Courses - Spring 2020

GERST 1109 FWS: From Fairy Tales to the Uncanny: Exploring the Romantic Consciousness

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.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Soren Larsen (sbl78)
Full details for GERST 1109 : FWS: From Fairy Tales to the Uncanny: Exploring the Romantic Consciousness
GERST 1170 FWS: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud

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?

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Douglas McBride (dbm93)
Full details for GERST 1170 : FWS: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud
GERST 1210 Exploring German Contexts I

Students develop basic abilities in listening, reading, writing, and speaking German in meaningful contexts through interaction in small group activities. Course materials including videos, short articles, poems, and songs provide students with varied perspectives on German language, culture, and society.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Grit Matthias Phelps (gm326)
Full details for GERST 1210 : Exploring German Contexts I
GERST 1220 Exploring German Contexts II

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.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Gunhild Lischke (gl15)
Full details for GERST 1220 : Exploring German Contexts II
GERST 1230 Expanding the German Dossier

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.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Mariaenrica Giannuzzi (mg2294)
Full details for GERST 1230 : Expanding the German Dossier
GERST 2000 Germany: Intercultural Context

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.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Daniel Friedman (dbf68)
Full details for GERST 2000 : Germany: Intercultural Context
GERST 2040 Perspectives on German Culture

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.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Juan-Jacques Aupiais (ja676)
Full details for GERST 2040 : Perspectives on German Culture
GERST 2060 German in Business Culture

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.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Gunhild Lischke (gl15)
Full details for GERST 2060 : German in Business Culture
GERST 2703 Thinking Media

From hieroglyphs to HTML, ancient poetry to audiotape, and Plato's cave to virtual reality, "Thinking Media" offers a multidisciplinary introduction to the most influential media formats of the last three millennia. Featuring an array of guests from across Cornell, including faculty from Communication, Comparative Literature, English, German Studies, Information Science, Music, and Performing & Media Arts, the course will present diverse perspectives on how to think with, against, and about media in relation to the public sphere and private life, archaeology and science fiction, ethics and aesthetics, identity and difference, labor and play, knowledge and power, expression and surveillance, and the generation and analysis of data.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Erik Born (ecb234)
Full details for GERST 2703 : Thinking Media
GERST 3080 German Life Style Going Digital

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 Osnabrück 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).

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Grit Matthias Phelps (gm326)
Full details for GERST 3080 : German Life Style Going Digital
GERST 3330 Laughter and Wit in German Lit

Yes, it is true: most of German lit deals with the bleaker side of life but also (and because of it) presents us with marvelous examples of great humor, satire, jokes and comedy. From slap stick, political satire and biting gallows humor, this course will provide an overview of German humor in literature from the 18th century to contemporary texts, film, TV, blogs and comics. From Jean Paul to Loriot, from Goethe to Kafka, from Keller to Heinrich Böll, from Robert Walser to Sybille Berg. Texts and discussion in German.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Anette Schwarz (as163)
Full details for GERST 3330 : Laughter and Wit in German Lit
GERST 3512 No Rest: The Exhausted Self

The search for the active, good, or just life has increasingly come under pressure by the socio-political and economic conditions in late Capitalism or, in Deleuze's term, the "society of control." The individual and society seem to not flourish but disintegrate. In this class, we will examine interdisciplinary scholarly work and literary texts dealing with various concepts used to critically engage with the current state, among them: speed, rest and restlessness, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, weariness, intensity, and burnout. Authors include: Ottessa Moshfegh, Kathrin Röggla, Hartmut Rosa, Byung-Chul Han, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jonathan Crary, Kathi Weeks.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Elke Siegel (es744)
Full details for GERST 3512 : No Rest: The Exhausted Self
GERST 4002 Changing Worlds: Migration, Minorities, and German Literature

What makes a German world?  The defeat of the Third Reich in 1945 and the collapse of communist Europe in 1989 were geopolitical events that still reverberate in German culture, as authors consider the ever-changing imaginative contours of German worlds by literary means.  Transnational migration and minority struggles represent other pivotal markers of global change in the 20th and 21st centuries.  This course examines how imaginative contours of German worlds have been reshaped in literary fiction since 1945 through the lens of migration and minorities.  Special attention will be paid to Jews, Turks, and Black Germans; some attention will also be paid to literary phenomena involving other minorities and migration experience, including that of Eastern Europeans who have immigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany.  

