Proceeding from the observation that mimesis, or the representation of reality, is one of the oldest issues in the history of literature, this course aims to introduce you to central arguments that have evolved around realism, broadly conceived. What is meant by realism? How does realism relate to the real? Is realism a style, a literary period, a political attitude, or a rhetorical trick? These and related questions, including also postmodern perspectives, will be addressed in the course. The readings are divided between literary texts and critical commentary that ranges from Plato and Aristotle to contemporary theory; each seminar will be structured around an authoritative intervention (or set of interventions) in the debates on realism. As the course progresses, you will be encouraged to formulate independent positions in relation to these debates. Ultimately, the intention is to enable a textured and historically grounded appreciation of realism as an open question rather than a closed book.

Information for the autumn term 2021