We’ll traverse Germany as we search out the distinctive aspects of its history and culture, studying modern Germany in the context of the events and people involved in the rapid changes since World War II. Guest lectures will guide our understanding of the culture – including music and art, and the differences between northern and southern Germany – and the history of the country.
We’ll spend time in Berlin and examine this capital city, then and now, before traveling to Leipzig to experience this city of music. Then it’s on to Nuremberg to discuss the Renaissance, Reich, and reckoning in this town known for the boom of Nazism, but also for the war trials. Finally, we experience German hospitality and gemütlickkeit in Munich, where we explore Bavarian culture.
Of course, we will also experience the incomparable Passion Play, which comes around only every 10 years in Oberammergau. Along the way we’ll ponder such questions as …
1. To what extent does Germany’s past live on in the present? How familiar are today’s Germans with that past? Do you think that today’s Germans have come to grips with the Nazi past, or are they still in the process of reconciliation?
2. What vestiges of East Germany before the fall of the Wall continue to impact the united Germany? Are there still traces of differences between east and west? Is the mentality of a current day young German different than that of its grand parents? How?
3. An important notion in talking about Germany and German culture is Heimat. While this term does not have a good English equivalent, Heimat relates to the notions of identity and colllective memory. Specifically, it can refer to places or events or monuments which are linked to German identity and to the significance of those places or events in the collective identity of Germans. What examples of Heimat will we encounter during our travels? What do these places mean for Germans today? Has the meaning of these places changed over time?s
4. The roots of The Passion Play are historical, but the Play itself has evolved considerably over time. How? Why? What do you think The Passion Play represents for inhabitants of Oberammergau today? Does it represent the same thing for visitors and tourists? Do you consider The Passion Play to be primarily a cultural event, a religious event, a commercial event, or something else? Before witnessing The Passion Play, what did you think the experience would be like? How did you react to the event as you were witnessing it? Once The Play was over, what can you say about the experience of witnessing it?
See the current draft Itinerary.