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German Studies, Cornell University

Cornell University Department of German Studies Cornell Univeristy

Spring 2015

Course Offerings Spring 2015

First-Year Writing Seminars

3 credits.  No knowledge of German is expected.

        TR 10:10-11:25, K. Nousek
What might be revolutionary about the power of writing to rearrange what society considers 'normal'? How can stories change our view of events?  This course will explore theoretical discussions about modern revolutions (Arendt, Kant, Marx) as well as cinematic and literary examples (Kleist, Porumboiu, Hensel, Wolf) to watch as language builds, disrupts, and rearranges social orders. Through critical engagement with these texts, we will investigate how power works in society and experiment with the potential of language to remake the worlds it names. Formal essay assignments will draw on textual analysis and critical discussion of course readings to help you practice effective academic writing and develop your own world-making writing skills.

        Seminar 101, TR 8:40-9:55, E. Pirozhenko
        Seminar 102, MWF 12:20-1:10, D. McBride
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 2:55-4:10, H. Müller 
The rise of online media in the late twentieth century has led to the formation of alternative public spheres, with new opportunities for active participation open to anyone with internet access and basic computer skills. While some celebrate the emancipatory potential of active consumerism, amateur criticism, fan culture, or social media activism, others are concerned about online harassment, censorship, or the future of intellectual property. In this seminar, we explore these different aspects of "participatory culture" by studying a variety of digital text forms, complemented by a number of thought-provoking theoretical texts.  We combine the practice of traditional academic writing with exercises in writing blogs and tweets, and explore the potential of social networking platforms for the publication and exchange of scholarly thought.

        TR 11:40-12:55, K. Molde
Friedrich Hölderlin, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Paul Celan are arguably the most influential lyric poets to have written in German.  Although each responded to events of his day (the French Revolution, First World War, and Second World War, respectively), they all aspired to transcend their immediate contexts. Their success is indicated by the interest prominent philosophers have taken in their work and the many musical settings their poetry has inspired. This seminar will address concerns common to all three writers: individual and collective memory, the (dis)enchantment of the world, the materiality and musicality of language, and the encounter with the foreign. Writing assignments are designed to help you articulate critical argumentation.

        Seminar 101, MW 7:30-8:45 pm, J. Thomson
        Seminar 102, MW 8:40-9:55 am, M. Stoltz
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.  Must enroll in one Lecture and one Discussion.  
        Lectures: T 11:15-12:05 or 12:20-1:10, G. Matthias, Coordinator    
        Discussion 203, MWRF 12:20-1:10, E. Winarto
        Discussion 204, MWRF 11:15-12:05, 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.  Must enroll in one Lecture and one Discussion.
        Lecture: T 11:15-12:05 or 12:20-1:10, G. Lischke, Coordinator   
        Discussion 201, MWRF 10:10-11:00, A. Brown
        Discussion 202, MWRF 11:15-12:05, G. Lischke
        Discussion 203, MWRF 12:20-1:10, W. Krieger
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.    
        MTWF 10:10-11:00, L. York
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, 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, J. Gindner
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.

1 credit.  Prerequisite:  GERST 2000 or above or equivalent. Limited to 8 students (students of the Language House given preference).  Permission of instructor required.  Taught in German.
        TBA, G. Matthias
This course prepares students to undertake a one-week research trip to Germany during spring semester. Students will choose and investigate a research topic that will allow them to delve into questions and practices relating to cultural communication. Possible topics include migrant and minority cultures; privacy and data protection; environmental conservation and the challenge of climate change. Besides the one-week travel the course involves pre- and post-travel sessions on the Cornell campus. The first part of the course is devoted to analyzing different ways of defining culture, as well as related concepts of inter- and transculturality, based primarily but not exclusively on the work of cultural anthropologist Joana Breidenbach. In the second part we will apply these theoretical concepts to the chosen research topic as we explore local contexts during the travel to Germany. Our post-travel sessions will be devoted to interrogating the mechanism and reach of stereotypical categorization and cultural claims in addition to assessing the outcomes of the research we conducted on the collaborative project. The aim of the course is to foster awareness of cultural difference and local contexts, as well as the critical ability to describe and question the stereotypical assumptions that underpin cultural identity.  Taught in German. Students must apply for the trip.  A separate trip application will be required.  The process will be explained to those who enroll.  A $1000 fee applies for current residents of the Language House.  Non Language House students must cover all travel costs.

3 credits.  Prerequisite: GERST 2000, or placement by examination.  Students without previous knowledge of Business German are welcome.  Satisfies Option 1.
        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.

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 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).

4 credits.  Taught in German. Satisfies Option 1.  Prerequisite: Any German course at the 3000-3209-level or equivalent.
        TR 11:40-12:55, E. Siegel
"Lyrik nervt!" – this is not only the title of a marvelous book about poetry by Andreas Thalmayr (aka Hans Magnus Enzensberger), it is also a common reaction to poems, especially when we are asked, in pedagogical settings, to write an interpretation of a poem. Nonetheless, we're surrounded by poems all the time and even use it, without this sense of burden: from nursery rhymes to the lyrics we sing along to. And in Germany, one of the most successful YouTube-videos in 2013/2014 was the performance of Julia Engelmann at a Poetry Slam.
In this course, moving from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, we will try to find ways to enjoy poems as aesthetic, sensual, and cognitive entities, and explore what they can do with and teach us about language (also the history of the German language): about rhythm and sound, about the conjuring of images and feelings through language, about rhetorical maneuvers, and about the specific knowledge produced and conveyed through poetic language.

