2018-19 AM Excavation Sites: Archaeology in/and Literature from Ozymandias to Ondaatje

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  • Modul: ang615 Motifs - Themes - Issues (and their Media)
  • Lecturer: Anna Auguscik
  • Course I: 3.02.151
  • Time: Thu, 8-10am
  • Venue: A14 0-031
  • Course II: 3.02.152
  • Time: Wed, 10-12am
  • Venue: A14 1-113
  • Course Description: In this seminar, we will explore the intersections between archaeology and literature with a focus on the young science's representation in works of fiction and poetry from the early 19C until today. We will read poems by P.B. Shelley, D.G. Rossetti, and Oscar Wilde; excerpts from Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Barry Unsworth's historical fiction, and Deborah Levy's short fiction; as well as longer narrative texts by H. Rider Haggard, Agatha Christie, and Michael Ondaatje. Topics will include archaeological sites at home & abroad, archaeology & empire, archaeology & gender, archaeology & mystery, archaeology as a metaphor (e.g. excavating deep psychological structures), amateur vs. professional archaeology, and the archaeologist as a fictional character.

Please, buy and read the following novels:

  • H. Rider Haggard, King Solomon's Mines. 1885. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics, 2016. [978-0198722953]
  • Agatha Christie, Murder in Mesopotamia. 1936. London: HarperCollins, 2016. [978-0008164874]
  • Michael Ondaatje, Anil's Ghost. 2000. London: Vintage, 2011. [978-0099554455]

PLEASE NOTE: All primary materials will be made available at the CvO bookshop.

  • Additional materials for preparation, as well as the detailed syllabus, will be made available here and/or on Stud.IP. There will be a Handapparat in our library.
  • Course Requirements
  • Requirements for 6 KP: regular attendance and a (oral/)written contribution in the form of either a presentation + written outline (10-12 pp) or seminar paper (15 pp), based on the topic of the seminar.
  • As part of the "Aktive Teilnahme" regulation:
    Die aktive Teilnahme besteht aus folgenden Komponenten
    - regelmäßige Anwesenheit: max. 3 Abwesenheiten und gegebenenfalls Nacharbeit
    - Vor- und Nachbereitung des Seminarstoffs (Expertengruppen, Vorbereitung/Lektüre von Texten) 
    - Entwicklung einer wissenschaftlichen Fragestellung aus dem Problembereich des Seminars, durch:
      *Übernahme von Ergebnispräsentationen (Gruppenarbeit) und 
      *Entwicklung einer Research Paper Outline im Laufe des Semesters: 
       Wahl eines Themenbereichs (bis letzte Sitzung vor Weihnachten),
       Abstract mit Fragestellung inkl. Forschungsbibliographie (RPO) (bis 24. Jan), 
       Vorstellung der Fragestellung (letzte Semestersitzung).

Session 1: 17/18 Oct 2018

  • Course syllabus, requirements, etc.
  • Introduction: Antiquarianism vs. Archaeology, Archaeology & Literature & Deep History
  • Primary Literature: Guillermo Abril und Carlos Spottorno, "Mitten ins Herz." Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin 38 (21.Sept 2018): 41-67.

Session 2: 24/25 Oct 2018

  • Topic: Archaeology and 19C Literature
  • Context: Julia Reid, "Archaeology and Anthropology" (2017)
  • Primary Literature: Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ozymandias" (1818)
  • Input Presentation/Secondary Reading: Anne Janowitz, "Shelley's Monument to Ozymandias" (1984)

Session 3: 1 Nov 2018

  • Topic: Archaeology and Victorian Literature
  • Context: Angie Blumberg, "Victorian Literature and Archaeology" (2018)
  • Primary Literature: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, "The Burden of Nineveh" (1856/1870)
  • Input Presentation/ Secondary Reading: Andrew M. Stauffer, "Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Burdens of Nineveh" (2005)
  • Input Presentation/ Primary Reading: Oscar Wilde, "Sphinx" (1894)

Session 4: 7/8 Nov 2018

  • Course Reading: Alexandra Warwick and Martin Willis, "Introduction: The Archaeological Imagination" (2012)
  • Group Work / Theory and Methods I: JLS issue

Session 5: 14/15 Nov 2018

  • Topic: Archaeology in 19C Fiction
  • Primary Literature: H. Rider Haggard, King Solomon's Mines (1885)
  • Focus on Close Reading

Session 6: 21/22 Nov 2018

  • Topic: Archaeology and 19C Fiction
  • Context: Neil E. Hultgren, "Haggard Criticism since 1980: Imperial Romance Before and After the Postcolonial Turn" (2011)
  • Primary Literature: H. Rider Haggard, King Solomon's Mines (1885)
  • Input Presentation/Secondary Reading: Timothy Alborn, "King Solomon’s Gold: Ophir in an Age of Empire" (2015)
  • Input Presentation/Primary Reading: Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891)

Session 7: 28/29 Nov 2018

  • Course Reading: Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Michael Shanks, Matthew Tiews, "Archaeology, Modernism, Modernity" (2004)
  • Group Work / Theory and Methods II: Modernism/modernity issue

Session 8: 05/06 Dec 2018

  • Archaeology in 20C Fiction
  • Primary Literature: Agatha Christie, Murder in Mesopotamia (1936)
  • Focus on Close Reading

