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Thomas Mann: Dr. Faustus

Explore the dark underbelly of German culture as you delve into Thomas Mann's enigmatic novel that dissects the nation's descent into authoritarianism and inhumanity. Unravel the intricate web of music and philosophy that shaped the narrative, and ponder the tragic contradictions of beauty in this thought-provoking course.

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

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  • $335
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions
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Class Description

Description

What you'll learn in this lecture class:

Equal parts allegory, realist novel, and anguished epitaph, Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus anatomized the soul of modern Germany and asked how it had been lost. It located the sources of the Nazi calamity at the heart of the high culture Mann both loved and embodied, and in the very traditions—philosophy and music—that seemed its crowning glory. 

Its Faust-figure, the Nietzschean composer Adrian Leverkühn, is at once a prophet without honor in his own country and a reflection of its sickness, whose demonic artistic genius mirrors the nation’s descent into authoritarianism and inhumanity. Around Leverkühn’s tragedy Mann weaves a virtuosic exploration of German music and thought, attempting to understand how his culture’s highest ideals had engendered madness and barbarism. How, for Mann, did idealism give birth to nihilism? How did the yearning for transcendence transform into a worship of power?

In this course we will read Doctor Faustus in its entirety, discussing its relationship to the musicians and thinkers who shaped it. We’ll listen to Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Wagner, Schoenberg, and other composers, considering how their music informs Mann’s narrative and cultural vision. 

We’ll examine Faustus’s debt to philosophers like Theodor Adorno, who shaped its account of Leverkühn’s music, and Friedrich Nietzsche, who provided the model for his catastrophic life. And we will ask: What can Mann’s novel tell us now—about the ambivalence of art, the relation of culture to barbarism, and the tragic contradictions of musical beauty?

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

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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