Past Event

The Odyssey Project: Weimar Culture: Responding to the New Demands of Modern Life

Four inter-related classes will focus on the urban culture of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), a period in Germany of extraordinary political and economic turmoil as well as technological and cultural innovation. German artists and intellectuals working at this time confronted issues that are still important to our contemporary experience.

Some of the issues we will address in these seminars include the effects of technology and urban environments on individuals and society, the fragmentation and anonymity as well as the freedom and autonomy of life in a metropolis, the longing for nature and unity, the proliferation of forms of mass culture (film, newspaper, radio, illustrated magazine), the role of art in modern life and everyday life in art, the shifting status of "high" and "low" culture, as well as the idea of modern culture as alienating and "decadent."

These are discussion classes and no papers will be assigned. Some readings, links to images, and films clips will be made available on the Illinois Humanities Council’s website.

Discussion Days and Topics:

  • First Session July 1st: Brief historical introduction to Weimar Germany, scenes from the film Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927), and discussion of 5-page excerpt from Georg Simmel’s "The Metropolis and Mental Life."
  • Second Session July 8th: Art History. Expressionism, Dada, Abstraction, and New Objectivity. Readings: Selections from various artists’ statements, manifestoes, and writings
  • Visit the Art Institute Modern Wing: July 9 or 10
  • Third Session July 15th: Poetry. Rainer Maria Rilke Duino Elegies (1922) and Gottfried Benn Morgue (1912).
  • Fourth Session July 22nd: Drama and Music. Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill The Threepenny Opera (1928).

This seminar is open to Odyssey Project graduates only.
Registration is required.

For more information, please contact Amy Thomas Elder at 312.422.5580 or Kym Lanzetta.