This seminar will provide a useful and entertaining introduction to the lives and works of two extraordinary eighteenth-century Londoners. Samuel Johnson was both an author and a critic. He was brilliant, opinionated, eccentric, entertaining and a bit scary. Johnson became famous for many things, including his poetry, his journalism and his huge (and hugely important) dictionary of the English language. James Boswell was a young Scotsman who went to London to have a good time and to become famous. He attached himself to Johnson and gathered a huge amount of material for a biography, The Life of Samuel Johnson, a landmark in the history of this genre which indeed made its author very well known. Johnson hated Scotland; however, Boswell persuaded him to join him in a tour to his home country. They both published their travel journals (Boswell: A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, Johnson: A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland). It was only in the 1920s that another major text by Boswell was discovered, a very intimate diary providing a vivid account of a person’s life in eighteenth-century London. This was one of the most surprising and exciting finds in the history of English literature. So all in all we will be working on two unusual, larger-than-life characters who between themselves produced what many regard as the most important dictionary, the most important biography and one of the most important diaries in the English language.
A reader will be made available (see below). Very useful background knowledge on key cultural and literary contexts of Boswell and Johnson’ s time can be found here: Christoph Heyl, Kleine Englische Literaturgeschichte. J.B. Metzler. ISBN-13: 978-3476045096.
Requirements: Good preparation for each session, active participation. Also anything that might be required according to your Modulhandbuch / Studienordnung. As always: think, enjoy (!), annotate, and look things up if necessary.
We currently assume that teaching will be entirely on campus and in person. This, however, depends on the further development of the Pandemic. Watch this space, and read all e-mails sent to your official university e-mail address.
Please join the seminar´s Moodle room (Boswell and Johnson) where the reader will be made available. You will receive further information, including the Moodle password, via e-mail. Please make sure to use and check your official university e-mail addresses at all times. Do not use any other addresses, and do not have e-mails sent to your university address forwarded to other addresses.
Just in case your application is rejected by the LSF system: If you want to do this course because you are genuinely interested, you will be most welcome, no matter what LSF says. Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org who will enrol you manually. The worst that might happen to you is that you cannot do a Leistungsnachweis if you lack the formal requirements.