Roland Dollinger

BA, University of Augsburg, Germany. MA, University of Pittsburgh. PhD, Princeton University. Special interest in 20th-century German and Austrian literature; author of Totalität und Totalitarismus: Das Exilwerk Alfred Döblins and several essays and book reviews on 19th- and 20th-century German literature; co-editor of Unus Mundus: Kosmos and Sympathie, Naturphilosophie, and Philosophia Naturalis. SLC, 1989–

Undergraduate Courses 2020-2021

German

Advanced German: Home, Exile, and Emigration: Case Studies From the Bible to Contemporary German Literature

Advanced , Small Lecture—Spring

This course is taught in English.

Human history has always been characterized by the forced or voluntary migration of groups of people or individuals. In this small lecture, we will analyze stories, novels, and some theoretical texts about the dialectical relationship between the concepts of “home” and “exile.” While our principal focus will lie on the interpretation of German literary texts from the 18th century until today, this lecture will begin with selected stories from the Old Testament (Pentateuch) in order to illustrate what, perhaps, can be called “the archetypal dimension of exile”; i.e., the fact that “being in exile”—no longer “at home”—seems to be the existential and psychological norm and NOT the exception of our human existence. This lecture is not a historical overview of literary representations of “home” and “exile” but, rather, will explore (through some case studies) the various meanings that writers such as Goethe, Tieck, Hesse, Seghers, Sebald, and other contemporary German writers have attributed to the relationship of being “in exile” and being “at home.” Theoretical essays by Edward Said, Julia Kristeva, and others will provide us with some critical vocabulary to speak and write about this topic. During an extra weekly seminar, we will work on all aspects of your German: reading, speaking, and writing. 

Faculty

Advanced German: Postwar German Literature and Film

Advanced , Small Lecture—Fall

This course is taught in English.

In our lecture, we will explore postwar German literature and film from 1945 to the present. As we read plays, short stories, and novels (including one graphic novel) by Wolfgang Borchert, Heinrich Böll, Gunther Grass, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Max Frisch, Peter Weiss, Jurek Becker, Bernhard Schlink, Nora Krug, Helga Mueller, and others, we will give special attention to the question of how German writers have dealt with the lasting legacy of both National Socialism and Stalinism (in East Germany from 1945 to 1989). Other topics might include German reunification, immigration, and the question of national identity. The films that will enhance our understanding of postwar German history and culture will include Murderer Among Us, Germany Pale Mother, The Lives of Others, and Good-Bye Lenin. Students will be required to read an entire play or novel per week. During an extra weekly seminar, we will work on all aspects of your German—reading, speaking, and writing. 

Faculty

Beginning German

Open , Seminar—Year

This course concentrates on the study of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation in order to secure the basic tools of the German language. In addition to offering an introduction, classroom activities and the production of short compositions promote oral and written communication. This class will meet three times (90 minutes) per week, twice with Dr. Dollinger and once with Ms. Mizelle, who will also meet with students individually or in small groups for an extra conference. Course materials include the textbook, Neue Horizonte (8th edition), along with the workbook and a graded German reader. We will cover about 10 chapters from the textbook—all of the basic grammar and vocabulary that students will need to know in order to advance to the next level. There will be short written tests at the end of each chapter. Students will also be introduced to contemporary German culture through authentic materials from newspapers, television, radio, or the internet.

Faculty

Intermediate German

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

Prerequisite: Beginning German at Sarah Lawrence College or another institution of higher learning or at least four semesters of German in high school.

This course places strong emphasis on expanding vocabulary and thoroughly reviewing grammar, as well as on developing oral and written expression. The aim of the course is to give students more fluency and to prepare them for a possible junior year in Germany. Readings in the fall will consist of short stories, fairy tales, and a graphic novel called Heimat​ (Home). In the spring semester, we will focus on 20th-century stories, historical essays, and some films in order to learn about the major phases of German history and culture between 1871 and today.  All materials are linguistically accessible and promote an understanding of the culture’s fundamental values and way of looking at the world. A solid grammar review, based on the book German Grammar in Review, will help students further improve their speaking and writing skills. Regular conferences with Ms. Mizelle will supplement class work, help improve fluency and pronunciation, and emphasize conversational conventions for expressing opinions and leading discussions.

