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Ge 207 German Culture in the Age of Revolution 1789-1848 2013/14

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GE 207 German Culture in the Age of Revolution


Teaching times: Lecture: Tuesday 4.00-5.00pm in R0.12 (Ramphal Building)

Seminar: Wednesday 09.30-11.00 or 11.00-12.30pm (H202)

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

  1. to provide you with an overview of political, social, and cultural developments in Germany from the period immediately preceding the French Revolution of 1789, via the Napoleonic wars, the French occupation, the restoration of Germany after 1815, to the rise of socialism in the period leading up to the failed German revolution of March 1848;

  2. to locate within this historical framework key movements and currents in the history of ideas in Germany;

  3. to study in detail a selection of key literary texts from the German national cultural tradition as mediators of the central ideas and debates of the period;

  4. to further skills in literary critical analysis learned in the first year of your course.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you should:

  • have gained knowledge and critical understanding of a key period in the culture and history of Germany and insight into the range and variety of its cultural practices;

  • be able to demonstrate skills in independent critical analysis of a range of set texts from the period in German culture 1780-1848;

  • be able to contextualise set texts in terms of their relation to the social and political history of the period and/or the history of ideas.

In addition, the module will provide you with the opportunity to develop further the following skills:

  • the ability to abstract and synthesize key information from written and spoken sources in German and English;

  • the ability to organize, present, and defend ideas within the framework of a structured and reasoned argument;

  • the ability to formulate your opinions with reference to established interpretations;

  • the ability to analyse critically a range of materials in German and English (primary texts, secondary sources, contextualizing historical material);

  • the ability to apply critical methodologies to the analysis of literary texts;

  • the ability to conduct independent research using library and bibliographic resources and ICT skills.

Teaching and assessment

The module is taught by a combination of weekly lectures and student-led seminars.
Students will be required to write two pieces of assessed work (a 2,000 word commentary to be submitted in Week 1 of Term 2 and a 3,000 word essay to be submitted in Week 1 of Term 3). There is also a three-hour writtten exam towards the end of Term 3. The weighting of the three components is 20%, 30% and 50% respectively.

Lecture/seminar programme

Term 1

Week 1: Overview. Contexts and developments

Lecture: (Tues: 4pm, R0.21) The Legacy of the Enlightenment in Germany: Continuities and Challenges
Lecture: (Wed: 10.00am, H202) Liberté, Égalite, Fraternité: The French Revolution and its Impact on Germany
Week 2: The Politics of the Enlightenment in Germany

Lecture (Tues): Contradictions and compromise: Reason, the individual, and the Absolutist state in 18th century Germany

Seminar (Wed): Immanuel Kant, ‘Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?’ (1784)
Week 3: Identity and difference

Lecture (Tues): Too different for equal rights? Enlightenment debates on Jewish emancipation

Seminar (Wed): Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Die Juden (1749)
Week 4: Lecture: Historical Background to Friedrich Schiller, Maria Stuart (1800)

Seminar: Maria Stuart: Women in Charge?
Week 8: Lecture: Too different for equal Rights? Enlightenment Debates on Women’s Status in Society

Seminar: Schiller Maria Stuart: Contemporary Themes

Week 6: Reading week; no class

Week 7: The individual and authority – the individual and the national community: two dramas of conflict

Lecture: Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell (1803-4): tyranny, revolt, revenge – exploring the revolutionary character

Seminar: Tell – assassin or revolutionary hero?
Week 8: Lecture: Ideas of the nation

Seminar: “Wir sind ein Volk, und einig wollen wir handeln” – the construction of the ‘Swiss people’ in Wilhelm Tell
Week 9: Lecture: Kleist’s Prinz Friedrich von Homburg (1810): exploring the tensions within ‘benevolent despotism’

Seminar: Homburg – romantic hero vs. Prussian officer?

Week 10: Lecture: Kleist’s Prinz Friedrich von Homburg: conflicting readings

Seminar: Whose values, whose reality? Ambiguity and conflict in Homburg
Term 2

Week 1: The Romantic rebellion.

Lecture (Tues): The socio-political context of Romanticism in 19th-century Germany and Europe.

Lecture (Wed): ‘Romanticising the world’. The philosophical underpinning of German Romanticism
Week 2: Romanticism and Interiority

Lecture (Tues): Landscapes of the mind (I): Caspar David Friedrich and German Romantic painting.

Seminar: Ludwig Tieck Der blonde Eckbert
Week 3: Lecture: Landscapes of the mind (II): Art and the artist. Romantic love and the quest for utopia; Eichendorff’s poetry and introduction to Das Marmorbild

Seminar: Josef von Eichendorff Das Marmorbild
Week 4: Lecture: Landscapes of the mind (III): The dark side of reason: madness and death in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Der Sandmann

Seminar: E.T.A. Hoffmann Der Sandmann
Week 5: Politics, perspective and the question of human subjectivity

Lecture: What is evil? The return of Grand Theory. Leibniz, Kant and Rousseau and the problem of human wickedness and social change.

