Architext in postmodern British literature – ARCH

Course title: Architext in postmodern British literature
Instructor: Asst. Prof. Vanja Polić

ECTS credits: 6
Status: elective
Semester: 7th and 9th semester
Enrollment requirements: enrollment in the 7th or 9th semester

Course description: The course offers an insight into the postmodern British novel with a focus on the dialogue that the postmodern literature sets up with British literary canon. Students will be introduced to different definitions of postmodernism (style or period?) and to key concepts that postmodernism engages with such as the questions of tradition, history, subjectivity and politics. Furthermore, strategies which the postmodern novelists use to question the basic tenets of modernism, such as parody, pastiche, irony, heteroglossia, dialogism, will also be studied. Architext in the course’s title refers to Genette’s “name” for literary genres, i.e. for various durable links between certain modes of enunciation (e.g. narration) and certain thematic concerns. By studying architext Genette arrives at poetics, thus the course will eventually attempt to articulate a poetics of the postmodern British novel.

Objectives: To acquaint the students with the postmodern British novel and poetics of postmodernism; to make them aware of the continuity of development of British literature through intertextuality, reinscription and reliance of recent literary texts on older canonic texts.

Course requirements: the final grade is based on continuous assessment which includes regular attendance (max. absences allowed: 4), preparation for class, in-class participation, writing small assignments, obligatory sitting for midterm exam and timely submission of the final paper. The paper is worth 35%, midterm exam 40% and other elements of continuous assessment are worth 25% of the final grade. Students must fulfill all elements of continuous assessment.

Week by week schedule

Week 1: general introduction into modernism; basic theories of postmodernism
Week 2: architext (G. Genette)
Week 3: M. Cunningham The Hours – historical contextualization of the template (V. Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway) and contemporary intertextual deviations in The Hours
Week 4: M. Cunningham, The Hours – analysis continued
Week 5: Will Self, Dorian – aestheticism and decadence of the template (O. Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray) and hypertext
Week 6: Will Self, Dorian – analysis continued
Week 7: Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels and British 18th century as hypotext of the postmodern novel
Week 8: Midterm exam

Academic writing skills (guidelines for writing research paper)
Week 9: Michael Coetzee, Foe – pseudofeminist and postcolonial reinscription of D. Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe
Week 10: Angela Carter, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor HoffmanGulliver’s Travels as hypotext – reconstruction of Gulliver’s possible world from the fourth journey
Week 11: Angela Carter, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman – analysis continued
Week 12: Alasdair Gray, Poor Things or postmodern Frankenstein by M. Shelley
Week 13: Alasdair Gray, Poor Things – analysis continued
Week 14: wrap-up discussion

Reading list:
– Angela Carter, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman
– Michael Coetzee, Foe
– Michael Cunningham, The Hours
– Alasdair Gray, Poor Things
– Will Self, Dorian

Critical editions:
– Brian McHale, Postmodernist Fiction, Routledge, 1987
– Mark Currie (ed.), Metafiction, Longman, 1995 (selection)
– Gérard Genette, The Architext: An Introduction, Regents of University of California, 1992
– Linda Hutcheon, A Poetics of Postmodernism, Routledge, 1988
– Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Verso, 1991
– Jean-François Lyotard, “” An Answer to the Question, What is the Postmodern?” in The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, U of Minnesota P, 1984
– Simon Malpas, The Postmodern, Routledge (the new critical idiom) 2005

All texts will be made available to the enrolled students in electronic form. Additional materials are received in class.