History and Politics of the Future in Germany, 1900-Present
The twentieth century brought profound changes to Germany, including two World Wars, changing borders, and the division between competing Cold War ideological blocs. At the same time, the necessity to build and reshape Germany also inspired politicians, writers, and filmmakers to think about how society could be made anew. The century especially ushered in a new era for thoughts about the future. Thinkers imagined new technologies, social structures, and political orders as they dreamed about a German future that could be different from its recent past. Furthermore, this period represented a golden age of German science fiction, as authors thought about what the future could and should be.nThis class considers the possibilities that Germans imagined for the future in the face of ambiguous promises of peace and warfare, democracy and totalitarianism, and capitalism and communism. Regardless of whether these hopes, dreams, and fears came to fruition, historical visions of the future illuminate the lives of Germans during the twentieth century.nThis course will use close readings of several types of primary sources, including films, television shows, short stories, political posters, art, and newspaper articles. We will consider what different thinkers anticipated as the possibilities for the development of the country and what they saw as the driving forces of change, such as mechanics and computers, political parties, and social movements. We will discuss which advancements they thought seemed likely and which seemed fantastical. Finally, this class will investigate how the future offered a space for dissident thinkers to articulate their frustrations with state and society.