Summer 2007

HUMS 643
Art After Auschwitz? Literature, Painting, and Film in Postwar Germany

Gates,Lisa M.

06/25/2007 - 08/03/2007
Tuesday & Thursday 07:00 PM - 09:30 PM

Public Affairs Center 422

In 1947, the German philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote that after Auschwitz, writing poetry was an act of barbarism. But in the decades since the defeat of the Nazis, German artists and writers have continued to produce art, literature, and even poetry that engages with its struggle as a society to come to terms with its Nazi past and move forward into a democratic future. This course examines the works of controversial writers and visual artists in the post-war period as well as works by Holocaust survivors, with particular attention to artistic strategies, contentious aesthetics, and the ways in which artists and their works advance or frustrate Germany's coming to terms with its Nazi past. Artists discussed include novelists Gunter Grass and Christa Wolf, painter Anselm Kiefer, filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, as well as memoirist Ruth Kluger and cartoonist Art Spiegelman. Students will read and interpret novels, film, photography, poems and paintings in this course, with supplemental critical texts drawn from film, photography, cultural studies, and history. Readings are in English.

Readings to purchase include: Gunter Grass, Cat and Mouse; Christa Wolf, Patterns of Childhood; Ruth Kluger, Still Alive; and Art Spiegelman, Maus I. Readings available through e-reserves and blackboard include: Theodor Adorno, "Cultural Criticism and Society" (1949); Ian Buruma, "War and Remembrance," The New Yorker (Sept 18, 2006); Paul Celan, "Death Fugue"; Saul Friedlander, The Limits of Representation (selections); Andreas Huyssen, "Anselm Kiefer: The Terror of History, the Temptation of Myth"; Anselm Kiefer, selected images (e.g. Germany's Spiritual Heroes (1973), Occupations (1975), Magarethe (1981), Nuremberg (1981-82), Stairs 1982-83, Sulamite (1983); Catherine A. Lutz and Jane L. Collins, "The Color of Sex," Reading National Geographic; Oskar Luz, "Proud Primitives: The Nuba People," National Geographic (1966); Alan and Margarete Mitscherlich, The Inability to Mourn (1967); Ray Muller, The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (1999); Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph of the Will, Olympia, The Last of the Nuba; Susan Sontag, "Fascinating Fascism," Under the Sign of Saturn; Lisa Saltzman, Anselm Kiefer and Art After Auschwitz (selections); Michael Verhoeven, dir., The Nasty Girl (1990); Christa Wolf, "What Remains," "Self Experiment," What Remains and Other Stories.

Students are responsible for: Blackboard discussion participation, classroom participation and in-class presentation; one short paper; and a longer paper. Regular attendance and active participation is mandatory. Extended or additional sessions for film screenings may be scheduled. More than one unexcused absence will reduce the final grade.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Lisa Gates (B.A., Dartmouth College; M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University) is associate dean of the college and dean for the class of 2007, and visiting assistant professor of German Studies.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Michael Auping, ANSELM KIEFER: HEAVEN AND EARTH (Presetl Publishing)

Gunter Grass, CAT AND MOUSE (Harcourt), Paperback

Ruth Kluger, STILL ALIVE (Feminist Press, CUNY), Paperback

Art Spiegelman, MAUS 1 (Pantheon), Paperback

Christa Wolf, THE QUEST FOR CHRISTA T. (Farrar, Straus, Giroux), Paperback


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