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GERMAN 423 A: Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture:

Meeting Time: 
MWF 9:30am - 10:20am
RAI 116
Jason Groves

Syllabus Description:

GERMAN 423: Studies In Twentieth-Century Literature And Culture:

Writing Travel: Migration, Translation, Memory

MWF 9:30-10:20 / RAI 116

Professor Jason Groves

Office hours: Tuesdays 1:30-2:30pm and by appointment (and after class)


Every story is a travel story (Michel de Certeau). In this course we will consider the intimate link between travel and narrative, in particular in the context of the mobility and displacement that is characteristic of life in postwar Europe. In contrast to, but sometimes echoing the figure of the wanderer in the 19th century, this course will trace the fugitive geographies of the migrant. We will focus on the German-language literature and film of those who—through exile, travel, immigration, emigration, or other politically inflected forms of mobility—have challenged and reimagined traditional conceptions of German national and cultural identity. We will encounter forms including lyric poetry, novella, essay, collage, and memoir, and special attention will be given to questions of translation, understood broadly as a literary and cultural practice. Our authors–including the Aussiedler (ethnic German immigrants to Germany) Peter Härtling and Nobel Prize-winner Herta Müller, Turkish-German writers Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Zafer Şenocak, Feridun Zaimoğlu; German filmmakers Fatih Akin and Werner Fassbiner; Russian-born German-Jewish writer Wladimir Kaminer, Afro-German writer and activist May Ayim, Japanese writer Yoko Towada, and Israeli writer Tomer Gardi–will allow us to cover substantial ground in Germany and abroad. The topics of migration, memory, and translation will loosely guide class readings and discussions.


Learning Goals

The course has three major goals: Students can expect to expand their familiarity with German-language literature of migration in the postwar period; to better understand how migration has shaped German society, literature, and culture from the postwar period to the present day; to develop critical glossaries of migration; to gain a better understanding of their own relationship to the German language; and to sharpen their critical reading and writing skills.



  1. Course Reader (available starting April 3 from EZ Copy N’ Print: 4336 University Way NE).
  2. Tawada, Yoko. Überseezungen. Tübingen: Konkursbuch, 2002. ISBN-13:978-0300123210. Available at UW Bookstore.



These will be available for viewing online. I will post links on canvas.

Fassbinder, Angst essen Seele auf (1974)

Shabhiz Noshir, Angst isst Seele auf(2002)

Maria Binder, Hoffnung im Herz (1997)

Fatih Akin, Auf der anderen Seite(2007)


Note on Class participation:

We learn much more by actively and critically engaging in the back-and-forth of conversation than we do by listening passively to lectures. The principle aim of class time in this course will therefore be to foster lively and thoughtful discussions. To this end, the texts and lectures will serve as an impetus for inquiry and debate. As a teacher, I will provide some background context and reflections for the works we consider, but my principle role will be to open them up for discussion by you. The discoveries you make with each other’s help will be the true learning experience of the course. In this course, I expect everyone to contribute to the conversation. This does not mean you need to come to every class with brilliant theories to propound, but rather that you open up and share your questions, ideas, and thoughts about the works we are considering.



Class Participation: 20%

Your participation grade includes a range of factors including attendance, discussion, and preparation. All students are expected to take part actively in class discussion. To this end, I will draw on content from the class blog (see below) to catalyze discussion.

Blog Posts (8) and other Written Exercises: 35%

Weekly blogposts (see guidelines below )will inform class discussion and prototype final essay. 8 posts. Other short writing exercises will be announced throughout the course.

Kurzreferat: 5%

Present opening remarks, on one of our texts, in a way that invites your colleagues to join in a collaborative critical endeavor. Sign up during first week.

Final Paper:40%

Guidelines to follow later in the quarter.

Extra Credit

Extra Credit assignments are available on an ad-hoc basis and can be used to make up for missed classes, missed blog assignments, or missed reading assignments / class participation. See events on 4/5, 4/12, 4/16.



The general method of instruction is through lectures and classroom discussions, which will take place in both English and German. Readings of up to 30 pages of text in German are assigned for every class meeting. You will be graded on written work (80%) and on your participation in class (20%). Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day assigned; paper copies only (except where indicated); exceptions on due dates can only be made with the advance permission of the instructor.

Attendance: Because of the heavy emphasis on discussion, daily participation is expected. Everyone is allowed two excused absences, beyond that 0.1 points are deducted from your final grade per class period missed.

Contact And Questions: If you cannot come to office hours, e-mail is the best way to contact me with questions. It is my policy to not read or comment on drafts of your work (ideas and outlines are fine).

