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Erich Auerbach: Mimesis

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research @ 68 Jay St, Brooklyn, NY

Explore the profound insights of Erich Auerbach's "Mimesis" in a journey through Western literary tradition. Join us as we delve into Auerbach's groundbreaking analysis, unraveling the complexities of literary representation from Homer to modernity. 

(29) All levels 21 and older

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Wonderful, Wonderful Times: Reading Elfriede Jelinek

Explore the provocative works of Elfriede Jelinek, Nobel Prize-winning author, in this course from the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. Analyze Jelinek's anti-realist technique, the influence of capitalism and fascism on sex and romance, and the role of myth in her worldview. Discover how her writings challenge societal norms and provide a lens into life after liberal humanism.

  • All levels
  • 21 and older
  • $335
  • Earn 3,350 reward points
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions

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  • $335
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions
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Class Description


What you'll learn in this literature class:

Elfriede Jelinek’s body of work—awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 2004, to great controversy—has been alternately characterized as moral satire, Marxist-feminist fable, a Barthesian weaponization of myth against itself, and “whining, unenjoyable public pornography.” More suggestively, her prose and performance texts may be read as instantiating the terms of Fredric Jameson’s projected “new realism”: the reconstitution of a social totality in which relations of exploitation and domination are revealed for what they are—moments of class struggle. Yet Jelinek is infamous for her resolute negativity and cold analysis of, if not sneering contempt for, the conditions that shape the social world and the constraints that determine our experiences within it. As rich in commonplaces and cliché as they are with intertextual references, her writing treats received language like a slurry from which, by way of excessive wordplay and neologism, patterns of oppression can be recognized and denaturalized. From her anti-romance novel Women as Lovers to her take on the petit-bourgeois family saga Wonderful, Wonderful Times to her sardonic approach to the crime novel in Greed, how can we read Jelinek’s negativity as productive of an aesthetic appropriate to life after liberal humanism?

In this course, we’ll read broadly across Jelinek’s body of work—including the above novels in their entirety—in order to ask: What kind of “realism” emerges from explicitly anti-realist technique? How do capitalism and the legacy of fascism shape sex and romance, sexuality and the family? What role does myth, ancient and modern, play in Jelinek’s vision of the world? And how do we go about reading novels that withhold from us the contours of inner experience? Supplementary readings may be drawn from, among others, Elizabeth Grosz, Slavoj Žižek, Roland Barthes, Fredric Jameson, Kate Zambreno, Dagmar Herzog, Andrea Dworkin, and Kathy Acker.

Refund Policy

  • Upon request, we will refund less 5% cancellation fee of a course up until 6 business days before its start date.
  • Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to 75% refund or full course credit.
  • After the first class: 50% refund or 75% course credit.
  • No refunds or credits will be given after the second class.

In any event where a customer wants to cancel their enrollment and is eligible for a full refund, a 5% processing fee will be deducted from the refund amount.

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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

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