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Liminal Experiences: Bodily and Psychological Borders in Literature

Wednesday, 11:15 AM - 12:45 PM: NSG 421
Spring Term 2011
Alice Hofmann

Course sheetPDF-Download

Fictional texts are drawn to liminal experiences. In particular, contemporary representations of trauma, abjection, (mental) illness, etc. speak of a literary fascination with extreme aspects of life. This class explores some of the most intense challenges to the human psyche: Experiences that confront us with unparalled situations that prevent an understanding and integration—or an 'easy' reading, for that matter. By looking at their textual representations we will engage questions such as: How does writing relate to the transgression of borders of both body and mind? Which role does narrative play in rendering these events (e.g. critical, therapeutic, sensationalist...)? Can literary strategies represent their overwhelming, often violent nature? During the course of this class, we will study mainly contemporary fiction (at least one novel, Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) and a considerable number of theoretical texts. Apart from active participation in the classroom, in-depth preparation of texts as well as several writing assignments are mandatory.

The first session will be on 13 April.

Purchase of the following texts recommended:
Paul Auster: City of Glass (in: The New York Trilogy)
Jonathan Safran Foer: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


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