GERM-166 Mysteries, Madness, Murder
This course examines stories of crime, murder, and madness in 20th-century German literature, drama, and film as expressions of the search for historical truth and social justice, but also of political renewal. Most of the texts we will discuss are connected by the theme of a quest for historical truth. Many of them will take us right to the ugliest mysteries of the German past, and raise the problem of vengeance and redress. While many German artists have used the medium of crime fiction/drama/film to assert shared moral values by showing that which is evil, mad, or criminal, some reject the idea of a moral consensus. We will discuss how, when, and why various authors depict the quest for truth and justice. The reading material includes texts from various genres (novels, plays, film/tv, essays) and literary styles (expressionism, existentialism, realism, postmodernism). In sum, we will get to know some terrifically suspenseful, eerie, and unusual texts by some of Germany’s best-known authors of the 20th century, acquaint ourselves with some of the century’s persistent philosophical questions, and learn about its most important literary periods and styles.
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