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British Literature in the Face of Otherness

  • Code Apogée


  • Composante(s)

    UFR Langues et Civilisations

  • Période de l'année

    Semestre 1


“Otherness” is a concept we handle with relatively fluidity – in our XXIst century language at least.  The umbrella term denotes the foreign, in gender, in nationality, in culture, in body and mind, it embraces what we do not understand, struggle to recognize, or cringe to self-appropriate. Introspectively, it refers to that part of ourselves we do not care to show, or have not come to terms with, indeed, have not yet discovered, and therefore have no control over.  Otherness comes to designate “us”. By contrast, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries do not yet talk of otherness in this way. Not with this term, at any rate. That is not to say that the notion is not in circulation.  So how does early modern England think and express “otherness”? How does this notion receive expression and representation? This seminar explores the early modern stage, from Everyman and Faustus, to plays by Shakespeare, Webster and Dekker, with the aim of identifying what the pre and post-reformation theatres consider as to be “otherness” –from spitting images within to spitting diseases without – how they word it, perform it, and explore it.

Students will spend six weeks reading extracts from plays and critical theory (Lupton, Kottman), in particular, French critical theory (Levinas, Derrida). They will choose one topic among a set of topics put to them before 1st November. They will write a paper of 700-800 words on the topic of their choice. The paper will be given in at the latest for the 1st January.

Students are particularly invited, during the course, to take part in conversations and rehearsal in writing in weekly forums devised to the effect. This is a space where they ask questions in methodology and share ideas they are working around.

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Informations complémentaires

Attention, ce séminaire est uniquement offert à la FAD.

Ouvert aux étudiant·es en mobilité sous réserve du nombre de places disponibles. 

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Bibliography of the Seminar: All the plays under study and supporting material are provided within the seminars and you can make do with simply consulting what is posted with each section of the seminar. The following bibliography is in no way compulsory, simply complementary.  


Early Modern Stage

Primary Sources:

  • BATE, Jonathan and Eric RASSMUSSEN, eds., The RSC Shakespeare: The Complete Works, [text based on the 1623 First Folio] RSC, Macmillan, paperback 2008.
  • BEVINGTON, David, Lars ENGLE, Katharine Eisaman MAUS, Eric RASMUSSEN, eds. English Renaissance Drama, A Norton Anthology, Norton, 2002.

Secondary Sources:

  • GREENBLATT, Stephen, Hamlet in Purgatory, with a new preface by the author, Princeton UP, 2013.
  • HATTAWAY, Michael, ed., A Companion to English Renaissance Literature and Culture, Blackwell, 2010.
  • MANDALIOS, John, Civilization and the Human Subject, Rowman and Littlefied, 1999.
  • MAUS, Katharine Eisaman, Inwardness and Theater in the English Renaissance, University of Chicago Press, 1995.
  • ABBATISTA, Guido, ed., Encountering Otherness, Diversities and Transcultural Experiences in Early Modern European Culture, EUT, 2011.
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