Names and Pronouns: If you go by a different name or gender pronoun than the one under which you are officially enrolled, please inform me. Students are expected to refer to each other by preferred names and pronouns during class. Please feel free to call me Professor Groves or Jason. My pronouns are he/his/him.

Inclusion Commitment: I seek to ensure all students are fully included in each course. If you find that there are aspects of course instruction, subject matter, or classroom environment that result in barriers to your inclusion, please contact your instructor or your departmental advisor.


Access and accommodations:

Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course. If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. 


Academic integrity: Students at the University of Washington (UW) are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic conduct, professional honesty, and personal integrity. The UW School of Arts and Sciences is committed to upholding standards of academic integrity consistent with the academic and professional communities of which it is a part. Plagiarism, cheating, and other misconduct are serious violations of the University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-120). We expect you to know and follow the university's policies on cheating and plagiarism, and the SPH Academic Integrity Policy. Any suspected cases of academic misconduct will be handled according to University of Washington regulations. For more information, see the UW Community Standards and Student Conduct website.


























Provisional Syllabus; Any Changes Will be Announced in Class and Updated on Canvas (* = Reader; Otherwise Canvas)

Week 1: Introduction    






Overview; Critical Grammars and Glossaries of Migration


Repräsentationen von Flüchtlingen

Raoul Schrott, “Ein Flüchtling” (2015); “Warum wir Europäer alle von Migranten abstammen” (2015)



Selbst-Repräsentationen von Flüchtlingen

Alphabet des Ankommens(select three);

Adelson, “Against Between: A Manifesto”


4/5 4:00pm   CONFERENCE KEYNOTES “Residue and Remnants: (re)Presenting Cultural Memory, Contamination, and Destruction”


               UNIT ONE: MIGRATION            


Week 2: Postwar Refugees



Härtling; Ostflüchtlinge; Der Wanderer; Die Winterreise

Peter Härtling, Der Wanderer, Kapital 1 (S. 11-14)*

Wilhelm Müller, “Gute Nacht” (S. 135-136)

G1 = Azizeh, Back-Gaal, Bonner, Coffey


Das Fremde

Der Wanderer, Kapital 2-3, S. 14-33*

G2 = Davis, Freebairn, Le, Lindblom




Der Wanderer, Kapital 4, S. 34-37*

G3 = Longbottom, Robbins, Yeoh


4/12 3:30pm  GERMANICS DEPARTMENT presents a talk by David Gramling:  “Literature in the Linguacene”


Week 3: Post-holocaust Literature



Paul Celan; Fuge

Paul Celan, “Todesfuge” (1948)*

G1 = Longbottom, Robbins, Yeoh

4/16 5:00pm GERMANICS FILM SERIES presents “Die Geträumten” (DEN 359)



Celan, “Bremer Rede” (1958)*

Zafer Senoçak, “Paul Celan” (2001)*

G2 = Azizeh, Back-Gaal, Bonner, Coffey


Theodor Adorno

Adorno, “Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit” (1959)*

G3 = Davis, Freebairn, Le, Lindblom

Week 4: Labor Migrants                                                                                 



Rainer Werner Fassbinder; Gastarbeiter; Melodrama

Fassbinder, Angst essen Seele auf (1974)

Shabhiz Noshir, Angst isst Seele auf(2002)

G1 = Davis, Freebairn, Le, Lindblom



Emine Sevgi Özdamar

Özdamar,  “Die neuen Friedhöfe in Deutschland (2001)*

G2 = Longbottom, Robbins, Yeoh


Mutterzunge / Muttersprache

Özdamar, “Mutterzunge,” “Grossvaterzunge” (2001)*

G3 = Azizeh, Back-Gaal, Bonner, Coffey

Week 5: Post-unification Migration



Wladimir Kaminer; Einbürgerung; Kontingenzflüchtling

Kaminer, “Russen in Berlin” (1990)*

Der Spiegel, “Geht doch nach Israel” (1990)*

Kaminer, “Warum ich immer noch keinen Antrag” (1990)*; Siemens, “Smuggling Discerned—Fingers Burned” (1995)

G1 = Azizeh, Back-Gaal, Bonner, Coffey


Herta Müller; Aussiedler; Banat

Herta Müller, Auszug aus Reisende auf einem Bein (1989*); “Und noch erschrickt unser Herz” (1995)*

