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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2017
Nov 19, 2017
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GERM 348 - Glucksspieler, Schatzjager
“Money makes the world go round!” But does it make us happy? This remains one of the oldest and most intriguing questions of humankind not only in real life but also in literature. How does writing throughout the centuries mirror the insatiable human desire for gold and treasures, shares and stocks, for gains and losses, speculation and risk? 
The course invites students to go on an expedition through German literature from the legendary Rheingold as described in the famous medieval  Nibelungenlied, the popular fairy tales and legends of the Grimm Brothers which are populated by fortune hunters and treasure seekers to the more elaborated concepts of profit and debt in the works of German Classisicm and Romanticism by such renowned authors as Goethe and E.T.A. Hoffmann and, finally to  reflections in modern and contemporary German literature from Thomas Mann, Hofmannsthal and Bertolt Brecht to Dürrenmatt and Ernst Augustin.
Through close readings of selected texts, students will encounter multiple genres and perspectives on the topic of ‘money & happiness’ across different historical periods (medieval to postmodern).  Participants will discuss concepts of guilt and greed, crime and atonement, prostitution, fraud and forgery as reflected in chronicles and  newspapers, diaries, letters and interviews of fortune hunters, gamblers and criminals.

Beyond all that the course offers the encounter with a contemporary German writer who knows by experience how difficult it is to make a living as a creative writer by selling dubious goods such as fairy tales and stories.


Die Nibelungen (excerpts/reader)
Brüder Grimm: Märchen und Sagen (excerpts/reader)
Goethe: Faust II (excerpts/reader)
ETA Hoffmann: Das Fräulein von Scuderi
Wilhelm Hauff: Das kalte Herz
Karl Marx: Das Kapital (excerpts/reader)
Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Jedermann
Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks (excerpts/reader)
Bertolt Brecht: Der gute Mensch von Sezuan
Friedrich Dürrenmatt: Der Besuch der alten Dame
Ernst Augustin: Gutes Geld (excerpts/reader)


Regular attendance, close reading, oral presentation, active contribution to discussions and extensive essay writing (including various forms of creative writing).

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture

German Department

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