GERM-652 German Realist Novel
In this course, we will study major novels of the second part of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. This was a time when rapid changes in the social, and economic make-up of the German lands, sciences, technology, administrative practices, and ideological outlook (nationalism; historicism) forced people to cope in new ways with their changing environments. These challenges
are woven into the texts of the realist novels of the time, among them some of the most famous in German literature.
We will read and analyze these novels (some of them in excerpted form) as aesthetic responses to and against the backdrop of contemporary theoretical discussions and developments, fostering an understanding of some of the major intellectual debates of the time and how the novels participated in those debates.
The goals of the course are varied: students will become familiar with canonical realist novels; they will become aware of major aspects of the development of the novel as genre; students will gain experience in interpreting long narrative texts and on how to interpret theoretically text that are seemingly non-reflexive.
Semester readings and topics:
1. Theoretisch-programmatische Aufsütze von Theodor Fontane, Julian Schmidt, Emil Homberger, Rudolf Gottschall, Gustav Freytag und Friedrich Theodor Vischer.
2. Adalbert Stifter, Der Nachsommer:
Naturwissenschaft, Ästhetik, Bildung: Zur Wörtlichkeit des Realismus
3. Gottfried Keller, Der grüne Heinrich:
Bildung als soziale Verantwortung: Kunst als Selbstverwandlung
4. Wilhelm Raabe, Pfisters Mühle: Umweltbewusstsein, Industrie und Idylle
5. Wilhelm Raabe, Das Odfeld:
Zur Konstruktion von Geschichte und Geschichtlichkeit
6. Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Das Gemeindekind:
Zivilisierung, gesellschaftliche Gewalt und Geschlecht
7. Theodor Fontane, Schach von Wuthenow:
Historischer Roman, Realismus und nationale, vaterländische Geschichte.
8. Theodor Fontane, Die Poggenpuhls:
Vermessungen des Realen und des Realismus
9. Thomas Mann, Die Buddenbrooks:
Realismus und Moderne
Requirements include a research paper (15-20 pages) due at the end of the semester, and a bibliography. One report on a significant approach to German realism (by such authors as Auerbach, Lukacs, Brinkmann, Eisele, or one of the more recent books by Holub or Downing). All students are required to present their research projects to the class in two stages: review of previous research and presentation of their own project.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: