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German Studies, Cornell University

Cornell University Department of German Studies Cornell Univeristy

Fall 2016

Course Offerings Fall 2016

First-Year Writing Seminars

GERST 1109: FROM FAIRY TALES TO THE UNCANNY: EXPLORING THE ROMANTIC CONSCIOUSNESS           Seminar 101: MWF 10:10-11:00, M. McConnell           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 foradults.  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 avariety of texts the Romantics collected, composed, or inspired, including poetry and film, in addition to classic fairy tales and academic scholarship onthe topic.

GERST 1115: SPORTS FANATICISM                       TR 11:40-12:55, M. CallaSports 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 arelationship 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 world views 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.GERST 1117: JUST FRIENDS?            TR 10:10-11:25, E. SiegelIn popular culture and literature, in the humanities andin the social sciences, friendship – a relationship of choice without institutional foundation – is a topic that allows for the exploration of theconcept of community. We speak of ‘friending’ someone or being ‘Facebook friends,’ but can we define friendship? Plato and Aristotle already asked: Are friends alike or do opposites attract? Can a good friendship end? Other questions recently emerged: Can individuals of the same sexual orientation befriends? Is friendship between humans and animals possible? How does one mourn the end of a friendship? Looking at philosophical essays, literary texts, films, and scholarship from various disciplines the seminar will hone theability to critically reflect in writing and discussion on arguments, concepts and representations.

GERST 1170: MARX, NIETZSCHE, FREUD           Seminar 101: TR 10:10-11:25, D. McBride                      Seminar 102: MWF 12:20-1:10, J. Frost                      Seminar 103: MWF 2:30-3:20, W. Krieger          Seminar 104: MWF 1:25-2:15, E. Epstein          Seminar 105: TR 11:40-12:55, J. Meyer-GutbrodA basicunderstanding 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 therevolutionary models of critical analysis these thinkers pioneered: historical materialism, post-metaphysical philosophy, and psychoanalysis.  This will mean articulating points ofcontrast as well as convergence. Discussions and writing exercises will focus on texts that created thediscursive 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 oppositionto the ones we view as natural, inevitable, or universal?

GERST 1190: EVIL, GOD, AND MODERNTHOUGHT: EXPLORING THE ENLIGHTENMENT                      TR 1:25-2:40, M. StoltzHow could a just God create a world full of incomprehensible suffering? Finding solutions to this persistent question seriously preoccupied enlightenment thinkers 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. 

Undergraduate Courses

GERST 1210: EXPLORING GERMAN CONTEXTS I  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. 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          Discussion 204: MWRF 1:25-2:15, D. DunhamStudents 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.

GERST 1220: EXPLORING GERMAN CONTEXTS II 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: R 1:25-2:15, A. Mascan          Discussion 201: MTWF 1:25-2:15, A. MascanStudents 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.

GERST 1230: EXPANDING THE GERMAN DOSSIER 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.           Seminar 101: MTWR 11:15-12:05, A. Sommer          Seminar 102: MTWR 12:20-1:10, A. Mascan          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.

GERST 2000: GERMANY: INTERCULTURAL CONTEXT (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, A. Mascan          Seminar 102: MWF 11:15-12:05, E. WinartoStudents 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.

GERST 2040: PERSPECTIVES ON GERMAN 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.           Seminar 101: MWF 12:20-1:10, D. McBride           Seminar 102: MWF 1:25-2:15, S. KlemmThis 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.

GERST 2700: INTRODUCTION TO GERMAN CULTURE AND THOUGHT (CA-AS) (HB)4 credits. Enrollment limited to 18 1st-semester-freshmen. Readings and discussions in English. Students must apply in writing to chair/instructor; Department of German Studies; 183 Goldwin Smith Hall. Upon availability, students of other levels will be welcome to apply.            TR 10:10-11:25, A. SchwarzBig names, Big ideas, and Big events are associated with German culture and thought: Luther, Faust, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Mozart, Beethoven, Kant, Hegel, Goethe, Einstein, Kafka and Thomas Mann; Enlightenment; World Wars and Reunification; European Union, and Migration and Refugees:  In this course, we shall cover the broad spectrum of both the long tradition of German culture and thought, and examine the wide range of political, literary, sociological, and artistic topics, themes, and questions that are of urgent contemporary concern for Germany, Europe, and beyond. Guest lecturers will introduce you to the wide and exciting field of German Studies. Topics include: the age of enlightenment; literatures of migration and minorities; avant-garde art; philosophy, aesthetics, and critical theory; Weimar and War; Holocaust and its Aftermath; film and media; genres of literature: novel, novella, short story, lyric poetry, anecdote, autobiography; literature and politics; literature and the environment; digital humanities and literatures/fictions of cyber space. In addition, this course will introduce you to the techniques of critical analysis and writing. Authors include among many others: Goethe, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Adorno, Freud, Kafka, Kluge, Marx, Thomas Mann, Rilke, Goetz.  

GERST 3070: CHALLENGE OF LITERARY LANGUAGE (LA-AS) 4 credits.  Prerequisite:  GERST 2040, 2060 or equivalent.   This course may be counted towards the requirement for 3000-3209-level language in the major.  Taught in German.  Satisfies Option 1.          MWF 11:15-12:05, D. McBrideWhy 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.

