10513 Germany 1770-1830: From 'Kulturvolk' to National Culture 1

Credits: 6 advanced credits in Modern History

Prerequisites: 36 credits, including one course in Modern History or in Modern History of the Jewish People. Students must also fulfill all English requirements and take bibliographic instruction in the Library.

The course focuses on a period of literary and philosophic renaissance, which shaped the cultural identity of the Germans for decades, and endowed Germany with a distinct national character. It deals with the cultural tension between the rational Enlightenment culture with its rational, cosmopolitan and universal values on one hand, and the anti-rational Romantic Movement, with its reverence for the German people on the other.

The course examines the relationship between art and ideology, and follows one of the paths which led to the creation of the German nation. Students are acquainted with the critical thinking and universal works of Enlightenment culture. Toward the end of the course, they encounter the sense of destiny and mission anchored in the German national consciousness. The course concurrently examines the place of the Jews in German culture and society. An almost inevitable question in this context is whether the seeds of the corruption of German nationalism can already be discerned at this early stage.

Topics: The course includes an Introduction based on But Germany, Where Can it be Found?, by Henry Wassermann (The Open University, 1999, Hebrew), and four parts: The Enlightenment, Sturm und Drang, Weimar classicism, the Romantic Movement. Students critically read the following books and essays (in Hebrew translation): Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Art, by J. Winckelman; The Education of the Human Race, by G. E. Lessing; Letter to Heinrich Gessner describing his work at Stantz, by J. H. Pestalozzi; The Autobiography of Solomon Maimon, by S. Maimon; The Sorrows of Young Werther and Iphigenie in Tauris, by J. W. von Goethe; Michael Kohlhaas, by H. von Kleist; Peter Schlemihlís Remarkable Story, by A. von Chamisso; and Addresses to the German Nation, by J. G. Fichte.

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course, although it is not required.