WiSe 18/19: World-Making though "Weltliteratur": German Writing about the "East"
Information for students
Das Seminar beginnt erst in der 2. Woche (25.10.2018).
Subject: In the oft-quoted words of the Baltic German philosopher Hermann Alexander, Graf von Keyserling, "[d]er kürzeste Weg zu sich selbst führt um die Welt herum (the shortest way to oneself goes ... read more
Subject: In the oft-quoted words of the Baltic German philosopher Hermann Alexander, Graf von Keyserling, "[d]er kürzeste Weg zu sich selbst führt um die Welt herum (the shortest way to oneself goes around the world)." It seems quite clear that Europe’s intellectual and political-ideological forays into different Asian (West, South and East) literary-cultural traditions and contexts have been deeply influenced by the continent’s explorations into its own identity/ies. Ever since Goethe declared—inspired by what Raymond Schwab called "the arrival of Sanskrit texts in Europe"—that "the age of world literature is upon us, and everyone must strive to hasten its arrival", German and Germanophone novelists and other writers have been foraying into the exotic and bewildering, even exasperating Orient. This course envisages the possibility of analysing the role of various Asian con/texts in influencing and shaping various German literary-cultural approaches to the East, as represented through some border-crossing novels and other texts from the twentieth century.
Program: This course seeks to contextualise, within the domain of world literature, German literary-cultural understanding and representation of the East in the past century, while attempting to locate the same in re/configuration of new socio-cultural worlds within a fast-changing Germany and Germanophone Northern and Central Europe. It will seek, through readings and discussions of selected (portions of) novels and diaries—especially showcasing Asian experiences and encounters—of seven authors: Hermann Hesse, Hermann von Keyserling, Stefan Zweig, Netty Radványi (née Reiling, nom de plume: Anna Seghers), Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Günter Grass and Ilja Trojanow. There will be a few film-screenings and regular group-discussions, throughout the semester, and a possible field-visit to a relevant site within Berlin. The instructor will make the individual texts available on Blackboard and requests that students avoid—if possible—printing them, with regard to the Environment. Students are also encouraged to get their own copies of the primary texts.
Is this course suitable for you? This course is open to students from all academic disciplines, especially in areas that encourage and require interdisciplinary studies in the humanities and social sciences. The student should be prepared to study a number of academic texts in English from the fields of literary-cultural history, cultural studies and the social sciences. S/he should be interested in reflecting critically on the broad patterns of intellectual, mercantile, political and cultural exchanges between Europe and Asia in the time of Empire and Colony and postcolonial debates.
Workload and Evaluation: In order to obtain 5 ECTS credits, the student will need to attend the course regularly and participate actively in discussions (at least 80 % of the sessions); study the weekly course materials (an average of 10-15 pages of English texts per week); participate in group-projects (background/field research) with a presentation in class (for approx. 10-15 minutes) or, exceptionally, write a short essay (approx. 750-1,000 words) and pass the written examination (possibly on 14th February, 90 minutes).