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Literature

Home, Exile, and Emigration: Case Studies From the Bible to Contemporary German Literature

Open , Small Lecture—Spring

This course is taught in English. German language skills are not required. Advanced German students may take this course for five credits; during an extra weekly seminar, we will work on all aspects of your German—reading, speaking, and writing—by analyzing and discussing (in German) the same and/or other postwar German texts not covered in this lecture.

Human history has always been characterized by the forced or voluntary migration of individuals or groups of people. In this lecture, we will analyze stories, novels, and some theoretical texts about the dialectical relationship between the concepts of “home” and “exile." While our principal focus will lie on the study of German literary texts from the 20th century—a century whose historical upheavals have led to different waves of voluntary or forced migration—this lecture will begin with a reading of selected stories from the Old Testament (Pentateuch) in order to illustrate the relationship between a life in “exile” and a “home” that is located either in the past, in the future, or both. Theoretical essays by Edward Said, Julia Kristeva, Hannah Arendt, and others will provide us with some critical vocabulary to speak and write about the interconnectedness of concepts such as home, flight, exile, migrants, and refugees. The lecture then moves on to an exploration of some 20th-century German novels and/or autobiographies about the flight of intellectuals and writers from National Socialism and emigrants from European and non-European countries into today’s Germany.

Faculty

Postwar German Literature and Film

Open , Small Lecture—Fall

This course is taught in English. German language skills are not required. Advanced German students have the option of taking this small lecture for five credits; during an extra weekly seminar, we will work on all aspects of your German—reading, speaking, and writing—by analyzing and discussing (in German) the same postwar German texts and/or others not covered in this lecture.

We will study short stories about the war by Heinrich Böll; plays about a German soldier coming home from the war and having no home anymore (by Wolfgang Borchert); Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit; Max Frisch’s parable about anti-Semitism; Peter Weiss’ play about the Auschwitz trials in Germany; Schlink’s famous and problematic novel, The Reader; Eugen Ruge’s In Times of Fading Light, a family novel covering East German history; Christoph Hein’s novel, Tango Player, about a man who was jailed in East Germany for playing a tango; creative nonfiction by Anna Funders, about a young girl who wanted to get across the Berlin Wall; Sebald’s haunting novel, Austerlitz, about a man dealing with the trauma of his Kindertransport; and the graphic novel Belonging, by Nora Krug, about a German woman who is exploring her family’s history. The list of films includes Murderer Among Us, The Tin Drum, Germany Pale Mother, and The Lives of Others. Thematically, all these texts and movies are tied together by one common theme: the question of how German writers and film makers were dealing with the legacy of both National Socialism and Stalinism in East Germany.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Advanced German: Exile and Emigration, 1933–1950

Advanced , Seminar—Spring

This seminar is conducted entirely in German. Students must demonstrate advanced language skills during registration in order to be permitted into this class.

In this course, we will explore the lives and works of several prominent German and German-Jewish intellectuals and writers who escaped from Nazi Germany. We will study the existential situation and meaning of “being in exile” and how the topos of “exile” is reflected in the works of those German refugees. We will also look at the networks (or lack thereof) that German and German-Jewish exile writers built with native New Yorkers. Reading excerpts from German exile newspapers, The New York Times, and various other publications will help us undertand the historical context of life in New York City between 1933 and 1950. Several trips to relevant museums and archives in New York City will give students the opportunity to learn the practical work of historical and literary research. This course consists of three equally important components: Students will have one seminar with Mr. Dollinger, who will discuss the class materials with students in German; one seminar with Ms. Mizelle, who will work with students collectively on various grammar and vocabulary issues; and one biweekly individual conference with Mr. Dollinger.

