Communication and Culture | Seminar in Media (Beyond Modernism? Narrative Worldmaking in Contemporary Literature and Film)
C793 | 28179 | Breger, C
CMCL-C 793: Seminar in Media
(Topic: Beyond Modernism? Narrative Worldmaking
in Contemporary Literature and Film)
Class Number: 28179
Th, 4:00 PM-6:30 PM, BH 141
Occasional film screening: W, 7:15 PM-9:30 PM, BH 221
Meets with GER-G 620, CULS-C 701, and GNDR-G 701
Open to Graduates Only!
Instructor: Claudia Breger
Office: BH 669
20th-century modernist avant-gardes virtually defined themselves
through the critique of narrative as the quintessential form of
modern identity construction, from the Bildungsroman to Hegel’s
world histories. Since then, however, narrative has had a comeback
in both aesthetic theory and practice. Narratological approaches
have experienced a major revival since 1990, in the course of which
the legacy of ‘classical,’ literary narratology has been transformed
into an interdisciplinary, intermedial study of narrative practice.
These new developments, however, have not yet received much
attention in either German studies (where narratology never had a
strong base) or film studies (as shaped by contextual approaches on
the one hand, cognitive film theory’s rather classical notions of
narrative on the other). In this seminar, we will probe a
transmedial bridging by exploring ‘postclassical’ narratologies in
the study of two (at first glance) diverging 21st-century trends: 1.
Literary critics have discussed the return of authoritative, if
not ‘omniscient’ narration in ‘big’ novels apparently moving beyond
modernism and postmodernism in a search for renewed stabilities. 2.
At the same time, independent films (associated for example with
the ‘Berlin School’) have developed new realisms explicitly re-
connecting with the anti-narrative legacy of 20th century
modernisms. Our investigations, however, may complicate this
confrontation. Exploring intersecting forms of contemporary
narrative worldmaking across media, we will aim to better understand
the complex and often instable relations between form and reception
in its multiple dimensions (sensemaking, affect, ethics, and
The seminar is jointlisted for students from Germanic Studies and
CMCL. The course will be accessible without prior exposure to
narratology (and include reviews of basic analytical categories as
needed), but the focus will be on exploring 21st-century approaches
against the background of ‘classical’ literary analysis and
modernist film theory. With respect to film and literature, the
geographical focus will be on Germany in transnational context (and
from a comparative angle).
All materials will be available in translation/subtitled (and some
originally in English). According to departmental policy, students
in Germanic Studies or fulfilling graduate language requirements
should read originally German materials in German. Most readings
will be available online (and there will be a weekly filmshowing),
but please buy a copy of the following three novels (available at
Boxcar Books or through Campus bookstores):
1. Juli Zeh: Adler und Engel: Roman. Btb 2003 ISBN-10:
3442729262. ISBN-13: 978-3442729265. 10 Euro through amazon.de. OR:
Eagles and Angels. Granta Books 2004. ISBN-10: 186207674X. ISBN-13:
978-1862076747. Starting at $ 6.07 through amazon marketplace.
2. Schulze, Ingo. Neue Leben: Roman. Dtv 2007. ISBN-10:
0618711651. ISBN-13: 978-0618711659. 24 Euro through amazon.de. OR:
New Lives. Paperback Vintage 2009, ISBN-10: 0307277984. ISBN-13: 978-
0307277985; $ 14.04 through amazon.
3. Foer, Jonathan Safran. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
Paperback Mariner Books 2006. ISBN-10: 0618711651. ISBN-13: 978-
0618711659. $ 10.17 through amazon.