Universität zu Köln
Philosophische Fakultät

Englisches Seminar


Alte Magister-Essaythemen

Bitte beachten: Diese Themen wurden im Rahmen der alten Prüfungsordnung gestellt und bezogen sich dort allein auf die Nebenfachklausuren!

Sommersemester 1991

Wählen Sie EINE der folgenden Aufgaben und schreiben Sie zum gewählten Thema oder Text einen Essay in englischer Sprache.

1. Discuss any character in an English or American play of whom you might say that he/she is a dynamic rather than a static character. Explain how the character changes and under what influences, be they overt or covert, inner or outer, psychological or social.

2. "Modern fiction and drama are often unconventional and difficult because literature in general, and comedy in particular, is naturally iconoclastic (bilderstürmend), and has always been so, even if not always so radically as in the last millenium. The writer's natural iconoclasm results in a refusal to use the old forms and in an affection for the new, the untried, the difficult." Discuss.

3. Some critics have denied Hopkins, Tennyson, D. H. Lawrence, Yeats, Eliot and Dylan Thomas a place in the Victorian or the modern eras of poetry and called them "late romantics." Discuss one or more poets since Hopkins in the light of this thesis.

4. George Steiner claims that the modern imagination has an "obsession with the irrational, the brutal, the inhumane." Does this claim apply to works of literature you have recently read, and how can one explain the phenomenon?

5. "There is great literature which has little or no social relevance; social literature is only one kind of literature and is not central in the theory of literature unless one holds the view that literature is primarily an 'imitation' of life as it is and of social life in particular. But literature is no substitute for sociology or politics. It has its own justification and aim." (Wellek/Warren) Discuss, illustrating your views with reference to your own reading.

6. English literature tends to be subdivided into the metaphysical, the neoclassical, the Romantic, the Gothic, the Victorian, and so forth. Are such divisions helpful or harmful to your grasp of English literature?

7. Analyse the following poem by Wystan Hugh Auden (1939)

[Auden-Gedicht als Anlage: "The Unknown Citizen"]


Wintersemester 1991/92

Wählen Sie EINE der folgenden Aufgaben und schreiben Sie zum gewählten Thema oder Text einen Essay in englischer Sprache.

1. "The English and American novel is a distinctly middle-class genre." Discuss.

2. "If the novel were realistic merely because it saw life from the seamy side, it would only be an inverted romance; but in fact it attempts to portray all the varieties of human experience, and not merely those suited to one particular literary perspective: the novel's realism does not reside in the kind of life it presents, but in the way it presents it." Use this quotation from Ian Watt's The Rise of the Novel as the starting point for an essay.

3. "The aim of poetry is for me simply to keep the child from its television set and the old man from his pub." (Philip Larkin) Discuss.

4. What is romanticism? Discuss with particular reference to one or two English poets of the 19th or 20th centuries.

5. Discuss the following statement with reference to several plays you know: "Almost all playwrights take as their world and their unifying metaphor the microcosm of the family unit, and their basic dramatic tensions spring from the hurtful interpenetration of feeling between parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters."

6. "The critic who constantly considers how the lines of a dramatic text might be made more or less effective in performance will offer a totally different, and richer, kind of interpretation than one who sees the text purely as a literary text to be read." Discuss, with reference to dramatic texts you have studied.

7. "The application to literary texts of linguistic theories, whether they involve communication models or speech acts, style register or discourse analysis, has enriched the arts of interpretation." Discuss.


Sommersemester 1995

1. A central theme of the major novels is the contrast between appearance and reality. Discuss.

2. Characters in fiction tend to be implicitly delineated by similarity and contrast. Discuss and give examples from your reading.

3. Even Shakespeare's greatest tragedies have something of the chronicle play about them, a more than ordinary interest in man as a political animal. Consider this dictum with reference to a play or plays of your choice (not necessarily by Shakespeare).

4. The forte of American drama is conflict, that of British drama is the presentation of memorable character. Discuss.

5. Discuss one or two of the oft-repeated generalisations about poetry with reference to some of the poetry you know:
a) "Most poetry is prose dressed up."
b) "A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom"
OR
c) "A poem should not mean but be."

6. What specifically scholarly approaches to literature (for instance: research into philosophical backgrounds, the identification of rhetorical figures, hunting out sources), would you recommend be taught in German universities?

7. Does the literature you know convey a particular view of life in England, the United States or part of the former Commonwealth, and what view or views do you find there in comparison to what you consider to be the "realities"?


Sommersemester 1996

1. Describe one or more of the point of view models you know, such as Stanzel's, Friedman's or Genette's, and using the approach or approaches you prefer, discuss any novel of the 20th century.

2. It is claimed that the end of studying the earlier periods of literary history is to help you see your own time as in itself a period. Choose a novel or other work of fiction which you can use as a lamp to help illuminate the historical period in which you live.

3. Consider the thesis that good plays more often show a reaction against rather than a mirroring of the social situation out of which they were written and discuss with reference to two or three plays of your choice.

4. Discuss the following statement with reference to several plays you know: "Almost all playwrights take as their world and their unifying metaphor the microcosm of the family unit, and their basic dramatic tensions spring from the lacerating interpenetration of feeling between parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters."

5. Many an English and American poet has been accused of fleeing from the pressing social problems of the day into a world of literary fancy. How far is this true of some of the poets you have studied?

6. In what ways do you see a knowledge of social, cultural and educational developments in Britain or the United States after 1945 as throwing light on the work of either poets or dramatists who have done major work since then?

7. It is unfortunate but apparently true that the seamy sides of life, including poverty, violence and corruption, are more amenable to being treated in literature than is the everyday and the comfortable. Discuss this principle with reference to some literary works of your choice. Benjamin Becker
Letzte Änderung: 12.07.2007