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Leslie Adelson (laa10)
Full details for GERST 4002 : Changing Worlds: Migration, Minorities, and German Literature
GERST 4210 Existentialism or Marxism

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.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Geoffrey Waite (gcw1)
Full details for GERST 4210 : Existentialism or Marxism
GERST 4351 Critical Theory and Climate Change

This seminar explores what German literature and thought, especially the tradition of Critical Theory, can teach us about living in the anthropocene. Taking off from Kant's four questions for framing enlightened man around 1800 -- What can I know? What do I have to do? What can I hope for? What is the human being? – this seminar re-explores these questions in light of climate change in the 21st century. Of particular interest is not only the rhetoric of climate change and a critique of its denial in word and deed, but also narration: how does one narrate the singularity of this catastrophe? Different narrative structures from trauma and tragedy to the 19th century novel and 20th century surrealism will be examined.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Paul Fleming (pf239)
Full details for GERST 4351 : Critical Theory and Climate Change
GERST 4413 Walter Benjamin

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.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Jonathan Boyarin (jab857)
Full details for GERST 4413 : Walter Benjamin
GERST 4520 Independent Study

Undergraduate student and faculty advisor to determine course of study and credit hours.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Elke Siegel (es744)
Full details for GERST 4520 : Independent Study
GERST 4530 Honors Research

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.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Elke Siegel (es744)
Full details for GERST 4530 : Honors Research
GERST 4540 Honors Thesis

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.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Elke Siegel (es744)
Full details for GERST 4540 : Honors Thesis
GERST 4648 The Visual Economy of Work

With a focus on the pivotal period from the invention of photography until World War II, this course examines the economy of work within modern visual culture. It addresses the mediation and representation of industrial labor by way of photographic reportage and cinéma vérité, and how these visual forms contrast with modern artistic practice in Europe, Asia, and North America. A range of materials, including illustrated magazines, advertisements, films, and world exhibitions, are considered. For longer description and instructor bio, visit societyhumanities.as.cornell.edu/courses.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Alena Williams (ajw325)
Full details for GERST 4648 : The Visual Economy of Work
GERST 4649 Tradition and Modernity: The Jewish Case and Beyond

The concept of tradition often takes a back seat to modernity, but what does it mean to be part of a tradition? How does tradition revitalize and challenge received views and stimulate individual talent? This course explores three diverse bodies of material: twentieth-century Yiddish poetry and prose; ancient Jewish literature; and mid-twentieth-century German theology, philosophy, and criticism (by both Jews and Christians). As these thinkers reflect on their intellectual and poetic traditions, we will explore tradition as a source of collective energy in spite–and sometimes because!–of the constraints that it places upon self-expression. Tradition as a source of creativity is a strong theme in Jewish culture but has implications for other fields. For longer description and instructor bio, visit societyhumanities.as.cornell.edu/courses.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: James Redfield (jar639)
Full details for GERST 4649 : Tradition and Modernity: The Jewish Case and Beyond
GERST 6100 Marx and Marxisms

The terms "Marx" and "Marxisms" have meant different things to different people, beginning with Marx himself and continuing in his legacy today.  As obviously, this legacy remains global (Europe, North and Latin America, India and Pakistan, Vietnam, Africa, Near East and Far East)—all still including imagined allies, neutrals, and foes.  This seminar is an approach to this otherwise bewildering complexity: we focus on two things: (1) a possible Marxist (or Communist or Anarchist) theory of all language and any semiotics; alongside (2) its equally possible inter-action with manuals of guerrilla warfare.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Geoffrey Waite (gcw1)
Full details for GERST 6100 : Marx and Marxisms
GERST 6230 Aesthetic Turns: The Fin-de-Siecle

This anchor seminar offers an interdisciplinary examination of the fin-de-siècle as a crucial turning point in literature, art (painting, music, theater), architecture, psychoanalysis as well as literary and cultural criticism. We will focus particularly on the "Wiener Moderne" as a laboratory for the negotiation of the relationship between tradition and innovation ("decadence"), between art and life ("aestheticism"). This entails an exploration of experiments with literary language and form (short prose, essay, interior monologue) and of crucial concepts at the threshold of modernity: Sexuality and gender, history and myth, representation and the limits thereof, and, as the central, precarious and 'nervous' center: the decentered subject. "Viennese modernism" (including current critical standpoints) will be supplemented by the investigation of modernisms at the periphery of the Austrian Empire, i.e. Prague and Budapest, and of the so-called "Berliner Moderne. Authors include Nietzsche, Freud, Benjamin, Bahr, Mach, Broch, Musil, Hofmannsthal, Schnitzler, Loos, Altenberg, Kraus, Kokoschka, Andreas-Salomé, Kafka, Lukacs, Mayreder.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Elke Siegel (es744)
Full details for GERST 6230 : Aesthetic Turns: The Fin-de-Siecle
GERST 6320 Reading Academic German II

Emphasis on development of the specialized vocabulary of student's field of study.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Sophia Leonard (sl2898)
Full details for GERST 6320 : Reading Academic German II
GERST 6351 Critical Theory and Climate Change

