West European Studies | German Cultural History
W406 | 28052 | 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.