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Situated Literatures I


Admission requirements

A relevant BA degree. If in doubt, please contact the Coordinator of Studies.


“Situated Literatures” is optional for students from all specialisation tracks in Literary Studies. In this course the ‚situatedness‘ of the modern European literatures in English, French, German, and Italian will be discussed. Those literatures will thus be approached as being part of a language-bound cultural context, whereas they are seen as part of a European network with a long and fruitful creative tradition on the other side.
“Situated Literatures” (10 EC) consists of a shared first part, Situated Literatures I, (5 EC) and a second part, Situated Literatures II, students take in their respective tracks (5 EC, in the language of that track).

The basis for the first course is the well-known book Mimesis. The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (1953; orig. German 1946: Dargestellte Wirklichkeit in der abendländischen Literatur), written by the German-Jewish Erich Auerbach, comparative scholar and critic of western literature. After a general introduction of the book and the person of Auerbach, chapters of the book will be discussed from the perspective of each of the participating languages/cultures.

Course objectives

  • students will have a thorough insight into and understanding of the (history of the) notion of European Literature;

  • students will be able to argue critically with the concept of ‚situatedness‘ (inclulding social, political, and intellectual circumstances of the time) in analitically discussing (European) literature ;

  • students will have knowledge of a corpus of European literary texts;

  • students are able to present their acquired knowledge and understanding in oral and written presentations on an adequate intellectual and linguistic level.


The timetable is available on the Literary Studies website.

Mode of instruction

2-hour lecture a week (6 weeks)

Course Load

The course load is 140 hours:

  • 12 hours of lecture

  • 118 hours of reading primary and secondary material

  • 10 hours for research and preparing written exam.
    The hours above are an approximate calculation only. Some students may read faster, others slower.

Assessment method

Written exam with essay questions (100% of the mark)

Resit: The Resit exam is also a written exam with essay questions. It covers the entire material of the course and is made for all questions (even questions with a sufficient grade at the first attempt).


Blackboard will be used to provide students with additional information/reading material.

Reading list

Erich Auerbach: Mimesis. The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003.


Enrolment through uSis for classes, exams and final paper for classes, exams and final papers is mandatory.

When registering students of the MA Literary studies take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies: Jurjen Donkers.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

For questions about the content of the course, you can contact one of the teachers.

Literary Studies departmental office

Coordinator of studies: Mr. J. Donkers, MA