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German Studies, Cornell University

Cornell University Department of German Studies Cornell Univeristy

Undergraduate Courses

Course Offerings Spring 2017

          MW 2:55-4:10, B. Tam
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.

          TR 11:40-12:55, M. Calla
Sports are never just entertainment. They also create communities of fans – fanatics –with values and rituals that closely resemble religious movements. The guiding principle behind this writing seminar is that there is a relationship between the form of a particular sport – what happens on the field – and the fans it produces. The difference, then, between a Yankees and a Cowboys fan is not just a jersey, but a worldview. Students will practice academic writing skills by analyzing these worldviews as expressed in the books and films surrounding specific sports themselves. These will include Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, Phil Alden Robinson’s Field of Dreams, and Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia, as well as critical works by Immanuel Kant, Susan Sonntag, and Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht.

        MW 8:40-9:55, E. Pirozhenko
Why do we play games and why do we have fun with them? What makes us winners and losers? This course will explore various approaches to games and humans at play. We will try to understand why people play and why they prefer some games to others. Interdisciplinary in nature, the class will offer readings from areas of sociology, psychology, history, mathematics, and cultural studies (just to name a few). By reading and analyzing and playing with Nabokov, Hesse, Zweig, Berne, Huizinga, and Schenkel we will make connections between games, national identity, gender, class, and intelligence, and will construct arguments about various scholarly and fictional written and cinematic texts.

Seminar 101: TR 10:10-11:25, D. McBride            
Seminar 102: MWF 12:20-1:10,S. Klemm
Seminar 103: TR 11:40-12:55, J. Meyer-Gutbrod
A basic understanding of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud is a prerequisite for participatingin 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?

TR 2:55-4:10, M. Stoltz
How could a just God create a world full of incomprehensible suffering? Findingsolutions to this persistent question seriously preoccupied enlightenmentthinkers who promised to make the world more coherent.  This seminar explores a number of “modern”attempts to justify the existence of “evil” both in the world and in us.  As we read and discuss novellas (Kleist,Voltaire), poems (Milton, Goethe, Blake), essays (Leibniz, Rousseau), letters (Shaftesbury), manifestos (Lessing), and philosophy (Kant, Hegel, Marx,), we will discover how culture appropriates religious authority in its quest to vindicate God from the charge of having catastrophically failed humanity.  To understand the significance of this development we will critically engage with and write about a number of diverse texts that challenge assumed boundaries between religion and culture. 

4 credits.  Intended for students with no prior experience in German or with LPG score below 37 or SAT II score below 370.  Must enroll in one Lecture and one Discussion.
          Lectures: T 11:15-12:05 or T 12:20-1:10, A. Mascan
          Discussion 201: MWRF 12:20-1:10, D. Dunham
          Discussion 202: MWRF 11:15-12:05, A. Mascan
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, LPG score of 37-44, or SAT II score of 370-450.  Must enroll in one Lecture and one Discussion.
          Lectures: T 11:15-12:05 or T 12:20-1:10, G. Lischke, Coordinator
          Discussion 201: MWRF 10:10-11:00, J. Tackett
          Discussion 202: MWRF 11:15-12:05, G. Lischke
          Discussion 203: MWRF 12:20-1:10, S. Oosterom
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 1210, 1220 and 1230 satisfies Option 2.  
          MTWR 12:20-1:10, A. Sommer
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.

(CA-AS) 3 credits.  Prerequisite: GERST 1230, or 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, D. McBride
          Seminar 102: MWF 12:20-1:10, W. Krieger
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, 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.

(CA-AS) 3 credits. Prerequisite: GERST 2000, or placement by examination (placement score and CASE).  Satisfies Option 1. Students must take one of the following courses as a prerequisite for Study Abroad in a German-speaking country: GERST 2020, GERST 2040, or GERST 2060. 
          MWF 12:20-1:10, G. Lischke
This course aims at sharpening your awareness of personal and cultural subjectivity by examining texts in a variety of media against the backdrop of cultural, political, and historical contexts.  We will focus on improving your oral and written expression of idiomatic German by giving attention to more sophisticated aspects of using enriched vocabulary in a variety of conversational contexts and written genres.  Materials will include readings in contemporary prose, newscasts, research at the Johnson Art Museum, and interviews with native speakers on a topic of contemporary cultural relevance.

