GER20160 German-speaking Enlightenment

The Enlightenment was a diverse cultural movement in the eighteenth century that brought about a reform of society and all forms of culture. Advocating critical and autonomous thinking, it triggered off a new way of looking at the world and at the acquisition and application of knowledge and learning. It is the foundation for the value system of the modern Western world. Famously defined by Kant as the “emergence of humankind from its self-imposed immaturity”, the German-speaking Enlightenment effectively signalled the birth of modern German-language literature and culture. This level 2 module will look at the socio-historical and cultural context of the Enlightenment and its representation in selected works from all literary genres. Its centrepiece is the libretto (text) of Mozart’s best-loved opera, “Die Zauberflöte”, about the journey to Enlightenment of the royal fairy-tale couple Tamino and Pamina, which will be studied in conjunction with productions available on DVD. Other German-language cognate works of different genres incorporating some of the opera’s enlightened themes will be studied alongside this.

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