Slavic Languages and Literatures | Interwar Central Europe: Culture 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 apocalyptic
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 European 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 pointed 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 the 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