Events | Bringing It All Back Home: Thomas Mann, America, and Democracy

Los Angeles | December 4, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Bringing It All Back Home: Thomas Mann, America, and Democracy

Lunch talk with Kai Sina (University of Göttingen).

As admirable as Thomas Mann's advocacy for democracy in times of Nazi barbarism doubtlessly is—his concept of democracy remains quite extravagant. Critics have stressed this time and again. What he regards as democracy, they consider from the perspective of practical politics as rather naive. But this critical perception is based on a fundamental misunderstanding. Thomas Mann is primarily interested in democracy as a basic condition for our existence as modern beings. Accordingly, his democratic beliefs are not shaped by political theory, but by literature, namely by Walt Whitman, whose writings and works he had already studied in the 1920s. This finally explains why Mann's political engagement in the USA, at least in general, was highly adaptable. As for his understanding of democracy, he, the émigré, did not enter the United States as a stranger—he came home. Lunch talk with Kai Sina (University of Göttingen), moderated by David Kim (UCLA).

Kai Sina is a literary scholar at the University of Göttingen. His research focuses on the history of transatlantic literature. In 2017, he published an essay on Susan Sontag and Thomas Mann. It will be followed this year by a book on “Collective Poetry.” Its subject is the relationship between modern literature and the open society. It includes studies on Goethe, Emerson, Whitman and Mann.


Royce Hall 236

December 4, 2019
12:00-1:30 PM


An event in cooperation with UCLA Department of Germanic Languages.

Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e. V. is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.



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