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German Studies, Cornell University

Cornell University Department of German Studies Cornell Univeristy

Spring 2014

Course Offerings Spring 2014

First-Year Writing Seminars

3 credits.  No knowledge of German is expected.

TR 10:10-11:25, N. Taylor
Why is it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism?  What keeps us from imagining any viable alternative(s) to capitalism—especially in the wake of crises like the most recent global financial crisis?  How imaginative is capitalism?  This course will address such questions by examining the sorts of stories that maintain and sustain capitalism as a political-economic system.  By studying a variety of fictitious and theoretical works, articles, and films, including texts by Smith, Mandeville, Marx, Nietzsche, Kafka and others, we will explore fictional, narrative, literary, and metaphorical ways of conceptualizing, naturalizing, critiquing and representing capitalism.  A critical focus on the stories used to conceive of capitalism will help us hone our analytical reading and writing skills.

TR 10:10-11:25, H. Müller 
We know robots and androids from contemporary science fiction, but the idea of bringing artificial beings to life can be traced back to classical mythology.  By confronting us with something fundamentally different and yet strikingly similar, the figure of the android forces us to ask what makes us human and what being human means.  In this class we will explore representations of artificial beings in literature, cinema, and television, from Ovid's Pygmalion to Blade Runner and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, with a particular focus on issues of technology, art, gender, race, and class.  We will combine close textual analysis with critical reading of theoretical texts and practice writing in a variety of academic genres.

Seminar 101, TR 8:40-9:55, E. Pirozhenko
Seminar 103, TR 11:40-12:55, C. Gelderloos
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, TR 10:10-11:25, J. Wankhammer
Seminar 102, MWF 12:20-1:10, D. McBride
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?

TR 10:10-11:25, A. Horakova
What about a picture tells us a thousand words? Why do we caption photographs and adorn comicfigures with speech balloons? How doesfilm narrate itself? This courseexamines the ways images and texts have interacted since the rise of visualculture in the early twentieth century. We will read theories of the text-image(Benjamin, Sontag, Warhol), illustrated novelistic prose, experimental poetry,and graphic novels (Batman). Byinvestigating the inner mechanism of each medium, we will analyze how image andtext mutually condition the interpretation of the other and employ our insightsto sharpen the visual impact of our own writing.

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: R 11:15-12:05 or 12:20-1:10, G. Matthias, Coordinator   
Discussion 201, MTWF 10:10-11:00, L. York 
Discussion 202, MTWF 12:20-1:10, G. Matthias
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: 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. Liscke
Discussion 203, MWRF 12:20-1:10 
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.    
Seminar 101, MTWF 10:10-11:00, M. Stoltz 
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, D. McBride
Seminar 102, MWF 12:20-1:10, C. Schott
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.

3 credits.  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, G. Comparato
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.

3 credits. Taught in German.  Satisfies Option 1.  Prerequisite: GERST 2000, or placement by examination.  Students without previous knowledge of Business German are welcome.
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 role of the Bundesbank, 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.  At the end of the course, the external Goethe Institut exam "Deutsch für den Beruf" will be offered.

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-level language in the major.
MWF 11:15-12:05, 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).

4 credits.  Taught in German. Satisfies Option 1.  Prerequisite: Any German course at the 3000-level or equivalent or permission of instructor.
TR 11:40-12:55, E. Siegel
Christa Wolf (1929-2011) was one of the towering figures of post-1945 literature in East and West Germany. The course aims A) to give advanced German students an overview of the vast œuvre of this seminal and controversial author; B) to discuss recurring problems and questions in Wolf's work (e.g., the role of the individual in society; gender roles; memory and the constitution of the self; ecology); C) to discuss the relationship between literature and politics, specifically the role of literature and the public role of the artist and intellectual in the GDR (including other figures, such as Heiner Müller, Bertolt Brecht, Wolf Biermann).  The course will also offer a cursory overview of the GDR's afterlife in literature and film after 1989.

Courses Taught in English

4 credits.    
TR 2:55-4:10 (Lecture), M. Kosch
M 7:30-8:20 p.m. (Discussion), M. Kosch
Survey of European social theory from Hegel to Foucault (via Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Weber, and the Frankfurt School).