G2 = Davis, Freebairn, Le, Lindblom



May Ayim; ISD; Hybridität

Ayim, “Das Jahr 1990: Heimat und Einheit aus afro-deutscher Perspektive” (1993)*

M. Binder, Hoffnung im Herz (1997)

G3 = Longbottom, Robbins, Yeoh



                                                                              UNIT TWO: MEMORY                                         


Week 6: Postmemory


Multi-directional memory; postmemory;

Zafer Senoçak

Marianne Hirsch, from The Generation of Postmemory

Michael Rothberg, from Multi-directional Memory

Gefährliche Verwandtschaften (1998), Kap. 1-4

G1 = Longbottom, Robbins, Yeoh



Osmanisches Reich

Gefährliche Verwandtschaften, Kap. 5-10

G2 = Azizeh, Back-Gaal, Bonner, Coffey


Exil; Betroffenheit

Gefährliche Verwandtschaften, Kap. 11-16

G3 = Davis, Freebairn, Le, Lindblom


Week 7: Postmemory




Gefährliche Verwandtschaften, Kap. 17-25

G1 = Davis, Freebairn, Le, Lindblom




Gefährliche Verwandtschaften, Kap. 26

G2 = Longbottom, Robbins, Yeoh


Übersetzen; Schuld

Gefährliche Verwandtschaften, Kap. 27-35

G3 = Azizeh, Back-Gaal, Bonner, Coffey

                                                                         UNIT THREE: TRANSLATION

Week Eight: Translation (Multilingualism)



Yoko Tawada; Feminism

Tawada Interview or Schreiben im Netz?

G1 = Azizeh, Back-Gaal, Bonner, Coffey


Surface translation

Yoko Tawada, Überseezungen (2002), S. 9-35.

G2 = Davis, Freebairn, Le, Lindblom



Tawada, Überseezungen, S. 42-52.

G3 = Longbottom, Robbins, Yeoh

Week 9: Translation (Postmigration?)

Week Seven: Überseezungen




G1 = Longbottom, Robbins, Yeoh



Tawada, Überseezungen, S. 61-94.

G2 = Azizeh, Back-Gaal, Bonner, Coffey


Fatih Akin; Globalisierung

Akin, Auf der anderen Seite (2007)

G3 = Davis, Freebairn, Le, Lindblom

Week 10: Translation (Idiolect)         



Feridun Zaimoğlu; Kanake;

Zaimoğlu, Kanak sprak (2004); Kanak Attak documents



Tomer Gardi

Gardi, Broken German  S. 5-11; 67-77; 95-104




No Readings


Blogging/Discussion Guidelines

Blog posts should be more than 50 and less than 250 words. They may be in English or German. The blog component of the course will count toward the 35% of the final grade reserved for writing assignments other than the final paper. To determine when you are blogging in a given week, look for where your last name falls in the week and which prefix it has (e.g. G1, G2, G3).

▪    G1: First Readers: This student posts initial questions and insights about the day’s material to the class blog the day before class meets= by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday night. There are a number of ways to approach these open-ended posts: consider the reading in relation to its historical or theoretical context; write about an aspect of the day’s reading that you don’t understand, or something that jars you; formulate an insightful question or two about the reading and then attempt to answer your own questions.


▪    G2: Respondents: This student builds upon, (respectfully) disagrees with, or re-thinks the first reader’s posts by the next class meeting= by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday night.


▪    G3: Searchers: This student finds and shares at least one relevant online resource (e.g. news article, work of literature, piece of visual art, etc.) by the final class meeting of the week= by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday night. In addition to linking to the resource, the searchers provide a short evaluation of the resource, highlighting what makes it worthwhile, unusual, or, if appropriate, problematicin relation to course readings and/or course discussions.


▪    G1 = Azizeh, Back-Gaal, Bonner, Coffey

▪    G2 = Davis, Freebairn, Le, Lindblom

▪    G3 = Longbottom, Robbins, Yeah


Blogging/Discussion Instructions

G1: First Readers: Select “Discussions” on Canvas and “+ Discussion” in the upper right-hand corner. Do not select any options. Each reader should start a new discussion.

G2: Respondents: Respond to one of the discussions that week. 

G3: Searchers: You may either respond to an existing discussion or start a new discussion, but it is preferable to respond to a discussion, where possible.

Of course, feel free to make multiple posts per week, just be sure that you are also filling your prescribed role!

Questions regarding how to set up a discussion? See here:

* All guidelines are provisional and may need to be adjusted at points in the quarter *


Catalog Description: 
Rotating special topics in literature and culture of the twentieth century, such as particular movements, authors, genres, themes, or problems. Offered: Sp.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:15pm