History and the Novel: Sebald’s Austerlitz

How does one write a novel about the Holocaust without mentioning it? Award-winning novelist W.G. Sebald has done so, several times – and Austerlitz is his supreme attempt. For Sebald, descriptions of Jewish persecution and mass murder were of such enormity that one could not grasp them rationally. For him, one could only approach obliquely, with hints that might startle the reader into new awareness and empathy. In this course students will read the novel Austerlitz (ahead of time or over the course of our meetings). Each class will consist of the tutor’s discussion of themes in the book, to be followed by close reading and group discussion of a section of the novel. Note: Students will need to obtain a copy of the novel prior to the course (Preferred: Penguin Books).


This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom. Enrolling students need to ensure they have an email, a reliable internet connection, microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.


SUGGESTED READING


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Analysis of the importance of Sebald as an author; his style and innovations
  • Historical discussion of many of Sebald’s themes:
    • Modernity since the French Revolution, and the rise of nationalism
    • Nature, science, and the dangers of rational study
    • Seeing vs understanding; seeing obliquely, through a veil
    • Time: clock time vs psychic time; memory, commemoration
    • The role of colonialism in creating inhumanity and a European "Other"
    • Anti-Semitism and its development from the late 19th century
    • Nazism, World War II, and Jewish persecution – from isolation, to the Kindertransport and mass death
    • Emigration and loss of identity after 1933; exile and not belonging


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Enjoy an unusual, striking, and masterly novel.
  2. Analyse the author’s singular style.
  3. Understand and examine the historical context to the themes of the book.
  4. Discuss the content of the book in relation to its main themes.
$110 Limited / $99

<p>How does one write a novel about the Holocaust without mentioning it? Award-winning novelist W.G. Sebald has done so, several times – and <em>Austerlitz</em> is his supreme attempt. For Sebald,

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02 Oct

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