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German Studies, Cornell University

Cornell University Department of German Studies Cornell Univeristy

Fall 2014

Course Offerings Fall 2014

First-Year Writing Seminars

3 credits.  No knowledge of German is expected.

Seminar 101, MWF 9:05-9:55, D. McBride
Seminar 102, TR 10:10-11:25, E. Pirozhenko
How did bawdy tales of peasants using magic to climb the social ladder get transformed into moral lessons for children? The answer lies in Romanticism and its appropriation of the imagination as a force for social transformation. As Romantics edited older tales for juvenile consumption they wrote new ones for adults. This new fiction created the matrix for modern pop genres like fantasy, science-fiction, murder mysteries, and gothic horror. To understand this paradigm shift in modern culture, we will read, discuss, and write about a variety of texts the Romantics collected, composed, or inspired, including poetry and film, in addition to classic fairy tales and academic scholarship on the topic.

Seminar 101, MW 7:30-8:45 pm, J. Thomson
Seminar 102, TR 11:40-12:55, J. Gindner
Seminar 103, TR 1:25-2:40, M. Stoltz
Seminar 104, TR 10:10-11:25, M. Rigo
Seminar 105, MWF 10:10-11:00, G. Quintero
A basic understanding of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud is a prerequisite for participating in critical debates in the humanities and social sciences. Our seminar will explore key terms in the revolutionary models of critical analysis these thinkers pioneered: historical materialism, post-metaphysical philosophy, and psychoanalysis. This will mean articulating points of contrast as well as convergence. Discussions and writing exercises will focus on texts that created the discursive framework for critiquing society and culture today. Our method will proceed from the premise that critical reading, thinking, and writing are inseparable moments in the same operation of critique. The question that guides that method will be: Do alternative ways of thinking exist in opposition to the ones we view as natural, inevitable, or universal?

Courses Taught in German

4 credits.  Intended for students with no prior experience in German or with LPG score below 37 or SAT II score below 370.   
Lectures: T 11:15-12:05 or 12:20-1:10, G. Lischke, Coordinator   
Discussion 201, MWRF 10:10-11:00
Discussion 202, MWRF 11:15-12:05, G. Lischke
Discussion 203, MWRF 12:20-1:10
Discussion 204, MWRF 1:25-2:15
Students develop basic abilities in listening, reading, writing and speaking German in meaningful contexts through interaction in small group activities.  Course material including videos, short articles, poems, and songs provides students with varied perspectives on German language, culture and society.

4 credits.  Prerequisite: GERST 1210, or LPG score of 37-44, or SAT II score of 370-450.  
Lecture: R 12:20-1:10, G. Matthias, Coordinator  
Discussion 201, MTWF 12:20-1:10, G. Matthias
Students build on their basic knowledge of German by engaging in intense and more sustained interaction in the language.  Students learn more advanced language structures allowing them to express more complex ideas in German.  Discussions, videos and group activities address topics of relevance to the contemporary German-speaking world.

4 credits.  Limited to students who have previously studied German and have an LPG score of 45-55 or an SAT II score of 460-580.  Successful completion of GERST 121, 1220 and 1239 satisfies Option 2.   
Seminar 101, MTWF 10:10-11:00, L. York
Seminar 102, MTWF 1:25-2:15, G. Matthias
Students continue to develop their language skills by discussing a variety of cultural topics and themes in the German-speaking world.  The focus of the course is on expanding vocabulary, reviewing major grammar topics, developing effective reading strategies, improving listening comprehension, and working on writing skills.  Work in small groups increases each student's opportunity to speak in German and provides for greater feedback and individual help.

3 credits.  Prerequisite: GERST 1230, LPG score of 56-64, or SAT II score of 590-680 or placement by examination.  Satisfies Option 1.  A content-based language course on the intermediate level.      
Seminar 101, MWF 10:10-11:00, K. Nousek
Seminar 102, MWF 11:15-12:05, G. Matthias
Students examine important aspects of present-day German culture while expanding and strengthening their reading, writing, and speaking skills in German.  Materials for each topic are selected from a variety of sources (fiction, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet).  Units address a variety of topics including studying at a German university, modern literature, Germany online, and Germany at the turn of the century.  Oral and written work and individual and group presentations emphasize accurate and idiomatic expression in German.  Successful completion of the course enables students to continue with more advanced courses in language, literature, and culture.

