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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Brigitte Prutti
GERMAN 210
Seattle Campus

Classics of German Literature and Thought

Introduction to major figures of German culture from the Reformation to the present, their contribution to the intellectual life of the Western world. Luther, Kant, Goethe, Schopenhauer, Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, Kafka, Brecht, and Mann. In English.

Class description

Frankenstein read Goethe. Shouldn’t you?

This course introduces students to some inspiring, provocative, and inventive literary writers in the German cultural tradition. Our readings include texts from four centuries, from the first internationally successful German pop novel, i.e., Goethe’s acclaimed Sorrows of Young Werther from 1774, to Daniel Kehlmann’s recent historical bestseller The Measurement of the World, published in 2005. The writers on the reading list are representative of romantic, realist, modernist and postmodern trends in German literature; our focus here is on prose fiction that is highly diverse both in terms of its themes and its styles. We will ask what it means to awaken one night after uneasy dreams to find oneself transformed into a giant insect (Franz Kafka’ famous fantastic tale The Metamorphosis); we will see how a rigid Prussian writer is coming undone in the course of his Italian journey (Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice); we will examine metropolitan street life in 1930s Vienna (Veza Canetti’s The Yellow Street); we will discuss youthful melancholia in the 1990s Berlin Republic (Judith Hermann’s Summerhouse, Later) along with several other interesting topics. Heinrich von Kleist, Joseph Roth, and Adalbert Stifter are the other major writers on our program. Students can expect to sharpen their critical skills in analyzing prose fiction and to gain a basic historical understanding of German literature in the broader European context.

Student learning goals

Students can expect to sharpen their critical skills and to gain a basic historical understanding of German literature in the larger European context.

General method of instruction

Lectures and class discussion. Readings in English translation. Class is conducted in English.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Course requirements include regular attendance, active participation, brief reading quizzes,a midterm and a take-home final.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Brigitte Prutti
Date: 02/18/2010