Coping with Catastrophe: German Culture, Literature and Politics in the Interwar Years (MLG3037)

15 credits

How does a nation – and for that matter: a continent – respond to an all-consuming catastrophe like the First World War? How does this experience feed into contemporary politics and culture? This module begins with a discussion of the impact of War and then considers the history of Germany within the wider European context between 1919 and 1939 in view of the pre-eminence of the new ideologies, Communism and Fascism/National Socialism.

Within this framework we then discuss cultural responses in the widest sense – the new architecture of the Bauhaus movement; the changing role of women; literary engagements with the time such as anti-war novels (Remarque) and the popular hotel-genre (Baum); films that are still considered ground breaking today (Metropolis, Nosferatu); socially aware artists such as Grosz, Kollwitz and Dix; new preoccupations such as ‘city-culture’; and the appeal of mass-media.

In conclusion we will assess why the German interwar years – and in particular the period between 1919 and 1932 (the Weimar Republic) has been compared with a ‘dance on the volcano’ (Stresemann) and is, nevertheless, still perceived as one of the most creative periods in Germany in the 20th century.