Skip directly to main navigation | secondary navigation | main content

German Studies, Cornell University

Cornell University Department of German Studies Cornell Univeristy

Spring 2016


Graduate Courses - Spring 2016

4 credits. Anchor course.            
          T 2:30-4:25, E. Siegel
This anchor seminar offers an interdisciplinary examination of the fin-de-siècle as a crucial turning point in literature, art (painting, music, theater), architecture, psychoanalysis as well as literary and cultural criticism. We will focus particularly on the "Wiener Moderne" as a laboratory for the negotiation of the relationship between tradition and innovation ("decadence"), between art and life ("aestheticism"). This entails an exploration of experiments with literary language and form (short prose, essay, interior monologue) and of crucial concepts at the threshold of modernity: Sexuality and gender, history and myth, representation and the limits thereof, and, as the central, precarious and 'nervous' center: the decentered subject. "Viennese modernism" (including current critical standpoints) will be supplemented by the investigation of modernisms at the periphery of the Austrian Empire, i.e. Prague and Budapest, and of the so-called "Berliner Moderne. Authors include Nietzsche, Freud, Benjamin, Bahr, Mach, Broch, Musil, Hofmannsthal, Schnitzler, Loos, Altenberg, Kraus, Kokoschka, Andreas-Salomé, Kafka, Lukacs, Mayreder.

GERST 6241: TOPICS IN GERMAN PHILOSOPHY (Co-meets with GERST 4170, also PHIL 6240/PHIL 4240)
4 credits.           
          TR 10:10-11:25, D. Smyth
See GERST 4170 for Spring 2016 Topic.GERST 6320: READING ACADEMIC GERMAN II3 credits. Limited to graduate students. Prerequisite: GERST 6310 or equivalent MWF 9:05-9:55, W. Krieger Emphasis on development of the specialized vocabulary of student's field of study.

4 credits. Most readings in German, though some translations exist; discussions in English. This is a German Studies Anchor Course, but students in other disciplines and languages are encouraged to participate.            
          W 2:30-4:25, G. Waite
This graduate seminar introduces major authors, themes, and problems in European -- also German -- literature, philosophy, art, and critical theory from ca. 1770 to 1830.  This, our own, legacy includes: Europe and North America (including Haiti) between and in revolutions.  Writers thus include: Toussaint L'Ouveture, Kleist, the Schlegel brothers, Fichte, Schelling.  Also Tieck, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Novalis, etc.  So-called secondary literature includes: Marx and Engels on the "German ideology";Lukács on the "flight from reality" and "Romantic philosophy of life: Novalis";Freud on the "uncanny";Heidegger on "the other beginning" and the "essence of human freedom" (in Hölderlin, also in Schelling and Nietzsche);Adorno on "parataxis" (in Hölderin);Balibar (on the "internal border" in Fichte);Paul de Man (on the "rhetoric of romanticism");Lacoue-Labarthe &Nancy (on the "literary absolute," following W. Benjamin);"the absorption of the subject" in painting (M. Fried);the "war machine" (Deleuze &Guattari);and the "crisis of reproduction" (Althusser) -- the latter also involving not only sexuality and class struggle in all known forms, but also reading and seeing, feeling, thinking and acting.

GERST 6440: SCREENING THE ENVIRONMENT (Co-meets with GERST 4440, also PMA 4440, VISST 4441) (LA-AS)
4 credits. Enrollment limited to 20 students.          
          W 12:20-2:15, P. Dobryden          
          Weekly Film Screenings, M 7:00-9:30pm
This course will examine intersections of film history and the environment. Using German cinema as a case study, we will look at how moving image media have negotiated ecological issues from the early 20th century to the present. We will deal with film texts (from genres including the educational film, the Heimatfilm, and the eco-documentary) as well as material contexts of production and exhibition. Readings will include classic film theoretical texts as well as recent work in environmental history, cultures of travel and tourism, urban ecology, and ecocriticism. We will ask whether a focus on environmental issues can re-invigorate canonical texts of media theory, as well as how current ecocritical perspectives can contribute to film and media studies.

4 credits.          
          T 12:20-2:15, P. Fleming and J. Boyarin
Formations of progressive or revolutionary hope have become increasingly rare and are often replaced, for many working out of the German critical tradition, by critique of Enlightenment. This seminar articulates three related premises: 1) That what we call "modernity" is characterized by a forward-looking ethic that tries to ensure the arrival of a better, secular future –one that is somehow promised us; 2) That, through a series of blows to the dominance of Europe, the inevitability and perhaps even the possibility of that secular future are no longer readily available to the imagination;and 3) That the catastrophe of Germany and of the Jews (related to the dialectic of Christendom and the Jews) is a central symptom of the collapse of the secular future.

4 credits.           
          M 2:30-4:25, P. Gilgen
This course investigates the emergence of aesthetics as its own philosophical discipline at the end of the eighteenth century. In a first phase, we will examine the rationalist articulation of aesthetics in Baumgarten's work and the empiricist theory of taste, particularly Burke's Enquiry. Drawing on the findings of these two traditions, Kant's Critique of Judgment (1790) inaugurated a preoccupation in German philosophy around 1800 with the philosophical status of the beautiful and of art. Especially in Romantic theory and practice, art was meant to provide a solution to the philosophical dilemmas in the wake of Kant's critical philosophy. However, already in Hegel's Phenomenology, and more explicitly in the Encyclopedia and the Lectures on Aesthetics, art lost this elevated position vis-à-vis philosophy. Taking this observation as a guiding thread, the main part of the course is structured around in-depth readings that may include Kant, Schiller, Schelling, the Schlegels, Novalis, Hölderlin, and Hegel. Further readings may include writings by contemporary philosophers and theoreticians--such as Adorno, Allison, Danto, Deleuze, Derrida, Ginsborg, Guyer, Lyotard et al.--whose work on aesthetics takes its starting point from the philosophical issues surrounding the emergence of aesthetic theory only to transcend these historical confines and formulate contemporary positions on the status of the aesthetic and of art. The following questions will be addressed: What are the conditions for the move from the subjective judgment of taste (Kant) to objective beauty (Romantics, Hegel)? How is the relation of art and nature reconceived by the Romantics? What is the relation of aesthetic theory and the history of art? Is philosophy the end of art?

4 credits.  Reading knowledge of German and graduate status or instructor permission required. Discussion in English.            
          R 2:30-4:25, L. Adelson
With the end of the cold war and the growth of globalization, new questions and anxieties arise about "the future" in German culture and European life in an interconnected and precarious world, about utopia, hope, progress, optimism, potential, and predictability in public life, virtual worlds, and critical thought. This historical juncture serves as a springboard to reflect on the analytical yield of "futurity" as a key concept for understanding German-speaking cultures over time, their contributions to intellectual history, and interdisciplinary German Studies in relation to the humanities and social sciences today. Selected readings are exemplary rather than comprehensive and focus on literature, philosophy, and critical theories of language and history. The future of German Studies will be one of the many "futures" to be discussed.

1-4 credits each term. Permission of instructor required. Enrollment limited to graduate students.           
          Hours to be arranged. Staff.
Graduate student and faculty advisor to determine course of study and credit hours.

1-4 credits.           
          F 3:00-5:00, P. Fleming
Bi-weekly workshop series on a range of interdisciplinary topics sponsored by the Institute for German Cultural Studies that include invited speakers to present and discuss