"Da jitt et nix zo kriesche!" (In the Cologne-dialect of German: "There's nothin' to weep about!")-Konrad Adenauer, first post-WW2 Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (dying utterance, made ... read more
"Da jitt et nix zo kriesche!" (In the Cologne-dialect of German: "There's nothin' to weep about!")-Konrad Adenauer, first post-WW2 Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (dying utterance, made to his daughter, on 19th April, 1967)
The post-WW2 Wirtschaftswunder (Economic Miracle) is one of the fundamental reasons-if not the reason-for the phoenix-like re-emergence of especially West Germany (but also, though incomparably less, the German Democratic Republic) from the near-total physical and moral destruction of what could have been "the German century" (Stürmer, ed. 1999). The two countries that emerged from the rubble-heap of the Third Reich had to cope and engage with colossal depopulation, societal anomie, war-reparations and collective guilt, and needed, in the words of Adenauer, "a new ideology, [which] can only be an European one". (Schwarz 1995) In this course, we will seek to analyse the self-reorientation of post-1945 Germany-as expressed in its commitment to European unity and solidarity, societal-cultural pluralism, pacifism and the environment-through a comparative study of mostly contemporary literary and cinematic texts. From this perspective, it is crucial to recollect the breaches of normalcy caused by WW2 and the Cold War and look at how post-1945 discourses of 'guilt' and 'Wiedergutmachung' ('reparation', 'restitution'), in the context of the colossal human rights' abuses, on all sides, during and soon after WW2, led to the evolution of certain kinds of literary and cinematic discourses dealing with the horrors of WW2 and the Cold War that are still being processed within European societies.
We will study short excerpts from selected novels-in their English translations-by German, Bulgarian-German, Romanian-German and British- cf. texts mentioned below- and watch films that engage with defining issues and experiences in post-WW2 Germany, including the liberating-yet-dehumanising military occupation by the victorious Allies, the restoration of Jewish life-expression/s to German urban and rural areas, the inhuman deportation and systematic and often-lethal exploitation of ethnic-/German civilians and PoWs by, primarily, the USSR-as in Herta Müller's novel-and intellectual dissent in the GDR-as in Volker Braun's work-among others. The seminar should lead to a nuanced understanding of the pathos and poignancy of Germany's engagement with itspast, and encourage the students to shed their stereotypes, if any, about what contemporary Germany stands for and attempts to encourage, globally. There will also be documentaries, presentations by invitees, who are involved with interdisciplinary German Studies, and a possible class-trip.
Key Texts: Excerpts from the following texts: Zweig, Stefanie, Irgendwo in Deutschland (1996, trans. Marlies Comjean, Somewhere in Germany, 2006); Trojanow, Ilija, An den inneren Ufern Indiens (2003, trans. Ranjit Hoskote, Along the Ganges, 2005); Müller, Herta, Atemschaukel (2009, trans. Philip Boehm, The Hunger Angel, 2012); Winder, Simon, Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern (2010); Braun, Volker, Rubble Flora: Selected Poems (trans. David Constantine & Karen Leeder, 2014). The films In jenen Tagen (In Those Days, dir. Helmut Käutner, 1947); Angst essen Seele auf (Fear Eats the Soul, dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974); Der amerikanische Freund (The American Friend, dir. Wim Wenders, 1977); Die wilden Fünfziger (The Roaring Fifties, dir. Peter Zadek, 1983); So weit die Füße tragen (As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me, dir. Hardy Martins, 2001). Other literary and cinematic texts may be suggested and discussed in the course of the semester.
Course Language: English
Evaluation: Regular attendance, and active participation in class-activities, quizzes with mutually-negotiable frequency, verbal presentations, also mutually-negotiable, and a mandatory end-semester written examination (90 minutes). regular and active attendance will factor as a positive incentive, in terms of grade-weightage for active regularity, and there is a minimum attendance-requirement.