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German Studies, Cornell University

Cornell University Department of German Studies Cornell Univeristy

Spring 2016

Course Offerings Spring 2016

First-Year Writing Seminars

3 credits.  No knowledge of German is expected.

 

GERST 1103: FABLES OF CAPITALISM 
          TR 11:40-12:55, J. Gindner
Why is it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism? What prevents us from joining oppositions to capitalism after the 2008-09 economic crisis? Have all utopias died with state socialism? How does advertising sell the current dystopia as "cool capitalism"? And what roles do race and gender play? This seminar examines fictions (written and cinematic) that maintain but also contest global capitalism as the dominant social, economic, and political order. With Marx's and later Marxist writings, we consider such "fables" as Roland Barthes, Mythologies; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; David Fincher, Fight Club; and Lizzie Borden, Born in Flames. Analyzing these texts and constructing arguments about them will hone our analytical reading and critical writing skills.

GERST 1150: GERMAN LYRIC POETRY          
          TR 2:55-4:10, 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.

GERST 1160: SERIAL STORYTELLING          
          TR 10:10-11:25, L. York
The popularity of serial storytelling is evident today in the proliferation of serial television, films, popular literature, and podcasts, but the history of the serial reaches back to 19th century literature (Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle) and beyond (The Arabian Nights). Why does serial storytelling remain such a dominant form and continue to resonate for 21st century audiences? This course explores seriality in literature and popular culture (television, film, new media) and examines the strategies of suspense, entertainment, and anticipation that connect installments or episodes into novels, seasons, series, and franchises. Essay assignments will draw on textual and cultural analysis as well as critical discussions of series (both literary and popular) to practice effective academic writing.

GERST 1170: MARX, NIETZSCHE, FREUD          
          Seminar 101: MWF 10:10-11:00, J. Davenport          
          Seminar 102: MW 7:30-8:45pm, C. Roberts
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

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 T 12:20-1:10, G. Matthias, Coordinator          
          Discussion 201: MWRF 12:20-1:10, M. Hayakawa          
          Discussion 202: 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.

GERST 1220: EXPLORING GERMAN CONTEXTS II
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, M. Mueller          
          Discussion 202: MWRF 11:15-12:05, G. Lischke          
          Discussion 203: MWRF 12:20-1:10, A. Sommer
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.

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.           
          MTWR 12:20-1:10, E. Winarto
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, S. Noellgen          
          Seminar 102: MWF 12:20-1:10, A. Brown
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.

GERST 2040: PERSPECTIVES ON GERMAN CULTURE (CA-AS)
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.          
          MWF 12:20-1:10, S. Noellgen
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.

GERST 2060: GERMAN IN BUSINESS CULTURE (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.           
          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. 

GERST 3080: GERMAN LIFE STYLE GOING DIGITAL (CA-AS)
4 credits. Taught in German. Satisfies Option 1. Prerequisite: GERST 2020, GERST 2040, GERST 2060, or equivalent or 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).

GERST 3410: HISTORY WILL BE TELEVISED (CA-AS)
4 credits. Prerequisites: Any German course in the 3000-3200 level or equivalent, by placement test or permission of instructor. Taught in German. Satisfies Option 1.          
          TR 10:10-11:25, E. Siegel
When the American TV series "Holocaust" was broadcast in West Germany in 1979, more than 20 million people watched. Journalists and historians were baffled by the viewers' deeply emotional response, since no such reaction had followed previous attempts to confront Germans with the Shoah. Was a TV mini-series really the right way to address the Holocaust? Today, barely a day goes by without some fictional, docufictional, or documentary film/series covering the Holocaust, German unification, 1970s terrorism, etc. Are these examples of "histotainment" or "historical pornography"? Is history a commodity to identify with Holocaust-victims one day and with Germans who died during WWII the next? How do TV-narratives react to or influence collective memory? This course explores selected TV films/series and their ensuing debates, both contrasted with other approaches to 'televising history, e.g. Edgar Reitz' epic series "Heimat."

GERST 4420: CHANGING WORLDS: MIGRATION, MINORITIES, AND GERMAN LITERATURE (LA-AS)
4 credits. Satisfies Option 1. Prerequisite:Any 3000-level course taught in German, or equivalent, or permission ofinstructor.Required readings anddiscussion in German.          
          TR 11:40-12:55, L. Adelson
Whatmakes a German world? The defeat of the Third Reich in 1945 and thecollapse of communist Europe in 1989 were geopolitical events that still reverberatein German culture, as authors consider the ever-changing imaginative contoursof German worlds by literary means. Transnational migration and minoritystruggles represent other pivotal markers of global change in the 20th and 21stcenturies. This course examines how imaginative contours of German worldshave been reshaped in literary fiction since 1945 through the lens of migrationand minorities. Special attention will be paid to Jews, Turks, and BlackGermans;some attention will also be paid to literary phenomena involving otherminorities and migration experience, including that of Eastern Europeans whohave immigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany.

 

Courses Taught in English

GERST 3522: DARK PASSAGES: FILM NOIR (also PMA 3522, VISST 3522) (LA-AS)
4 credits.          
          MW 2:55-4:10, P. Dobryden
This course examines the origins, evolution, and contemporary resonance of film noir. Beginning with a look at expressionist and crime films of Weimar Germany, we will then examine a body of classic films made in Hollywood by German and Austrian exiles. Film noir of the 1940s and 50s offered mass audiences a critical view of U.S. society, and exiled directors were often ambivalent about their new home, an attitude reflected in films such as Scarlet Street (1945), Detour (1945), and Criss Cross (1949). We will also discuss more recent films with surprising links to both film noir and German expressionism, including Blue Velvet (1986), Dark City (1998), and The Big Lebowski (1998). Themes of the course include migration, trauma, consumerism, and the growth of suburbia.

