RC Core 321, Sec. 1: Multiculturalism in Germany (Goertz)

Contact instructor

The last decade has seen a growing interest in and production of German-language literature by writers of Turkish, Jewish, Afro-German, Roma-Sinti, Asian and Arab descent. Yet the question remains open whether Germany is a truly multicultural country and whether this apparent literary interest is matched by real gains in the lives of ethnic minorities. The German debate on multiculturalism is an ongoing and heated one, and students will be challenged to articulate their own positions, drawing points of comparison from the American context. Through the reading of autobiographical essays, poems, short stories, and novels, we will discuss how contemporary writers of diverse ethnic backgrounds propose alternative histories, identities, and sensibilities to the German mainstream. What do their poems, short stories, and novels contribute to ongoing debates about citizenship, immigration and German identitiy? How do they expose the blindspots, prejudices, and zones of social exclusion in dominant discourse? We will also examine how the German language and culture are enriched by the different traditions (oral and written, secular and religious, Western and non-Western) of each writer. Since each ethnic group has a particular status and history in Germany, we will examine both the shared experiences of these groups on the margins of German society and their specific experiences in terms of ethnicity, language, generation, and gender. Prerequisite: Proficiency in German. All class discussions and primary readings will be in German. Background readings in history and literary criticism will be in English.

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