Beginning in the 15th century within the Spanish Inquisition and in Italy by the Dominican Girolamo Savonarola with his socalled “burnings of vanities” (“bruciamenti della vanita”) the practice of book burning has a long tradition in Europe. Book burning has returned as an important practice repeatedly, most recently with Priest Terry Jones in Florida in 2010 planned burning of the Koran.
This class wants to find out, which motifs lead to the physical destruction of books (and with them thoughts/ideas) and what the consequences and reactions are. What constitutes the highly symbolic effect of the public assassination of writings so that it is instrumentalized since early history through to today? Another tangent could also deal with the question of burning as political strategy, including self-immolation.
The class could include a briefly historical introduction, a session on literary examples (Ray Bradbury’s Novel “Fahrenheit 451” (1953) or Jorge Luis Borges’ fiction “The Congress” (1975)), a final discussion on the phenomenon today and maybe a walk to the memorial of the book burning in Berlin in 1933 on Bebelplatz.