September 2015

Jan Behrs

Jan Behrs is our new DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Visiting Associate Professor of German from Kiel, Germany. Before coming to the United States, Professor Behrs taught at the universities of Stuttgart and Kiel and worked as a copy editor in a publishing house. His teaching and research interests include German baroque literature, the sociology of literature, the literary canon and its fringes, and contemporary German literature and film.

In addition to his academic work, Professor Behrs loves to travel (especially to Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Ukraine). He is also an avid theater-goer, attendee of jazz concerts and, as he puts it, "a very non-promising learner of Russian."

Get to know Professor Behrs in the department or during Kaffeestunde, or even better, sign up for his 300-level literature class this fall.

German 321-2   Myth and Modernity: 1900-1945
World War I in German Literature, Art, and Music
Tuesday and Thursday from 2 -3:20

Course Description
The first World War, often understood as "the great seminal catastrophe" of the 20th century (George F. Kennan), did not only shape Europe's political landscape up to the present day, but also left its mark on German culture. By taking a close look at the literature, art, and music of these troubled times, we will be able to perceive two threads which seem to be peculiarly intertwined: The expression of nationalist sentiment (which would later be utilized by the ideologues of National Socialism), but also the emergence of a wave of modernism (expressionism, futurism, and Dada) which brought forth some of the essential works of avant-garde art we still recognize and admire today. The class will focus on literature, both poetry and prose (for example by Gerhart Hauptmann, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Gottfried Benn, Rainer Maria Rilke, and August Stramm), but we will also consider non-literary writing (diaries, journalism) and other art forms, especially visual arts (such as Der blaue Reiter) and music.