Fall, 2003: GER 392 (Unique # 35055):
Gibt es eine –sterreichische Literatur? / Is There Austrian Literature?

Katherine Arens
Department of Germanic Studies, U. of Texas at Austin
OFFICE: E.P. Schoch 3.128
OFFICE HOURS: T TH 8:00-9:25 and by appointment
CONTACT: k.arens@mail.utexas.edu 232-6363

Course Description:

This course will use the question: "Is there Austrian Literature?," as a guidepost for explorations about national literary canons, their formation, and their politics, within the framework of the nature and constitution of today's literary studies.

"Austrian literature" is largely a post-1945 concept, created to no small degree by Germanists of Austro-Hungarian origin in US exile. Within Austria today, the latest history of "Austrian Literature" is called Geschichte der Literatur in Österreich."

By taking on central strategies for thinking about literary history and testing what might be called "Austrian literature" against their assumptions, we will not only introduce canonical germanophone Austrian authors, but also take on methodological questions about literary studies and about the politics of Germanistik, especially as strained across common national, ethnic, and religious lines.


This course is a seminar, expecting students to exercise a degree of autonomy and maturity in their work habits, but requiring no prior knowledge of Austria or its literature. It is organized around methodological clusters of exemplary texts, each representing a trope of standard literary history and interpretation. In each case study, comparisons are adduced; in the case of longer texts, sections are specified, or use your own judgment to read as much as you can.

You are expected to be familiar with standard very basic reference tools, like AEIOU and the Dictionary of Literary Biography on-line, Cambridge History of German Literature, the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, and Daten Deutscher Dichtung -- all of which will provide canonically approved descriptions or definitions of entities that we study, that can serve as baseline assumptions for the cases we are studying, treating literature AS LITERATURE, not simply as a reflection of cultural history. It will be assumed that you know the "who-what-where-when" about each of the authors studied.

It is also expected that you inform yourself about Austrian history (thus the order of the Kann book) and of Austrian cultural history (thus the order of the Johnston book) about the relevant contexts. Zweimal Deutschland is on reserve in the Reading Gallery for a short history of two Germanies in the later twentieth century, before the wall fell. You are adults; I shouldn't have to assign the pages.

Assignments and Grading:

NOTE: If you submit an abstract to MALCA (due october 15), you may eliminate one of the brief essay tests (but not the accompanying short answer section). That is contingent upon your turning in the abstract to me a week before it is due for editing, and your taking the editing process seriously. Your final paper in this case may be the first draft of the talk (no more than 10 pages, because it will need to be CUT to 7 for delivery), should you wish to avail yourself of this option.

Length: = no more than 5 minutes -- I might have to institute an egg timer.
This means no more than 2 pp., or about 600 words.
Language: If we do one, then in the NICHT-MUTTERSPRACHE; if we do two, the second is in language of your choice


The introductory framework for the author and work.

And a summary statement about why the text is significant in the canon or as a document challenging the canon. Why do you think it was it chosen for the class?

Your report is to be posted on BLACKBOARD CLASS WEBSITE after class, with a slightly expanded "why it was chosen" statement. You will not get credit for completing the assignment unless it is posted in a timely manner (e.g. within 36 hours of delivery)

**If you sign up for a date and miss it, the class moves on without you.


Grading like Précis