The seminar seeks to provide an entryway into some of the pressing questions around the role of literature and literary aesthetics in modern society. What is at stake, for example, when we let a “bestseller”-label influence our choice of reading? On what grounds is the qualifier “best” defined? What is the status of bestsellers in higher education?
By engaging with a selection of bestsellers from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the idea is to consolidate a base of case studies from which to draw in dialogue with pertinent theoretical commentators of the likes of Pierre Bourdieu, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Bruno Latour, and Richard Hoggart. Among the primary sources are featured D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), Virginia Woolf’s The Years (1937), Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (1955), and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (1996).
The examination modality (MAP) for this course is a 15-page-long term paper (Hausarbeit) to be submitted at the end of the semester.