GERM-459 Writing Our Selves
Fall for 2017-2018
As a Level V course which also functions as the Senior Seminar, this course focuses on the dialogic nature of meaning making through writing in three distinct genres, letters, diaries, and reflective essays, all of which naturally have a strong autobiographical flavor and also have a particularly rich tradition in German culture in the 19th and 20th century. Our focus will be the period from 1875 to 1945. By selecting topics representative of a particular period or a pervasive feature of human experience, by including writers from numerous walks of life engaged in diverse intellectual and professional pursuits, and by providing multiple perspectives on one and the same issue, the course aims to enable students to gain a rich understanding of diverse socio-cultural phenomena that characterize the German experience in that time frame, as refracted through the experience of individual writers. At the same time students will gain a refined awareness of the dialogic nature of meaning-making itself, whether that occurs through internal dialogue with our selves or through external dialogues with others. The course is also designed to foster students’ own creative writing abilities through the use of these genres, to allow them to gain a voice of their own in German.
The course presupposes an enjoyment of reading, a delight in reflecting on a range of issues through dialogue with others, on making connections, and on writing. The texts chosen are engaging, varied in terms of the issues and events to which they refer, and, as fits the genres, largely narrative. Because of their strong anchoring in the lives of people – and quite remarkable people at that --they are also pleasurable and thought-provoking, in a form of German that is at once not overly difficult to read and yet deeply steeped in German culture.
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