Courses

Courses by semester

Courses for Fall 21

Complete Cornell University course descriptions are in the Courses of Study .

Course ID Title Offered
GERST1109 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.

Full details for GERST 1109 - FWS: From Fairy Tales to the Uncanny: Exploring the Romantic Consciousness

Fall, Spring.
GERST1121 FWS: Writing Berlin
Germany's capital is a city that constantly reinvents itself. This course will offer a glimpse into Berlin's rich history in the 20th and 21st centuries—from the rise of the metropolis during the Weimar Republic to the rubble after WWII to today's multifaceted, multicultural, forward-looking capital. We will explore points of view, images, and perceptions of Berlin and its people in the literary productions of writers such as Siegfried Kracauer, Alfred Döblin, Kurt Tucholsky, Wolfdietrich Schnurre, Monika Maron, Wladimir Kaminer, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, and Kathrin Röggla. We will discuss changing identities (nation, class, gender, and ethnicity, for example), consult works of literary critics and scholars, practice attentive reading and writing, and learn to construct evidence-based arguments of our own.

Full details for GERST 1121 - FWS: Writing Berlin

Fall.
GERST1122 FWS: Love and Death in Vienna
Singing boys. Dancing horses. Waltzing debutantes. Those fortunate enough to live in a city where each day begins with a pastry and ends with a two-liter bottle of wine must live a charmed existence! Not according to Freud. After decades of treating the morbid Viennese, he concluded that human nature must be torn between two warring forces: a love instinct and a death drive. In this FWS we'll explore both sides of Vienna's enigmatic character, its life-affirming hedonism and its self-destructive nihilism, through the lens of narrative fiction on page and on screen. Along the way, we'll learn to read and view more critically by writing our way through the best literature and cinema of the multi-ethnic metropolis on the Danube.

Full details for GERST 1122 - FWS: Love and Death in Vienna

Fall, Spring.
GERST1170 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?

Full details for GERST 1170 - FWS: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud

Fall, Spring.
GERST1175 FWS: Small Forms, Big Ideas
Small forms can contain big ideas. This course will put contemporary microformats, such as tweets, snaps, lists, and text messages, in dialogue with a much broader spectrum of small, short, and simple forms, from anecdotes, jokes, and aphorisms to fables, short stories, and feuilletons. With a focus on German literature and philosophy, we will read exemplary cases of small literary forms (e.g., Brecht, Dörrie, Kafka, Lichtenberg, Walser), along with short philosophical reflections on the economy of language, the effects of miniaturization, and the desire for simplicity (e.g., Adorno, Benjamin, Nietzsche, Polgar, Schlegel). Writing activities will provide related training in small academic forms like notes, glosses, abstracts, protocols, excerpts, and commentaries, which will become the crucial building blocks of academic work on larger scales.

Full details for GERST 1175 - FWS: Small Forms, Big Ideas

Fall.
GERST1210 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.

Full details for GERST 1210 - Exploring German Contexts I

Fall, Spring.
GERST1220 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.

Full details for GERST 1220 - Exploring German Contexts II

Fall, Spring.
GERST1230 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.

Full details for GERST 1230 - Expanding the German Dossier

Fall, Spring.
GERST1776 Elementary Yiddish I
Provides an introduction to reading, writing, aural comprehension, speaking and grammar, as well as to some of the basic elements of Ashkenazi Jewish culture.

Full details for GERST 1776 - Elementary Yiddish I

Fall.
GERST2000 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.

Full details for GERST 2000 - Germany: Intercultural Context

Fall, Spring.
GERST2020 Literary Texts and Contexts: The Myth of 1968
1968 marked a turning point in German history. Protesting students upended the social, cultural, and political order with a utopian vision of revolution that ended in a decade-long wave of domestic terrorist violence. This intermediate language course examines four primary texts in four different media (historical fiction, avant-garde film, popular music, multimedia art) that treat the myth of 1968. As we study these texts in historical context, we will expand our oral and written command of idiomatic German through systematic grammar review and enriched vocabulary practice.

Full details for GERST 2020 - Literary Texts and Contexts: The Myth of 1968

Fall.
GERST2040 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.

Full details for GERST 2040 - Perspectives on German Culture

Fall, Spring.
GERST2700 Introduction to German Culture and Thought
Big 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.  

Full details for GERST 2700 - Introduction to German Culture and Thought

Fall.
GERST3070 Challenge of Literary Language
Why 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.

