GERM 277 Fall 2012 Dangerous Minds/Endangered Minds in the German Tradition

Cross Listed as COMP277
"When we are missing ourselves, we are missing everything." So spoke young Werther in Johann Wolfgang Goethe's groundbreaking novel from 1774. The Sorrows of Young Werther exploded into high Enlightenment Germany, with its emphasis on rationality, on universal human values and on optimism about the future, a bestseller that instead exposed the volatile inner world of an extraordinary individual. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Germany and Austria, profound interiority surfaced frequently to challenge--and even threaten--what was touted as the triumph of objective, scientific thought. At the same time, the writers and thinkers who explored the deepest recesses of the mind were beset by alienation and despair as they were drawn into inevitable conflict with dominant paradigms. This course will examine literature and thought at the moments when the tectonic plates of reason and supposed unreason converge and collide most forcefully: around 1800 (Goethe, Kleist, and the Romantics), around 1900 (Nietzsche, Freud, Kafka, Hofmannsthal), the mid-twentieth century with its disastrous consequences (Hitler, Boll, Bachmann) and the end of the millennium (Roth, Jelinek). Some theoretical work (psychoanalytic theory, Adorno, Benjamin) will aid in the process of understanding the literature and philosophy we read. All readings and discussion will be in English translation.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, several one-page papers, one 5-page paper and a final written and oral project
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Prerequisites: one college-level literature course
Enrollment Preference: actual or prospective Comparative Literature, Literary Studies, or German majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division I
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Enrollment Limit: 25
Expected Enrollment: 15
Class Number: 1457
GERM277-01(F) SEM Dangerous Minds Division 1: Languages and the Arts Gail M. Newman
MR 1:10 PM-2:25 PM Hollander 040 1457
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