Writing Travel: Migration, Translation, Memory
German 423: Writing Travel: Migration, Translation, Memory
“Every story,” writes Michel de Certeau, “ is a travel story.” In this course we will consider the intimate link between travel and narrative, in particular in the context of the mobility and displacement that is characteristic of life in 20th century Europe. Extending from the celebration of the wanderer in 19th century literature, this course will trace the fugitive geographies and the multi-lingualism of the migrant. We will focus on the German-language literature and film of those who—through exile, travel, immigration, emigration, or other cultural forms of movement—have challenged and reimagined traditional conceptions of German national and cultural identity. We will encounters forms including lyric poetry, novella, essay, collage, and memoir, and special attention will be given to questions of translation, understood broadly as a literary and cultural practice that fosters understanding as well as creative misunderstanding. Our authors–including 1929 Nobel prize winner Thomas Mann, Yoko Towada, the writer, director, and actress Emine Özdamar, filmmaker Fatih Akin, German-Jewish novelist Barbara Honigmann, Russian-born German author (and nightclub organizer) Wolfgang Kaminer, and 2009 Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller–will allow us to cover substantial ground in Germany and abroad.
The course has three major goals: Students can expect to expand their knowledge of 20th century German literature, in particular of transnational authors; to sharpen their critical reading and writing skills; and to complete creative and analytical course-related projects.
Readings will be in German with discussion in English and German.