Spring 2018

Modernism and Its Discontents

Listed in: German, as GERM-335


Ute Brandes (Section 01)


This course will trace the impact of early twentieth-century modernization on the cultural consciousness of artists and politicians. We will first study classical modernism in the context of European and Western avant-garde movements, with emphasis on art and society in Germany. Topics include the effect of rapid urbanization and the rise of modern mass culture; modern constructions of gender and nature; the emergence of visual culture and mass media; the aesthetic revolt and literary visions of Futurism, Dada, and Expressionism; and the radical activism of proletarian didactic art. We will then trace the anti-modernist responses, such as Kaiser Wilhelm’s retrogressive push for national art; the socialist realist doctrine of Stalin’s cultural policies; Hitler’s prohibition of modernist art as “degenerate”; and finally the censorship and self-censorship of certain modernist artists, in the name of political progress. Texts by Hofmannsthal, Hauptmann, Schnitzler, Wedekind, Heinrich Mann, Kafka, Hesse, Rilke, Benjamin, Brecht, and Anna Seghers; selected art by Modersohn-Becker, Kirchner, and Kollwitz; samples of architecture, early radio, films, and music. Conducted in German.

Requisite: GERM 210 or equivalent. Spring semester. Professor Brandes.


Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Languages Other Than English


2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2018