GER 190: 20th Century German Literature in English Translation

GER 190: 20th Century German Literature in English Translation


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GER 190, German Twentieth-Century German Literature in Translation (GH; IL; BA) offers an introduction to 20th-century literary texts written in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, or by authors originally from these countries, with emphasis on cultural, historical, and political contexts. No prior knowledge of German, 20th-century German history, or narrative analysis is required. All texts and discussions are in English. Students will gain a historical perspective of 20th-century German-speaking worlds by analyzing works of award-winning authors and a few filmmakers including but not limited to Arthur Schnitzler, Franz Kafka, Ernst Toller, Bert Brecht, Ruth Klüger, Helma Sanders Brahms, Paul Celan, Max Frisch, and Heinrich Böll. The course draws on diverse genres, such as prose fiction, memoirs, poetry, diaries, short stories, drama, cinematic adaptations of literary works, and film. Short lectures and presentations contextualize the readings about Vienna 1900, two World Wars, the Interwar Years, the Holocaust, and divided and united Germany. Students will engage in an on-going dialogue about the relationships between literature, history, and society. We will explore how literature captures value and belief systems in distinct cultural, social, and political settings. Class discussions focus on the depiction of the individual in modern society, the role of intellectuals as WWI enthusiasts turned pacifists, censorship, the representation of war and the Holocaust, trauma, memory and gender, post-WWII values in a consumer culture, the student movement of 1968, the power of the mass media in the 1970s turning published opinion into public opinion, terrorism, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and German reunification. In German 190, students will critically think about text and context, explore literature as a powerful seismograph of profound cultural and political changes, examine literary works as manifestations of cultural memory and means of social critique, and appreciate writers as keen observers of the world around them. This course is suitable for all students interested in German Studies or the humanities. The course has a GH (General Humanities) and IL (International Cultures) designation and meets the requirement for a BA in the humanities.


Arts and Humanities