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German Studies, Cornell University

Cornell University Department of German Studies Cornell Univeristy

Spring 2014

Graduate Courses - Spring 2014

GERST 6020 WRITING THE PRESENT: POP LITERATURE
4 credits.  Taught in German.
R 2:30-4:25, E. Siegel
In "Cross the Border – Close the Gap," a talk given 1967 in Freiburg (Germany), the American literary scholar Leslie Fiedler called for the overcoming of the traditional separation of so-called high culture and popular culture.  This call for a new definition of what is considered 'art' can be taken as a starting point in Germany of what has been termed "Pop Literature."  Music and fashion, everyday language, the mediality of perception, the structures of discourse, citational practices as well as surface textures become the focus for literary authors like Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, Hubert Fichte and Elfriede Jelinek.  In the 1990s, the term "Pop Literature" became a label for certain strands of contemporary literature.  The seminar will follow the developments of this kind of writing of the present from the 1960s to the present, thereby also serving as an overview of a certain strand of literature that negotiates the line between protest and affirmation.  Authors include Rainald Goetz, Thomas Meinecke, Kathrin Röggla, Christian Kracht, Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre.


GERST 6110 NARRATION AND KNOWLEDGE (also COML 6892, ENGL 6953)
4 credits.
M 2:30-4:25, P. Fleming
This seminar investigates the unique modes of knowledge embodied in various forms of 'literary' narration—from myth, epic, and the novel to the fairytale, anecdote, and case history.  At stake in the seminar are the ways in which storytelling and its intensive theorization provide a form of knowledge sui generis about experience, temporality, consciousness, subjectivity, sociality, history, etc.  This "epic side of truth" (Benjamin) or "non-conceptual thinking" (Blumenberg) circumscribes epistemic insights that can neither be reduced to logos nor forsaken if one aspires to a fuller understanding of existence in its multiplicity and singularity.

GERST 6131 GERMAN PHILOSOPHICAL TEXTS (also PHIL 6030/4003)
4 credits (variable).  Prerequisite: basic reading (not necessarily speaking) knowledge of German, and permission of the instructor.  Open to upper-level undergraduates.  
TBA, M. Kosch
Reading, translation, and English-language discussion of important texts in the German philosophical tradition.  Readings for a given term are chosen in consultation with students.  Readings for a given term are chosen in consultation with students.

GERST 6241 TOPICS IN GERMAN PHILOSOPHY (also GERST 4170, PHIL 4260/6240)
4 credits.
W 2:30-4:25, A. Chignell
An in-depth study of Immanuel Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790).  The first part of the course will be focused on Kant's influential aesthetic theory (the beautiful, the sublime, genius, the harmony of the faculties, beauty as a symbol of morality).  The second part will examine what role the "power of judgment" plays in empirical concept-formation, in teleological and biological explanation, and in various kinds of practical and moral arguments.  Some familiarity with Kant's theoretical philosophy (the Critique of Pure Reason) is presumed.

GERST 6500 THE LITERATURE AND CULTURE OF WEIMAR GERMANY
4 credits.  Anchor course.
T 2:30-4:25, P. McBride
The course offers an overview of the major developments in the literature and culture of Weimar Germany. Individual works will be drawn primarily from literature and drama.  Special emphasis will be placed on works that helped define prominent artistic trends (Expressionism, Dada, New Objectivity, and Constructivism).  Questions we will examine include the reconceptualization of mimesis and representation following the increasing dominance of text- and image-based mass media; the rise of new narrative models fueled by reportage and a resurgent interest in epic forms; the relation between artistic practice, political activism, and technological innovation; the premises and cognitive yield of the diverse epistemological and poetic paradigms—hermeneutic, semiotic, and phenomenological—commonly associated with modernist and avant-garde practices; the scholarly and epistemic stakes driving the discourses through which "Weimar Culture" has been defined as an object of investigation since the 1970s.  Possible readings by Baum, Balázs, Benjamin, Brecht, Döblin, Fleißer, Hausmann, Heartfield, Höch, Huelsenbeck, Keun, Kittler, Kracauer, Jünger, Lethen, T. Mann, Moholy-Nagy, Musil, Schwitters, Sloterdijk, Toller, Tschichold.

GERST 6600 VISUAL IDEOLOGY (also COML 6600, ARTH 6060, VISST 6060)
4 credits.
W 2:30-4:25, G. Waite
Some of the most powerful approaches to visual practices have come from outside or from the peripheries of the institution of art history and criticism.  This seminar will analyze the interactions between academically sanctioned disciplines (such as iconography and connoisseurship) and innovations coming from philosophy, psychoanalysis, historiography, sociology, literary theory, mass media criticism, feminism, and Marxism.  We will try especially to develop: (1) a general theory of "visual ideology" (the gender, social, racial, and class determinations on the production, consumption, and appropriation of visual artifacts under modern and postmodern conditions); and (2) contemporary theoretical practices that articulate these determinations.  Examples will be drawn from the history of oil painting, architecture, city planning, photography, film and other mass media.

GERST 7428 DERRIDA&: DERRIDA AS CRITICAL READER (also GERST 4428, ANTHR 4428/7428)
4 credits. Limited to 15 students.
R 2:30-4:25, J. Boyarin
We will read together a broad range of modern European texts--mostly but not exclusively by at least nominally Jewish authors, many of them working in the Germanic intellectual tradition--accompanied by a range of works by Jacques Derrida that engage those thinkers and their texts.  Authors we engage will likely include Theodor W. Adorno, Saint Augustine, Walter Benjamin, Paul Celan, Helene Cixous, Hermann Cohen, Sigmund Freud, Edmond Jabes, Emanuel Levinas, Claude Levi-Strauss, Karl Marx, and Gershom Scholem.  We will thus be better able to participate in the current re-evaluation of Derrida's legacy, including his Jewishness, and we will read him, among other things, as a proponent of dialogue, sometimes loving and sometimes fiercely agonistic.

GERST 7540 INDEPENDENT STUDY
1-4 credits each term.  Prerequisite: permission of instructor.  Hours to be arranged.  Staff.

GERST 7541 COLLOQUIUM
1-4 credits.     
F 3:00-5:00, P. Fleming 

 

Special Interest Courses for Graduate Students

GERST 6320 READING ACADEMIC GERMAN II
3 credits. Intended for graduate students.   Prerequisite:  GERST 6310 or equivalent.     
MWF 9:05-9:55, M. Hayakawa
Emphasis on development of the specialized vocabulary of student's field of study.