Germanic Languages | Perspectives on German Literature
G415 | 26330 | B. Robinson

Robinsonades: Shipwrecks, Survivors, Lost Souls and Utopians

Robinson Crusoe stories (Robinsonaden) are adventure tales about
surviving and beginning, about being cast out of society and
inventing it anew… or perishing in the attempt. The Robinsonade is
an old genre that stretches back before Defoe to Homer and the
Bible, includes highpoints like Shakespeare’s Tempest and extends
through (low points?) like today’s reality TV. The genre’s own force
of survival presumably lies in the fact that these outrageous
adventures are fun. Our class does not dare spoil the fun, but it
does explore some other reasons for the survival of the genre that
lie perhaps in the power of the sea and the shipwreck, the enigma of
origins, the guilts and pleasures of surviving, and the paradox of
observing what cannot be seen: our infancy and birth on the rocky
shores of a storm-tossed sea with no compass to guide us, but only
our unspoiled nature. German is required; life jackets are not.

Required Texts:

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris (Taschenbuch)
Publisher: Reclam, Ditzingen (1986)
ISBN-10: 3150000831
ISBN-13: 978-3150000830

Arno Schmidt. Schwarze Spiegel
Publisher: Suhrkamp; Auflage: 1 (April 2006)
ISBN-10: 3518188712
ISBN-13: 978-3518188712

Christoph Ransmayr, Die Schrecken des Eises und der Finsternis
Publisher: Fischer (Tb.), Frankfurt; Auflage: 20., Aufl. (1. Januar
ISBN-10: 3596254191
ISBN-13: 978-3596254194