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Douglas Biow, Director MEZ 3.126, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-3470

Spring 2007

EUS 301 • Bad Boy Brecht-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35810 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
RAS 218
Kley, M

Course Description

The German dramatist and poet Bertolt Brecht (1898 - 1956) has always been a controversial figure. Known especially for both scandalizing and politicizing the theater since the early 1920s, his books were burned by the Nazis in 1933. Forced into exile, his epic journey led the by-then communist writer to Czechoslovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the United States, where he was summoned before the House Unamerican Activities Committee in 1947. Returning from exile after World War II, he chose Soviet East Berlin over West Germany, without however succumbing to Communist orthodoxy and joining the party. In addition to his troubles with various political parties and systems, Brecht is a polarizing figure also with regard to his multiple and often exploitative relationships with women, as well as to his rather loose practice of plagiarizing  hence the course title "Bad Boy Brecht." This course will follow the development of Brecht's theory and practice of epic theater and also consider his excursions into opera, film, and poetry. While the main focus will be on Brechts works, this course is designed to ground and understand them in their historical context  a context containing no less than five (!) different German states: the Wilhelminian Empire, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, as well as East and West Germany. Since Brechts artistic practice was closely related to events of the day, his epic theater and his epic journey through German history are inseparable, and the controversies surrounding his work will shed light on broader cultural and political issues. There are no prerequisites for this course and it will be entirely taught in English. You will be asked to read several Brecht plays in their entirety, some in excerpts, and additional background readings. In class, you are expected to actively and critically engage in discussions. Since this is a GRC course, the three writing assignments (about 16 pages total) will make up a large portion of your grade (50 %).

Grading Policy

The various writing assignments amount to 50% of your grade. During the first weeks of the semester, you will write four one-page response papers in which you will engage each week's topic/text. One of these response papers could lead to the longer, five-page research paper (in MLA style) for which you will present a brief abstract in week 5. Should you have a different topic in mind, or no idea for a topic at all, please come to see me during office hours (good examples of response and research papers will be made available on blackboard ahead of time!). Toward the end of the semester, four class sessions are set aside for presentations of the last writing assignment, a 4-page paper in which you will be asked to apply the knowledge gained in this class in a creative fashion, arguing for or against the adaptation of a Brecht play from the perspective of a film producer. In addition to that, you are asked to sign up for one of the short, 5-minute presentations (on historical events, theoretical terms, short bios, other Brecht texts) that are listed on the syllabus. Depending on class size, more than one student may sign up for a presentation and you will then do it in groups. The Final exam will be comprehensive and will test your knowledge of both primary and secondary texts. Quizzes will be held at my digression and without prior announcement, testing mainly your preparation for class sessions. For grading criteria of each assignment, look at the "assignments" section on blackboard! The break-down of your grade is the following: 4 one-page response papers 10 % 5-page paper + rewrite 25 % (abstract: 5%, 1.version: 10 %, rewrite: 10 %) 4-page paper & presentation 15 % (paper: 10%, presentation of the paper: 5%) Presentation of key word 10 % In-class participation % Quizzes 20 % Final exam


bookstore: - The Cambridge Companion to Brecht. Ed. Peter Thomson & Glendyr Sacks. Cambridge UP, 1994. - Volumes 2 & 6 of Brecht's Collected Plays by Methuen Publishers. on two-hour reserve at PCL: - three copies of all required Brecht readings that are NOT in the volumes available at the bookstore (i.e. mainly excerpts from plays) - Dürrenmatt, Friedrich: The Visit. Grove Press, 1962. - Fuegi, John: Brecht and Company. New York: Grove Press, 2002 (2nd edition). - Kershaw, Ian: The Nazi Dictatorship. Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation. London: E. Arnold, 1985. - Silberman, Marc (Ed.): Brecht on Film and Radio. London: Methuen, 2000. - Stephan, Alexander: "Communazis". FBI Surveillance of German Émigré Writers. Yale UP, 2000. - Szczesny, Gerhard: The Case Against Brecht. New York: Ungar, 1969


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