The Radio Play: Culture, Technology, and Aesthetics. This course, taught in German, will focus on the German Hörspiel as it evolved throughout the early 20th century and lived on to assume innovative forms today. We will examine the genre as a particularly interesting intersection of culture and technology and consider their many reciprocal relations. Coursework will emphasize the peculiarities of the form and ask what potential radio technology offered dramatic works by providing a new context for cultural production and reception. In turn, we will consider how such programming has come to influence perceptions of the technology itself and its meaning in people’s daily lives. Analysis throughout the course will therefore pair theoretical texts examining the technology and its implications with careful readings of the plays themselves. We will look at early critiques of the medium by Brecht, Benjamin, Kracauer, and others, who were ambivalent about the new technology’s cultural and political potential, viewing it with as much hope as suspicion. The course goes on to examine how many of their fears would later be realized during the Nazi period. The examination of the postwar era will focus on the evolution of the genre within the vastly altered media context of occupied Germany and the development of a new mass media system. Specific authors will include Frisch, Eich, Böll, Bachmann, and other innovative writers recognized by the group most active in furthering such works, the Bund der Kriegsblinden Deutschlands. The final unit of the course will examine contemporary radio productions by Jelinek, Schlingensief, and others and speculate on the genre’s further evolution.
Eric Jarosinski is Visiting Assistant Professor of German. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on twentieth-century German and Dutch literature and culture, with an emphasis on the relationship between politics and aesthetics in literature, the arts, and popular culture. Recent publications have included essays on Vladimir Nabokov, Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and Siegfried Kracauer. He is currently at work on a book-length study of the origins and cultural and political significance of glass architecture in recently constructed government buildings in Berlin.
Language of instruction: German
Readings: in German and English