Seminar: 3.02.121 S Rewriting History: Historiographic Metafiction and the English Novel in the 1980s - Details

Seminar: 3.02.121 S Rewriting History: Historiographic Metafiction and the English Novel in the 1980s - Details

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General information

Course name Seminar: 3.02.121 S Rewriting History: Historiographic Metafiction and the English Novel in the 1980s
Course number 3.02.121
Semester WiSe22/23
Current number of participants 25
expected number of participants 36
Home institute Institute of English and American Studies
Courses type Seminar in category Teaching
First date Wednesday, 19.10.2022 08:15 - 09:45, Room: A01 0-010 b
Lehrsprache englisch
ECTS points 6

Rooms and times

A01 0-010 b
Wednesday: 08:15 - 09:45, weekly (14x)

Module assignments


Inquiries into the representation of history are of pivotal relevance for an academic field, such as literary and cultural studies, whose principle claims are based on the idea that the past continues to exercise its influence over the present and that, consequently, our identities and our sense of self do not come from inside ourselves so much as from a pre-existing, all-encompassing culture. Historiography (and thus the writing of history) has in fact always been a contested academic field, ranging from Leopold von Ranke's (pseudo-)empiricist nineteenth-century call to represent history "as it actually happened" ("wie es eigentlich gewesen ist") to Walter Benjamin's modern insight that "all history is written by the victor". More recently, historians like Hayden White and literary scholars like Linda Hutcheon have encouraged an understanding of history as narrative and narration that allows them and other postmodern scholars to question and deconstruct history's 'grand narratives', which have, over time, come to present themselves as monolithic truths. The 1980s were then witness to the emergence of a genre – historiographic metafiction – that has since been particularly resourceful when it comes to interrogating, revising, and subverting obsolete historical truisms through literary representations that now put forward numerous non-normative voices and points of view. In this seminar, we will discuss three texts that rewrite history in this particular way: Graham Swift's Waterland – a regional intervention that juxtaposes local and global history by presenting a middle-aged history teacher who writes an alternative history of his home, The Fens; Penelope Lively's Moon Tiger – a feminist intervention told from the perspective of a war correspondent who comes to re-envision World War II and the end of the Empire in her very own 'history of the world'; and finally, Alan Hollinghurst's The Swimming-Pool Library – a queer intervention that provides an alternative account of twentieth-century history from a gay male point of view that discloses homophobic violence and discrimination, even as it exposes the dilemma of a narrator/biographer whose complicity with the workings of homosociality cannot bring him to completely dissociate himself from the very forces that produce his subjection.

Please buy and read:

Swift, Graham. Waterland. 1983. London: Picador, 2010. Print. (ISBN 0330518216; or any other edition)

Lively, Penelope. Moon Tiger. 1987. London: Penguin, 2015. Print. (ISBN 9780141044842; or any other edition)

Hollinghurst, Alan. The Swimming-Pool Library. 1988. London: Vintage, 2015. Print. (ISBN 1784870315; or any other edition)

Admission settings

The course is part of admission "Anmeldung gesperrt (global)".
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The following rules apply for the admission:
  • Admission locked.