of History, Group 2: Problems of Genre, Group 3: Textual Analysis].)


Problems and what to do with them: achieving a research-oriented perspective (1) : History and Theory

Guiding questions:

  1. What is the actual history of the Scottish Highland population and of their dress and customs? What is their actual significance in Scottish history?
  2. How did the kilt and the tartan come to be associated with traditional Scotland?
  3. What questions follow from the information presented by Trevor-Roper?
  4. What consequences could this have for our thinking about history, and about the historical novel?


Problems and what to do with them: achieving a research-oriented perspective (2): Genre perspectives

Guiding quesitons:

  1. What are the specific genre-attributes of a historical novel, according to Borgmeier?
  2. What does Borgmeier say about Scott's models, and about the tradition of the historical novel?
  3. What are the characteristic ways of referring to real historical events and real historical persons, according to Borgmeier?
  4. At what points does Borgmeier simply present information, and at what points does he engage in a critical debate about the interpretation of the text?
  5. Can you see any problems that Borgmeier's essay might raise for the context of our seminar?


"Sixty Years Since" - Past and Present in Waverley (historical background, plot structure and historical characters and events in Waverley)

Presentation: Vivien Baldwin, Marion Canisius, Andreas Sprenkel


Waverley and his Women: The role of the hero, the role of the female protagonists, and the romantic plot.

Presentation: Katharina Bohn, Katrin Gerdes, Sara-Lena Braasch


Scotland vs. England in Waverley: The Representation of Space and the Ideology of the Text

Presentation: Alex Lanzel and Hanna Suhling

Please read the following passages and think about the questions for each one:

1) p. 32-33 "It was about noon..." to "...and acquired information of a hardy, intelligent, and reflecting peasantry." - How are the Lowlands/Scotland represented in this passage? What does Scott think about Scotland?

2) p. 96-97 "The apparatus for dinner..." to "...so many bold and attached followers." - What is shown about clan mentality? What is their importance/how do they work?

3) p. 246-247 "Colonol Talbot became more kindly..." to "...the name of Miss Mac-Jupiter." - What does Colonol Talbot think about Scotland?


Discussing the historical novel: Preface and "postscript" to Waverley, and Prefaces to earlier Historical Novels.

Presentation: Claudia Kulina, Frederike Holzmann

Please read Waverley: Chapters I and XXV (last chapter: "A postscript that should have been a preface") and the general preface (pp.349-361)

Please scan read the prefaces of: Mary Stewart: pp. 1-38 Unequal match: pp.1 and 2 Charles Dacres: pp.4-13


[Historical Novels of the late 17th and early 18th century I - selection from texts below]

Presentation: 'Tacmas - Prince of Persia' (1676) Sebastian Brinkmann

Presentation: 'Tudor Prince of Wales' (1678) Boy R. Petersen


[Historical Novels of the late 17th and early 18th century II - selection from texts below]

Presentation: Claudia Kühn, Katrin Menzel

Please have a closer look at "Tachmas" from the beginning to page 14 and "Tudor" from page 7 to page 16.

Think about:

1. for whom were these pieces written?

2. the intentions/roles of the pieces at that point of time?

3. what strategies do they use to make the pieces look good (interesting, exciting,...)?

Make an educated guess.


[Historical Novels of the later 18th century I - selection from texts below]

Presentation: Hanno Jansen, Julian Richter


[Historical Novels of the later 18th century II - selection from texts below]

Presentation: Daniel Buse,Ying Huang

-> Research on Charles Dacres


Course Evaluation. - Brief report of expert groups on their observations: Writing of History, Problems of Genre, Textual Analysis.

Handout Textual Analysis.

Handout Historical Context.

Handout Genre updated.


Feedback on Course Evaluation. - Final discussion.

Reading Materials

Trevor-Roper, Hugh. "The Invention of Tradition: The Highland Tradition of Scotland." The Invention of Tradition ed. Eric Hobsbawm, Terence Ranger, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1st. ed. 1983, repr. 2003. 15-42.

Borgmeier, Raimund. "Das Gattungsmodell: Sir Walter Scott, Waverley (1814)". Borgmeier, Raimund / Reitz, Bernhard (ed). Der historische Roman. 19. Jahrhundert. Heidelberg: Winter (1984).

