Germanic Languages | Introduction to German Literature: Themes
G306 | 8155 | Robinson

Topic: Measure and Disproportion

Disproportion can be enjoyable: we like to indulge; we love to let go;
we are astonished or scandalized by seeing others become unhinged. One
of the wonderful things about literature is that it lets us witness
the act of going over the top. Sometimes, too, the story itself goes
over the top, or our reaction to it does.  Besides being simply
pleasurable, disproportion can also be:

• an excess in style, prolixity, hyperbole—or understatement, litotes
• an excess of effect over cause or vice versa
• an excess of experience over expectation (surprise)
• an excess of insight over observation (epiphany)
• an excess of emotion over reason or vice versa
• caricature
• sublimity

Starting with Goethe’s classical mix of measure and extreme, we
examine literary disproportion as a theme in German literature. We
consider how the theme of disproportion affects literary style. Are
there significant patterns or epochal shifts that we can detect German
literature from the classical through the modern?

Prerequisites:  Any student may enroll in G306 who has either
completed G300 at IUB with a grade of C- or higher or achieved an
official qualifying score on the IUB German Placement Test
(administered by the IUB Bureau of Evaluation Services and Testing),
or on another standardized proficiency test.  Completion of G330,
however, is strongly recommended.  Students with a native or near
native command of German should consult with the Undergraduate
Advisorabout substituting an appropriate 400-level course for G306.

Goethe, “Novella” (1828)

Grillparzer, Der arme Spielmann (1848). ISBN: 3518189182

Musil, “Die Amsel” (1928)

Marie-Luise Kaschnitz, Das dicke Kind und andere Erzählungen
(1945-65). ISBN: 3518188194

Fühmann, “Das Ohr des Dionysios” (1983)
Selected critical texts and poetry