Development of an idea, concept, or institution central to the social sciences. Content varies from year to year. For University Honors Program students only. Offered: A.
Berlin and Beyond: Contemporary German Literature
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall German literature is strikingly diverse and readable. Young writers in their twenties and thirties produce bestselling stories and novels and they garner major literary prizes. They are quickly translated and reviewed both in Germany and abroad. Daniel Kehlmann’s historical novel Measuring the World (2005) about two famous 19th century German scientists was on several bestseller lists and has been translated into more than 40 languages. Both migrant and women writers have been powerful voices in shaping the current literary scene. Three German-speaking writers have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature since 1999, two of them women, namely the Austrian novelist and playwright Elfriede Jelinek (2004), and the Romanian-born émigré writer Herta Müller (2009). How did this come about? What are the major trends in contemporary German literature? Who are its most visible proponents? Why the international appeal? In which respects can we speak of a post- or transnational literature here? This course provides some answers. It introduces students to contemporary German literature since the mid-1980s, focusing on prose fiction by a diverse group of well-known younger writers who started their literary careers after the fall of the wall: Daniel Kehlmann, Judith Hermann, Yoko Tawada, Saša Stanišić, Marcel, and Eva Menasse, among others. Texts on the reading list range from playful historical adventure novels to postmodern travel narratives; from fictional portraits of youthful melancholia in the Berlin Republic to narratives of displacement in different parts of the world; from multi-generational family novels to various kinds of border crossings. We will draw on pertinent critical concepts (e.g. Ha Jin’s notion of “the writer as migrant”) to help us link our close readings of these texts in interesting and productive ways. Readings and lectures in English.
Student learning goals
The course has three overall goals: to foster students’ interest in literature in translation; to broaden students’ literary and cultural horizons; and to sharpen their analytical skills with regard to modern prose fiction.
General method of instruction
Lectures and discussion.
Class assignments and grading
Take-home essay assignments, short-answer quizzes, and a take-home essay final.
Essays, Quizzes, Class work.