GERM-394 Images of Childhood
Offered academic year 2021-2022
Ever since the Grimm brothers published their famous collection of Kinder- und Hausmärchen in 1812, images of childhood have been a crucial part of the literature and culture of the German-speaking world. Drawing on this tradition, German and Austrian writers, artists, and filmmakers have used children to represent innocence and morality as well as brutality and horror. For writers such as Frank Wedekind and Walter Benjamin, childhood offers an outsider’s perspective from which to examine and critique society. Similarly, coming-of-age narratives about children and adolescents form the basis of much literature of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Meanwhile, youth culture, in part imported from America, has played an enormous role in shaping postwar German and Austrian culture.
Objectives: In this course, we will explore images of childhood and adolescence in German and Austrian culture and literature from the eighteenth century to the present. We will look at a variety of texts and media, including children’s books, reminiscences, novels, visual images, films and plays. Our class discussions will address the following questions: How can we assess the cultural impact of children’s literature and popular images of childhood? How and why do images of childhood change from one time period to another? What can images of childhood and adolescence tell us about larger conceptions of education, family, gender, and nation?
• Children’s literature from the 18th and 19th centuries including Lessing’s fables, Heinrich Hoffmann’s Der Struwwelpeter and Wilhelm Busch’s Max und Moritz
• Ludwig Tieck, Die Elfen (Märchen)
• Adalbert Stifter, Bergkristall (Novella)
• Frank Wedekind, Frühlings Erwachen (Drama)
• Walter Benjamin, Berliner Kindheit (Kurzprosa)
• Alina Bronsky, Scherbenpark (Jugendroman)
• Das weiße Band (Film)
Requirements: Throughout the course, emphasis will be placed on acquiring specialized content knowledge in combination with refining and improving students’ advanced language abilities with the goal of producing academic-level work in both speaking and writing. To this end, learners will engage in a variety of written and oral tasks, including persuasive, analytical, and imaginative essays; a short oral presentation; dramatic readings of texts; and a final synthetic paper.
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