(CA-AS) 3 credits.  Prerequisite: GERST 2000, or placement by examination (placement score and CASE).  Students without previous knowledge of Business German are welcome.  Taught in German.  Satisfies Option 1. Students must take one of the following courses as a prerequisite for Study Abroad in a German-speaking country: GERST 2020, GERST 2040, or GERST 2060.
          MWF 1:25-2:15, G. Lischke
Learn German and understand German business culture at the same time.  This is a German language course that examines the German economic structure and its major components: industry, trade unions, the banking system, and the government.  Participants will learn about the business culture in Germany and how to be effective in a work environment, Germany's role within the European Union, the importance of trade and globalization, and current economic issues in Germany.  The materials consist of authentic documents from the German business world, TV footage, and a Business German textbook. 

(CA-AS) (CU-ITL) 4 credits. Taught in German.  Satisfies Option 1.  Prerequisite: GERST 2040, GERST 2060, or equivalent or permission of instructor.  Monday classes will be taught online.  This course may be counted towards the requirement for 3000-3209-level language in the major.  
          MWF 10:10-11:00, G. Matthias
In this course, we will encounter German culture of today in and through Web 2.0.  No technical knowledge is required since, in the process, a solid base of knowledge concerning the use of media will be constructed.  This knowledge will then be applied practically through discussing aspects of German culture visible in the WWW.  The highlight of the course will be an intercultural encounter with a German Class from the University of Bielefeld using Web 2.0 applications.  In the produced content, students will become part of the Web 2.0 in German through an intercultural discussion of German life visible in the World Wide Web (WWW).

(LA-AS) 4 credits.  Taught in German.  Satisfies Option 1.  Prerequisite: one course at the 3000-3209 level in German or placement exam.   
          TR 10:10-11:25, E. Siegel
This course examines German history and culture from the margins. Looking at „oddballs, outcasts, and rebels" in German literature and film from the 19th to the 21st  century, we will study representations and constructions of those who are excluded – because, for example, of "race," religion, gender, sexual orientation, class – or those who choose non-conformity. Who defines what it means to be "outside"? What is, in these cases, the relationship between the individual and society?  What do representations of marginal or marginalized figures tell us about the successful or failed constructions of society and identity, about family-, friendship- and gender-relations?  Authors and directors include: Gottfried Keller, Franz Kafka, Joseph Roth, Robert Walser, Ingeborg Bachmann, Max Frisch, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Feridun Zaimoglu, Jenny Erpenbeck, Wolfgang Herrndorf.  The course emphasizes the expansion of your German lexicon and the refinement of style in writing and speaking, with a particular emphasis on the ability to discuss and interpret literary and visual narratives.

4 credits. 
          TR 11:40 – 12:55, D. Smyth
Marx is often read primarily as an economic and political theorist or even as a social activist. This course will instead cast him as, first and foremost, a philosopher. Beginning with Marx's early encounters with Hegel, we will survey his major published and unpublished works, culminating in volume 1 of Capital. While acknowledging the social, economic, and political aspects of his thought, we will focus on its philosophical underpinnings, methodology, and implications. Our principal themes will be Marx's socalled "dialectical" method of argumentation, materialist theory of history, philosophical anthropology, and theory of value. Supplementary readings may include texts by Hegel, Feuerbach, Bauer, Lukács, Althusser, Bloch, Hyppolite, Miller, Meikle, and Wood.


GERST 3581 IMAGINING MIGRATION IN FILM AND LITERATURE (also AMST 3581, COML 3580, PMA 3481, VISST 3581) (CA-AS) 4 credits.  University Course.  Taught in English.
          TR 11:40-12:55, L. Adelson and S. Haenni
What role should imaginative arts play in debates about transnational migration, one of the principal factors re-shaping community and communication today?  Focusing on literature and film from the late 20th and early 21st centuries, with primary examples drawn from Germany, France and the United States—in relation to Turkey, Hungary, Tunisia, Iran, Nigeria, China, Mexico, and Japan—this course explores how creative arts rework the fabric of social life affected by migration.  Seminar-style discussion of assigned readings and viewings, with occasional lectures on other arts and regions.  Thematic units organized around key concepts such as borders and movement, ethnoscapes and citizenship, reading and viewing, labor and leisure, cityscapes and place-making, mediascapes and personhood, lawfulness and illegality, language and speech, art and perception. 

