Germanic Languages | Seminar in German: The Impossible Return: Nostos and Nostalgia in the German Literary Tradition
G825 | 10649-10650 | J. Turk


Nostos, the return home, is one of the major figures of the epic.
Its canonical expression is Ulysses’ voyage to his hometown Ithaca,
which ends with his recognition first by a shepherd, then by
Eurykleia, and finally by his wife. But nostos is also the word used
to describe Ulysses’ return from the underworld. Through this form,
war and adventure as disintegrating events are integrated into a
preexisting order: they are brought home. This course examines
through a wide range of readings different historical points, where
nostos is called upon to narrate stories, in which the integration
and integrity of experience is at stake. It examines how in
Modernity the literary form meets its impossibility. The medical
term nostalgia describes an illness of the imagination that was
first diagnosed in the eighteenth century: defined as a nervous
disease, the now frequent derangement was caused by the dislocation
that revolutions and war brought upon mankind. The illness therefore
has a specific historic moment: It expresses the longing for a home,
for integrity and normality that can no longer be taken for granted.

Participants are asked to read the Odyssey during the break in order
to be able to discuss key passages.

Required readings:

A reader with short passages from Grimmelshausen, Keller and Musil
and others, as well as theoretical texts will be provided as PDF.

Homer, Odyssee, reclam ISBN 3-15-000280-X
Goethe, Hermann und Dorothea ISBN 3-15-000055-6
Balzac, Colonnel Chabert ISBN 0811213595 (engl.)
Hofmannsthal, Der Schwierige ISBN: 3-596-27111-8
Woolf, Mrs Dalloway ISBN 0192839705
Jünger, In Stahlgewittern ISBN: 3-608-95208-X
Remarque, Der Weg zurück ISBN 346202728X
Roth, Der Radetzkymarsch ISBN 3-462-03462
Musil, Drei Frauen ISBN 3-499-10064-9
Sebald, Austerlitz ISBN 3-596-14864-2


Recommended readings:

Schiller: Von naiver und sentimentalischer Dichtung
Lukacs, Theorie des Romans,
Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia