World literature today contains a multitude of regional tales only a fraction of which has been translated into English. Literary regionalism seems more popular than ever. How does a sense of place evolve in literary forms such as the village tale and the village novel, both products of the newly mobile 19th century? How is the social sphere constructed in these tales? What are the stories being told? The voices heard? How is the inherent mimeticism of the form combined with aesthetic experimentation? – These are some of the questions to be posed in this course on German and Austrian fictions of the rural, the region, and the village between the 19th and 21st century. Via productive examples each, we will examine narratives of stasis and transformation in 19th and 20th century village tales; the literary critique of provincialism and rural life in experimental prose; the exploration of contested places, memories and identities by multi-lingual minority writers in this tradition; plus the recent spate of popular regionalism and village fiction engaging the local in an age of globalization and planetary concerns.
Texts by Maja Haderlap, Thomas Bernhard, Terézia Mora, Herta Müller, Adalbert Stifter, Juli Zeh, and others.
Students can expect to broaden their historical understanding of Austro-German literature and to practice their critical skills in reading prose.
Course Requirements: Careful preparation of the readings and active participation in class; a number of short oral assignments in preparation of the discussion in class; an analytical paper (circa 15pp.); an annotated research bibliography.