Seminar: Heinrich von Kleist Das Erdbeben in Chili
Week 6: Reading week
Week 7: Lecture: The landscape of politics (I). Napoleon, German Nationalism and the question of ‘total revolution’. Heinrich von Kleist and the Haitian revolution.

Seminar: Heinrich von Kleist Die Verlobung in St. Domingo
Week 8: Lecture: The landscape of politics (II). ‘Vormärz’, propaganda and political literature. The aesthetics of revolution.

Seminar: Georg Büchner Der hessische Landbote and Lenz
Week 9: Revolution and theories of history

Lecture: A revolution in Germany? The French Revolution revisited.

The political background to Georg Büchner Dantons Tod

Seminar: Büchner Dantons Tod
Week 10: Lecture: What is history? Theories of history and human progress. The origins of Communism.

Seminar: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Das kommunistische Manifest

Term 3
Week 1: Lecture (Wednesday, 10.00am; venue tbc.): The political scene in Germany between the Congress of Vienna (1815) and the 1848 revolution

Week 2: Lecture: Heine and the emergence of the modern

Seminar: Heine, Die Harzreise (I)
Week 3: Lecture: Poetry and politics in the 1840s

Seminar: Heine, Die Harzreise (II)

Primary texts

Term 1

Immanuel Kant, ‘Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?’ in Was ist Aufklärung? (Reclam)

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Die Juden (Reclam)

Friedrich Schiller, Maria Stuart (Reclam)

Friedrich Schiller, Wilhelm Tell (Reclam)

Heinrich von Kleist, Prinz Friedrich von Homburg (Reclam)
Term 2

Ludwig Tieck, Der blonde Eckbert (Reclam)

Joseph Eichendorff, Das Marmorbild (Reclam)

E.T.A. Hoffmann, Der Sandmann (Reclam)

Heinrich von Kleist, Das Erdbeben in Chili (Reclam)

Heinrich von Kleist, Die Verlobung in St. Domingo (Reclam)

Georg Büchner, Lenz / Der hessische Landbote (Reclam)

Georg Büchner, Dantons Tod (Reclam)

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Das kommunistische Manifest (Reclam)
Term 3

Heinrich Heine, Die Harzreise (Reclam)

Secondary reading

You will be provided each week with lecture handouts and seminar worksheets which will provide more detailed lists of relevant secondary reading. The following are useful general introductions and overviews:
Historical background:

David Blackbourn, History of Germany 1780-1918 (London, 2003)

Mary Fulbrook (ed.), German History since 1800 (London, 1997)

Eda Sagarra, A Social History of Germany 1648-1914 (London, 1977)

Eda Sagarra, An Introduction to Nineteenth Century Germany (London, 1980)

Cultural and literary background:

Beutin, Wolfgang et al., A History of German Literature from the Beginnings to the Present Day (London, 1993),

Eda Sagarra and Peter Skrine, A Companion to German Literature (Oxford, 1997)

Brunschwig, Henri, Enlightenment and Romanticism in Eighteenth-century Prussia (Chicago, 1974)

Norman Hampson, The Enlightenment (London, 1968)

Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds.), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983)

Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment (Cambridge, 1995)

Hugh Honour, Neo-Classicism (London, 1968)

Hugh Honour, Romanticism (London, 1979)

S. S. Prawer (ed.), The Romantic Period in Germany (Oxford, 1970)

Isaiah Berlin, The Roots of Romanticism (London, 1999)

William Vaughan, German Romantic Painting (New Haven & London, 1980)

Hans Reiss, The Political Thought of the German Romantics (Oxford, 1955)
Individual authors:

Robertson, Ritchie. “Dies Hohe Lied der Duldung‘? The Ambiguities of Toleration in Lessing’s Die Juden and Nathan der Weise.” The Modern Language Review 93, no. 1 (January 1, 1998): 105–120.

T.J. Reed, Schiller (Oxford, 1991)

Lesley Sharpe, Friedrich Schiller (Cambridge, 1991)

Max Frisch, Wilhelm Tell für die Schule (Frankfurt/M., 1971)

Seán Allan, The Plays of Heinrich von Kleist. Ideals and Illusions (Cambridge, 1996)

Hilda M. Brown, Heinrich von Kleist. The Ambiguity of Art and the Necessity of Form (Oxford, 1998)

Jeffrey L. Sammons, Heinrich Heine. A Modern Biography (Princeton, 1979)

Seán Allan / Birgit Röder / Helmut Schmitz (July 2013)

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