Englisches Seminar, Universität Zürich, Herbstsemester 2009 ///
In analyzing narrative texts we often use optical terminology. We talk about point-of-view, perspective and focus; a text offers us insights or we become aware of its blind spots. In this seminar we want to take such optical metaphors serious by discussing texts, which explicitly deal with the act of seeing and the gaze. In doing so these texts make a phenomenon their topic, which is ever since the renaissance and its interest in optics of the highest importance. But – as will be shown – texts about the gaze are also comments on art and literature itself and their ability of altering our view on the world and on ourselves.
We will be discussing texts like «Frankenstein», «The Turn of the Screw» and Paul Austers «New York Trilogy» as well as short stories by E. A. Poe and H. G. Wells. We will also analyze the movies «Rear Window» by Alfred Hitchcock and «Peeping Tom» by Michael Powell. As this seminar should demonstrate how theory enables us to see (sic!) new things in narratives, we will have to study key philosophical texts about the gaze by Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault and Jacques Lacan.