Literature and Film of World War II: Homefront Narratives (Fall 2020)

Meeting Time: 
M 1:30-3:20pm

Course Description:

Taking a pan-European perspective, the course examines quotidian, civilian experiences of war during a conflict of unusual scope and duration. Considering key works of wartime and postwar fiction and film alongside diaries and memoirs, we explore the kinds of literary reflection war occasioned, how civilians experienced the relationship between history and everyday life (both during and after the war), children’s experience of war, and the ways that homefront, occupation, and concentration camp memories shaped postwar avant-garde aesthetics. Novels and autobiographical fiction by Elio Vittorini, Anna Seghers, Irène Némirovsky, Elizabeth Taylor, Georges Simenon, Jirí Weil, Jorge Semprún, Miron Bialoszewski, Christa Wolf. Films by Humphrey Jennings, Andrzej Munk, Theo Angelopoulos, Péter Forgács, István Szabó, Bill Douglas, Kevin Brownlow. Diaries and memoirs by Victor Klemperer, Anne Frank, Sarah Kofman. We also consider poetry, photography, and art.

Led by:

Professor Katie Trumpener works across the modern period (late 18th C. to the present), with particular interests in the history of the British and European novel; anglophone fiction (especially Scotland, Ireland, Canada); European film history; literature’s relationship to social and cultural history, visual culture and music; nationalism, regionalism and traditionalism’;  literature/culture of WWI, WWII and the Cold War; history of children’s literature 18th C-present; women novelists. She is currently researching the institutionalization of Marxist aesthetics in postwar Central Europe.