Course Description | Grade Distribution | Required Texts

Class Time: W 4:00 - 6:30
Room: Eads 216
Instructors: Lutz Koepnick
Telephone: 935-4350
Office: Ridgley 328
Office Hours: Mon 12-1 & Wed 11-12 & by appointment

Course Description

West German culture of the 1950s continues to be viewed as one of critical amnesia, stifling homogeneity, and political conservatism, while the mid- to late 1960s are seen as a time when decisive breaks occurred in how post-war Germany dealt with the legacy of the Nazi past and in the degree to which West Germany was willing to open itself up to international influences. The seminar will attempt to revise this stereotypical picture by examining the relative heterogeneity as well as the inner conflicts of West German post-war culture, in particular in the late 1950s and early 1960s. By reading landmark texts by Böll, Celan, Grass, Johnson, Sachs, Walser, and Weiss, discussing visual materials and films by Staudte, Thiele, and Wicki, exploring music by famous Schlager stars as much as avant-garde composers such as Stockhausen, and engaging with theoretical and philosophical texts by Adorno, Anders, Arendt, Habermas, and Heidegger, this seminar seeks to complicate the popular view of the so-called "miracle years." Special attention will be given to the way in which writers, philosophers, and filmmakers, around 1959 tried to address the trauma and violence of the Holocaust; to the reconfiguration of masculinity and gendered identity in the post-war era; to mainstream anxieties about American popular culture and the rise of consumption-centered attitudes; to the growth of a rebellious youth culture and issues of generational conflict, and to the cultural effects of new technologies of entertainment such as television. Most readings in German. Class discussion in English.

Grade Distribution

  • Participation and attendance: 40%
  • 1 oral presentation / 1 thought paper: 20%
  • 1 Paper (10-12 pages / 1-page abstract due with bibliographical information due by 11/12/03): 40%

Required Texts

Materials marked "ERES" in the course schedule are availabe from the Electronic Reserve System at Washington University. Login and password to be announced in class.

All other books available for purchase at the Washington University Bookstore:

  • Arendt, Hanna. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.
  • Böll, Heinrich. Billard um halbzehn.
  • Fischer, Ludwig. Literatur in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland bis 1967.
  • Grass, Günter. Die Blechtrommel.
  • Johnson, Uwe. Mutmaßungen über Jakob.
  • Sebald, W. G. Luftkrieg und Literatur. Mit einem Essay zu Alfred Andersch.
  • Walser, Martin. Halbzeit.
  • Weiss, Peter. Abschied von den Eltern.

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