(LA-AS) 4 credits.  Readings and discussions in English.  Students proficient in German at the upper intermediate level or higher may opt to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.
          TR 11:40-12:55, A. Schwarz
This seminar will explore the unique "Kafkaesque" universe of metamorphoses, labyrinthine systems of law and (in)-justice, and uncanny societies of humans and animals. Focusing on Franz Kafka's novels and tales, we will examine topics such as: the relationship between body and pain; society and the individual; authority and hierarchy; fathers and sons; writing and living; language and home; music and politics; and religion and persecution. Placing Kafka first within the socio-cultural context of Jewish-German-Czech Prague (and discussing problems of multicultural-lingual identity), we shall follow his literary journey to his vision of America (one of his novels). At the center of our discussions will be the effect of his work on literature, film, and theatre. We shall also discuss the effects of his work on contemporary theories of psychoanalysis, law, performance, modernism, architecture, and literature. Texts include novels and novellas: the Trial, the Castle, America, the Penal Colony, Metamorphoses, the Judgment, the Country Doctor, The Burrow, Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk. Films by the Coen brothers and David Lynch; theoretical readings by Camus, Lacan, Deleuze, Guattari, Bataille, Blanchot, Benjamin, Kierkegaard and others; this course will also examine Kafka’s library and discuss a number of authors who influenced his work: Flaubert, Balzac, Cervantes, Hamsun, Tolstoi, Perez, Dostojewski.

GERST 4250 MARX, NIETZSCHE, FREUD (also COML 4250, GOVT 4735) (formerly GERST 4150 – students who previously took GERST 4150 cannot enroll in this course)  (CA-AS) (HB) 4 credits. This is a lecture course, but there will be plenty of time for discussion.              
          TR 2:55-4:10, G. Waite            
          Film Screening – TBA
This is an introduction to the three 'master thinkers' who have helped determine the discourses of modernity and post-modernity.  We consider basic aspects of their work: (a) specific critical and historical analyses; (b) theoretical and methodological writings; (c) programs and manifestos; and (d) styles of argumentation, documentation, and persuasion.  This also entails an introduction, for non-specialists, to essential problems of political economy, continental philosophy, psychology, and literary and cultural criticism.  Second, we compare the underlying assumptions and the interpretive yields of the various disciplines and practices founded by Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud: historical materialism and communism, existentialism and power-knowledge analysis, and psychoanalysis, respectively.  We also consider how these three writers have been fused into a single constellation, 'Marx-Nietzsche-Freud,' and how they have been interpreted by others, including L. Althusser, A. Badiou, A. Camus, H. Cixous, G. Deleuze, J. Derrida, M. Foucault, H.-G. Gadamer, M. Heidegger, L. Irigaray, K. Karatani, J. Lacan, P. Ricoeur, L. Strauss, S. Zizek.

GERST 4312 WHAT WAS FILM? (also COML 4312, PMA 4512, STS 4821)
(CA-AS) 4 credits.  Taught in English. 
          TR 10:10-11:25, E. Born
          Film Screening: M 4:30-6:30pm
In retrospect, was film anything more than some highly flammable strips of celluloid? Taking its cue from the "digital turn," this course rephrases a traditional question asked in film theory about the nature of the medium (What is film?) in terms of a historical question: What was film when it was still something to be cut, wound up, and carried around, a thing with a literally explosive potential? Reframing the object of study in this manner will help situate familiar narrative cinema within more unfamiliar scientific, aesthetic, and experimental contexts. Early film theorists saw great potential in the new medium, thought to be capable of conveying a new experience of movement and time, creating a new art of light and shadow, or functioning as a new kind of scientific instrument. Screenings will put readings of early film theory in dialogue with early European silent films that address similar concerns about the nature of cinema, such as A Trip to the Moon (1902), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), and Man with a Movie Camera (1929).

