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German Film, German History, German Literature

Cowboys and Indians, German Style

Via ASC’s Calvin Burgamy comes a link to a PRI feature (below) about Germans’ fascination with the Wild West. Of course, it all goes back to Karl May, notorious storyteller and creator of some of Germany’s most prevalent colonial fantasies. Before he had ever set foot on the American continent, May invented his own version of the American West, populated by savage but also noble Indians, who needed periodical rescue by European heroes such as the character Old Shatterhand. He and his “Blutsbruder” [brother in blood], Winnetou, chief of the Apaches, have been, and to some degree still are, the childhood heroes of thousands of children in German-speaking countries.

German author Karl May

Here is the link to the radio feature: http://media.theworld.org/audio/03302011.mp3

And here’s an example of the many films inspired by May’s novels.

By the way, not only West Germany, but also former East Germany loved these novels. There is a Karl May museum on the outskirts of Dresden, which is, of course, on the itinerary of this year’s student trip!


About GG

Gundolf Graml is Associate Prof. and Dir. of German Studies at Agnes Scott College. He has a Ph.D. in German Studies from the University of Minnesota and has published articles on German and Austrian film and tourism. He is currently writing a book about tourism and Austrian national identity after 1945. Other research projects include critical whiteness studies and, most recently, investigations into the connection between memory and nature. At ASC, Gundolf Graml teaches courses on a broad range of topics, from German 101 to German and Austrian Cinema and Afro-German History and Culture.


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