GERMAN 303 - Topics in German Culture and the Arts
Section: 001 German Culture and the Memory of Ancient Rome
Term: FA 2018
Subject: German (GERMAN)
Department: LSA Germanic Languages & Literatures
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Other Course Info:
Taught in English.
May be elected three times for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This is a course about memory studies using the case study of modern Germany and its relation to the Roman past. We will explore how German philosophers, literary authors, and painters thought about their present through the lens of the Roman past. The issues that this involves are the construction of national/imperial identity; but also, more specifically, the re-appropriation of the opposition of Roman conqueror versus “barbarian”; and the inter-textual and inter-visual presence of ancient texts, works of art, and architecture. We will read essays by Karl Marx, Ernest Renan, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and other authors in order to create our intellectual framework for memory studies.

The course will focus on several key moments in German cultural history, starting with the Romantics and their early-nineteenth century appropriation of Tacitus' history and ethnography of the ancient German tribes and their “barbarian” customs. Tracing the context of the anti-Napoleonic movement, we will read the philosopher J.G. Fichte on the difference between "Romanized" French and "un-Romanized" Germans; study Heinrich von Kleist's guerilla theatre about the battle between Arminius and Varus in the Teutoburg Forest; and scrutinize C.D. Friedrich's landscape painjtings. We will then focus on the Second Reich (1871) and the role of the Roman past in the imagination of German colonialism. Here, we will study contemporary history paintings reviving the image of the German “barbarian”; we will read excerpts from Felix Dahn's rather hilarious novel, The Struggle for Rome (1876) as well as Wilhelm Jenssen’s Gradiva, his “Fantasy tale” about Pompeii together with Sigmund Freud’s analysis of Jenssen’s novella. From the Kaiserreich we will move to the "Third Reich" and the many ways in which the Nazi leadership advocated the imitation of the Roman Empire in architecture and other realms. Finally, we will look at the re-emergence of Arminius and Varus in the literature about the division of Germany after 1945, and the presence of Scipio in the work of the East German author Heiner Müller; and we will read poems by another East German author, Durs Grünbein, who revives the soldiers of Varus' army after the fall of the wall.

All readings will be in English.

Course Requirements:

Requirements are:

  1. mid-term in-class exam;
  2. participation in the performance of Kleist's play and essay (5 pages double-spaced) on the ideas informing the performance;
  3. final paper (5 pages double-spaced) based on group in-class presentation about a Roman (archeological) site in Europe and its role in the present.

GERMAN 303 - Topics in German Culture and the Arts
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for GERMAN 303 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi
The CourseProfile (ART) system, supported by the U-M Provost’s 3rd Century Initiative through a grant to the Office of Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (ART)