(also COML 4414) (LA-AS) (HB) 4 credits.  Texts and discussions in English.
          MW 2:55-4:10, T. Solanki
When we speak, we think of our voice as natural to us. This course will interrogate the basis of this assumption by focusing on the voice as a trained cultural technique.  In this course, we will look at the history of this topic from Plato to Nietzsche through close critical readings of literary and philosophical depictions of listening and acoustic performances up to and prior to the age of the phonograph. How did philosophers, pastors, and poets describe, observe, imagine sound before sounds could be recorded? Were there particular modes of listening or speaking more appropriate for the "right" kind of literary or philosophical understanding? How did listening intersect with the visual apprehension of the printed page, painting or sculpture? How do vocal techniques construct either a national culture or other types of communities? Readings will include texts by Plato, Lucretius, Augustine, Rousseau, Goethe, Klopstock, Herder, Nietzsche, Michel de Certeau, Friedrich Kittler, Michel Chion, and Walter Ong. 

(CU-UGR) 1-4 credits each term.  Permission of instructor required.  To apply for independent study, please complete the on-line form at              
          Hours to be arranged.  Staff.
Undergraduate student and faculty advisor to determine course of study and credit hours.

(CU-UGR) 4 credits. Permission of department required.    
          Hours to be arranged.  Staff.
The Reading Course is administered by the director of the honors thesis.  It carries 4 hours credit, and may be counted towards the work required for the German Major.  The reading concentrates on a pre-determined topic or area. Students meet with their honors advisor about every two weeks throughout the term.  Substantial reading assignments are given, and occasional short essays are written.

(CU-UGR) 4 credits.  Prerequisite: GERST 4530. Permission of department required.      
          Hours to be arranged.  Staff.
The thesis is to be written on a subject related to the work done in GERST 4530.  A suggested length for the thesis is 50-60 pages.

Courses Offered in Dutch

4 credits.  Satisfies Option 1.  Prerequisite:  DUTCH 2030 or equivalent.  Permission of department required.  This course is part of the Shared Course Initiative and will be taught from Columbia University using Videoconferencing technology.  This course is only offered in Spring.  Level B1/B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.  Taught in Dutch.
          MW 4:10-6:00pm, W. de Groot
This course will go beyond the textbook and will increase your understanding of the language by making use of authentic Dutch material.  Through compositions, presentations and discussions, you will develop your productive language skills.  We will explore different topics, which may include the languages, cultures, literature, societies and history of the Dutch-speaking world, depending on the needs and interests of the students.  After completing this course, you will be able to handle most Dutch texts comfortably on your own and will be able to engage in conversation with native speakers on a wide range of topics.

4 credits.  Satisfies Option 1.  Permission of department required. This course is part of the Shared Course Initiative and will be taught from Columbia University using videoconferencing technology. Taught in Dutch.
         MW 11:40-12:55, W. de Groot
This advanced course is focused on Dutch literature and films. Students will be reading two novels, which are both considered to be cornerstones of Dutch literature; both deal with crucial historical events. After finishing each novel, students will see the film adaptation of these novels. Students will prepare and read the novels in installments at home, and will get a deep understanding of the historical background of the events described in the novels in class. Relevant Dutch history will be highlighted through background readings and video.

1 credit. Prerequisite: Four semesters of Dutch or German language or equivalent.  Texts in Dutch, taught in English.  This course is part of the Shared Course Initiative and will be taught from Columbia University using Videoconferencing technology.  This course is only offered in Spring.  
          W 10:00-11:30, W. de Groot
The course is specifically meant for PhD candidates, but undergraduates are welcome as well. Each week we read a different text, mainly from the 17th century, based on students' needs: topics of texts typically cover art history, law, history, literature etc.  These materials help students greatly with the difficult task of reading challenging printed and handwritten texts from the late 16th and 17th centuries.  The course starts with an overview of reading strategies that students learn to apply when approaching texts written in the 1600's. As the semester progresses, we read more and more complex texts. The last two weeks of the semester are devoted to handwritten texts and students get an introduction to various hands. The goal of the course is to prepare students for archival research.