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Peter Hess, Chair 2505 University Avenue, Burdine Hall 336, Mailcode C3300, Austin TX 78712-1802 • 512-471-4123

Fall 2009

GER 373 • German Travel Literature

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
38440 MWF
12:00 PM-1:00 PM
BUR 337

Course Description

In this undergraduate literature seminar we will explore two important elements of German culture from the last several centuries: travel and texts about travel. Beginning with the Age of Exploration, but focusing in particular on the period from the Enlightenment to the present we will look at how Germans have seen and written about the larger world. The course thus has three main objectives: 1) to study the history of travel and the enormous changes in modes and goals of travel between 1770 and the present, 2) to investigate the changes that this travel had on Germans' perceptions of the world and themselves, and 3) to trace the mark that travel left on German cultural writing and literature. The course will deal with a wide variety of textual genres in which German authors wrote about and disseminated their travel experiences. This includes scientific and ethnographic reports of early scholar such as Georg Forster who accompanied Cook on his trip around the world and the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt who wrote extensively about his1799-1804 trip to the Americas over the course of many decades. We will consider the impact of new technologies on literary expression in the first half of the nineteenth century in imaginative fiction such as Adalbert Stifter's "Kondor" or early essays on the experience of the railway. We will read new genres that were generated by the ability to travels and that reflect on the development of tourism, such as Heinrich Heine's Reisebilder and new media, such as Baedeker's travel guides and geographical magazines intended for a broad reading public. The extensive emigration to the Americas in the mid-nineteenth century will bring us to authors such as Carl Sealsfield and Friedrich Gerstaecker, but also to the emigrant letter and emigrant advice manuals. We will examine the growth in women’s travel and travel writing and the shift by the end of the 20th century to a critical “post-tourist” literary voice of authors such as Günter Grass or ironic self-reflection within a multicultural Germany of immigrants such as Vladimir Kaminer. Given its focus this literature seminar will devote significant attention to the structural and social changes that allowed for greater geographical mobility in the nineteenth century. Due to the wide variety of texts included it will also focus on issues such as context, authorship, publication, and audience. The course will be taught in German.

Grading Policy

Attendance, daily preparation, and participation = 10% Oral Presentation =10% Two 3-page interpretive papers - 15% each = 30% Quizzes =10% 6-page comparative paper (with research component) = 30% Mid-term test = 10%


excerpts from: Johann Gottfried Herder: Journal meiner Reise von 1769 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Italienische Reise Georg Forster: Reise um die Welt Alexander von Humboldt: Ansichten der Natur Jean Paul: Luftschiffer, Reise nach Flätz Adalbert Stifter: Der Kondor Heinrich Heine: Die Harzreise Charles Sealsfield: Die Prärie am Jacinto Ida Pfeiffer: Eine Frau fährt um die Welt Theodor Fontane: Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg Gerhard Rohlfs: Quer durch Afrika Walter Benjamin: Moskauer Tagebuch Günter Grass: Kopfgeburten oder die Deutschen sterben aus Vladimir Kaminer: Ein Reiseführer für faule Touristen


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