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German 486/586: German Studies Seminar

Session II

Exploring German Literature: Earthquakes, Insanity and Identity

In this course, we will read, discuss and debate three of the most resonant and significant works of German literature over a period of more than 100 years. Kleist’s ‘Das Erdbeben in Chili’ is at once a condemnation of current society, a eulogy to an eventually unreachable paradise, and an implicit hymn to nature. E.T.A. Hoffmann’s famous ‘Der Sandmann’ is one of the most eerie, macabre and gripping tales in all literature–direct ancestor of many subsequent stories and films of fantasy and demonic possession. Finally, Kafka’s ‘Die Verwandlung’ is known world-wide as a paradigm of alienation, pathos and neurosis.

In studying these texts, we will explore not only their language, content and structure, but also the culture and society from which they emerged. These three works are more than stories–they are parables of their time, and as such can also illuminate ours.

Instructor: Dr. Monika Hennemann (Wiesbaden)

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