Prerequisite: GERST 2000, or placement by examination (placement score and CASE).  Satisfies Option 1 and is the prerequisite for Study Abroad in a German-speaking country.  
Seminar 101, MWF 12:20-1:10, A. Mascan
Seminar 102, MWF 1:25-2:15, D. McBride
This course aims to sharpen your awareness of personal and cultural subjectivity by examining documents in a variety of media that treat the social, cultural, and historical significance of 1968, the watershed moment of the West German student movement. We will concentrate on improving oral and written expression of idiomatic German by focusing on more sophisticated aspects of enriched vocabulary in a variety of contexts and genres. Our primary objects of study will be a feature-length film about student life shot on location at a Gymnasium in 1968, the album by a garage band that became the soundtrack of the movement, a multimedia collage at the Johnson Museum of Art created by a veteran of the movement, and an historical novel about the movement's birth by another veteran 68er. Our final research project will consist of interviews with native speakers about the legacy of the myth of 1968 today.

4 credits.  Taught in German.  Satisfies Option 1.  Prerequisite:  GERST 2020, GERST 2040, GERST 2060, or equivalent of permission of instructor.  This course may be counted towards the requirement for 3000-3200-level language in the major.
MWF 11:15-12:05, D. McBride
Why do literary texts insist on bending (and even breaking) the rules that govern everyday language? Could we improve our mastery of colloquial German by accepting literature's challenge and investigating how it manipulates language in unconventional ways?  We'll take an inductive approach to answering these questions by engaging in close and sustained textual analysis of poetry, prose, and plays that fascinate as well as frustrate.  The course is designed to help you transition to advanced study in German, so we will also learn the terminology of poetics, rhetoric, and genre as we practice creating the oral and written texts (Referate und Seminararbeiten) that form the core of any seminar in Germanistik.

4 credits.  Taught in German. Satisfies Option 1.  Prerequisite: Any German course at the 3000-3209-level or equivalent or permission of instructor.
TR 11:40-12:55, P. Gilgen
This class aims at surveying the history and contemporary developments of crime and detective fiction in German.  In addition, we will read a number of theoretical reflections on the figure of the detective, the history of police detection, and the literary crime and detective genre(s).  The historical development of, and theoretical reflections on, the crime genre in the Anglo-Saxon world will serve as points of comparison.  Moreover, the class will also discuss a number of movies and radio plays, investigate their relation to "literature," and analyze the specificity of each medium as well as its representational affinity with crime and detection.  The readings will for the most part be in German and may include such authors as Gilbert Adair, Richard Alewyn, Friedrich Ani, Jakob Arjouni, Ernst Bloch, Jorge Luis Borges, Kurt Bracharz, Raymond Chandler, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Friedrich Glauser, Wolf Haas, Peter Handke, Heinz Werner Höber, Paulus Hochgatterer, Philip Kerr, Georg Klein, Alfred Komarek, Siegfried Kracauer. Cameron McCabe (Ernest Borneman), Georg M. Oswald, Astrid Paprotta, Thomas De Quincey, Ulrich Ritzel, Ferdinand von Schirach, Hansjörg Schneider, Martin Suter, Jan Costin Wagner.

4 credits. Intended primarily for graduate students preparing to teach German.  Taught in German; readings are in English and German.
TBA, G. Lischke
Designed to familiarize students with current ways of thinking in the file of applied linguistics and language pedagogy.  Introduces different concepts of foreign language methodology as well as presents and discusses various techniques as they can be implemented in the foreign language classroom.  Special consideration is given to topics such as planning syllabi, writing classroom tests, and evaluating students' performance.  Participants conduct an action research project.

4 credits.  Taught in German. Satisfies Option 1.  Prerequisite: Any German course at the 3000-level or equivalent or permission of instructor.
TR 10:10-11:25, E. Siegel
'Literature of the Exile', written between 1933 and 1945 by authors who had fled Germany (e.g., Seghers, Brecht, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Feuchtwanger, Zweig, Lasker-Schüler), provided most of the enduring works of this time period. But how is writing even possible when writers are cut off precisely from the audience they want to reach? How did authors manage the publication and distribution of their works (e.g., venues for publication, use of other media, political organization)? What topics and problems are addressed (e.g., failure of the 'German-Jewish symbiosis,' alienation, memory, im/possibility of hope)? What reasons spoke for or against a return (and to which Germany)? What did the encounter between returning authors and those who had stayed in Germany ('inner emigration') look like?The course will also address writing in exile as a historical phenomenon, reaching from Ovid and Dante to the early works of Herta Müller.

Courses Taught in English

4 credits.    
TR 1:25-2:40, P. Fleming
This course examines the economic forces at work in defining and configuring the modern subject, from Adam Smith through Marx and Nietzsche, Simmel and Weber, up to the current neoliberal subject.  The course will investigate figures (as both tropes and subjects) of the human conceived according to three economic paradigms: exchange, debt, and interest. The course will focus on both literary and theoretical sources, including examinations of guiding metaphors (the invisible hand, Schuld as both debt and guilt); the intersection of religious and secular economies; pacts with the devil; economies of salvation/redemption; figures of money/value.

