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Modernism into Nazism: German Expressionism from 1900-1945

ENGL 259.401
TR 12-1:30

This course examines the development of ‘modernity’ in German art from the end of the 19th century to 1945 and the end of the Nazi regime. The course focuses on notions of modernity in various art forms-music, the fine arts, literature, film and dance. This modernity is also known as expressionism. The course will concentrate on the articulation of a new language of the body in all the arts by comparing different concepts of modern art and modern dance from the beginnings of the twentieth century until 1933, such as futurism, DADA or surrealism. We will follow the development of expressionist modernism and its evaluation by the Nazis; we will examine how and why the Nazis thought of some expressionist art as ‘degenerate’ and other art as acceptable. The consequence of this Nazi categorization was the emigration of modernist artists, above all, to the United Kingdom and the United States. 

We shall study the impact of the formal properties, theoretical frames and general ideas on subsequent art, music and theatre history. Students will work with the writings and designs of artists, with videos and other material to understand the relationship between ideas and artistic expression and political ambitions.