WiSe 15/16: Complicity, Resistance, and Reeducation: Reading European Cultures of the 1940s
European cultural life of the 1940s has rarely been studied as a whole, divided by the highly symbolic year of 1945. In this decade totalitarian systems were either strengthened or destroyed, along ... read more
European cultural life of the 1940s has rarely been studied as a whole, divided by the highly symbolic year of 1945. In this decade totalitarian systems were either strengthened or destroyed, along with their conceptualisation in the totalising discourses of the Cold War in a dividing continent.
In the seminar we will study the cultural ruptures and continuities in the decade`s literary, musical and cinematic styles genres: melodramatic film noir, forbidden jazz in the Protectorate, the poetry codes used by the Résistance to Allied liberation films of 1944-45 and the post-war era as a time of retribution, reeducation and Vergangenheitsbewältigung in Germany.
Cultural anthropology offers a method called Thick Description - similar to the 1970s Kultursemiotik it can help us to read individual European cultures as "texts". Moreover, reading literary texts of the time will be our direct path into the minds and hearts of this decade. On top of this cultural anthropology scrutinizes the meaning of cultural behaviour: We will analyze how artists and writers lived through this time, how they coped with the attempts of governments to (totally?) dominate Europe: whether they engaged in collaboration with the occupying forces or formed underground movements and dared to produce illegal cultural production which lead to the formation of vibrant subcultures. Focusing on the cultural outputs we will learn how the war, the Holocaust, the occupation of the continent, its liberation but also daily life were survived, performed and reflected in literature, cinema and visual arts of this decade of displacement.
Lit.: Anonyma: Eine Frau in Berlin. Tagebuchaufzeichnungen vom 20. April bis 22. Juni 1945, F.a.M. 2003. H. Fallada: Jeder stirbt für sich allein, Berlin 2011. J. Skvorecký, The cowards. [1948-9] London 2010. George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four, London 1949. Hannah Arendt: The Burden of Our Time. London 1951. C. Geertz: The Interpretation of Cultures, N.Y. 1973. Leah Dianne Hewitt: Remembering the occupation in French film national identity in postwar Europe. New York 2008. G. Seeßlen: Das zweite Leben des "Dritten Reichs", Berlin 2013.