Courses - Spring 2021

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: Paul McQuade (pgm63)
Full details for GERST 1109 : FWS: From Fairy Tales to the Uncanny: Exploring the Romantic Consciousness
GERST 1118 FWS: Let's Play!

Why do we play games and why do we have fun with them? What makes us winners and losers? This course will explore various approaches to games and humans at play. We will try to understand why people play and why they prefer some games to others. Interdisciplinary in nature, the class will offer readings from areas of sociology, psychology, history, mathematics, and cultural studies (just to name a few). By reading and analyzing and playing with Nabokov, Hesse, Zweig, Berne, Huizinga, and Schenkel we will make connections between games, national identity, gender, class, and intelligence, and will construct arguments about various scholarly and fictional written and cinematic texts.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Ekaterina Pirozhenko (ep399)
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GERST 1121 FWS: Writing Berlin

Berlin is a city that reinvents itself by rewriting itself. In this writing seminar we'll study a variety of literary, visual, and sonic texts to create a virtual map of the city, from its emergence as modern metropolis in the 1920s, reduction to rubble in World War II, afterlife as refuge of the disaffected in the 1980s, and rebirth at the turn of the 21st century. As we make our way through the linguistic, visual and aural landscape of its ever-changing topography we'll create our own stories of a mythical Berlin in dialogue with texts written by the displaced persons who breached its real and imagined walls and navigated its illicit economies.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Douglas McBride (dbm93)
Full details for GERST 1121 : FWS: Writing Berlin
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: Jason Archbold (jpa72)
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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, and songs provide students with varied perspectives on German language, culture, and society.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Grit Matthias Phelps (gm326)
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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)
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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: Anna Pfeifer (ap2256)
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GERST 1777 Elementary Yiddish II

Intended for advanced beginners. Builds further competence in reading, writing, oral comprehension, speaking and grammar. Course material is presented and discussed in the context of Ashkenazi Jewish culture.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: David Forman (drf84)
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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, ALC-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Douglas McBride (dbm93)
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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, ALC-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Sophia Leonard (sl2898)
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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, ALC-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Gunhild Lischke (gl15)
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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: (ALC-AS, CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Erik Born (ecb234)
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GERST 3013 German Foreign Language Across the Curriculum (FLAC)

This 1-credit optional course aims to expand the students' vocabulary, and advance their speaking and reading skills as well as enhance their knowledge and deepen their cultural understanding by supplementing non-language courses throughout the University.

Academic Career: UG Full details for GERST 3013 : German Foreign Language Across the Curriculum (FLAC)
GERST 3080 German Digital Culture: We live online

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, ALC-AS, GLC-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Grit Matthias Phelps (gm326)
Full details for GERST 3080 : German Digital Culture: We live online
GERST 3561 Freud and the Invention of Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis 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 behavior 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 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.

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS, SSC-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Tracy McNulty (tkm9)
Full details for GERST 3561 : Freud and the Invention of Psychoanalysis
GERST 3590 Kant

An intensive study of the metaphysical and epistemological doctrines of the Critique of Pure Reason. Some editions of the course may also consider Kant's ethical views as laid out in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and related works.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Justin Steinberg (jds467)
Full details for GERST 3590 : Kant
GERST 4285 Premodern Literature and Media

This course introduces the canon of premodern German literature, including lyric poetry (Minnesang), Arthurian romance (Gottfried's Tristan, Wolfram's Parzival, Hartmann's Iwein), and the heroic epic (Nibelungenlied). With a focus on medieval manuscript culture, we will investigate problems of form, genre, and representation, as well as post-medieval approaches to materiality, hermeneutics, and textuality. Our larger questions, centering on the mediation of words, images, and sounds, will address the contested legacy of the premodern period in German modernity.

