*Abbreviations under the "Available" column: A = Available // NA = Not Available // R = Previously Registered // WL = Currently on the Wait List

Twentieth-Century German Poetry

As we know, Germany created (and caused, one can assert) enormous problems for themselves and the world community in the past 100 years. The unified and peaceful Germany we know today traces its recent past to monarchy, the failed Weimar Republic and tyranny of the Third Reich, and the tense, decades-long confrontation of two models of existence: the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. In an effort to expand understanding of so much change, people turn to the arts, including literature, music, painting, architecture, and the study of history for multiple insights from specific and often overlapping perspectives. In this course, we will read poems by German writers, some known in the United States–and others less so or not at all–but all with voices that reflect or speak to the German experience in their lifetimes. Acknowledging much overlap among the periods indicated, we will read:
      • Turn of the Century and WWI:  Rainer Maria Rilke, Georg Heym, and Georg Trakl
      • Weimar Republic:  Stefan George and Bertolt Brecht
      • Third Reich and Holocaust:  various Nazi enthusiasts, Paul Celan, and Elie Wiesel
      • Post War:  Else Lasker-Schüler, Ingeborg Bachmann, Wolf Biermann, and Hermann Hesse
Participants in this course can expect modest reading assignments of several poems, a weekly slide presentation setting the political and social context, an introduction to the authors, and discussion of the texts at hand. To encourage active discussion, enrollment is limited to 20. Familiarity with German and the German-speaking world is welcome but not necessary. The texts will be presented in bilingual format and made available prior to the start of the course.

Instructor Bio:

Mr. Stewart retired from UVA and the Department of German, where he taught courses on German literature, history, and culture, in 2014. Beyond UVA, he has taught many years for OLLI, twice with Semester at Sea, and was a visiting professor in Germany on four occasions, twice at the University of Tübingen and twice at the Free University of Berlin. Mr. Stewart is the recipient of awards for faculty excellence and service from the University. His keen interest in German literary and cultural history began as an undergraduate while studying abroad in Freiburg in the 1960s and has continued to the present with frequent visits to Germany, often with students in short courses and visiting friends in different places, as well as his wife’s family in Bavaria.

Required Reading:


Course Number Instructor Dates Day Time Location Available
A36 Gordon Stewart Feb 23, Mar 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 Th 1:00-2:30 p.m. Senior Center A

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