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Oppression, Resistance, Despair: Attempting Change in Pre-Revolution Germany, 1830-1848
GRST 305
Fall 2023
Section: 01  

The 1830s-40s were a volatile moment in the history of German democracy and literature. After the defeat of Napoleon and the restoration of the old political order in 1815, authorities started rigorous and increasingly violent campaigns to oppress and destroy the budding (proto-) democratic and early nationalist movements. At the same time, the beginning of industrialization in the German-speaking world led to massive social upheavals, increasing poverty, famines, and the loss of entire economic sectors. In this context, authors of the Vormärz, the decades right before the March revolutions of 1848, became increasingly politicized, critical not only of their societies, but also the previous literary paradigms of Weimar Classicism and Romanticism. In their works, revolutionary in form and content, they fought for a better world and reflected on the need for resistance in the face of defeat and despair, the possibilities for a good life in an unjust world, and the role of art in political and social struggle. The course's main focus will be on Georg Büchner (1813-1837), whose works explore the tension between subjective agency and the destructive dynamic of history (Danton's Tod), idyll and insanity (Lenz), or individual life and structural oppression (Woyzeck). We will also engage with the function of humor and subversion in social critique (Heinrich Heine), the fight for a better status for women (Fanny Lewald, Louise Aston), and hugely problematic components of the rising German nationalism like anti-French and anti-Jewish sentiments.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA GRST
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: GRST 213
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (GRST-MN)(GRST)
Past Enrollment Probability: 90% or above

Last Updated on APR-20-2024
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