4 credits.   
W 10:10-12:05, B. Maxwell
The course begins with the banal observation of Franz Kafka's pervasive influence on many, many later writers.  The more important beginning, though, is the understanding that we will be done with Kafka when we are done with bureaucracy, anxiety, exhaustion, family tragicomedy, interpretation, bad air, ambiguous sexuality, religious befuddlement, written and unwritten law, and dreams.  Visiting Prague, the Chinese poet Bei Dao relates that his host "took us to Kafka's home beside the square of the Old Town, and pointed out that beneath our feet flowed a huge vein of ore."  Reading Kafka and others–Robert Walser, Roberto Arlt, Bruno Schulz, W. G. Sebald, James Kelman, Can Xue, Yoko Tawada–we will mine that ore.

GERST 4411/6411 THE HOLOCAUST IN POSTWAR CULTURE (also FREN 4415/6415, GOVT 4786/6786, HIST 4233/6233, ROMS 4410/6410)
4 credits.
T  2:30-4:25, E. Traverso
There is an astonishing discrepancy between our perception of the Holocaust as a central event of the twentieth century and its marginal place in postwar culture.  It is during those years, nevertheless, that the destruction of European Jews aroused an intellectual debate whose philosophical, political, and literary contributions constitute landmarks for contemporary culture and criticism.  The course will explore the reasons for such a discrepancy, reconstructing the steps of the integration of the Holocaust into our historical consciousness.  It will analyze some of the most significant attempts to think such a trauma made by German-Jewish exiles (Arendt, Adorno, Anders), the survivors of the Nazi camps (Améry, Levi, Celan, Antelme), as well as the public intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (Sartre, Bataille, MacDonald, etc.).

GERST 4431/6431 MELANCHOLY LEFT: FROM MARX TO BENJAMIN (also FREN 4435/6435, GOVT 4496/6696, HIST 4234/6234, ROMS 4430/6430)
4 credits.
R 2:30-4:25, E. Traverso
The fall of "real socialism" in 1990 put an end to the experience of twentieth century Marxism.  Its ideas, debates and controversies could be viewed--historicized and revisited--in a different light.  The defeated revolutions of the past century put into question a teleological vision of history, engendering the decline of Marxist historiography and the simultaneous appearance of memory, a previously ignored concept for interpreting the past.  Outlining a symbolic shift from Matrx to Benjamin, this change has a melancholic favor that permeates many expressions of contemporary Left culture (from movies and autobiographies to historical and philosophical essays).  On the other hand, the emergence of Postcolonialism reopened the debate on the Eurocentric roots of Marx's thought and stimulated a new approach to some classical Marxist thinkers and historians such as Gramsci and L. L. R. James.  Taking into account both classical and contemporary texts, the seminar will analyze a reconfigured relationship between history and memory in the Left culture of our post-utopian age.


1-4 credits.  Hours to be arranged.  Staff.

4 credits.  Hours to be arranged.  Staff.

4 credits.  Prerequisite: GERST 4530.  Hours to be arranged.  Staff.

4 credits.
R 2:30-4:25, A. McGonigal
This course will be devoted to discussion of the relationships between objectivity, perfection and sensation in the philosophy of art.  We'll focus on three central questions.  Can we make sense of objective properties that are constitutively related to merited aesthetic pleasure, and yet part of the culture-independent structure of the world?  Might interpretative and artistic skill comprise a form of objective knowledge?  Might reality itself objectively merit a distinctive kind of aesthetic response?  We'll discuss influential historical treatments of these topics within philosophy of art (including readings from Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche and Heidegger) in the light of important contemporary discussion in metaphysics, theory of knowledge and philosophy of mind. (We'll draw on material from Kwame Anthony Appiah, David Chalmers, Maudemarie Clark, Gilles Deleuze, Gail Fine, Sally Haslanger, Barbara Herman, David Lewis, Heather Logue, Susannah Siegel and Timothy Williamson).

Courses Taught in Dutch

4 credits.  Satisfies Option 1.  Department consent required for enrollment.  This course is part of the Shared Course Initiative and will be taught from Columbia University using videoconferencing and webconferencing technology
M 2:40-5:10, W. de Groot
This advanced course is centered around different aspects of Amsterdam. Each class focuses on a specific topic, such as Amsterdam as a cultural center and the country's capital, modes of transportation, architecture, immigration issues and history of Amsterdam. Students will read texts at home and discuss them in class; regularly read Amsterdam's newspaper Het Parool; watch short TV clips. At the end of each class, we will watch an episode of a popular Dutch TV show which has Amsterdam as its center; students will write a blog about each episode and design a wiki about Amsterdam. Attention will be paid to advanced grammar issues and vocabulary.