2017-2018 Catalog

GERM 309 From Kafka to Twitter: Small Forms of the Literary

Small forms cover the broad field, from aphorisms, epigrams, fables and riddles to anecdotes, jokes, short stories and novellas. In each of these forms, smallness unfolds in different and historically-specific ways. From the aphorisms of the 19th century to the Twitter updates of today, the course will explore the poetics and pragmatics of small forms in German literature, philosophy, and contemporary social media. Questions to be discussed in the course include: what can small mean at the level of (literary) form? What kind of readings does small form facilitate? Which does it thwart? To what extent does small form gain epistemological significance with respect to the critique of systematic philosophy? And what can its contemporary manifestation in the form of social media “microformats,” such as tweets, blog posts, and Vine videos, inform us about condensation, narration, and knowledge in the present? Readings include Georg Lichtenberg, Schlegel, Novalis, Nietzsche, Kafka, Walser, Benjamin and Twitter. This course will meet three times a week, twice with CSLC 109, and a third weekly meeting in which all readings and discussion will be conducted in German.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Regional Focus