“It’s so Kafkaesque!” We love to use the most famous Austro-Hungarian-Czech-Jewish writer of all time to characterize puzzling and dispiriting situations. But close examination of Franz Kafka’s work and life reveals a multi-dimensional world that goes far beyond the cliché. Jewish in an increasingly anti-Semitic environment, German-speaking surrounded by Czech-speakers, deeply alone in a family that didn’t understand him, Kafka produced texts that simultaneously demand and refuse to be interpreted. In this tutorial we will begin with intensive readings of selected short stories and parables, then move on to an exploration of the Kafka’s own words from diaries and letters, as well as secondary sources. The course will conclude with discussions of how Kafka’s texts and their contexts might relate to contemporary conditions and/or to students’ own lives and thoughts. This will be a modified tutorial, with five groups of three students apiece. Students may take the tutorial in either German or English; groups will be formed accordingly.
Format: seminar; The class will be divided into groups of 3. At each weekly meeting, one of the 3 will present a 5-page paper, another will present a formal response, and the third will participate actively in discussion. Students will incorporate at least one of their papers into a final project that links their discussions of Kafka to their own interests and/or to contemporary issues. Students can take the course in German or English (or a combination of the two), and groups will be formed accordingly
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
Three 5-page papers, three 1-2 page responses, one final project, discussion leading. Evaluation: Tutorial papers will receive extensive comments, but no grade; the instructor will meet with individual students at least twice during the semester to discuss how things are going for them. Responses will not be evaluated by the instructor, but instead will function well or less well in the context of the discussion. The final project will receive a grade, and the final grade will be determined by the overall trajectory of the student's learning.
For German speakers: GERM 202 or the equivalent preferred, though students with less experience should contact the instructor. For students taking the course in English: one college literature course.
German students, majors or potential majors in Comp Lit or German
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
The course has a modified tutorial format, with groups of three meeting weekly instead of pairs. Each student will write three 5-page papers plus three 1-2-page responses during the semester, and will prepare a final project. Each paper will receive extensive feedback from the instructor.