Slavic Languages and Literatures | Interwar Central Europe: Cultural Florescence And Apocalyptic Vision
C565 | ALL | Volkova

Crosslisted in: Slavic Dept., REEI, Comparative Literature and West European Studies

The years between the two world wars presented a curious paradox in the heartland of Europe, Austria, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland; for this area of Europe presented both a particularly rich cultural florescence and an especially acute apocaly
ptic perspective.

In the area of science and the arts, the region was especially fertile in the decades between the wars: the development of Freudian and Jungian psychoanalysis, the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, the linguistic, semiotic and aesthetic theories of
the Prague Linguistic Circle, to name only a few, were achievements which were to be of signal influence on scientific thought the world over. In the arts, the development of dada, poetism, and surrealism, the achievements of modern cinema, the music of
Hindemith, Schnberg, Webern, Martin, Bartk, Kodly, Janek, were achievements that placed Central Europe in the forefront of European art. On the other hand, the frightening depression which hit the area perhaps with more powerful blows than any other Europ
ean region, the strident social and political unrest, the Hungarian Civil War, the Austrian Civil War, the growth of German Fascism, and finally the Anschluss of Austria, the Munich pact and the occupation of Czechoslovakia marked a straight road that poi
nted to the Second World War. It was in this paradox that the Central European consciousness was formed.

The course adopts an intersystemic approach and attempts to link the political threats hanging over the area and the scientific and artistic achievements of the period without, however, reducing one to the other. Special emphasis is laid on the role of th
e Jews in the crossemination of the intellectual climate. The issue of crisis of human values is explored and a syncretic and integrative picture of these years is focused on.

Readings will be predominantly from history books and novels (in English translation). Excerpts from Dblin, Musil, Th. Mann, Broch,  S. Zweig, K. apek, Kafka, Holan, Halas, Orten, Seifert, Witkacy, Schulz will be among the assigned readings. There will be
guest lectures and film screenings.

Requirements:  Paper (15 to 20 pages), class participation