In this companion course for the Global Course Connections study tour to Munich in May 2012, we will study and rely on the constant interplay of three ongoing processes (perception, production, and reflection) that are critical to communication and expression, whether using language (mother language or Other language) or making or viewing Art. As a group, we will focus on the notion of Germany as the "Land der Dichter und Denker" (Land of Poets and Thinkers) as we look at how theater and the arts evolved in Germany in the 20th and 21st century. In particular, we will look at works that were banned and dubbed "degenerate" by the Nazis, and consider why and how visual, performance, and literary arts represent and shape poets and thinkers, how they become markers of their time, and how they become creators of and responders to culture. We will become familiar with some ideas by Brecht, Kandinsky and Beckmann about the role of theater in the 20th Century and we will explore 6-7 recent German plays that explore identity issues and reveal cultural confrontations in Germany today. We will ask ourselves what and how artists choose to praise or criticize through their expression today, and when this might potentially reflect individual and/or collective memory of Germany's past?
In our work, we will ask more questions than we ultimately answer. Students will be expected to grapple with meaning on many levels and to experiment boldly with various forms of their own expression (through creative writing, dramatic performance, drawing, painting, and creation of an altered book) that are inspired by the art and literature we study. How big a role does emulation (even imitation) play in the expression of "original" ideas? How do we rely on memory of the past as we define meaning for the present and create for the future?
A critical part of this course will involve our own awareness of moving between two languages (English and German) for expression. We will look at several levels of identity, viewing ourselves as both "self" and "Other" to discover how and when different understanding of an artistic text opens new doors. When creating or presenting as "Other" what do we learn about our "self"? When and how does donning the mask of the actor, altering a text, or speaking a second language limit and when does it free up expression? What do we downplay or edit out and what do we enhance in our reading of artistic and literary texts? How connected are our own processes of perception, production, and reflection as we manipulate text and image for performance? We will use the model of improvisation to better understand the significance of looking at what came before, what is now, and what is next. What do we choose to leave out, and what do we decide to add as we cover and discover meaning?
Admission to this course will be by permission of instructor only. Students interested in this course and in the study trip to Munich are not expected to have previous experience in fine arts or theater, but they must have a strong interest in German art, culture and history and they must be open to learning through research, as well as, arts and theater workshops (e.g., experimentation with drawing, painting, writing, and acting). The course and the trip will be conducted in both German and English and students will participate in a number of Art, movement, and theater workshops that explore issues raised in the course. In addition to participating in all class sessions, students in this course must be available to participate in theater workshops and performances on Sat. Feb. 18 and on the weekend of March 30-April 1.
Eligibility: Students interested in participating in the study trip must arrange for an interview with Janet Hegman Shier by the end of November; application deadline (through CGIS) is in early Dec. (See MCompass for details.) Students with less than one year of college-level German should enroll in Intensive German I concurrent with this course unless an alternate enroll agreement is worked out with the instructor.
Further information and updates will be posted on the instructor's web site: www.umich.edu/~jshie/Munich12