The world currently seems to be stuck in perpetual crisis, from financial meltdown, exploding unemployment, the breakdown of international politics and populist upheaval to the threat of Artificial Intelligence, smart phone addiction and climate change.
However, this is not the first time the modern world has been in such dire straits. During the interwar years – the 1920s and 1930s – classical modernity underwent a deep crisis. After WWI, the modern world that had developed since the 18th century, based on a belief in cultural, social, political and technological progress, entered a state of flux and uncertainty. The established political and economic order seemed to crumble, while traditional social customs and gender norms unraveled. At the same time, new media technologies like radio and sound film seemed to create a fake reality of light entertainment that numbed and desensitized their consumers.
People in Europe reacted to this with a deep-seated sense of unease and disorientation and struggled to come up with solutions and alternatives to malfunctioning modern institutions such as parliamentary democracy, the nation state, and the nuclear family. Arguably, our contemporary world of late modernity has its roots in these experiments.
In this tutorial, we will be studying the interwar reactions to the crisis of classical modernity. As a case study, we will be looking at the Weimar Republic – Germany’s first experiment with liberal democracy from 1918-1933. Arguably, nowhere were the interwar upheavals felt more acutely and produced more extreme reactions than in Weimar Germany, a society that shifted between revolution, extreme economic crisis, hyper-modernism, political violence, and, finally, a descent into authoritarian dictatorship.
The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by the International Office and the Programme coordinator. Acceptance is not guaranteed.