Germanic Languages | German Cultural History
G364 | 28055 | Rasmussen

2nd 8-weeks course

Topic - Repetition, Recurrence, and Return:
Uncanny Repetitions and Unexpected Returns in Germanic Literature and Film

In this course we will be considering the phenomenon of “repetition”
and some of its variants (such as recurrence, return, remembrance,
reproduction) as discussed or portrayed in selected philosophical and
literary works—as well as in film—from Germany and Scandinavia during
the 19th and 20th centuries. “Repetition” is a very curious phenomenon
and has attracted considerable attention from a large number of artists
and thinkers. Our course materials will be divided into four sections:
“Repetitive Labor and Machine Reproduction,” “Repetition versus
Recollection,” “Eternal Recurrence,” and “Repetition, the Uncanny, and
Psychoanalysis.” These divisions correspond to the major theorists we
will be considering: Karl Marx (and Walter Benjamin), Søren
Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud. The artistic works
we will consider fit roughly into these four divisions and range from
short stories by Tieck, Kleist, and E.T.A. Hoffmann at the beginning of
the 19th century (“Blond Eckbert,” “Saint Cecilia,” “The Sandman”) to
the Nobel-prizewinner Günter Grass’s novel Crabwalk (2003) (with
several more texts and also a number of films—including Metropolis
(1927) and Run Lola Run! (1998)—along the way). But as we shall see,
the fit between theory and art is nowhere a perfectly comfortable one,
and rather than simply applying theoretical accounts to artistic works,
we will be placing all the works on our syllabus in dialogue with each
other and considering how different modes of presentation affect the
way repetition is thought about. Course requirements include active
participation in class discussions, several 2-page film response
papers, one 10-15 page paper, and a final examination. Texts will be
read and discussed in English.