Tema høst 2017 - LIT4340A og LIT4340B - Imitation of Life

The relationship between literature and life has troubled and inspired authors, philosophers and critics since the beginning: Does the literary imitation of life distract us from reality and confine us to a cave of shadow plays, as Plato feared? Or does mimesis, as in Aristotle's vision, provide us with an imitation of life that is pleasurable and enables us to think about the everyday world in novel ways? Should we be afraid that the literary imitation of life turns us all into quixotes? Or can we confidently distinguish between fact and fiction, and explore hidden layers of the world through symbolist and fantastic forms of mimesis?


In this course, we will trace the history of how authors like Shakespeare, Stendhal and Hilary Mantel have brought literature as an imitation of life to the fore in their literary works, how they have developed stylistic and narrative strategies of mimesis, and how they engaged with the cultural anxieties around literature in this respect. We will also consider what enables us to perceive words on a page as an imitation of life, as well as the processes of defamiliarisation and emplotment that transform everyday experiences into literary texts and that, in turn, help us make sense of our lives through fictional models.


On completing this course, students will

  • Have sound knowledge of critical concept of “mimesis”, its different critical conceptualisations and the ways in which it has developed in literary works from the sixteenth century to the present day.
  • Develop critical skills to discuss the narrative, stylistic and historical features of mimesis
  • Get the opportunity to develop arguments about the topic in a clear and convincing fashion
Publisert 1. juni 2017 11:13 - Sist endret 1. juni 2017 11:19