A Fortnight in Oxford

Seminars

Twilight of the Gods: German Expressionism in Painting, Film, and Literature, 1919-1933

This course will review the new artistic form of ‘Expressionism’ that developed in Weimar Germany, in painting, film and literature. Both a response to the traumas of losing World War 1 and a reaction to a new form of urban society emerging in the early 20th century, expressionism shows subjective feelings distorting reality in uncanny and frightening ways. The filmmakers Robert Wiene, Fritz Lang, Josef Von Sternberg and FW Murnau were at the forefront of this trend. In their films, characters are harried through an unforgiving world, pursued by sinister forces that they can’t overcome. Their work expresses both their personal psychologies and the unresolved tensions in German society that will break out with the emergence of the Nazis in 1933.

Dr. Angus McFadzean is from Aberdeen, Scotland. He studied literature at Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities, obtaining a DPhil in the novels of James Joyce at Wadham College, University of Oxford. He currently teaches undergraduates as a sessional tutor at various Oxford colleges and summer schools with Oxford University Department of Continuing Education.

Propaganda, Citizenship and the Nation in Weimar & Nazi Germany: ‘O Brave New World That Has Such People In It’

This course examines the role of propaganda and citizenship in interwar Germany, looking at how these themes framed and even shaped the evolution of the nation through this critical time. Beginning with an examination of the meanings of key ideological terms, we will discuss how an idealised notion of the ‘modern citizen’ was essential to both the rise of the Weimar Republic and its fall. From its very foundation its leaders sought to establish and promulgate their vision of a progressive democratic state with people at the heart of that process. Yet from the outset they did so in the face of multiple contestations of this vision from across the political spectrum, as we shall discover. These began with the radical Spartacist left, in the very earliest attempt to derail the democratic model before it had barely begun. Ultimately however it was the radical right of course which would deal the final blow, as Nazism too took its turn to define what it meant to be a ‘modern’ German.

Dr. Kate Watson, Senior Associate Tutor, has taught for the Department for Continuing Education, and other university programmes for almost twenty years. She has lectured and published on a wide range of topics, focussed on the development of modern British and European History.