Course Detail

195:276: Realism and Revolution

This course provides the opportunity for an in-depth study of representative German literature of the nineteenth century. We will look at the way in which literature responds to the German Sonderweg (special path) that eventually led an aggressively modernizing society to imperialism and totalitarianism. We will examine the various ways in which revolution, social upheaval and historical trauma are being reflected, warded off, and incorporated by 19th -century German fiction. Special attention will be paid to the relationship between the figure of the “revolution” as a disruptive force and the pursuit of “realist” fiction to depict the world we live in objectively. We will also consider various forms of unstable narratives that traverse realist fiction: excessive description, repetition, secrets, rumors, and the uncanny.

Readings include canonical texts of German literature including poems by Heinrich Heine, paintings by Adolph Menzel and Edouard Manet, plays by Georg Büchner and Gerhart Hauptmann, novellas by Joseph von Eichendorff, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, and Adalbert Stifter, and Heinrich Mann’s novel The Loyal Subject (Der Untertan). Emphasis will be placed on developing close-reading and critical writing skills. Theoretical interventions will be provided by Karl Marx and Hannah Arendt. Course Cross-listing: 470:276:01

Required Texts:

Hannah Arendt, On Revolution, Penguin Classics, 2006
     # ISBN-10: 0143039903, # ISBN-13: 978-0143039907

Georg Büchner, Complete Plays and Prose, trans. Carl Richard Muller, Hill and Wang, 1963
     # ISBN-10: 0809007274

Heinrich Mann, Man of Straw, Penguin Classics, 1992*
     # ISBN-10: 0140181377

Karl Marx/Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, CreateSpace, 2010
     # ISBN-10: 1453835598