German 265 / WL 390: Modernity and Its Discontents

German Literature in Translation II

TTh 11:00-12:15, Lloyd Hall 319

The University of Alabama Office Hours: M 11am-12pm
Instructor: Steve Krause Email:
Office Location: BB Comer 263 Phone: 248-7652

1. Prerequisites: good academic standing at the University of Alabama.

2. Description: Through the reading of literary texts in English translation this course provides an overview of the literature and culture of the German-speaking countries during the period of what we usually call “modernism.”

Core Curriculum Information

Humanities (HU) designation: Overall, this course addresses the ability to deal with questions of values, ethics and aesthetics as they are represented in literature and related fields within the Humanities which will be the focus. This course emphasizes the history and appreciation of the Humanities, rather than simply the ability to perform tasks at the written level.

Literature (L) designation: This course emphasizes the history and appreciation of the Humanities, rather than simply the ability to perform tasks at the written level. Nevertheless, this course will include substantial in-class and out-of-class writing that encourages the development of critical thinking and requires students to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate knowledge.

Crosslisting: This course is crosslisted as GN 265 and WL 390. Note that all the materials to be studied and the assignments to be submitted, for this cross-listed course, apply to all the departments involved in teaching this course.

3. Educational Objectives: Several times through history German literature has become World literature. Through this seminar we will cover and explore several important authors and works of the late 19th through mid-20th century that by way of reputation, enduring popularity and literary value belong to what we call “world literature.” In addition a historical overview of German literary and cultural developments, provided by instructor lectures, we will explore individual works and adjunct topics in-depth through a seminar setting and longer Projekte prepared individually by students. Many of the concerns of 19th-century realism, Vienna around 1900, and works of “High Modernism” are still relevant to contemporary questions in philosophy, the arts, and culture in general.

4. Learning Objectives: In this course you will …

  1. Expand your knowledge of German literary periods, authors, and specific works
  2. Develop more effective writing and communication skills
  3. Become familiar with scholarly methods and research materials
  4. Reflect on translation and translations, as well as narrative techniques
  5. Discriminate critically between reliable and less reliable sources of information
  6. Explore what we mean by modernity and engage its criticisms
  7. Analyze specific works, motifs or language
  8. Synthesize analyses and interpretations of different works or periods into a whole
  9. Create an individual/personal analysis, synthesis or evaluation of the semester’s materials

5. Attendance Policy: Regular attendance is essential; there are no “make-ups” without prior consent of the instructor. In the case of serious illness or family emergency I may require proof or your absence before counting it as “excused” or before allowing for the possibility of make-up work. This course meets twice per week; if you miss more than six sessions you will receive an “F.”

6. Grading policy:

Grade Breakdown:

  • 20% Participation/Preparation [Readings, In-class, Presentation]
  • 30% Written work [Blog, Writing projects]
  • 10% Midterm exam
  • 10% Final Exam
  • 30% Final project

Scale: 93-100 A, 90-92 A-, 87-89 B+, 83-86 B, 80-82 B-, 70-79 C, 65-69 D, <65 F.

Contact the instructor ahead of time about an ‘excused absence’ to make arrangements if a test or other in-class project is planned.

7. Assignments: In addition to daily or weekly reading assignments — both “primary literature” (mainly novels and novellas, though supplemented my several poems) and “secondary literature” (works about the primary literature, about periods, translation and theory, etc.) — there are a variety of written components to the course:

  1. More often than not all students will prepare equally for a given topic or session, but over the course of the semester each student in conjunction with a partner or two will be responsible at least once for providing a short presentation with (with printed handout and discussion questions) and lead the discussion on a given text/topic. We will assign texts/topics and likely dates the first or second day of class.
  2. Frequent comments/reflections in response to blog posts on the course website by the course instructor. Students will also be responsible for writing two or more posts for others to discuss (the equivalent each of a short essay); topics and guidelines will follow. Such blog posts will pose questions, link to media or articles about texts/material we’re covering, etc. Each student needs to respond to at least half of the instructor’s posts over the course of the semester. Blogs work as discussions; they also allow students to ask questions about course materials outside of class. Posts “for credit” may be brief (about a paragraph or so in length), students, may, however, and are encouraged to, post other questions and comments.
  3. One in-class blue-book midterm exam, scheduled for before Spring Break. It will take one class session, perhaps a little less, and will include (1) identification and (2) short-answer questions based on the material (lectures, materials prepared, texts read) covered to date as well as (3) one or two “essay questions.” It will be a closed-note exam.
  4. Two or Three short writing projects/essays on topics assigned in class. You should count on a minimum of three pages per essay. All written assignments have to be double spaced and follow MLA Style unless otherwise instructed.
  5. One in-class blue-book final exam, scheduled for Finals Week in May, currently scheduled for Thursday May 3, from 8am to 10:30am. It will be cumulative and will include (1) identification and (2) short-answer questions based on the material (lectures, materials prepared and student presentations, texts read) covered as well as (3) longer essay questions. It will be a closed-note exam.covered as well as longer essay questions. It will be a closed-note exam.
  6. One “final project,” which will consist of you becoming an “expert” on a German literary text we are not otherwise covering in class. It will consist of several aspects/stages of work, including (a) an overview of the author and text, (b) a survey of secondary literature related to that text, (c) more intense focus on the text itself by way of a longer paper (equivalent of a “term paper”), and (d) a work or project more creative and personal in nature that connects your academic or personal/creative interests to what you’ve learned about this text. Instructions, details and examples will follow later in the semester. The presentation of this work will occur in the final week of the semester, time permitting; the manner of presentation will be determined.

The specifics of all assignments — due dates, format, topics, etc. — will be covered in separate documents.

8. Texts and other Materials: The following is a list of primary texts we will read and discuss in full this semester. They are presented here in the likely/rough order in which they will be discussed.

  1. T. Fontane, Effi Briest
  2. A. Schnitzler, Fräulein Else
  3. T. Mann, Death in Venice (& possibly Tonio Kröger)
  4. F. Kafka, The Trial (and one or more other works, e.g. The Metamorphosis and/or In the Penal Colony)
  5. H. Hesse, Steppenwolf
  6. M. Frisch, Homo Faber

In addition a handful of 19th- and 20th-century German poems (in translation) will be provided and discussed when time permits, and selected secondary literature focusing on 1) (the theory of) translation, 2) narratology, and 3) the primary literature under consideration will be assigned, usually at least two class periods in advance.

Disabilities: Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact and register with the Office of Disability Services (348-4285 or 348-3081 TTY). Once the appropriate paperwork is obtained, please see the instructor as soon as possible for arrange accommodations.

Academic Misconduct: Academic dishonesty, including but not limited to cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, and misrepresentation, is not allowed. Students committing such misconduct are reported to the Dean’s office. Consult your Academic Honor Code for details.

Cell phones off at all times, please! Laptops for presentations only!

Willkommen in Deutsch 265!

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