Germanic Languages | Historical Study of German Literature IV
G577 | 13071 | M. Weiner


Topic: “Aesthetics of Engagement”

The question as to whether works of art can not only reflect, but also
bring about change in the world in which they are produced and
received is one of the hallmarks of 20th-century aesthetics. Viewed by
some as a means for withdrawal from society, and by others as a venue
in which social issues find their most productive area of illumination
and contestation, aesthetic constructs have for at least the last 110
years constituted a privileged space for the expression and
examination of extra-aesthetic concerns. For a host of reasons
(historical, political, and philosophical), this has been particularly
the case in German-speaking Europe.

With this in mind, the course will investigate the unfolding of these
ideas as they took form in different kinds of works throughout the
20th and early 21st century--in the novel, novella, and short story,
in poetry, essays, lectures, dramas, and above all in a host of heated
and  very public polemical exchanges that revealed competing
assumptions regarding the role  aesthetic constructs should play in
the formation of the social sphere.

In lieu of a seminar paper, students will be asked to give a 20-minute
lecture (= ca. 10pp. of text) and lead a 15-minute discussion in the
final weeks of the semester on a topic mutually agreed upon by the
student and the instructor by the end of the 9th week, and to provide
the class with a bibliography of works consulted.  This task is
intended to provide students with the opportunity to practice
generating and presenting a conference paper.
Course grades will be computed as follows: Participation 50%;
Presentation 50%.

Required Texts

(Note: Purchased collectively, the texts listed below constitute a
significant investment; most, however, can be found on-line.  Students
may read these works in any edition and/or format they choose.)


Bernhard, Thomas.  Heldenplatz.  Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp, 1988.
ISBN 3-518-01997-X

Brecht, Brecht.  Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny.  Anmerkungen
zu „Aufstieg und Fall
der Stadt Mahagonny“.  Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp, 2011.
ISBN: 978-3-518-18863-7

Döblin, Alfred.  Berlin Alexanderplatz: Die Geschichte vom Franz
Biberkopf.  Munich:
Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1963.
ISBN 978-3-423-00295-0

Jelinek, Elfriede.  Die Kontrakte des Kaufmanns: Eine
Wirtschaftskomödie. Rechnitz (Der
Würgeengel).  Über Tiere.  Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 2009.
ISBN 978-3-499-24984-6

Jünger, Ernst.  Der Arbeiter: Herrschaft und Gestalt. Stuttgart:
Klett-Cotta, 2007.
ISBN 3-608-93604-1

Mann, Heinrich.  Der Untertan.  Frankfurt a/M: Fischer, 2008.
ISBN 3-596-13640-7

Mann, Thomas.  Der Tod in Venedig.  Frankfurt a/M: Fischer, 2010.
ISBN ISBN: 978-3-596-11266-1

Müller, Heiner.  Der Auftrag und andere Revolutionsstücke.  Stuttgart:
Reclam, 2005.
ISBN: 978-3-15-008470-0

Schnitzler, Arthur, Leutnant Gustl.  Stuttgart: Reclam, 2009.
ISBN 978-3-15-018156-0

Walser, Martin.  Tod eines Kritikers.  Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp, 2002.
ISBN 3-518-41378-3