What follows is a set of general questions that I hope will serve as a springboard for our discussion tomorrow, and during our meeting, I will say a few more words about them. My apologies for the slight delay. I read Mann's The Other Germany, but the two assigned excerpts
come from two other texts of hers.
1. In what sense does Erika Mann’s writing focus on the lives of those who have no choice but to leave their (German) homeland? In what sense is such exilic life different from or similar to the experiences of those who leave Nazi Germany voluntarily or come from other European countries?
2. According to Thomas Mann, his daughter’s account of Nazi pedagogy is metonymic of the state. In what sense is such a representation useful? And where does it fall short of doing justice to the complexity of what is at hand?
3. Erika Mann had a lively career on stage, and as the founding director of a traveling theater, named Die Pfeffermühle, exerted quite an influence on politically minded viewers. So, what is the symbolic relationship between the stage and the lecture podium? Are they substitutive? Or does the lecture extend her theatrical work?
4. How and for what purpose does her writing stage political stereotypes? For example, how does the political meeting in Zero Hour allegorize a systemic failure in “the resistance” in Germany and elsewhere?
5. Erika Mann’s interest in “education” goes back to children literature. She is the author of Stoffel fliegt übers Meer, Vor dem Leben, Der fromme Tanz, Anja und Esther, and Flucht in den Norden. How does her didacticism manifest itself discursively or rhetorically in School for Barbarians, as well as in Zero Hour? Where do we see the teacher-student relationship take shape, and with what effect?
6. What is the symbolic value of staging dialogues “in motion”—in other words, on a moving train from Chicago to L.A., in a moving vehicle from Santa Barbara to Santa Monica or in an inbetween/Third space like Switzerland? How does it reflect the life of a homeless, traveling exile? Or the exile as an organic intellectual or a public pedagogue? Similarly, Thomas Mann portrays his daughter as his go-between who negotiates between his German and the American audience. How does Erika Mann continue his political legacy? Or break from it?
7. Erika Mann speaks of the urgent fight for “bare life” (71, Zero Hour). How is this concept of hers resonant with Giorgio Agamben’s reading of the Muselmann, the Homo sacer, that “bare life” in Auschwitz?
8. There are a few epistemically violent descriptions of women or non-Germans. Does it resonate with Erika Mann’s understanding of Nazi Germany?