4 credits.   
TR 10:10-11:25, A. Schwarz
Readings and discussions in English (texts will be available in German).An interdisciplinary study of metropolitan life focusing on Berlin and Vienna (1890-1999) and on contemporary global mega-cities as major contexts of artistic modernity and historical change.  Topics of investigation include: the city as both the product and source of artistic production; the interrelationship between literary concepts of montage, collage, and their architectural counterparts (Bauhaus et al.); the tension between private and public spaces, and the status of crowds, anonymity, and the flaneur.  We will also analyze the rise of an avant-garde movement in an urban environment.  Additional topics: artificial construction of new cities; is the concept "city" still valid? Can we imagine new forms of habitation in our digital world?  Focus on short fiction, architectural theory, sites and art history, film, political and literary manifestos.  Authors include: Fontane, Broch, Benn, Benjamin, Döblin, Simmel, Krakauer, Johnson, Rilke, Kohlhaas, Vidler, Eisenman, Poe, Blanchot, Certeau, Kafka, Heidegger, Derrida.

GERST 3621 WEIMAR CINEMA (also PMA 3415)
4 credits. 
TR 10:10-11:25, B. Hanrahan
This seminar offers a comprehensive overview of the diverse film culture of the Weimar epoch, focusing on the close analysis and careful contextualization of a wide range of key films.  Canonical works by directors such as Wiene, Lang, Murnau, Ruttmann, Papst and others will be supplemented by lesser-known films, as well as by contemporary writings on aesthetics, spectatorship and media, and readings in the contested historiography of the epoch's cinema.  Topics will include questions of form, genre and style, as well as issues – as pressing then as now – of technology and modernity, politics and gender, war and trauma, display, distraction and desire.

4 credits.
TR 2:55-4:10, G. Waite
Spinoza was excommunicated, wrote under death threats, and has remained a scandal to philosophy, psychoanalysis, politics, ethics, literature. "Every philosopher has two philosophies, his own and Spinoza's" (Bergson); and "the savage anomaly" (Negri) exerted profound influence on Marx, Nietzsche, Freud.  We will introduce Spinoza and his legacy, from the "atheism controversy" in the eighteenth century to today's "New Spinozists," who have been developing anti-Kantian and anti-Hegelian formulations of burning contemporary questions.  With Spinoza, we ask: "What is freedom, and whose power does it serve?" (Leo Strauss)—especially if "The new world system, the ultimate third stage of capitalism is for us the absent totality, Spinoza's God or Nature, the ultimate (indeed perhaps the only) referent, the true ground of Being in our time" (Jameson).

GERST 4170 TOPICS IN GERMAN PHILOSOPHY (also gerst 6241, phil 4260/6240)
4 credits. Topic for Spring for Spring 14: Beauty, Sublimity, Teleology: Seminar on Kant's Critique of Judgment.
W 4:30-6:30, 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.

4 credits.
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.

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.
T 10:10-12:05, D. Schwartz
What is the role of the literary imagination in keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive for our culture?  We shall examine major and widely read Holocaust narratives that have shaped the way we understand and respond to the Holocaust.  We shall begin with first-person reminiscences—Wiesel's Night, Levi's Survival at Auschwitz, and The Diary of Anne Frank—before turning to realistic fictions such as Kineally's Schindler's List (and Spielberg's film), Kertesz's Fateless, Kosinski's The Painted Bird, and Ozick's "The Shawl."  We shall also read the mythopoeic vision of Schwarz-Bart's The Last of the Just, the illuminating distortions of Epstein's King of the Jews, the Kafkaesque parable of Appelfeld's Badenheim 1939, and the fantastic cartoons of Spiegelman's Maus books.

Courses Taught in Dutch

4 credits.  Prerequisist:  DUTCH 1210 or equivalent. Department consent required for enrollment.  This course is part of the Shared Course Initiative and will be taught from Yale University using videoconferencing and webconferencing technology.  This course is only offered in Spring.
MTWRF 9:25-10:15, B. Wassing
(level A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) This course is a continuation of DUTCH 1210. You will expand your knowledge of Dutch vocabulary & grammar through both the textbook and online resources such as Dutch TV and radio.  You will improve your listening and reading skills, while learning about Dutch speaking societies.    You will start writing texts in Dutch and your conversational skills will increase through in-class discussions and interaction with native speakers.  At the end of the course, you will be able to be able to deal with everyday situations in Dutch and have simple conversations with native speakers.

4 credits.  Prerequisite: DUTCH 2030 or equivalent.  Department consent required for enrollment.  This course is part of the Shared Course Initiative and will be taught from Yale University using videoconferencing and webconferencing technology.  This course is only offered in Spring.
MTWRF 10:30-11:20, B. Wassing
(level B1/B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).  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 Optin 1.  Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor and 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.