Seminar Presentation and Essay Topics
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
- Conduct, attitude and the moral debate; ‘greatness’ as Great Britain and code for repression and concealment.
- Mr Stevens and the institution of the English butler: ‘what is a great butler?’.
- Characters treatment, typology and individuality: Lord Darlington, Mr Stevens and Miss Kenton as projections of loyalty, responsibility and duty, love and personal relationship.
- Significances of Mr Stevens’s double journey in time and space.
- The novel and as possible representation of Englishness.
Julian Barnes, England, England
- Baudrillard’s theories of the simulations of simulacra and of hyperreality.
- The conception of England, England as third order simulation and materialization of the assumption that the model replaces reality.
- Pitman’s final project of the thematic island. Subverted, satirical and grotesque representation(s) of England and Englishness.
- Symbolism of the novel’s divisions: (i) England, (ii) England, England and (iii) Anglia. England, England and Brexit.
- The characters of Pitman and Martha Cochrane – individuality, typology, representation and relevance.
Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor
- Rationalist – non-rationalist way of perception: mysticism, occult, Satanist and illuminati overtones and symbolism.
- The geometry of the churches: significances of the pentagram (the pentagon) as space associated with sacred meanings and psycho-geography.
- The detective plot – Hawksmoor as postmodern and anti-detective novel.
- The treatment of the characters of Nicholas Dyer, Walter Payne, Ned (the ‘Architect’) and inspector Hawksmoor.
- History as pivotal topic in the novel, and nature of time: ‘the perpetual present of the past’ which ‘reemerges in the most unlikely ways.’
Penelope Lively, City of the Mind
- The city and the city of the mind: the real and the imagined city. Landscape as text; the thirdspace.
- City of the Mind as a novel about (i) time, history and memory, coexistent past and present and (ii) space – weblike space, labyrinth, modern Babylon or Tower of Babel, as thirdspace / multi-layered space (lived space, perceived space and conceived space).
- The city as psychogeography. London as chronotope, as postmodern re(-)presentation of time and space.
- Halland as the wanderer, the flaneur, the observer; personal and impersonal implications: reconstruction of Halland’s life and of the city itself.
- Lively’s descriptive style of depicting London and narrating events.
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
- Rewriting and fictionalization of history. Documentary vs. fiction. Revisiting history.
- Wolf Hall as fictional recreation of atmosphere and historical figures: Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII.
- Thomas Cromwell: sincere partisan for the Protestant cause or manipulator of Reformation?
- Displacement and identity. Characters recycled, real portrayals, inventing the ‘voice’ of each character: Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII.
- The narrative voice: the use of impersonal ‘he’ and the present to create an immediacy of the viewpoint.