DEUTSCHE LITERATUR LM I | Università degli studi di Bergamo - Didattica e Rubrica


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Didattica Convenzionale
Primo Semestre
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Students can attend the course after the enrollment interview scheduled for June or September. Students who are completing their BA course may also attend the course after an admission interview.

Educational goals

The course mainly aims to introduce students to the knowledge of the genre of contemporary German-language family and generational novel. It will start from the political and cultural scenario of Germany at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Students will be able to contextualize this literary genre in the historical period between the last decade of the XXth and the beginning of the XXIth century. They will be able to correlate the historical reconstruction with the narrative strategies of the texts, explaining the educational and political importance of family and generational novel. They wil have become familiar with the style, with the narrative format, also through the translation of some selected passages from the literary texts presented in class and with the representation of the most important concepts of german literature after the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
Students who have attended the previous module, which is preparatory to this one, will have acquired critical and theoretical tools necessary to contextualize the novel that will be the main object of this module. The objective is to acquire critical skills in reading and interpreting the concluding novel of Dieter Forte’s trilogy, "In der Erinnerung" (1998). Stylistic, metaphorical and symbolic characteristics will be taken into consideration, developing the ability to explain the relationship between family systems, historical representation and memory discourse in the novel.

Course content

A historical and political contextualisation regarding the years of the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification will serve as an introduction to the course. This will be followed by an introduction to the German family and generational novel based on the text by Elena Agazzi “Erinnerte und rekonstruierte Geschichte. Drei Generationen deutscher Schriftsteller und die Fragen der Vergangenheit (2005). This text also includes an analysis of Dieter Forte’s trilogy “Das Haus auf meinen Schultern“ (1999). This work will serve to analyse the themes of historical memory, German guilt, emigration, the relationship between victims and perpetrators which were the object of the German Literature course given for the second year of the BA course in LLSM.

The purpose of this module is to explain the reasons why the year 1995 has been considered the most important turning point for German literature after the fall of the Berlin wall. 50 years after the end of the Second World War and 5 years after German reunification, a new trend of literary genre begins to take shape. It concerns the novel of memory, in which Familienroman and Generationenroman play a crucial role. The reading of two critical texts dedicated to the literature of Post-Wende-Zeit will be addressed in class, together with an introductory text to the novel by Dieter Forte "In der Erinnerung" (1998), to finally discuss and interpret this novel. Students are required to develop critical analysis skills that go beyond the mere reproduction of the plot of the work. They are also required to be able to critically comment on the relationships between fiction, history and memory.
In November a visiting professor of the University of Bielefeld (ERASMUS) will show and comment "Transit" (2018), a film of Christian Petzold based on the novel of the same title of Anna Seghers (1942), related to history and memory during the Nazi period.

Textbooks and reading lists

Mandatory for the first part of the course:
1) Elena Agazzi: Erinnerte und rekonstruierte Geschichte. Drei Generationen deutscher Schriftsteller und die Fragen der Vergangenheit, Vandehoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2005.
2) Simone Costagli: L'autobiografia collettiva di una nazione. L'onda lunga dei Familienromane tedeschi, in Enthymema XX (2017) al link
3) Achim Geisenhanslüke, Forte, Dieter: Der Junge mit den blutigen Schuhen. Roman, in: Heribert Tommek et al., Wendejahr 1995. Transformationen der deutschsprachigen Literatur, De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston 2015, pp. 379-384.
4) Dieter Forte, Der Junge mit den blutigen Schuhen. Roman, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1995.

Optional, for students who have not followed the lessons of this module:

Aleida Assmann, Der lange Schatten der Vergangenheit. Erinnerungskultur und Geschichtspolitik, Beck, München 2018

Mandatory for the second part of the course:
1) Heribert Tommek: Wendejahr 1995 - Einführung, in: Heribert Tommek et al., Wendejahr 1995. Transformationen der deutschsprachigen Literatur, De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston 2015, pp. 1-7;
2) Heribert Tommek: Schreibweisen der Gegenwartsliteratur im Querschnitt des Jahres 1995, Heribert Tommek et al., Wendejahr 1995. Transformationen der deutschsprachigen Literatur, De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston 2015, pp. 8-25;
3) Achim Geisenhanslüke: In der Erinnerung. Gedächtnispolitik 1995, in: Heribert Tommek et al., Wendejahr 1995. Transformationen der deutschsprachigen Literatur, De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston 2015, pp. 31-33 e 36-40.
4) Dieter Forte, In der Erinnerung, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1998.

Teaching methods

The course will be delivered in German through lectures but also in seminar mode, inviting students to actively participate in the debate on the topics presented. Students will be asked to present their own opinions on certain passages of the novel, under the guidance of the lecturer. They will also be expected to make specific references to the critical readings as listed in the course programme.

Assessment and Evaluation

The exam will be oral. Three questions will be asked in German language and they will address: (1) considerations on the relationship between history and fiction (2) adequate historical-critical contextualisation of the main work presented in the program; analysis of the characteristics of the literary genre at the center of the course in relation to current theories on the subject (3) critical commentary on issues at stake in the works presented.

To obtain a positive grade students must be able to place the texts analyzed during the course in their historical and cultural context, and know the main elements of the bibliographical material. To obtain a highly positive grade students have to show in-depth knowledge of the texts analyzed during the course, commenting them from a linguistic and a philological point of view, also on the basis of the bibliographical material. To obtain an excellent grade students have to show an organic view of the topics discussed in class, to be able to use sources and bibliographical material, link topics, and master expressive skills.

Further information

Erasmus students and Double degree students are kindly requested to contact the Professor at the beginning of the course to discuss how to prepare for the exam. Students who have not followed the lessons of this module can obtain supplementary support materials by contacting the lecturer during office hours. First-year students who intend to apply for the Double degree programme with Bochum, are expected to have successfully passed a 10 CFU exam by the closing date of the call for applications. This exam also refers to other courses that have been completed in December. Students attending the Double degree programme are strongly recommended to attend the course.