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Durham University

School of Modern Languages and Cultures: German Studies

In Search of Happiness

Academic Year 2018-19

“Alles in der Welt lässt sich ertragen,
Nur nicht eine Reihe von schönen Tagen.“ (Goethe)

On this module, we explore the role literature and visual art play in establishing or subverting concepts of happiness. Over the course of centuries, perceptions and theories of happiness have shifted and changed. What counts as ‘the good life’, as contentment, satisfaction, or joy, is to some degree historically and culturally determined. Studying major works of German literature, art, philosophy, and film that have reflected on the question of happiness, we engage with broader debates surrounding the nature of happiness in relation to historical events, social change, and cultural values. In 2018-19, we explore concepts such as love and loneliness, justice and injustice, the good life and self-realisation. Materials studied are drawn from historically and culturally crucial periods in German history.

In 2018/19 they are likely to include:

  • Friedrich Schiller: Fiesco
  • Friedrich Schiller: Verbrecher aus verlorener Ehre
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Iphigenie auf Tauris
  • Heinrich von Kleist: Michael Kohlhaas
  • Marlen Haushofer, Die Wand
  • Christa Wolf, Kein Ort Nirgends
  • Daniel Kehlmann, Ruhm
  • Baran bo Odar, Who am I. Kein System ist sicher
  • Spike Jonze, Her-

Module Coordinator:

Professor Claudia Nitschke, A17, Elvet Riverside I

Further details of pre-requisites, co-requisites, aims, contact hours and assessment