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Bahr, Gisela E. (ed.) / Communications from the International Brecht Society
Vol. II, No. 2 (March, 1973)

Weber, Betty N.
Report: MLA Brecht Seminar 1972,   p. 9 PDF (309.9 KB)

Page 9

MLA BRECHT SEMINAR 1972                by Betty N. Weber
Seminar 29: "Kunst ist Waffe": An Aesthetic of Protest, As
Exemplified in the Poetry of Bertolt Brecht
Meeting of the Modern Language Assn.: December, 1972
With each annual meeting of the Brecht Society, the number
of persons requesting admission to the seminar both in advance
and at the appointed meeting place, seems to be increasing. This
year again some sixty to seventy persons crowded into a room
meant to accomodate perhaps half that number. Others who came
by in the hope of joining the discussion could not even get in-
side the door. For the next year, a request for a larger room
could provide space for all interested. But as the number of
persons attending increases, the more difficulty we will have
in retaining the seminar form. This problem should perhaps be
discussed at the 1973 meeting.
In the December meeting we continued our discussion from
the 1971 seminar on "Kunst ist Waffe". David Bathrick and I
selected ten poems and the collection Hundert Gedichte as dis-
cussion material. Though we had hoped to discuss the poems
during the first hour and the collection in the second hour of
the seminar, the discussion actually focused on three of the
poems. In contrasting Brecht's "Ballade vom Wasserrad" with the
later version of the poem, "Das Lied vom Wasserrad", the part-
icipants noted that the differences in the contents of the two
versions are evidenced in the changes in the form. In discussing
the alterations Brecht undertook to change the hopelessly cyclical
view of history as expressed in the ballad, to the linear view
expressed in the later version, the question of literary worth
became the central issue for many of the participants. As an
introduction for the discussion of two other poems, "Solidari-
ttslied" and "Kilbermarsch", taped renditions by Ernst Busch
were played. The group discussed the music as a necessary
medium for the agitational effect the poems were originally
intended to have.
In asking the question of how to evaluate these same poems
as part of the Hundert Gedichte collection, the group only
peripherally touched uponiThTeproblem of examining the collect-
ion itself as a cohesive unit. Can and should poems of the
thirties, originally intended as an instrument for agitation
in that particular historical situation, elicit a similar
response in Berlin in the fifties? Discussion was, however,
hindered by the circumstance that copies of Hundert Gedichte
were not at hand for reference.
Once again time limitation brought a lively discussion to
a halt. For the 1973 seminar the topic "Die Mutter - ein Lehr-
stUck?" was selected with Jost Hermand UofWVisconsin-Madison)
and Lew Nashan (UCLAS as discussion leaders.
University of Texas at Austin

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