Germanic Languages | German Culture
G464 | 27692 | Robinson

Topic: Socialism!

Sixty years ago this fall the first workers’ and peasants’ state on
German soil was established; twenty years ago this fall East Germany
collapsed. Now, as much of capitalism lies in tatters of its own, it
is especially intriguing to consider some outstanding works of
Germany’s socialist culture. We begin with Anna Segher’s Kleist
Prize-winning story about a fishermen’s rebellion, then consider
Fallada’s great depression chronicle of the struggling little man.
Brecht’s elusive Mr. Keuner condenses the wisdom of an everyman
surviving dictatorship, exile, activism and conformity. Christa Wolf’s
melancholy reflections on what it means to be an individual in a
society that finds itself in a collective existential crisis raise
questions about the relationship of “really existing socialism” to the
historical struggles against capitalism. And Heiner Müller’s radical
revolutionary dramas intensify the paradoxes of East Germany’s
practical ideology. As we read these startling texts, we ask ourselves
what makes them socialist, what makes them modern, and what makes them
realistic or, alternatively, what makes them ideological. To broaden
our understanding of other media and contexts we also view some
classic films of socialism, as well as reading theoretical statements
on what a socialist aesthetics might be.
General course goals include 1) familiarizing ourselves with some
wonderful literary texts; 2) learning how to read a literary artwork
closely; 3) learning how to apply theoretical questions to texts; 4)
understanding how a text might relate to its time and place.

Textbook Orders:

Anna Seghers, Der Aufstand der Fischer von St. Barbara
Verlag: Aufbau Tb
ISBN-10: 3746651506
ISBN-13: 978-3746651507

Hans Fallada, Kleiner Mann - was nun?
Verlag: Rowohlt
ISBN-10: 3499100010
ISBN-13: 978-3499100017

Bertolt Brecht, Geschichten vom Herrn Keuner. Text und Kommentar.
Suhrkamp Verlag
ISBN-10: 3518188461
ISBN-13: 978-3518188460

Christa Wolf, Nachdenken über Christa T
Verlag: Suhrkamp
Sprache: Deutsch
ISBN-10: 3518459139
ISBN-13: 978-3518459133

Heiner Müller, Der Auftrag und andere Revolutionsstücke
Verlag: Reclam, Ditzingen
ISBN-10: 3150084709
ISBN-13: 978-3150084700