Brecht in Exile: Emphasizing Women in his Work and Life (in English)
Thursdays, June 8 – July 13, 2017 • 3-5 pm
OLLI@San Francisco State University • 835 Market Street, Sixth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103

Course Reader

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was a prominent German playwright and poet in the 20th century. In this interactive seminar, we’ll explore a selection of his most famous plays written in exile as well as reflect on some of his popular poems, intended to be understood by ordinary people. We’ll discuss his “epic theater” and Verfremdungseffekt, a term he used to describe the technique to prevent audiences from passively identifying with the characters.

Taking a closer look at the female figures in Brecht’s plays in particular, we’ll examine whether the roles of women were depicted as gender stereotypical or emancipatory. We’ll also give credit to the women who collaborated with Brecht, mostly behind the scenes, and whose creative gifts contributed significantly to “his” masterpieces, especially Helene Weigel, Elisabeth Hauptmann, Margarete Steffin, and Ruth Berlau.

Register here

  • Instructor: Marion Gerlind, Ph.D.
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They Divided the SkyLiterature and Film of the German Democratic Republic (in English)
6 two-hour classes
TBA

Two Germanys developed after World War II, each with its own literature and culture, separated by internal and external walls between 1961 and 1989. What were the literary idiosyncrasies of the socialist German Democratic Republic (GDR), the “place of wondrous things,” as author Irmtraud Morgner put it so eloquently? Literature and film in the GDR presented itself as dynamic, magical, marginal, social critical, and realistic, including subversive processes, in which texts can be read at multiple levels. In this interactive seminar, we’ll explore popular GDR literature and film of the 1960s and ‘70s. A course reader will be provided.

Full syllabus provided upon request or registration for the class.

  • Week 1: Women’s Voices in GDR Literature
  • Week 2: Christa Wolf: They Divided The Sky
  • Week 3: Heiner Carow: The Legend of Paul and Paula (Film)
  • Week 4: Jurek Becker: Jacob the Liar (Novel)
  • Week 5: Frank Beyer: Jacob the Liar (Film)
  • Week 6: Irmtraud Morgner: Life and Adventures of Trobadora Beatrice

Conducted in English, this course is comprised of short lectures, guiding study questions, close reading and discussion in small groups, and facilitated whole group discussions.

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May Ayim
May Ayim

Contemporary German Literature by Women Writers in English translation
6 two-hour classes
TBA

Join this interactive seminar if you are curious about popular German literature from a diverse group of female writers, including

  • May Ayim
  • Ruth Klüger
  • Emine Sevgi Özdamar
  • Ingrid Strobl
  • Yoko Tawada
  • Christa Wolf

Explore a selection of writings originally published in Germany between 1989 and 2010 and now available in English. Discuss excerpts of biography, autobiography, documentary, essays, fiction, and poetry. Course reader will be provided.

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Unsterbliche Gedichte
4 zweistündige Klassen
Nach Vereinbarung

Rainer Maria RilkeRainer Maria Rilke
Rainer Maria Rilke
Karoline von Günderrode
Karoline von Günderrode

Deutsch, die Sprache der DichterInnen und DenkerInnen! Quer durch die Jahrhunderte lesen und interpretieren wir—je nach Wunsch der TeilnehmerInnen—unsterbliche Gedichte von Rose Ausländer, May Ayim, Ingeborg Bachmann, Bertolt Brecht, Sabri Çakir, Paul Celan, Zehra Çirak, Hilde Domin, Theodor Fontane, Erich Fried, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Karoline von Günderrode, Heinrich Heine, Friedrich Hölderlin, Mascha Kaléko, Gertrud Kolmar, Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, Else Lasker-Schüler, Rainer Maria Rilke, Joachim Ringelnatz, Nelly Sachs, Friedrich von Schiller, Theodor Storm und anderen.

