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GERMAN 298 A: Topics in Literature and Culture

Literature of War: The Destruction of the Hero

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWThF 12:30pm - 1:20pm
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Syllabus Description:

Literature of War: The Destruction of the Hero

This course focuses on depictions of WWI, WWII and their aftermath, and asks compelling philosophical questions regarding the function and purpose of war and humanity’s relationship to its destruction. What contributes to the relentless drive to war? Can war serve a rational purpose? What is the role of the hero? Central to our inquiry will be the deconstruction of the traditional understanding of the ‘hero’ and the utilization of this figure to perpetuate the push towards war.

Students will examine depictions of war and its effect on society in prose, drama, poetry, film and other visual media. Students will apply an interdisciplinary approach to the material, drawing thematic connections between the various media and analyzing them in conjunction with theoretical texts.

We will engage with works from major 20th century writers, artists and filmmakers: Georg Trakl’s poetic descriptions of the effects of war and Otto Dix’s graphic portrayals of trench warfare vividly undercut any romantic associations with war. Heinrich Böll’s “Stranger, Bear Word to the Spartans We” connects traditional German bourgeois values with the barbarism of modern society, establishing a trajectory between the two. Rossellini’s Germania Anno Zero details the continuation of toxic ideologies and their potential to destroy even after the war has ended. Students will explore these topics through textual analysis and written reflections, group presentations and multi-media creative projects. Students will develop an understanding of the different modes of representing war, develop their competency in analyzing diverse media and presenting their interpretations in a collaborative setting.

No prerequisites. All readings and discussions in English

VLPA credits 

Catalog Description: 
Introduces literary works and cultural artifacts from a variety of different traditions, cultures, and periods. Helps students to acquire basic tools for analyzing literature and culture.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:06pm