Lost on an Island: The many Faces of the Robinsonade

Modules: see module overview – PS Lit
(41141) PS, 2 SWS, Do 10-12
SoSe 2023
Universität Bayreuth

In this seminar we will deal with a special subgenre of the adventure novel – the Robinsonade, a term that was inspired by Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe (1719) and coined by Johann Gottfried Schnabel in 1731. Defoe’s work will be the starting point for the discussion of the island motif. In the following, we will consider the impact that living on an isolated island has on the entrapped individual(s) and how it is depicted in the selected representations of survival fiction. All the novels bring up the idea of the battle between nature and civilisation, but their narrative realisation and thematic focus vary depending on the values of the time in which they were written. With the help of secondary literature, we will study the different socio-cultural contexts and modes of representation in order to derive at a clear understanding of how the Robinsonade developed which regard to narrative style and social critique.

Texts to be obtained by students:

  • Daniel Defoe. Robinson Crusoe
  • R.M. Ballantyne. The Coral Island
  • William Golding. Lord of the Flies
  • H.G. Wells. The Island of Dr. Moreau