Germanic Languages | Tradition and Innovation in German Literature
G255 | 26089 | Weiner


G255 Tradition and Innovation in German Literature (3 cr.)
TR 9:30-10:45

Topic: “Adaptation”

For a long time people have been arguing about which is better, the
book or the movie, and about other works—literary or not--that provide
the basis for another.  We ask ourselves such questions as:  Should
the first one count as some kind of ideal original, against which any
adaptation should be measured in terms of its adherence or
faithfulness to the original, or do we feel that later re-workings
should stand on their own or have the right to be judged by other
criteria?  Which do we prefer—the first work or the second, and why?
What do we take into consideration when responding to one artistic
form (say, a short story, poem, drama, or novel) that we might not
take into account when responding to another form?  What if the new
formal possibilities illuminate some aspects of the original story
and/or the original form?   Should we consider the different time
periods in which the different works were created, which open up other
issues such as the nature of their different audiences, or are such
considerations incidental?  These are some of the questions we will
explore in the course of the semester.

With this in mind, the course has three goals: 1) to provide an
introduction to major artistic works of German-speaking Europe from
the late 18th century to the present day; 2) to examine how these
works have been adapted into other aesthetic forms; and 3) to consider
the questions we need to ask when looking at them.  We will be looking
at poems, short stories, novellas, dramas, and novels, and their
transformations when their major features (plot, character, mood,
structure, etc.) reappear when re-used in other guises.  For the most
part, the transformations in question will concern literature into
film, but also into other aesthetic forms--oratorio, opera, ballet,
and music video.  In order to understand the various questions that
pertain to the transfer of one work into another, we will also be
reading some discussions on the process of adaptation—its pros and
cons, questions of faithfulness or distortion, the new possibilities
of stories told through different means, and others.

All texts will be read in English translation.  No knowledge of German
is required.  No credit given in German Studies.  The course counts
toward the College’s distribution requirement in the Arts and Humanities.

Participation (not mere attendance) is essential to the class being
successful, so it is important that all students come to class having
prepared the assigned material and being ready to engage in its
discussion.  There will be a midterm and a final exam.  In place of
the midterm, students have the option of writing a short paper (ca.
10pp.), due on the day of the midterm, on a work or subject mutually
agreed upon by the student and the Instructor.  Students wishing to
take this second option must have worked out a proposal, in
conjunction with the Instructor, by the end of the 4th week of the
semester.  Students also have the option of either taking the final
exam, or presenting a lecture/discussion in the final weeks of the
semester on a project, mutually agreed upon by the student and the
Instructor, concerning the adaptation of a German literary work not
found on the syllabus.  Students wishing to take this second option
must have worked out a proposal, in conjunction with the Instructor,
by the end of the 10th week of the semester.

Course Grades will be computed as follows:

Participation = 34%
Midterm Exam/Short Paper = 33%

Final Exam or Lecture/Presentation = 33%.