GERST 3530: NINETEENTH AND TWENTIETH CENTURY EUROPEAN THOUGHT (also PHIL 2240) (KCM-AS)
4 credits.          
          Lecture: TR 10:10-11:25, M. Kosch          
          Discussion 201: 7:30-8:20pm, M. Kosch
Survey of European social theory from Hegel to Foucault (via Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Weber, and the Frankfurt School).

GERST 3640: ME, MYSELF, I: SUBJECTS OF LITERATURE (also COML 3689) (LA-AS)4 credits.          
          TR 1:25-2:40, A. Schwarz
When did the Self become a central topic for literature? When did fiction begin to describe the individual, its soul and psychic life? This course will trace the history of the individual in German and European literature from the 18th to the 20th century. Topics include: the relationship between literature and psychology;the individual as a social being (family dynamics);the individual as genius (inspired productivity);the suffering individual (extreme emotions). Authors: Novalis, Hölderlin, Goethe, Hoffmann, Balzac, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Büchner, Schopenhauer, Musil, Freud, Kafka, Sartre, Frisch, Auster et al. Readings and discussions in English.

GERST 4010: EXISTENTIALISM OR MARXISM (also GOVT 4015) (CA-AS)
4 credits.          
          TR 2:55-4:10, G. Waite
The most intense public encounter between Existentialism and Marxism occurred in immediate post-WWII Europe, its structure remaining alive internationally. Existentialist questions have been traced from pre-Socratic thinkers through Dante, Shakespeare, and Cervantes onward;just as roots of modern materialism extend to Epicurus and Lucretius, or Leopardi. This course will focus on differing theories and concomitant practices concerned with "alienation," "anxiety," "crisis," "death of God," "nihilism," "rebellion or revolution." Crucial are possible relations between fiction and non-fiction;also among philosophy, theology, psychoanalysis, and political theory. Other authors may include: Althusser, de Beauvoir, Beckett, Büchner, Camus, Che, Dostoevsky, Fanon, Genet, Gide, Gramsci, O. Gross, Hamsun, Heidegger, Husserl, Jaspers, C.L.R. James, Kafka, Kierkegaard, Lagerkvist, Lacan, Lenin, Marx, Merleau-Ponty, Mishima, G. Novack, Nietzsche, Ortega, Pirandello, W. Reich, Sartre, Shestov, Tillich, Unamuno. There is also cinema.

GERST 4170: TOPICS IN GERMAN PHILOSOPHY (Co-meets with GERST 6241, also PHIL 6240/PHIL 4240)
4 credits.           
          TR 10:10-11:25, D. Smyth
Topic for Spring 2016: Kantian Approaches to Self-Consciousness. Kant famously argues that 'I think' must be able to accompany all my representations but maintains that this does not license us to conclude that the thinking subject is a substance in which those representations inhere. This seminar will focus on these two Kantian claims about self-consciousness and their subsequent development in more contemporary philosophy: (i) conscious representation already presupposes some form of self-consciousness and (ii) self-consciousness does not involve awareness of the self as an object (substance, seat of accidents). Roughly half the course will be dedicated to Kant's account of self-consciousness in the Transcendental Deduction(s) and Paralogisms (and associated secondary literature). The other half will be devoted to more recent work in the same vein by authors such as Sartre, Anscombe, Evans, Castañeda, Shoemaker, and Rödl. 

GERST 4440: SCREENING THE ENVIRONMENT (Co-meets with GERST 6440, also PMA 4440, VISST 4441) (LA-AS)
4 credits. Enrollment limited to 20 students.          
          W 12:20-2:15, P. Dobryden         
Weekly Film Screenings, M 7:00-9:30pmThis course will examine intersections of film history and the environment. Using German cinema as a case study, we will look at how moving image media have negotiated ecological issues from the early 20th century to the present. We will deal with film texts (from genres including the educational film, the Heimatfilm, and the eco-documentary) as well as material contexts of production and exhibition. Readings will include classic film theoretical texts as well as recent work in environmental history, cultures of travel and tourism, urban ecology, and ecocriticism. We will ask whether a focus on environmental issues can re-invigorate canonical texts of media theory, as well as how current ecocritical perspectives can contribute to film and media studies.

GERST 4506: EUROPEAN TEMPORAL IMAGINATION (also SHUM 4506, HIST 4503)
4 credits. Enrollment limited to 15 students.          
          T 12:20-2:15, K. Grotke
This course offers an exploration of the European temporal imagination, or the ways that questions and concerns about time have been integral to both cultural self-understanding and philosophical reflection. Two main questions guide the course: what are the key patterns of argument related to time in the Western tradition? How did scientific knowledge, cross-cultural encounters and methodological disputes shape or change these patterns? The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were a period of rapid temporal expansion in both extent and detail: geology shifted the scale of time, and chronological work propelled claims for a truly "universal" history. Departing from these developments, the course explores how temporal ideas have functioned within and shaped different disciplinary and institutional contexts.  Course readings will be in English, but participants are encouraged to develop paper proposals in line with their own research interests and language proficiencies. The course is focused on Europe, but non-Europeanists and those interested in comparative work are welcome.  Participants will be required to prepare at least one short summary/ introduction of a course text for presentation at the seminar, and to produce a final research paper of approximately 20 pages (topic to be developed in consultation with instructor during Section I).

GERST 4520: INDEPENDENT STUDY (CU-UGR)
1-4 credits each term. Permission of instructor required.            
          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 instructor 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 instructor 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.

 

Dutch Courses

DUTCH 2040: INTERMEDIATE DUTCH II
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.

DUTCH 3021: ADVANCED DUTCH II
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.          
          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.

DUTCH 5010: 17th CENTURY DUTCH TEXTS
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.