Session 9: 12/13 Dec 2018

  • Archaeology in 20C Fiction
  • Context: Gabriel Moshenska, "Archaeologists in Popular Fiction" (2017)
  • Primary Literature: Agatha Christie, Murder in Mesopotamia (1936)
  • Input Presentation/Secondary Reading
  • Suerbaum, Ulrich. "Gesellschaftsrätsel: Die Konstruktion des Detektivromans bei Agatha Christie." Agatha Christie und der Orient. Ed. Charlotte Trümpler. Bern et al.: Scherz, 1999. 410-24.
  • Neuhaus, Volker. "Die Archäologie des Mordes." Agatha Christie und der Orient. Ed. Charlotte Trümpler. Bern et al.: Scherz, 1999. 425-34.
  • Lawrence Frank. "Introduction." Victorian Detective Fiction and the Nature of Evidence. Palgrave, 2003. 1-26.
  • Oscar Moro-Abadía, "The History of Archaeology as a ‘Colonial Discourse’." Bulletin of the History of Archaeology 16.2 (1996): 4–17.
  • Input Presentation/Primary Reading: Barry Unsworth, Land of Marvels (2009)

Session 10: 19/20 Dec 2018

  • Group Work / Theory and Methods III: ZAA / Aspects of the Science Novel
  • Course Reading:
  • Anton Kirchhofer and Natalie Roxburgh, "The Scientist as ‘Problematic Individual’ in Contemporary Anglophone Fiction" (2016)
  • in comparison with: Gabriel Moshenska, "Archaeologists in Popular Fiction" (2017)

Session 11: 09/10 Jan 2019

  • Archaeology in 21C Fiction
  • Primary Literature: Michael Ondaatje, Anil's Ghost (2000)
  • Focus on Close Reading

Session 12: 16/17 Jan 2019

  • Archaeology in 21C Fiction
  • Context: David Babcock, "Professional Intimacies: Human Rights and Specialized Bodies in Michael Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost" (2014)
  • Primary Literature: Michael Ondaatje, Anil's Ghost (2000)
  • Input Presentation/Secondary Reading: David Farrier, "Gesturing towards the Local: Intimate Histories in Anil's Ghost" (2005)
  • Input Presentation/Secondary Reading: Michael Barry, "Archaeology and Teleology in Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost" (2015)
  • Input Presentation/Primary Reading: Deborah Levy, Black Vodka (2013)

Session 13: 23/24 Jan 2019

  • Final Discussion
  • evaluation
  [Hand in RPOs until 24 January at the latest]

Session 14: 30/31 Jan 2019

  • discussion of RPOs
  • feedback on evaluation
  [Hand in research papers until 1 March]


Primary Reading

  • cf. selection of poetry (available via Stud.IP/Handapparat) and three novels above (available at CvO bookshop)
  • additional primary material:
    • Oscar Wilde, "Sphinx" [1894].
    • Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles [1891]. Oxford World's Classics, 2008. [978-0199537051]
    • Barry Unsworth, Land of Marvels. London: Windmill, 2009. [978-0099534549]
    • Deborah Levy, Black Vodka. Bucks: And Other Stories, 2013. [978-1908276162]

Secondary Reading

  • will be made available via Stud.IP, cf. also Handapparat

Further Reading

cf. Stud.IP/Dateien


  • "the archaeologist, the historian, and the researcher embody the spirit of a backward-looking postwar period" (cf. Hidgon 1984: 11-12; qtd. in Keen 2006: 182)
  • "Archaeology, as it is represented in fiction, is very much concerned with the sort of imperial adventure that became an immensely popular motif of children's literature, through the works of Haggard and many others. As I will discuss further later, archaeology is also imperial since it is part of a wider scientific enterprise aimed at constructing as comprehensive a knowledge of the colonial territories as possible, with control and power (such as it is conceived by Foucault) over these territories in mind. Moreover, archaeology as an imperial activity is itself a form of colonisation, insofar as it shares the same dynamics of territorial occupation (the archaeological dig is constantly described as a place of British occupation working under British rule, even as late as in the 1930s and 1940s, when Agatha Christie uses excavation sites as the setting for a number of stories16), exploitation (of the locals as workers on the dig as well as of the land's cultural wealth), and of appropriation of the land's human production–in the case of archaeology, the produce of antique history." (Nolwenn Corriou, "'A Woman is a Woman, if She had been Dead Five Thousand Centuries!': Mummy Fiction, Imperialism and the Politics of Gender", Miranda 11 (2015): 1-16. 6-7).
  • "The filmed versions of her Oriental detective stories with archaeological content are Death on the Nile (1978) and, set in Petra, Appointment with Death (1984). In terms of historical archaeological practice they are accurate (not least because Christie worked on a number of archaeological sites and was married to archaeologist Max Mallowan) but they are not the neutral narratives they portray themselves to be. They uncritically demonstrate the European attitude to the Orient as an inheritance due to Europe because of the natural progress of civilization away from the East and to the West. Mesopotamia is a created, western archaeological narrative wherein the central theme is progressing civilization, ‘[a] way of constructing history in its own image and claiming precedence for a Western culture’ (Bahrani 1998:171). Christie, like her husband Mallowan, and the archaeology that they practised, was complicit in this Eurocentrism (Chaldis 2001; Guglielmi 2001; Schiffer 2001)."Mark A. Hall, "Romancing the Stones: Archaeology in Popular Cinema",