LT 332 - Comparative Central European Literature II: Literature, Culture, History and Ideology: Select Masterpieces of Eastern and Central European and American Literature

The aim of this course is to promote dis-course between various modes human beings try to make sense of the world and themselves. We will adopt a basically “New Historicist” perspective to watch the interaction, from the Modernist period to Postmodernism, between cultural phenomena, historical consciousness, prevailing ideologies and literature. In the Central- and East-European region, poetry, drama and fiction are especially interesting as they have often tried to refuse to be blind perpetuators of consciousness, fashioning themselves rather as disruptive and subversive forces, as major forms of resistance. We will read, in a rich historical, cultural and ideological context provided by the instructor, mainly Hungarian pieces but we will also take a look at other East-European countries (Russia, Poland, Serbia, former Czechoslovakia, etc.) as well, and we will ask if an aesthetic reading of literature is still possible. The speciality of the course is that the “strange” or even “alien” (and often tragic) Central European pieces will usually be compared with more familiar American ones to demonstrate parallels in subject-matter, motif, style, attitude and technique. The course will consider creative pieces (poems, short-stories or mini-dramas) as highly adequate responses to the literature under discussion and thus instead of a midterm exam, a creative piece might be handed in, yet this will by no means be compulsory.

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