Full details for GERST 3070 - Challenge of Literary Language

Fall.
GERST3350 Kafka in Context: Trials of Modernity
Focus on Kafka's literary, theatrical, political, historical, religious, personal and intellectual environment and its impact on his literary productions. Topics of discussion include: the individual versus hierarchical systems (state, law, bureaucracy);  the individual and the arts (music, theater, literature); writing between life and death; finding a home in language; the animal in the human; the body between pain and pleasure; writing between wars. Seminar will also explore Kafka's enormous impact on modern film, drama and literature. Readings include his short stories and one novel.

Full details for GERST 3350 - Kafka in Context: Trials of Modernity

Fall or Spring.
GERST3550 Political Theory and Cinema
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 discussions.

Full details for GERST 3550 - Political Theory and Cinema

Fall or Spring.
GERST3620 Introduction to Critical Theory
Shortly after the 2016 election, The New Yorker published an article entitled "The Frankfurt School Knew Trump was Coming." This course examines what the Frankfurt School knew by introducing students to Critical Theory, juxtaposing its roots in the 19th century (i.e., Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Freud) with its most prominent manifestation in the 20th century, the Frankfurt School (e.g., Kracauer, Adorno, Benjamin, Marcuse) alongside disparate voices (Arendt) and radical continuations (Davis, Zuboff, Weeks) as they engage with politics, society, culture, and literature (e.g. Brecht and Kafka).   Established in 1920s and continued in exile in the US during WWII, the interdisciplinary circle of scholars comprising the Frankfurt School played a pivotal role in the intellectual developments of post-war American and European social, political, and aesthetic theory: from analyses of authoritarianism and democracy to critiques of capitalism, the entertainment industry, commodity fetishism, and mass society. This introduction to Critical Theory explores both the prescience of these diverse thinkers for today's world ("what they knew") as well as what they perhaps could not anticipate in the 21st century (e.g., developments in technology, economy, political orders), and thus how to critically address these changes today.

Full details for GERST 3620 - Introduction to Critical Theory

Fall.
GERST4100 The Seminar
Topic: Hope in German Literature and Thought: Hope is an appeal to better futures. What creative strategies and critical thought does German literature make available for engaging hope in hard times in meaningful ways? From 17th-century mysticism to "concrete utopia" to Black German activism in contemporary Berlin, this course will examine a range of styles, aspirations, and concepts with which German literature from different historical periods configures hope in transformational relation to crises including war, disease, poverty, discrimination, dictatorship, exile, and more. Literary readings will involve work by authors reaching from Goethe, Lessing, Hebel, the Grimm Brothers, and Bettina von Arnim to Aichinger, Bachmann, Braun, Wolf, Klüger, Ayim, Otoo, Erpenbeck, Tawada, and Wenzel; some film and philosophy will also be discussed. Student research will further investigate diverse and complex relationships between German literature and hope in hard times.

Full details for GERST 4100 - The Seminar

Fall.
GERST4255 Freudo-Marxism: Theory and Praxis
Marx, never reading Freud, produced analysis of ideology and fetishism as class struggle; Freud, barely mentioning Marx, produced critique of socialism and communism. Freudo-Marxism began 1920s: Austria/Germany (Adler, Gross, Reich); Russia/USSR Bakhtin Circle (Vološinov). Subsequently: Fromm, Marcuse, Horkheimer, Adorno, Fanon, C. L. R. James, Lacan, Althusser, Timpanaro, Deleuze & Guattari, Derrida, Castoriadis, Kofman, Karatani, Žižek, Kordella, Butler—across frontiers. Recent titles: The Capitalist Unconscious (Tomsic), The Invention of the Symptom (Bruno), Marxism and Psychoanalysis (Pavon-Cuellar), Marxism in Latin America from 1909 to the Present (Löwy), Marx and Freud in Latin American Politics, Psychology, and Religion in Times of Terror (Bosteels), The Fetish Revisited: Marx, Freud, and the Gods Black People Make (Matory). We begin with Marx and Freud.

Full details for GERST 4255 - Freudo-Marxism: Theory and Praxis

Fall.
GERST4510 Independent Study
Undergraduate student and faculty advisor to determine course of study and credit hours.

Full details for GERST 4510 - Independent Study

Fall.
GERST4530 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.

