FL 250: German Civilization, 18th Century to the Present

Professor Mary-Beth O'Brien


Culture, Nation, Heimat: German Civilization,
18th Century to the Present

Germany? But where is it? I do not know how to find the country.
Germans, you hope in vain to form yourself into a nation.
Instead develop yourself, you can do it, more freely as human beings.

          Goethe, Schiller


What does it mean to be German? How have Germans defined themselves over time and what role has this definition played in the quest for a politically unified German nation? How have developments in German arts and letters helped to form a collective and uniquely German identity? This course examines German cultural history from the eighteenth century to the present. Special emphasis will be placed on Germany's central European location and shifting borders, its diversity of political forms and turbulent road to nationhood, and major developments in the visual arts, music, literature, and philosophy. Texts range from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Goethe's Urfaust to Christo's Wrapped Reichstag and Christa Wolf's recent controversial novel on the secret police, What Remains. (This course counts towards the German major, German minor and IA minor).