In his 1999 Nobel Lecture, Günter Grass remarks, “But the present, which the past is constantly turning into, would catch up to him in the end and put him through the third degree. Because every writer is of his time, no matter how he protests being born too early or late. He does not autonomously choose what he will write about, that choice is made for him. At least I was not free to choose. Left to my own devices, I would have followed the laws of aesthetics and been perfectly happy to seek my place in texts droll and harmless. But that was not to be. There were extenuating circumstances: mountains of rubble and cadavers, fruit of the womb of German history.” In line with the words of Grass, this course will examine the works of German writers of post-World War II as they rummaged through the “mountains of rubble and cadavers” in order to create a literary landscape that is at once German while at the same time questions or negates the German ethos that fortified a fascist regime. Furthermore, following the metaphor of rubble, we will read works from the literary movement, Trümmerliteratur (literature from the rubble), which began immediately after World War II with writers such as Heinrich Böll and ended in the early 1950s. We will, then, extend the concept of Trümmerliteratur beyond a fixed literary movement and examine works by writers such as Grass and W.G. Sebald that exhibit conditions and tendencies of a literature from the rubbles without adhering specifically to the movement of Trümmerliteratur.
Examination of the development of European literature in a variety of genres and periods. Possible areas of study include literature from romantic fiction of early nineteenth century through great realist classics of second half of the century or from symbolism to expressionism and existentialism.