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Semester: Summer term 2023

3.02.970 S 19th-Century Bioscience in Contemporary Fiction -  


  • Thursday: 10:15 - 11:45, weekly (13/04/23 - 13/07/23)


‘Life’ became a subject of scientific study in the 19th century. The formation of the discipline of biology responded to a broader cultural interest in the processes that sustain and reproduce ‘life’, as well as an interest in how to intervene in these processes and shape them in culturally desirable ways. A substantial number of recent novels have chosen to engage with the history of the life sciences in the 19th century, to revisit aspects of the research on life of the time, including some of their darker and deeply problematic aspects, and to trace possible connections to present-day biosciences.
Our course will deal with three outstanding novels, each with its unique approach to the subject. We will place these novels against their historical backgrounds, discuss the perspectives that they provide on historical developments and historical distance, and examine the ways in which they connect the stakes of 19th century research to the issues that occupy the life-sciences at the turn of the 21st century.
Materials for background and perspectives have been provided on Stud.IP.

We will read and analyse the following three novels, in that sequence:

Simon Mawer, Mendel’s Dwarf (1997)
Kunal Basu, Racists (2006)
Amitav Ghosh, The Calcutta Chromosome (1995)

Please purchase and begin to read these as soon as possible (it is recommended to read them in the sequence in which they have been listed, which is also the sequence in which we will discuss them).

The course schedule will be presented in the first meeting.

Credit for ang971 and 972 is based on an oral input and a shorter term paper (Referat mit Ausarbeitung) (6 KP or 9 KP respectively)
Credit for ang973, for students who are doing the MA English Studies, requires an additional project (3KP)
Students with other aims in this course please consult me individually.



  • Studium generale / Gasthörstudium



Anzahl der freigegebenen Plätze für Gasthörende

Für Gasthörende / Studium generale geöffnet:

Hinweise zur Teilnahme für Gasthörende
Die Veranstaltung wird in englischer Sprache gehalten. Sichere Beherrschung des Englischen auf dem CEF-Niveau C1 ist erforderlich.

(Changed: 19 Dec 2022)  |