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07: Realism in narrative literature

Seminar / Seminar
german language

Whether narrative (realist narrative, in particular), should be seen as a faithful copy of reality or as also a construction of it, has marked the history of the novel in the nineteenth century as well as, to a considerable degree, in the twentieth. It is, in fact, one of the fundamental questions that has occupied the theories of all media. Realism as a literary and artistic movement rose in post-revolutionary France and ran parallel to the social and economic rise of the bourgeoisie throughout Europe and in the United States. Although we can recognize in each case distinct national differences, realism can nevertheless be considered as one of the most successful transnational movements of the modern period. The seminar will follow its development by focusing on the examples of French and American literary realism: on their similarities as well as their differences. In the U.S., realism begins fifty years after its rise in France. Do the different social and cultural realities on both sides of the Atlantic also form the basis of two distinctly different literatures to the extent that we may speak of two different realisms? The tensions and contradictions within the concept of realist narration – whose theoretical roots go back to classical antiquity and the Aristotelian concept of mimesis – hastened its decline and led to the material distensions and formal ruptures of the movements that followed it: naturalism and modernism. But the end of realism as a distinct period in literary history does not mean the end also of the drive toward realistic representation: Its impact can still be traced in the twentieth century and even in contemporary literature and painting (a medium that will, at various points, enter the seminar s discussion of realism and its different manifestations).

I. Some Historical and Theoretical Frames/Preconditions of Realism – Reality, History, Mimesis, Representation:
a) The Reign of Capital in France and the United States: Empire (1830-1870) and Gilded Age (1870-1900)
b) The Foundational Concept of Realism: Mimesis.
II. Reality as Construct – Realism as Fiction: How real is the “really real”? Concepts of the Real and Self-definitions of Realism in France und the US.
III. French Realism: Narrative Texts of Balzac, Stendhal, Flaubert
IV. American Realism: Narrative Texts of William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, Henry James.
V. Realism and Naturalism: Continuity and/or Counter-project?
VI. Post-realist Realisms: Transformations of Realism in the 20th und 21st Centuries.

Lehrstuhlinhaber für Romanische Literaturwissenschaft, Romanisches Seminar, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Professor emeritus, JFKI - John-F.-Kennedy-Institut für Nordamerikastudien, Freie Universität Berlin

Dr. Andreas GELZ

Lehrstuhlinhaber für Romanische Literaturwissenschaft, Romanisches Seminar, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

/1994 Studium der Romanistik (französische, spanische Literaturwissenschaft) und Germanistik (Universität des Saarlandes); sowie abgeschlossenes Grundstudium am Institut für angewandte Sprachwissenschaft und Übersetzen und Dolmetschen an der gleichen Universität (Französisch, Spanisch) Licence de Lettres modernes (Université Lyon II) Magister artium (Universität des Saarlandes): Geschichte als Fiktion: Claude Simon und die Französische Revolution Wissenschaftlicher Assistent, (10/1993 - 09/1996 wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) am Institut für Romanistik der Universität Potsdam, Lehrstuhl Prof. Dr. Helene Harth Promotion zum Dr. phil. (Universität des Saarlandes): Postavantgardistische Ästhetik. Positionen der französischen und italienischen Gegenwartsliteratur Lehrstuhlvertretungen an der Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald, der Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg sowie der Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universität München Lehrbefugnis für das Fachgebiet Romanische Philologie/Literaturwissenschaft; Habilitationsschrift: Tertulia: C3-Professur für Romanische Literaturwissenschaft (Schwerpunkt Hispanistik) an der Universität Kassel W2-Professur für Romanische Literaturwissenschaft (Spanisch/ Französisch) an der Universität Kassel
  Literatur und Gesellschaft im Spanien des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts
seit 2005


Professor emeritus, JFKI - John-F.-Kennedy-Institut für Nordamerikastudien, Freie Universität Berlin

Dr. phil., FU Berlin Assistent, Universität München Professor für amerikanische Literatur (C4), FU Berlin Direktor des Kennedy-Instituts der FU Berlin Präsident, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Amerikastudien Präsident, European Association of American Studies
 Student an den Universitäten Mainz, Freiburg, Notre Dame (USA), FU Berlin

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