GERST 3235: CULT OF THE SILENT WOMAN: MALE FANTASIES IN 18TH CENTURY GERMAN THOUGHT (also FGSS 3235) (LA-AS) (HB)4 credits.  Taught in German.  Satisfies Option 1.  Prerequisite: one course at the 3000-3209 level in German or placement exam.          MW 2:55-4:10, T. SolankiIdealized representations of women proliferated in the Enlightenment and Romantic philosophy, visual arts, dramaturgy, and literature. In this course we will interrogate how and why Goethe, Schiller and their contemporaries’ concepts of aesthetics were illustrated, explicated and represented through the female body in its various configurations.  What kinds of rhetorical maneuvers were employed to explicate the pleasurable, the beautiful, the virtuous and the sublime? In addition to the visual dimension of the female body, we will study the regulation and training of female actresses' voices and gestures to analyze how they complicate or enable female silence. Besides Goethe and Schiller, we will read texts by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Immanuel Kant, Novalis and essays, texts and memoirs by female actresses, writers and poets such as Charlotte Ackermann and Karoline von Günderrode.

GERST 3511: MEDIA IN TRANSIT (also COML 3112, PMA 3511, STS 3511) (CA-AS) (HB)4 credits.  Taught in English.           TR 2:55-4:10, E. BornMedia make things move. Ships transport goods, cars carry passengers, devices transmit information. While origins and destinations often seem the most significant, modern media and cultural mobility also invite us to consider the experience of being in transit, of what happens as things move from point A to point B. This course examines the function of media in processes of mobilization and immobilization through readings in travel writing and cultural theory (e.g., Goethe, Kafka, Seghers, Simmel, Benjamin, Kracauer). Our guiding questions will include: What kinds of situations tend to create mobility or immobility? To what extent do technologies like the telegraph, telephone, and radio contribute to increased mobility and global connections? And what might studying the experience of mobility and transition reveal about the project of modernity itself?

GERST 3550: POLITICAL THEORY AND CINEMA (also COML 3300, GOVT 3705, PMA 3490) (CA-AS)4 credits.            MW 2:55-4:10, G. Waite          Film Screening: M 5:00-8:00pmAn 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 discussions.

GERST 3561: FREUD AND THE INVENTION OF PSYCHOANALYSIS (also COML 3781, FGSS 3651, FREN 3560, ROMS 3560, STS 3651) (KCM-AS)4 credits.          Lecture: MW 11:15-12:05, T. McNulty Discussion 201: F 11:15-12:05, T. McNulty          Discussion 202: F 12:20-1:10, T. McNultyPsychoanalysis considers the human being not as an object of treatment, but as a subject who is called upon to elaborate an unconscious knowledge about what is disrupting her life, through analysis of dreams, symptoms, bungled actions, slips of the tongue, and repetitive behaviors. Freud finds that these apparently irrational acts and behaviors are ordered by the logic of the fantasy, which provides a mental representation of a traumatic childhood experience and the effects it unleashes in the mind and body—effects he called drives. As "unbound" energies, the drives give rise to symptoms, repetitive acts, and fantasmatic stagings that menace our health and sometimes threaten social coexistence, but that also give rise to the desires, creative acts, and social projects we identify as the essence of human life. Readings will include fundamental texts on the unconscious, repression, fantasy, and the death drive, as well as case studies and speculative essays on mythology, art, religion, and group psychology. Students will be asked to keep a dream journal and to work on their unconscious formations, and will have the chance to produce creative projects as well as analytic essays.

GERST 4100: THE SEMINAR: BERLIN STORIES: URBAN LIFE AND HISTORY (LA-AS)4 credits.  Taught in German.  Satisfies Option 1.  Prerequisite:  Any German course at the 3200-3499-level or equivalent. The Seminar is a requirement of the German Studies major, but is open to all students who have met the prerequisites. The course has a research component and is taught each fall by a faculty member in the Department of German Studies on a topic of their expertise.          TR 11:40-12:55, P. McBrideBerlin’s central role in the twentieth century makes it a unique place for assessing crucial junctures in the history of modern Germany. This seminar will focus on key moments in Berlin’s tumultuous transformation over the course of the twentieth century—the Golden Twenties, the 1960s, and the years around 1989—to examine how narrative conventions and media affect the way we think and write about history and urban life. We will discuss specific ways in which the experience of urban spaces has shaped memory and narrative; the relation between history and storytelling; and the ways in which narrative can help articulate forms of subjectivity and modes of political engagement that are unique to metropolitan life.

GERST 4421/6221: TOPICS IN MODERN PHILOSOPHY (also PHIL 4220/6220)4 credits. Topic: Kierkegaard          W 2:30-4:25, M. KoschAdvanced discussion of topics or authors in "modern" Western philosophy (circa the 17th and 18th centuries).

GERST 4510: INDEPENDENT STUDY (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.

GERST 4530: HONORS RESEARCH (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.

GERST 4540: HONORS THESIS (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 Taught in Dutch


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 4:10-6:00pm, W. de Groot

In this course, the increased use of authentic texts will help you to expand your knowledge of Dutch culture and increase proficiency in the language. Discussions, compositions, reading articles, watching Dutch television and contact with native speakers will result in improved control of Dutch grammatical structures and vocabulary.  After completing this course, you will have a solid basis to understand both spoken and written Dutch and will be well on your way to become fluent in the language.DUTCH 3020: ADVANCED DUTCH I

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 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.