Germanic Languages | German Culture Studies I: Political Violence
G563 | 17255 | William Rasch


G563: German Culture I: Political Violence		
Professor William Rasch
TR: 2:30-3:45; Films W: 7-9; 3 cr.

Political Violence

In Max Weber’s famous words: “Für die Politik ist das entscheidende
Mittel: die Gewaltsamkeit.”  The aim of this course will be to
examine how the question of the legitimacy of political violence –
whether thought of as the monopoly of state violence (as manifested,
for example, in warfare or the maintenance of the rule of law) or
the right of resistance (leading to revolution and/or civil war) –
is reflected and reflected upon in the German-language literature of
the late 18th and first half of the 19th centuries.  The readings
will be grouped under three main headings: the French Revolution,
the Napoleonic wars (Wars of Liberation), and the literary
activities leading up to the failed revolution of 1848, with a final
nod in the direction of ennui of the post-1871 Empire.

Primary texts include plays by Schiller, Kleist, Büchner, Grabbe,
and, as a flash forward, Peter Weiß; poetry by Heine and others; and
theoretical writings by Schiller, Fichte, Clausewitz, Marx, and
perhaps others.  Secondary literature will include Blackbourn’s
History of Germany, 1780-1918, Arendt’s On Revolution, and perhaps
other sources on the political theory and the political and literary
history of the time.  We will also look at a handful of German
films – largely from the 1930s – that are set in the times we are
studying. We will, in other words, read canonical texts of German
literature within varied historical and political contexts.