Immortal Poems
4 two-hour classes
TBA

May Ayim
May Ayim
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht

German, the proverbial language of poets and thinkers! In this vein, we are offering four sessions in which we read and interpret immortal poems by Rose Ausländer, May Ayim, Ingeborg Bachmann, Bertolt Brecht, Sabri Çakir, Paul Celan, Zehra Çirak, Hilde Domin, Theodor Fontane, Erich Fried, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Karoline von Günderrode, Heinrich Heine, Friedrich Hölderlin, Mascha Kaléko, Gertrud Kolmar, Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, Else Lasker-Schüler, Rainer Maria Rilke, Joachim Ringelnatz, Nelly Sachs, Friedrich von Schiller, Theodor Storm, and others. We’ll read and discuss the poems in German and in English translation, if necessary. Participants will be able to choose the poets.

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Deutsche Literatur zum Schnuppern
Kurze Erzählungen • 4 zweistündige Klassen 
Nach Vereinbarung

Dieses Seminar bietet eine Einführung in deutsche Literatur nach 1945. Vorausgesetzt werden mittlere bis gute Deutschkenntnisse und die Bereitschaft, vor jeder Sitzung kürzere Texte zu lesen, die wir dann in der Gruppe besprechen. Konzipiert ist dieses Seminar für 4 zweistündige Sitzungen, die jedoch auch einzeln belegt werden können. Nach Absprache mit den TeilnehmerInnen wählen wir kurze Erzählungen von Ingeborg Bachmann, Heinrich Böll, Bertolt Brecht, Sarah Kirsch, Helga Königsdorf, Emine Sevgi Özdamar und anderen.

Introduction to German Literature
Short Stories and novellas •  4 two-hour classes
TBA

Did you always want to study German literature but did not dare to do it by yourself? Are you interested in re-visiting your favorite, or an unfamiliar, author? Our seminar offers an introduction into German literature since 1945. Ideally, you have intermediate or advanced German reading skills and are willing to read short texts (prior to the session), which will be discussed. This seminar is designed for 4 two-hour sessions but can be attended separately. Students can choose among short stories/novellas by Ingeborg Bachmann, Heinrich Böll, Bertolt Brecht, Sarah Kirsch, Helga Königsdorf, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, and others.

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Afro-deutsche Literatur und Filme
4 zweistündige Klassen
Nach Vereinbarung

Ika Hügel-Marshall
Ika Hügel-Marshall

Dieses Seminar bietet eine Einführung in die Geschichte einer Minderheit in Deutschland, die seit den 1980er Jahren in den deutschen Medien sichtbarer geworden ist. Seit langem bekämpfen Schwarze Deutsche rassistische Stereotype und (Mis-)Repräsentationen und haben ihre eigenen sozialen und historischen Identitäten mit der Selbstbezeichnung “Afro-Deutsche” geschaffen. Anhand des klassischen Buches Farbe bekennen, autobiografischer Erzählungen, Auszügen von Romanen und Filmen, einschliesslich späterer Arbeiten von May Ayim und Ika Hügel-Marshall, werden StudentInnen das vorkoloniale Afrikabild in Deutschland, Afro-Deutsche in der Weimarer Republik, im Nationalsozialismus, seit 1945 bis heute studieren.

Das Seminar wird auf Deutsch und/oder Englisch geleitet. StudentInnen werden gebeten, angegebene Texte vor jeder Sitzung zu lesen und bereit zu sein, an Diskussionen via Email teilzunehmen.

Afro-German literature and films
4 two-hour classes
TBA

Hope in My Heart
May Ayim

This seminar will familiarize students with the history of a minority population in Germany who has gained significant visibility in German media since the 1980s. Having confronted racist stereotyping and media (mis)representations, Black Germans have formed empowering social and historical identities around the self-label “Afro-German.” Using the classic book Farbe bekennen (Showing Our Colors), autobiographical essays, excerpts from novels and films, including later work by May Ayim and Ika Hügel-Marshall, students will study pre-colonial representations of Africa in Germany, Afro-Germans in the Weimar Republic and under National Socialism, as well as after 1945 to the present.

This seminar will be conducted in German and/or English. Students are asked to read assigned texts prior to each session and be prepared to contribute to email discussions.

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