English Literature

In a world saturated with media images, in which so much depends on storytelling, the methods of literary analysis become ever more valuable. They allow us to understand processes of meaning-making and to critically reflect on ‘texts’ in the broadest sense of the word. At the English Department, we study literature alongside other forms of artistic expression and in relation to larger cultural discourses. Our research material comes in a variety of forms: written and performed texts, graphic novels, films, television series and other visual representations. We cover British, North American, and other anglophone literatures and cultures, which we approach in a transnational and comparative manner.

In both our research and our teaching, we take a keen interest in intermedial relations, cultural exchanges and historical transformations. We examine these phenomena across the whole range of modern literary history from the Renaissance period to the present day. Knowledge of past literatures and their socio-political contexts makes it possible to trace the origins and developments of many of the issues that preoccupy us today – such as, for instance, the construction of collective memories and identities, processes of globalization, and the legacies of colonialism. Reading the contemporary moment in the light of the past also means to explore the cultural afterlives of texts, genres, and aesthetic trends, as they are adapted, rewritten, and recycled in the present.

Our research-based teaching fosters rigorous analyses and creative investigations alike. We familiarize students with texts from different historical and cultural backgrounds and provide them with a firm grasp of literary theory. Students learn to conduct historically and theoretically informed critical readings. In this way, they gain an in-depth understanding of aesthetic texts as well as literature’s complex relationship to the world as well as other media and art forms.

At Bachelor level, students are introduced to the breadth of the field and provided with the theoretical and methodological tools needed to engage with the literatures and cultures of the English-speaking world. The Master programme is designed to offer a great deal of flexibility to advanced students wishing to develop a specific research focus leading up to their individual Master thesis project. The literature section of the English Department also contributes to interdisciplinary programmes such as the MA Gender Studies, the MA Kulturanalyse, the Mono-Master Literary Studies, as well as the Doctorate and Graduate School.