Full details for GERST 4530 - Honors Research

Multi-semester course: (Fall, Spring).
GERST4540 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.

Full details for GERST 4540 - Honors Thesis

Fall, Spring.
GERST5070 Teaching German as a Foreign Language: Principles and Practices
Designed to familiarize students with current thought and theories in the field of applied linguistics and language pedagogy.  Introduces different models of foreign language approaches and discusses various practices for the foreign language classroom.  Special consideration is given to topics such as language acquisition progression, planning syllabi, creating tasks and projects, designing classroom tests, and evaluating students' performance.  Participants conduct an action research project.

Full details for GERST 5070 - Teaching German as a Foreign Language: Principles and Practices

Fall.
GERST6131 German Philosophical Texts
Reading, translation, and English-language discussion of important texts in the German philosophical tradition. Readings for a given term are chosen in consultation with students.

Full details for GERST 6131 - German Philosophical Texts

Fall, Spring.
GERST6255 Freudo-Marxism: Theory and Praxis
Marx, never reading Freud, produced analysis of ideology and fetishism as class struggle; Freud, barely mentioning Marx, produced critique of socialism and communism. Freudo-Marxism began 1920s: Austria/Germany (Adler, Gross, Reich); Russia/USSR Bakhtin Circle (Vološinov). Subsequently: Fromm, Marcuse, Horkheimer, Adorno, Fanon, C. L. R. James, Lacan, Althusser, Timpanaro, Deleuze & Guattari, Derrida, Castoriadis, Kofman, Karatani, Žižek, Kordella, Butler—across frontiers. Recent titles: The Capitalist Unconscious (Tomsic), The Invention of the Symptom (Bruno), Marxism and Psychoanalysis (Pavon-Cuellar), Marxism in Latin America from 1909 to the Present (Löwy), Marx and Freud in Latin American Politics, Psychology, and Religion in Times of Terror (Bosteels), The Fetish Revisited: Marx, Freud, and the Gods Black People Make (Matory). We begin with Marx and Freud.

Full details for GERST 6255 - Freudo-Marxism: Theory and Praxis

Fall.
GERST6310 Reading Academic German I
This course emphasizes the acquisition of reading skills in German, using a variety of prepared and authentic texts.  The follow-up course, GERST 6320 , Reading Academic German II, is offered in the spring.

Full details for GERST 6310 - Reading Academic German I

Fall.
GERST6340 German Romanticism
Notoriously difficult to define, romanticism emerged in the 1790s as a literary-philosophical movement that envisioned a revolutionary renewal of life and thought, premised on aesthetic autonomy, a preoccupation with "nature," the exploration of the unconscious, the "poetizing" of the everyday, and unfulfillable longing. In addition to examining the performative reflections of romantic poesy-poetics, we will track the vicissitudes of the movement itself, from its inception to its decline in the 1830s. Authors may include: Arnim, Brentano, Chamisso, Eichendorff, Fichte, Goethe, the Grimms, Herder, Hölderlin, Hoffmann, Kleist, Novalis, Jean Paul, Rousseau, Schelling, Caroline Schelling, the Schlegels, Dorothea Schlegel, Schleiermacher, Schubert, Tieck. Critical works include: Abrams, Adorno, Behler, Benjamin, Bohrer, de Man, Foucault, Frank, Haym, Hegel, Heidegger, Heine, Kittler, Lovejoy, Marcuse, Nancy & Lacoue-Labarthe.

Full details for GERST 6340 - German Romanticism

Fall.
GERST6960 Rites of Contact: Emergent German Literatures and Critical Method
New forms of German literature emerged in the wake of transnational labor migration, especially after 1989. Taking leave of a sociological model that interprets this literature only in terms of intercultural dialogue, this course juxtaposes prose fiction about cultural contact and critical theories of difference with two primary goals in mind. Students will be introduced to representative examples of contemporary German literatures of migration, and critical modes of conceptualizing cultural contact in Germany will be compared in relation to each other and in tension with the literary field. Focus on German literature of Turkish migration complemented by readings reflecting other transnational phenomena such as postsocialism, postcolonialism, globalization, refugees, world literature.

Full details for GERST 6960 - Rites of Contact: Emergent German Literatures and Critical Method

Fall.
GERST7530 Independent Study
Graduate student and faculty advisor to determine course of study and credit hours.

Full details for GERST 7530 - Independent Study

Fall.
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