Writing the Present, Writing the Self:
Voices and Themes in Contemporary German Literature
The quick answer to the question about the meaning of life, the universe, and everything may still be 42, as the supercomputer Deep Thought in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy contends, but German writers are well known to have pondered many of humanity’s existential problems. This course introduces students to some engaging voices and themes in contemporary German literature since the fall of the Berlin Wall, focusing on shorter prose fiction by a diverse group of younger writers from the last decade. The stories and novels on our reading list range from playful accounts of modern media culture to postmodern travel narratives, from fictional portraits of youthful melancholia to stories of trauma and resilience, from road fiction to memory narratives, from explorations of origins and identities to narratives of displacement and more. We will read prose by some of the following writers: Alina Bronsky, Judith Hermann, Terézia Mora, Wolfgang Herrndorf, Daniel Kehlmann, Milena Michiko Flašar, Ronya Othmann, Saša Stanisic, Julya Rabinowich, Ilja Trojanow. Requirements: Discussion, journals, a midterm, class projects, a take-home final. German 203 required; German 301/302/303 recommended. Readings in German; discussion in German and English.