GERST 3300 WEST GERMANY 1968/1977(CA-AS)
4 credits.  Taught in German. Satisfies Option 1.  Prerequisite: Any German course at the 3000-level or equivalent.
        TR 2:55-4:10, E. Siegel
The course looks at 1968 and 1977, two historical moments, which, by challenging state authority, raised the questions if the West German political institutions and the public would live up to new democratic principles. A comparison of student movements in West Germany and elsewhere will highlight the West German specifics (e.g., protest against "Notstandsgesetze"; demands to confront the Nazi-past; politicization of the private; the 1972 "Radikalenerlass").Radical politics culminated in the 1977 "German Autumn". Novels and films in recent years testify to an ongoing fascination with the RAF (Red Army Faction), be it in the form of depoliticized 'radical chic' or in the form of serious debates over historiography, personal fates of victims and perpetrators. The course will explore 1968 and 1977 through political manifestos and flyers, films and texts by, e.g., Dutschke, Baumann, Böll, Meinhof, Merian, Timm, Delius, Emcke, Cailloux.

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 2:55-4:10, G. Waite
Film Screening - M or W 7:30-10:30 pm, Kaufmann Auditorium Goldwin Smith Hall
An introduction (without prerequisites) to fundamental problems of current political theory, filmmaking, and film analysis, along with their interrelationship.  Particular emphasis on comparing and contrasting European and alternative cinema with Hollywood in terms of post-Marxist, psychoanalytic, postmodernist, and postcolonial types of interpretation.  Filmmakers/theorists might include: David Cronenberg, Michael Curtiz, Kathryn Bigelow, Gilles Deleuze, Rainer Fassbinder, John Ford, Jean-Luc Godard, Marleen Gorris, Werner Herzog, Alfred Hitchcock, Allen & Albert Hughes, Stanley Kubrick, Fredric Jameson, Chris Marker, Pier-Paolo Pasolini, Gillo Pontecorvo, Robert Ray, Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Oliver Stone, George Romero, Steven Shaviro, Kidlat Tahimik, Maurizio Viano, Slavoj Zizek.  Although this is a lecture course, there will be ample time for class.

4 credits. Readings and discussions in English (texts will be available in German).
        TR 10:10-11:25, A. Schwarz
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.

4 credits. University Course.  Taught in English.
        TR 1:25-2:40, 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.

4 credits. Limited to 15 students.
        T 2:30-4:25, E. Traverso
Between the end of the nineteenth century and the Second World War, the Jewish intellectual appears as a new figure of European societies, quickly becoming a major actor in public spheres.  During those years, the Jewish intellectual becomes a privileged object of investigations, definitions and fantasies--including anti-Semitic stereotypes--for literature and popular culture, sociology and medicine or law, deeply shaping national mentalities and imagination.  A considerable iconography, from painting to political propaganda and illustrated magazines, sketches his real or invented profile.  As an incarnation of urbanity, mobility, extraterritoriality, textuality and rational thought, the Jewish intellectual turns out to be a mirror of modernity, eliciting a strong conservative rejection.  Lasting from the Dreyfus Affair to the Nazi burning of books in 1933, and focusing on three national contexts--France, Germany and Italy--the course tries to explore the history of this collective representation through its multiple expressions, both textual and visual.

GERST 4260 THE ANIMAL (also COML 4240, ENGL 4260, GOVT 4279) (CA-AS)
4 credits.
        TR 11:40-12:55, P. Gilgen
In recent years literary representations and philosophical discussions of the status of the animal vis-à-vis the human have abounded.  In this course, we will track the literary phenomenology of animality.  In addition we will read philosophical texts that deal with the questions of animal rights and of the metaphysical implications of the "animal."  Readings may include, among others, Agamben, Aristotle, Berger, the Bible, Calvino, Coetzee, Darwin, Derrida, Descartes, Donhauser, Gorey, Haraway, Hegel, Heidegger, Herzog, Kafka, Kant, La Mettrie, de Mandeville, Montaigne, Nietzsche, Ozeki, Rilke, Schopenhauer, Singer, Sorabji, Sterchi, Stevens, de Waal, Wittgenstein, Wolfe.  A reading knowledge of German and French would be helpful.

GERST 4413 WALTER BENJAMIN (also ANTHR 4413/7413, NEWS/JWST 4913/7913)
4 credits.
        T 12:20-2:15, J. Boyarin
This extraordinary figure died in 1941, and his death is emblematic of the intellectual depredations of Nazism.  Yet since World War II, his influence, his reputation, and his fascination for scholars in a wide range of cultural and political disciplines has steadily grown.  He is seen as a bridging figure between German and Jewish studies, between materialist critique of culture and the submerged yet powerful voice of theology, between literary history and philosophy.  We will review Benjamin's life and some of the key disputes over his heritage; read some of the best-known of his essays; and devote significant time to his enigmatic and enormously rich masterwork, the Arcades Project, concluding with consideration of the relevance of Benjamin's insights for cultural and political dilemmas today.

1-4 credits.  
        Hours to be arranged.  Staff.
Undergraduate student and faculty advisor to determine course of study and credit hours.

4 credits.  
        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.

4 credits.  Prerequisite: GERST 4530.  
        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.

4 credits. Conducted in English.
        T 2:30-4:25, E. Traverso
At the end of the Great War, Europe became the realm of a new relationship among violence, culture, and politics. From 1914-1945, the continent witnessed an extraordinary entanglement of inter-state wars, revolutions and counter-revolutions, civil wars and genocides.  Originating as a classical inter-state conflict, the Great War led to a Weltanschaungskrieg. In spite of its highly controversial uses, the concept of "European Civil War" is probably the must useful in order to sum up such an "age of  extremes" in which wars have no rules: they become wars against civilians, politics makes groups into implacable enemies and an endemic violence deeply reshaped both cultures and collective imagination. This course will analyze some features of this cataclysmic time by engaging political theory, cultural and intellectual history.

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
        F 11:30-2:00, 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.