September 3: Alfred Döblin, Die beiden Freundinnen und ihr Giftmord

Session Preview

In this session we will discuss Alfred Döblin's text Die beiden Freundinnen und ihr Giftmord, the first book in a Weimar-era series titled Außenseiter der Gesellschaft, which enlisted notable novelists, journalists and other prominent Weimar intellectuals to write about recent real criminal cases. Our first task will be to figure out what type of text is this exactly. A novella? A case history? An essay? Something else?

We will also read an article that appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of Representations. I'm making you read this not (strictly) out of self-indulgence, but so that we can talk about how I went about researching and writing this piece.


Alfred Döblin, Die beiden Freundinnen und ihr Giftmord 

Todd Herzog, "Crime Stories: Criminal, Society and the Modernist Case History" 

What to think about as you prepare for class

First Assignment (due Friday) 

The key learning outcome of the first half of this class is to learn how best to approach different types of texts and go about making sense of them in a scholarly manner. Describe how you go about reading a text for a course assignment or for a research paper. Do you take notes? If so, how? How do you divide up your reading? What do you think is successful about your method? What do you think can be improved? Let's get a discussion started in the comments that will continue throughout the course.


Second Comments (due Monday)

As you prepare for class, read Döblin's text carefully and think about what points he is trying to get across. How does this text fit in with what you know about the aesthetic and political circumstances of mid-1920s Germany? How does this text fit in with other Döblin texts you may be familiar with (especially his later famous epic novel Berlin Alexanderplatz )? In the comments below, let's get a discussion going before class about what type of text this is exactly and what Döblin is trying to do with it.