course description | grade distribution | required texts | course policies

Class Time: W 4:00 - 6:30 pm
Room: Eads 115
Instructor: Lutz Koepnick
Telephone: 935-4350
Office: Ridgley 328
Office Hours: Tue 1 -3 pm

Literary texts and photographic images engage very different logics to track the passing of time, narrate (hi)stories, preserve memory, and frame the real. And yet, German literature since the nineteenth-century abounds with texts seeking to emulate the operations of a camera, offer snapshots of fleeting realities, and use photographic images and techniques of seeing so as to experiment with new modes of representation. This seminar is designed to examine the curious relationship between photography and literature. We will probe literary allusions to photographic seeing through rigorous readings of shorter and longer texts by Beyer, Brinkmann, Handke, Jünger, Keller, Kluge, Mann, Moholy-Nagy, Noteboom, Rilke, Schnurre, Sebald, and Tucholsky. We will expand our discussion by investigating theoretical texts on photography, and on the relation between images and words, by authors as diverse as Benjamin, Barthes, Cadava, Metz, Mitchell, and Sontag. And we will finally study the work of seminal German or Germany-based photographers of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries such as the Bechers, Demand, Eliasson, Gütschow, Gursky, Höfer, Hofmann, Riefenstahl, Ruff, Salomon, Sander, Struth, and Tillmans. Discussions in English. Readings in English and German.

  • Participation and attendance: 40%
  • 1 oral presentation & 1 thought paper: 20%
  • 1 Paper (10-12 pages due by 12/12/07; 1-page abstract due by 11/7/07): 40%

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

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

  • Ulrich Baer. Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma. ISBN-10: 0262524473
  • Roland Barthes. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. ISBN-10: 0374521344
  • Marcel Beyer. Spione. ISBN-10: 3596153972
  • Eduardo Cadava. Words of Light. ISBN-10: 0691002681
  • Peter Handke. Der kurze Brief zum langen Abschied. ISBN-10: 3518397869
  • Cees Noteboom. Allerseelen. ISBN-10: 3518396633
  • Rainer Maria Rilke. Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge. ISBN-10: 3458323309
  • W. G. Sebald. Die Ringe des Saturn. Eine englische Wallfahrt. ISBN-10: 3596136555
  • Susan Sontag. On Photography. ISBN-10: 0312420099
  • Liz Wells, Ed. Photography: A Critical Introduction. ISBN-10: 041530704X