Spring 2024

Fictions of America

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-222  |  European Studies, as EUST-217  |  German, as GERM-222


Jonas Rosenbrueck (Section 01)


(Offered as GERM 222, AMST 222 and EUST 217) What happens when we try to see the U.S. from abroad, from elsewhere? Might the American Dream and its successes and failures appear in a different light when seen by, say, a German-Jewish writer in exile in 1940s L.A.? Beginning with Franz Kafka’s first novel, titled Amerika, which misdescribes the Statue of Liberty as carrying a “sword” instead of a torch, this class investigates “America” as a place of desire, hope, attraction, and fascination but also confusion, suspicion, rejection, and despair in various discourses stemming from the Germanophone sphere and beyond. Some of the interrelated themes through which these non-American thinkers approach the U.S. include: (1) a critique of consumer society and capitalism; (2) the “frontier” mentality, settler colonialism, and indigeneity; (3) U.S. cultural imperialism during the Cold War era; (4) U.S.-American Blackness and the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to literature (Karl May, Franz Kafka, Bertolt Brecht, Thomas Mann, Peter Handke, Ingeborg Bachmann) and philosophy (Hannah Arendt, Theodor W. Adorno), we will consider film (Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, Percy Adlon) and pop culture (e. g. Rammstein) as important modes of imagination and critique. Contemporary scholarship from Indigenous Studies, Black Studies as well as queer and feminist theory will help us reconfigure the texts studied. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Spring semester: Professor Rosenbrück.

How to handle overenrollment: null

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: an emphasis on analysis, written work, readings, oral presentations.

AMST 222 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 1:00 PM - 2:20 PM CHAP 101
Th 1:00 PM - 2:20 PM CHAP 101

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Amerika: The Man Who Disappeared, translated by Michael Hofmann New Directions Franz Kafka Amherst Books TBD
America, translated by Chris Turner Verso Jean Baudrillard Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024