Seminar in the 20th Century


This seminar focuses on the German language radio drama, or Hörspiel, as a unique literary genre, performance art form, and media artifact. Although often viewed today as a primitive forerunner of today's podcasts and audio-fiction, radio drama has had a long and storied tradition in German-speaking cultures. In this course, we will learn about the emergence of radio drama in the mid 1920s and explore how this art form developed in tandem with the social, political, economic, and technological transformations of the last century. Reading historical reflections by writers such as Bertolt Brecht, Walter Benjamin, Rudolf Arnheim, Theodor Adorno, and Klaus Schöning, we will interrogate how radio drama has responded to and shaped discourses on interpersonal communication in the modern age, fascist aesthetics, democratic subjectivity, collective memory, and questions of national identity and belonging. In studying radio dramas as both texts and sound documents, we will apply analytical tools from the fields of sound and media studies (including theories of listening and resonance) and transmedial narratology, and closely examine modes of adaption and techniques of acoustic staging. This seminar will also serve as an introduction to working with acoustic archival material and other historical media documentation. Radio Dramas include works by Walter Ruttmann, Günter Eich, Ingeborg Bachmann, Heinrich Böll, Frederike Mayröcker, Ernst Jandl, Heiner Müller, and Elfriede Jelinek. Sound documents will be in German, readings in German and English, discussion in English.
Course Attributes:

Section 01

Seminar in the 20th Century
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