Undergraduate Courses

Winter 2017

Literature of the Occupation.
GRMN 26700, NORW 26700

The German Occupation of Norway, which lasted from April 9, 1940 to May 7, 1945, is indisputably the most significant event in modern Norwegian history. The aim of this course is to use literature of and about this period to characterize the Occupation experience in Norway.  While our texts come primarily from Norwegians, one novel is German and two others, American.  Given the context for these works, we will consider them not only as fiction, but also as history and even propaganda.  Ultimately, we will address the issue of national myth-making: to what extent have Norwegians mythologized their occupation experience and is this apparent in our texts?
Kimberly Kenny.

Metaphysics, Morbidity, and Modernity: Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain.
GRMN 27517, CMLT 27517, FNDL 27517

Our main task in this course is to explore in detail one of the most significant novels of the twentieth century, Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. But this novel is also a window onto the entirety of modern European thought and it provides, at the same time, a telling perspective of the crisis of European culture prior to and following on World War I. It is, in Thomas Mann’s formulation, a time-novel: a novel about its time, but also a novel about human being in time. For anyone interested in the configuration of European intellectual life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Mann’s great (and challenging) novel is indispensible reading. Lectures will relate Mann’s novel to its great European counterparts (e.g., Proust, Joyce, Musil), to the traditions of European thought from Voltaire to Georg Lukacs, from Schopenhauer to Heidegger, from Marx to Max Weber. This is a lecture course with discussion sections. All readings in English.
David Wellbery.

Spring 2017

Berlin in Fragments.
GRMN 23715

Berlin at the turn of the 19th century was the epicenter of Germany’s rapid urbanization and industrialization, and as such it became a privileged site for observing and experiencing modernity. One of the most prominent features of life in the modern metropolis, as noted by contemporaries, was its fragmentary character, both in social terms—the atomization of society as a whole—and in mental terms—the psychic instability of the atomized individual. This course explores a variety of critical and artistic responses to fragmentation: critical efforts to render the fragmented urban landscape legible, and literary and other artistic efforts to explore the potentialities of fragmentation through innovative forms and techniques. The main part of the course will focus on the Weimar period: literature, film and criticism of the Golden Twenties. Afterwards we will turn to short fiction, poetry, and film of post-unification Berlin. Authors include Carl Sternheim, Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, Joseph Roth, Alfred Döblin, Georg Heym, Jacob von Hoddis, Alfred Lichtenstein, Gottfried Benn, Bertolt Brecht, Durs Grünbein, and Tanja Dückers. Films by Joe May, Walther Ruttman, Fritz Lang. Readings and discussions in German.
Colin Benert.

Thomas Mann’s Joseph and His Brothers.
GRMN 25117, FNDL 25100

Thomas Mann’s novel Joseph and His Brothers, a modern rewriting of the biblical story, was written over sixteen years (1926 - 1943) that shook German and European history through the assumption of power by the National Socialist party and the Second World War. Mann began the novel under the Weimar Republic and continued working on the novel in exile. The writer himself saw his novel as an act of resistance to his country’s anti-Semitic policies. In this course, we will closely read the novel, explore its relation to its biblical and other sources, learn about the history of its writing and publication and contextualize its genesis in Mann’s complicated involvement with German and world politics.
Olga Solovieva

W.G. Sebald: On The Natural History of Destruction.
GRMN 25817/35817, FNDL 25817

The difficulty of categorizing the sort of literary practice Sebald engaged in is notorious. The genres and hybrid styles with which his “novels” have been identified include: travel writing, memoir, photo essay, documentary fiction, magical realism, postmodern pastiche, cultural-historical fantasy, among others. And given the fact that his work so often deals, if only indirectly, with the Holocaust and its aftershocks, his work has furthermore been associated with that highly problematic generic and historical constellation, “Holocaust literature.” The seminar will address all of Sebald’s major works in the hope of elucidating this singular intersection of historical and literary complexity. Texts will be available in English and German, discussion will be held in English. We will “accompany” our reading of Sebald with a reading of Lucretius’s poem, On Nature.
Eric Santner.

Opera in the Age of its Mechanical Reproducibility.
GRMN 27717/37717, TAPS 28422/38422, MUSI 24417/34417, CMST 28301/38301

Focusing on a diverse set of productions of Mozart’s *The Magic Flute* by Ingmar Bergman, William Kentridge, Martin Kusej, Simon McBurney, and Julie Taymor, we will seek to locate opera in the contemporary medial landscape, exploring some of the theoretical stakes, dramaturgical challenges, and interpretive achievements that characterize opera on film, DVD, and via live-streaming.  Readings by W. Benjamin, T.W. Adorno, F. Jameson, M. Dolar, C. Abbate, P. Auslander, et al.
David Levin.

Past undergraduate courses