L&S Breadth: Arts & Literature
Hans Christian Andersen’s (1805-75) international fame is primarily built on his reputation as a writer of children’s fairy tales. Yet his authorship is multifaceted and complex both in terms of genres and intended reading audience. It reflects the historical and cultural concerns of his time. His written production includes poems, short stories, novels, plays, travel descriptions, autobiographies and diaries and offers a unique perspective on psychological and social questions of identity in the ninetieth century. We will investigate authorship and death, writing and sexuality, religion and philosophy, politics and ideology, and pay attention to Andersen as a “visual” writer. We will look into his distinctive way of using the material reality he encountered, examine how everyday ‘things’ are anthropomorphicized to reflect the workings of human agency, and study how his seismographic sensibility to the physical world resonated far beyond the period in which he lived (Romanticism/Realism) and extended backwards to the Enlightenment and forward to Surrealism. Andersen was an enthusiastic believer in various modern technologies and frequently imagined future modes of transport and communication. He also produced a number of sketches and paper-cuts, and he posed for numerous portraits (sculptures, paintings, photographs etc.) The course will include examinations of these visual materials. We will also investigate the reception of Andersen in popular culture: film versions, for example, of his life and his works.
Prerequisites: None. All readings in English.