Germanic Languages | Tradition and Innovation in German Literature
E311 | 26325 | B. Robinson

Horror, Humor and Nonsense

What draws us to face down our fears? Or draws us to less than
heroically indulge our worst anxieties? Surely, we get a kick out of
the ethically repugnant that we examine in these classic stories of
twisted fate, absurd happenings, perverse involvements and strange
encounters. But what kind of a pleasure is it and what are its
terms? Is it a kind of forbidden knowledge that is better left out
of the curriculum, or is our wrong-headed pleasure in pitch, sulfur
and gore a subjective truth we ignore at our own peril. Or is it
precisely our peril that makes both experiencing and looking away
from this stuff such a pleasure. We will ask these questions as we
explore classics of German literature ranging from the demonic
worlds of ETA Hoffmann and Bonaventura to the enigmas of Kafka, the
midnight madness of Morgenstern and the unexplainable happenstances
of Kisch and Perutz.

Required Texts:

Franz Kafka, The Complete Stories (Paperback)
Publisher: Schocken (November 14, 1995)
ISBN-10: 0805210555
ISBN-13: 978-0805210552

E.T.A. Hoffmann, Tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann (Phoenix Books)
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (May 15, 1972)
ISBN-10: 0226347893
ISBN-13: 978-0226347899

Robert Walser, Selected Stories (New York Review Books Classics)
Publisher: NYRB Classics (January 31, 2002)
ISBN-10: 0940322986
ISBN-13: 978-0940322981