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GERMAN 422 A: Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

Meeting Time: 
MWF 10:30am - 11:20am
LOW 117
Joint Sections: 
C LIT 320 B
Richard Block

Syllabus Description:

German 422/C LIT 320: Doubles, Evil Twins, and Body Snatchers.

Richard Block

Denny 345






Denny 345


We have all been warned that somewhere out there in the dark lurks our evil twin, waiting for just the right moment to pounce on their prey, usurp their identity, and turn the victim’s life into a living hell.   Some have survived to report the ordeal; others have been charmed by their double and succumbed, often meeting a gruesome end. Still others claim to be survivors and “authentic” humans. No one really knows, of course, if what “such survivors” say is true or merely another masterful ruse by the evil twin so they can swoop in and take control of our minds and bodies.


In this course, we will look at how narratives that once seemed like fantastic tales meant solely to entertain come to reveal that far more ominous forces are at work. Nowhere more clearly does one hear the wails of those fighting this life-and-death battle than in European fiction of the 19th century and especially German novellas from that period.   Many of these German texts will be the focus of this course, including works from Joseph von Eichendorff, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Annette von Droste -Hülshoff, and Ricarda Huch. We will also include works from Oscar Wilde, James Conrad, Edgar Allen Poe, and Elizabeth Gaskill. We will conclude with a screening of Jordan Peele’s Us. What may surprise us is how gender, race, and ethnicity are invoked to settle the battle. The last part of the course will allow us to see how those same issues are playing out today.



Language of instruction is English. Readings are in English/German. Assignments are completed in student’s language of choice, although English is recommended in most instances. This course is available for W credit. Please see the instruction during the first week of class to make arrangements.


COURSE REQUIREMENTS: two essays; both of 4-6 pages; or one paper of 10-12 pages. Those who want to write a longer paper must get the instructor’s approval. Seven 1-2 page journal entries. Format and content tbd.


OTHER NOTES: Students with a documented disability should see the professor during the first week of class to plan for any necessary arrangements.


Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Accommodations Request form.


SCHEDULE OF READINGS AND ASSIGNMENTS (The schedule is subject to change. Changes will always be noted on Canvas.)


Jan. 6: Course Introduction

Jan. 8 and 10: Tieck: Der Blonde Eckbert. (The blonde Eckbert).

Jan. 13, 15, 17: Hoffmann: Der Sandmann (The Sandman). (Links to an external site.)

(for Jan. 13 read until “Sehr unlieb ist es mir …”;

for Jan. 15 read until “Nathanael fand eine Einladungskarte…;

for Jan. 17 finish text.)

Jan. 22, 24: Poe: William Wilson.

Jan. 27, 29: Gogol: (Der Mantel) The Overcoat.

"Der Mantel": Nicolai Gogol (Links to an external site.)

Jan. 31, Feb. 3,5 von Droste-Hülshoff, Die Judenbuche (The Jew’s Birch Tree). (Links to an external site.)

(for Jan. 31 read until “Von dieser Zeit an war Friedrich…”;

for Feb. 3 read until “Es war nun zu wahr,…”;

for Feb. 5 finish text.)

Feb. 7: Writing Workshop.

Feb. 10, 12. Gaskill: Poor Clare.

Feb. 14, Wilde: The Birthday of the Infanta.

Feb. 17: President’s Day. No class.

Feb. 19, Finish Wilde. Huch, Lügenmärchen (Pack of Lies). We will read the text in class first.

Feb. 19: Finish Pack of Lies.

Feb. 21, 24: Conrad, The Secret Sharer.

Feb. 26, 28, March 2: Kafka, Der Landarzt (The Country Doctor)

March 4,6: Siegel: Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

March 9, 11: Peele, Us.

March 13; Preparation for final paper, course conclusion.



Essay One: Feb. 10.

Essay Two: Mach 19 at noon.




Class participation: 20 percent.

Weekly journals: 15 percent (7 journal entries)

Mid-term essay: 30 percent

Final essay: 35 percent.







Catalog Description: 
Rotating special topics in literature and culture of the nineteenth century, such as particular movements, authors, genres, themes, or problems. Offered: W.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
October 10, 2019 - 9:13pm