Courses by semester

Courses for Fall 23

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.
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.
GERST1126 FWS: Philosophies of Violence: Conceptualizations of Force from Kant to Zizek
Violence is a complex concept with a nuanced history. Beginning with Kant and progressing through philosophers such as Friedrich Engels, Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt, this seminar will employ close readings of philosophical texts to explore how various conceptualizations of violence have shaped the political, religious, and scientific landscapes of modern life. In addition to learning this discrete body of knowledge, you will use weekly writing activities and assigned essays to develop your own critical voice. By semester's end you will have gained a critical eye towards the institutional dilemmas of contemporary life, and through those eyes you will be empowered with the voice to change it.

Full details for GERST 1126 - FWS: Philosophies of Violence: Conceptualizations of Force from Kant to Zizek

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.
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.
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

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, Kracauer, Benjamin.

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

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

GERST3320 Stories of Love: Joy and Heartbreak in German Literature
Love and its discontents, joys and drama in 200 years of German literature. Points of discussion: cultural, socio-economic, religious and societal constructions of love; love as affect, ideal and delusion.

Full details for GERST 3320 - Stories of Love: Joy and Heartbreak in German Literature

GERST3535 Science, Fiction, Media
From videophones to walkie-talkies, transatlantic tunnels to interstellar travel, or perpetual motion to wireless energy, science fiction frequently presents visions of the future based on radical media change. At the same time, classic works of media theory often read like science fiction: film is a "time machine"; audio recordings "bring the dead to life"; computer networks exist in "cyberspace;" electronic media spell the end of the "Gutenberg galaxy." Working with a variety of visual, acoustic, and print media, primarily from the German-speaking world, we will discuss the relationship between fantasy and ideology; problems of planning, staging, and coordinating world projects; changing evaluations of high and low culture; the discourse of "Americanization;" and critical studies of futurity.

Full details for GERST 3535 - Science, Fiction, Media

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

GERST3612 Remembering Socialism: Literature and Film After the End of History
More than thirty years after the end of the Soviet Union, we have the distance needed to view the twentieth-century state socialist project from a historical perspective--even as Cold War tropes are revived amid another major confrontation with Russia. In this course, we will analyze memoirs, historical fiction, films, and TV shows that look back at this period of history. How do the makers of these works use genre as a political as well as artistic tool? What are the political implications of comedy, cosplay, or melodrama when applied to communism? How does the portrayal of this period change as state socialism recedes into the distance? Texts from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Albania, the UK, and the United States.

Full details for GERST 3612 - Remembering Socialism: Literature and Film After the End of History

GERST4100 The Seminar
Fall 2023 Topic: What is Poetry? 

Full details for GERST 4100 - The Seminar

GERST4285 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.

Full details for GERST 4285 - Premodern Literature and Media

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

Full details for GERST 4510 - Independent Study

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 approaches 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

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.
GERST6230 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.

Full details for GERST 6230 - Aesthetic Turns: The Fin-de-Siecle

GERST6285 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.

Full details for GERST 6285 - Premodern Literature and Media

Fall or Spring.
GERST6740 German Critical Theory and American Radical Thought
This seminar explores the nexus of Frankfurt School Critical Theory and American Black and queer thought. While the legacy of the Frankfurt school (Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, Marcuse) is often traced forward to the work of Juergen Habermas and other contemporary Germans, there is another on-going and more radical legacy taking place in American Black and queer thought. This seminar will look at central texts of Critical Theory and their resonances (as both expansion and critique) in contemporary Black and queer thinking. We will create dialogues around themes such as: Adorno, Fumi Okiji, and Fred Moten on jazz & music; Bloch and José Estaban Muñoz on hope and utopia; Marcuse and Angela Davis on liberation; Adorno and Oshrat Silberbusch on the non-identical as resistance, etc.

Full details for GERST 6740 - German Critical Theory and American Radical Thought

GERST6780 Persecution and the Art of Writing
The title alludes to an essay by Leo Strauss, now modified and expanded beyond political philosophy to include literary and audio-visual media (past and present) and psychoanalysis. Persecution (via censorship or heterodoxy) is both externally imposed and internalized. Texts include selections from: Plato (Epistles and Republic); Dante (Inferno, Canto X, as read by Gramsci); Maimonides (Guide for the Perplexed); Boethius (Consolation of Philosophy); Machiavelli (as read by Strauss, by Gramsci, and by Althusser); Spinoza (Theological-Political Treatise); Hegel (as read by Marx); Lessing (Ernst and Falk on Freemasonry); also short selections from Nietzsche, Heidegger, Freud, Wittgenstein, and Emily Dickinson. Titles indicate related topics: Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing (A.M. Melzer); Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (R. Girard); The Masters of Truth in Archaic Greece (M. Detienne); The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative (F. Kermode); The Marrano of Reason (Y. Yovel); Secret Chromatic Art in the Netherlands Motet (E.E. Lowinsky); Gulliver's Travels (J. Swift); Paranoiac-Critical Method (S. Dali); The Third Policeman (F. O'Brien); Subliminal Psycho—  (A. Hitchcock); Awaiting Oblivion (M. Blanchot); and Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century (G. Marcus).

Full details for GERST 6780 - Persecution and the Art of Writing

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

Full details for GERST 7530 - Independent Study

GERST7531 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).

Full details for GERST 7531 - Colloquium