Distribution: (LA-AS, ALC-AS, HST-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Erik Born (ecb234)
Full details for GERST 4285 : Premodern Literature and Media
GERST 4375 The Holocaust and History Writing

In the last decades, "Holocaust Studies" witnessed an extraordinary expansion, covering different fields of scholarship, from history to literature, from philosophy to aesthetics.  This seminar will retrace the major steps of Holocaust history writing.  It will analyze the classical debates between "intentionalism" and "functionalism," the discrepancies between the analytical approaches focused on the perpetrators and those focused on the victims, the inscription of the Holocaust into the broader context of war violence, and its comparison with the genocidal violence of colonialism.  Finally, it will investigate some methodological problems concerning the place of testimony in history writing and the permanent connections, both fruitful and problematic, between history and memory.  This means taking into account the entanglement of the most productive areas of Holocaust scholarship (Germany, France and the United States) as well as the relationship between the historiography of the Holocaust and other disciplines (memory studies, postcolonial studies, etc.).

Distribution: (HA-AS, ALC-AS, HST-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Enzo Traverso (vt225)
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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 Full details for GERST 4540 : Honors Thesis
GERST 6285 Premodern Literature and Media

This course introduces the canon of medieval German literature: lyric poetry (Minnesang), Arthurian romance (Gottfried's Tristan, Wolfram's Parzival, Hartmann's Iwein), and the heroic epic (Nibelungenlied). With a focus on twelfth-century courtly culture, we will investigate medieval problems of form, genre, and representation, as well as post-medieval approaches to materiality, hermeneutics, and textuality. Our larger questions, centering on the controversial concept of medieval alterity, will address the contested legacy of the Middle Ages in German modernity.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Erik Born (ecb234)
Full details for GERST 6285 : Premodern Literature and Media
GERST 6320 Reading Academic German II

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

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Daniel Friedman (dbf68)
Full details for GERST 6320 : Reading Academic German II
GERST 6375 The Holocaust and History Writing

In the last decades, "Holocaust Studies" witnessed an extraordinary expansion, covering different fields of scholarship, from history to literature, from philosophy to aesthetics.  This seminar will retrace the major steps of Holocaust history writing.  It will analyze the classical debates between "intentionalism" and "functionalism," the discrepancies between the analytical approaches focused on the perpetrators and those focused on the victims, the inscription of the Holocaust into the broader context of war violence, and its comparison with the genocidal violence of colonialism.  Finally, it will investigate some methodological problems concerning the place of testimony in history writing and the permanent connections, both fruitful and problematic, between history and memory.  This means taking into account the entanglement of the most productive areas of Holocaust scholarship (Germany, France and the United States) as well as the relationship between the historiography of the Holocaust and other disciplines (memory studies, postcolonial studies, etc.).

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Enzo Traverso (vt225)
Full details for GERST 6375 : The Holocaust and History Writing
GERST 6410 Female Acts: From Antiquity to Jelinek

Woman caring for the dead; women sacrificed; fatal female desire - these images have been constitutive for Western aesthetic and theoretical discourse. How is female agency, in word and deed, delimited in a world divided along the lines of public/private, state/family, visible/invisible, outside/inside, mind/body, culture/nature? How are knowledge and thought conditioned by positing gendered and racial others? Have investigations of "public feelings" (Cvetkovich, Berlant) changed the perspective on gendered affects (rage, revenge)?

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Elke Siegel (es744)
Full details for GERST 6410 : Female Acts: From Antiquity to Jelinek
GERST 6610 Fictions of Law: Literature, Philosophy, and Culture in the Long 18th Century

This course examines the profound cultural and social changes that took place during the Enlightenment and their aftermath as reflected in German literature and philosophy. The main focus will be on the decay of old European norms and the establishment of new normative frameworks in the wake of the intensified functional differentiation of society that marks the 18th century. During this period, rule following and deviance are foregrounded in literature, ethics, and legal theory. Questions concerning the legitimacy of political change and revolution lead to a new understanding of the law; the state and society; the conscience of the individual; and the role of education and the arts.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Peter Gilgen (pg33)
Full details for GERST 6610 : Fictions of Law: Literature, Philosophy, and Culture in the Long 18th Century
GERST 7540 Independent Study

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

Academic Career: GR Full details for GERST 7540 : Independent Study