Modernity and Modernism: Culture and Society in the Weimar Republic

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This course explores the turbulent and innovative interwar years 1918-1933 in Weimar Germany, paying particular attention to cultural and social politics. We will study the difficult establishment of the "republic that nobody wanted" in the wake of a lost war, a collapsed empire and a failed revolution; the chaotic period of rebellion and inflation until 1923; the brief "Golden Twenties" of relative stabilization and Neue Sachlichkeit (New Sobriety) with its burst of social welfare initiatives, architectural and engineering innovations and efflorescence of art, music, theater and literature; and finally the crises of economic depression and political polarization that culminated with Adolf Hitler's appointment as chancellor of Germany in January 1933.

3 credits

Course Code: SS 373

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.