Faculty

First-Year Studies: German Cultural Studies From 1871–Present

Open , FYS—Year

In this course, students will learn about the major cultural and historical developments in Germany since the late 19th century through an in-depth analysis of many masterpieces of modern German literature (novels, stories, plays), philosophy, psychoanalysis, and film. Germany has seen five different political systems since its modern inception as a nation state in 1871: an aristocracy ruled by the German emperor; the Weimar Republic; the Nazi dictatorship; a divided Germany with a socialist government in the East; and the creation of a reunified Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990. While this is not a history course, students will be required to accompany their analyses of literary, cinematic, and intellectual works with a reading of a history book about modern Germany. In the fall semester, we will cover the period between 1871 and 1945; in the spring semester, the emphasis will be on the period between 1945 and today. Among the writers, intellectuals, and filmmakers whose works we will study in the first semester are Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, C. G. Jung, Remarque, Bertolt Brecht, Irmgard Keun, Leni Riefenstahl, and Martin Heidegger; in the spring semester, Wolfgang Staudte, Heinrich Böll, Alfred Andersch, Anna Seghers, Wolfgang Borchert, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Max Frisch, Bernhard Schlink, Judith Hermann, W. G. Sebald, Günther Grass, Helga Sanders-Brahms, and F. Henckel von Donnersmarck. The course will combine one-on-one conference work with group activities and exercises designed to help students make the transition from high school to college life, learn the ins and outs of Sarah Lawrence College, prepare students to succeed academically, and foster a sense of community spirit among our FYS class.

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Related Disciplines

Modern German Literature and Film From 1871 to the Present

Open , Seminar—Year

In this course, students will learn about the major cultural and historical developments in Germany since the late 19th century through an in-depth analysis of many masterpieces of modern German literature (novels, stories, plays) and film. Germany has seen five different political systems since its modern inception as a nation state in 1871: an aristocracy ruled by the German emperor, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi dictatorship, a divided Germany with a Socialist government in the East, and the creation of a reunified Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990. While this is NOT a history course, students will be required to accompany their analyses of German literary and cinematic masterworks with a reading of primary and secondary historical and philosophical sources. In the fall semester, we will cover the period between 1871 and 1945; in the spring semester, the emphasis will be on postwar German literature and film since 1945. This seminar is open to all students, and no expertise in German history or literature is required; however, students will be asked to read a novel or play every week, some of which may be several-hundred pages long. You must be a dedicated reader! The preliminary reading list includes the following works of literature and film for the fall of 2017: Florian Illies: 1913; Theodor Fontane: On Tangled Paths; Rilke: The Diary of Malte Laurids Brigge; Hermann Hesse: Siddartha; Thomas Mann: Death in Venice and Other Stories; Franz Kafka: The Judgment, The Hunger Artist; Alfred Döblin: Berlin Alexanderplatz; Ernst Jünger: excerpts from Storm of Steel; Remarque: All Quiet on the Western Front; Irmgard Keun: The Artificial Silk Girl; Berthold Brecht: The Three Penny Opera; Anna Seghers: The Seventh Cross. In the spring semester, the seminar will focus on postwar German literature after 1945 and, especially, the question of how writers and intellectuals have dealt with the Holocaust, the National Socialist and Communist dictatorships, and German reunification since 1990. Films such as The Murderers Are Among Us, Sophie Scholl, Germany Pale Mother, The Lives of the Others, and Good-bye Lenin will give students visual representations of the most important cultural and historical issues in Germany since 1945. Novels and plays include: Heinrich Böll: Group Portrait With Lady; Günther Grass: Crabwalk; Wolfgang Borchert: The Man Outside; Max Frisch: Andorra; Jurek Becker: Jacob the Liar; Monika Maron: Pavel’s Letters; Schlink: The Reader; Sebald: Austerlitz; Jenny Erpenbeck: Go, Went, Gone; Antje Ravic Strubel: Under Snow. German-speaking students may read some of these works in the original German and will meet with the German assistant, Nike Mizelle, once a week to improve their speaking and writing skills in German. Their conferences will also be conducted in German.

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Related Disciplines

Additional Information

Selected Publications

Sehnsucht nach Sinn

Koenigshausen & Neumann, Wuerzbuerg 2017