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Daniel Gilfillan
Germanic Languages & Literatures
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
Phone: (541) 346-5067
Fax: (541) 346-5096

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Daniel Gilfillan


The Weimar Republic has been described by many historians as the crucible in which the roots of National Socialism were forged. Although characterized by economic depression, political factionism and social decline, Weimar Germany also experienced a profound cultural growth. At the heart of this cultural growth was technology, both as mode of artistic production in the form of film and photography, and as object of critical response from liberal and conservative commentators alike.

With artistic trends like Expressionism, Neue Sachlichkeit, Dada and Bauhaus, artistic techniques such as photomontage, cabaret, mechanical music and serialized novels, and a panoply of ideologies marking each segment of the political landscape, the position of technology in the Weimar Republic was as multifarious as the artistic, political and economic arenas that used it as its example.

With examples from the worlds of literature, art, film and politics, we will investigate the role of technology in Weimar culture, and seek to understand its positioning as a political and artistic tool. A few guiding questions for the seminar are:
  1. In what ways is technology viewed politically and artistically in Weimar?
  2. How do conservative and Marxist attitudes towards technology converge?
  3. Why is technology so prevalent as a theme within the many art trends in Weimar?

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