Germanic Languages | Perspectives on German Literature: 20th Century
G577 | 25462 | M. Weiner
G577 Perspectives on German Literature: 20th Century
BHxxx TR 2:30-3:45
Topic: 20th-Century Literature as Social Criticism
It has become a truism that literature can function as an outlet for
social criticism, but the understanding of what that function
entails underwent repeated modification throughout the 20th
century. Can aesthetic constructs reflect social configurations?
Can they engender social change? Does literature inhabit a
privileged, or simply a different, position within social dynamics
when compared with other aesthetic constructs? Does the
institutionalization of literature differ from that of musical or
pictorial works? What forms of aesthetic language production have
been viewed as more, or less, appropriate for the representation,
discussion, and/or transformation of social forces than others? Is
it the duty, or the burden, of the author to effect such
transformation? When the (perceived) relationship between the
author and the reading public in general, or a circumscribed, target
audience in particular, changes, what are the repercussions of that
change for the (perceived) representationalism and/or the efficacy
of the literary construct?
These are questions we will be pursuing as we undertake a
chronological survey of texts, periods, movements, and genres—short
story, novella, poetry, drama, novel, essay, and film—representative
of shifting understandings of the role of the author and her text in
the course of the 20th century. Nearly half of the works we shall
read are found on the departmental “Ph.D. Reading List in Modern
Literature and Culture.”
In lieu of a seminar paper, students will be asked to give a 20-
minute lecture (= ca. 10pp. of text) and lead a 15-minute discussion
in the final weeks of the semester on a topic mutually agreed upon
by the student and the Instructor by the end of the 9th week, and to
provide the class with a bibliography of works consulted. This task
is intended to provide students with the opportunity to generate and
practice presenting a conference paper.
Course grades will be computed as follows: Participation 50%;
Note: Many of the texts we will be working with are canonical, and
we will only be reading excerpts from a number of them not available
through e-reserves (cf. those by Brecht, Grass, Thomas Mann,
Schnitzler, and others). This is especially the case with Heinrich
Mann’s Der Untertan and Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz.
Therefore, students may find that they do not need to purchase all
of the required texts, as many will be available in the library or
in less expensive, used editions.
Bessing, Joachim. Tristesse Royale.
Berlin: List TB, 2001.
Brecht, Bertholt. Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagony.
Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2003.
-----, Die Maßnahme. Zwei Fassungen. Anmerkungen.
Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1998.
Döblin, Alfred. Berlin Alexanderplatz.
Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2002.
Grass, Günter. Katz und Maus: Danziger Trilogie 2.
Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1993.
-----. Schreiben nach Auschwitz.
Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1990.
Jelinek, Elfriede. Stecken, Stab und Stangl; Raststätte, oder, sie
machens alle;Wolken, Heim / Elfriede Jelinek; mit einem "Text zum
Theater" von Elfriede Jelinek.
Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1997.
Mann, Heinrich. Der Untertan.
Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1964.
Mann, Thomas. Der Tod in Venedig.
Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1992.
Meinhof, Ulrike. Bambule: Fürsorge—Sorge für wen?
Berlin: Klaus Wagenbach, 1994.
Schnitzler, Arthur. Fräulein Else. Leutnant Gustl. Andreas
Thamayers letzter Brief.
Frankfurt: Insel, 2002.
Strauss, Botho. Der Park.
Munich: Carl Hanser, 1985.