Greenwood, Grace. “The home of the author of ‘Waverly’.” Reynold's miscellany of romance, general literature, science, and art 13:341 (1855:Jan.): 405.

Hägg, Tomas. “"Callirhoe" and "Parthenope": The Beginnings of the Historical Novel.” Classical Antiquity 6:2 (1987 Oct.): 184.

Haggis, D. R. “Scott, Balzac, and the Historical Novel as Social and Political Analysis: 'Waverley' and 'Les Chouans'.” Modern Language Review 68:1 (1973:Jan.): 51.

Hayden, John O., ed. Scott. The Critical Heritage. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970, 67-84 (section on Waverley).

Dekker, George. “The Waverley-Model and the Rise of the Historical Romance.” The American Historical Romance. New York, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987, 29–72.

Bann, Stephen. "The Sense of the Past: Image, Text, and Object in the Formation of Historical Consciousness in Nineteenth-Century Britain." The New Historicism. Ed. Aram Veeser. New York: Routledge, 1989, 102-115.

Garside, Peter. “Popular Fiction and National Tale: Hidden Origins of Scott's Waverley.” Nineteenth-Century Literature 46 (1991): 30-53.

Scheiding, Oliver. "James Fenimore Cooper und Sir Walter Scott: Entwürfe nationaler Leitfiguren im Spiegel der amerikanischen Literaturkritik des 19. Jahrhnderts.

Lukács, Georg. Der historische Roman. Werke. vol. 6. Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1962. (section on Walter Scott).

Mazurek, Raymond A. “Metafiction, the Historical Novel, and Coover's The Public Burning.” Critique 23:3 (1982): 29.

Walsh, Catherine Henry. “The Sublime in the Historical Novel: Scott and Gil y Carrasco.” Comparative Literature 42 (1990): 29.

Saintsbury, George. “The Historical Novel: Part II.-Scott and Dumas.” Macmillan's Magazine 70 (1894 May/Oct.): 321.

Saintsbury, George. "The Historical Novel: Part III.-The Successors." Macmillan's Magazine 70 (1894 May/Oct.): 410.

“Of Novels, Historical and Didactic: The Historical Novel.” Bentley's Miscellany 46 (1859): 42.

Swann, Charles. “Past into present: Scott, Galt and the Historical Novel.” Literature and History 3 (1976 March): 65.

Roorbach, A. O. “The Historical Novel as an Aid in the Teaching of the Social Studies.” Historical Outlook 20:8 (1929 Dec.): 396.

Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto, 1764 from Project Gutenberg.

Strutt, Joseph. Queen-Hoo Hall. vol.1. Edinburgh: John Murray, 1808.

Strutt, Joseph. Queen-Hoo Hall. vol.2. Edinburgh: John Murray, 1808.

Strutt, Joseph. Queen-Hoo Hall. vol.3. Edinburgh: John Murray, 1808.

Strutt, Joseph. Queen-Hoo Hall. vol.4. Edinburgh: John Murray, 1808.

Some 'Historical Novels':

Tachmas Prince of Persia (1676).

Tudor Prince of Wales (1678).

The Unequal Match (1680).

The Reviv'd Fugitive (1690).

Don Sebastian King of Portugal (1692).

The Lady's Philosopher's Stone (1725).

The Life of Mary Stewart (1729).

Don Carlos (1720).

The Siege of Calais (1740).

The Oppressed Captive (1757).

The Count de Rethel, vol. 1 (1779).

The Count de Rethel, vol. 2 (1779).

The Count de Rethel, vol. 3 (1779).

The Siege of Belgrade, vol. 1 (1791).

The Siege of Belgrade, vol. 2 (1791).

The Siege of Belgrade, vol. 3 (1791).

The Siege of Belgrade, vol. 4 (1791).

Netley Abbey, vol.1 (1795).

Netley Abbey, vol.2 (1795).

The Duke of Clarence, vol. 1 (1795).

The Duke of Clarence, vol. 2 (1795).

The Duke of Clarence, vol. 3 (1795).

The Duke of Clarence, vol. 4 (1795).

Charles Dacres, vol. 1 (1797).

Charles Dacres, vol. 2 (1797). -> Research on Charles Dacres

Jaquelina of Hainault, vol. 1 (1798).

Jaquelina of Hainault, vol. 2 (1798).

Jaquelina of Hainault, vol. 3 (1798).