This seminar explores what German literature and thought, especially the tradition of Critical Theory, can teach us about living in the anthropocene. Taking off from Kant's four questions for framing enlightened man around 1800 -- What can I know? What do I have to do? What can I hope for? What is the human being? – this seminar re-explores these questions in light of climate change in the 21st century. Of particular interest is not only the rhetoric of climate change and a critique of its denial in word and deed, but also narration: how does one narrate the singularity of this catastrophe? Different narrative structures from trauma and tragedy to the 19th century novel and 20th century surrealism will be examined.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Paul Fleming (pf239)
Full details for GERST 6351 : Critical Theory and Climate Change
GERST 6413 Walter Benjamin

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.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Jonathan Boyarin (jab857)
Full details for GERST 6413 : Walter Benjamin
GERST 6510 Contemporary Aesthetic Theory and its Discontents

After having been reduced to a mere ideological formation of bourgeois origin, aesthetics has recently made a strong comeback in the field of theory. This course probes the reasons for this historical change. From the arguments of the critics we will derive a catalogue of criteria for a viable aesthetics in order to examine how contemporary aesthetic theory relates to cognitive theories, the historicity of art and taste (including specific practices and institutions), and the emancipatory potentials of ethics and politics. Readings may include Adorno, Berger, de Bolla, Bourdieu, Noël Carroll, Cavell, Danto, Derrida, Dickie, Eagleton, Goodman, Guillory, Gumbrecht, Halsall, Luhmann, Lyotard, de Man, Walter Benn Michaels, Obrist, Ohmann, Scarry, Seel, Shustermann, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Williams and others.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Peter Gilgen (pg33)
Full details for GERST 6510 : Contemporary Aesthetic Theory and its Discontents
GERST 6525 Violence in Literature

What are the emotive forces that drive, inform, enable, disrupt, violate or energize narrative structures and the stories we tell? Critics from Sorel, Benjamin, Schmitt, Arendt to Derrida, Zizek and Balibar have elaborated the complex spectrum of violence in theory, literature, philosophy and politics. Topics of discussion include: is violence geared to specific literary genres? What are violent emotions? Can violence ever be positive? Can violence ever be legitimate? What is the relationship between violence, power and cruelty? How can we delineate the semiotics and contexts of violence: from war to medicine, from pain to pleasure? Theoretical texts will be accompanied by literature: Kafka, Kleist, Sebald et al; literatures of war, crisis and uproar.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Anette Schwarz (as163)
Full details for GERST 6525 : Violence in Literature
GERST 6648 The Visual Economy of Work

With a focus on the pivotal period from the invention of photography until World War II, this course examines the economy of work within modern visual culture. It addresses the mediation and representation of industrial labor by way of photographic reportage and cinéma vérité, and how these visual forms contrast with modern artistic practice in Europe, Asia, and North America. A range of materials, including illustrated magazines, advertisements, films, and world exhibitions, are considered. For longer description and instructor bio, visit societyhumanities.as.cornell.edu/courses.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Alena Williams (ajw325)
Full details for GERST 6648 : The Visual Economy of Work
GERST 6649 Tradition and Modernity: The Jewish Case and Beyond

The concept of tradition often takes a back seat to modernity, but what does it mean to be part of a tradition? How does tradition revitalize and challenge received views and stimulate individual talent? This course explores three diverse bodies of material: twentieth-century Yiddish poetry and prose; ancient Jewish literature; and mid-twentieth-century German theology, philosophy, and criticism (by both Jews and Christians). As these thinkers reflect on their intellectual and poetic traditions, we will explore tradition as a source of collective energy in spite–and sometimes because!–of the constraints that it places upon self-expression. Tradition as a source of creativity is a strong theme in Jewish culture but has implications for other fields. For longer description and instructor bio, visit societyhumanities.as.cornell.edu/courses.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: James Redfield (jar639)
Full details for GERST 6649 : Tradition and Modernity: The Jewish Case and Beyond
GERST 7540 Independent Study

Graduate student and faculty advisor to determine course of study and credit hours.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Peter Gilgen (pg33)
Full details for GERST 7540 : Independent Study
GERST 7541 Colloquium

The course consists of a bi-weekly workshop series focusing on a range of interdisciplinary topics and sponsored by the Institute for German Cultural Studies (IGCS). Speakers include prominent scholars in the field of German Studies (understood in a wide, interdisciplinary sense) and advanced graduate students, who discuss their work-in-progress based on pre-circulated papers. Besides attending the workshops, course participants meet with the instructor for two additional sessions devoted to pursuing the ties between the topics and disciplinary fields showcased by the speakers and the students' own work. The course is thus intended both as a survey of disciplinary approaches in German and Humanities Studies and as a framework that allows graduate students to hone professional skills (presenter and panel respondent, newsletter contributor, etc).

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Patrizia McBride (pcm29)
Full details for GERST 7541 : Colloquium