Courses by semester

Courses for

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.
GERST1118 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.

Full details for GERST 1118 - FWS: Let's Play!

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.
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.
GERST1777 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.

Full details for GERST 1777 - Elementary Yiddish II

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.
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.
GERST2060 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.

Full details for GERST 2060 - German in Business Culture

GERST2703 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, German Studies, Information Science, Literatures in English, 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.

Full details for GERST 2703 - Thinking Media

GERST3013 German Language Across the Curriculum (LAC)
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.

Full details for GERST 3013 - German Language Across the Curriculum (LAC)

Fall or Spring (offered on demand).
GERST3080 German Digital Culture
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).

Full details for GERST 3080 - German Digital Culture

GERST3310 Come Together: Public Spaces and German Culture
Privatization of public spaces, neoliberal individualism, separate communication bubbles, the virtualization of life in global lockdowns: these phenomena raise questions regarding the need to claim spaces and to assemble in embodied ways – practices that are essential for civil society and democracy. 

Full details for GERST 3310 - Come Together: Public Spaces and German Culture

Fall or Spring.
GERST3581 Imagining Migration in Film and Literature
What role should imaginative arts play in debates about transnational migration, one of the principal factors re-shaping community and communication today?  Focusing on literature and film from the late 20th and early 21st centuries, with primary examples drawn from Germany, France and the United States—in relation to Turkey, Hungary, Tunisia, Iran, Nigeria, China, Mexico, and Japan—this course explores how creative arts rework the fabric of social life affected by migration.  Seminar-style discussion of assigned readings and viewings, with occasional lectures on other arts and regions.  Thematic units organized around key concepts such as borders and movement, ethnoscapes and citizenship, reading and viewing, labor and leisure, cityscapes and place-making, mediascapes and personhood, lawfulness and illegality, language and speech, art and perception.   

Full details for GERST 3581 - Imagining Migration in Film and Literature

Fall or Spring.
GERST4210 Existentialism
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.

Full details for GERST 4210 - Existentialism

GERST4260 The Animal
In recent years literary representations and philosophical discussions of the status of the animal vis-à-vis the human have abounded.  In this course, we will track the literary phenomenology of animality.  In addition we will read philosophical texts that deal with the questions of animal rights and of the metaphysical implications of the "animal."  Readings may include, among others, Agamben, Aristotle, Berger, the Bible, Calvino, Coetzee, Darwin, Derrida, Descartes, Donhauser, Gorey, Haraway, Hegel, Heidegger, Herzog, Kafka, Kant, La Mettrie, de Mandeville, Montaigne, Nietzsche, Ozeki, Rilke, Schopenhauer, Singer, Sorabji, Sterchi, Stevens, de Waal, Wittgenstein, Wolfe.  A reading knowledge of German and French would be helpful.

Full details for GERST 4260 - The Animal

Fall or Spring.
GERST4520 Independent Study
Undergraduate student and faculty advisor to determine course of study and credit hours.

Full details for GERST 4520 - 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.
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.
GERST6175 Empathy: Affects and Sociality in Literature and Theory
Examination of affects at the intersections of aesthetics, ethics, politics, philosophy and psychoanalysis.  Points of inquiry: how are social feelings of empathy, solidarity and identification evoked in literature? Do we encounter different forms of empathy according to genre, type of narrative, social structures and historical context? How do literature, philosophy and psychoanalysis describe, support, nourish, undermine or construct concepts of sociality and social life with others? What affects are outside the social realm? What are the emotive forces of tragedy and trauma in theory and fiction?  Authors include: Aristotle, Burke, Lessing, Hegel, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Heidegger, Freud, Massumi, Goethe, Kleist, Balzac, Kafka, Walser, Thomas Mann, Dostojewsky.

Full details for GERST 6175 - Empathy: Affects and Sociality in Literature and Theory

GERST6320 Reading Academic German II
Emphasis on development of the specialized vocabulary of student's field of study.

Full details for GERST 6320 - Reading Academic German II

GERST6370 Nineteenth Century Fiction: Writing Revolution, 1830-1848
This German anchor course takes a close look at the crucial but often overlooked period "Vormärz" (1830-48) and its most representative, though loosely defined literary movement "Junges Deutschland." Writing after the deaths of both Goethe and Hegel, the authors under investigation arrive after "the end of the artistic period" (Heine), confronted at once with the specter of being epigones and the possibilities of a new, politically engaged literature. The course will discuss the emergence of different modes of political literature, both in canonical genres such as poetry and drama as well as in more intimate ones (the letter) and more public, popular ones (newspaper essays, travel reports). Taking explicit stands against the politically conservative restauration moving across Europe, the authors of the Vormärz experiment with the possibilities and limits of literature to form an oppositional force and to reshape societal ideas. Authors may include: Heinrich Heine, Ludwig Boerne, Betinna von Armin, Georg Buechner, Friedrich Hebbel, Karl Gutzkow, Annette von Drose-Hülshoff, Louie Aston, and Christian Diedrich Grabbe.

Full details for GERST 6370 - Nineteenth Century Fiction: Writing Revolution, 1830-1848

GERST6515 German Modernism
This anchor course focuses on major developments in the literature, media, and culture of German-speaking countries during the German Empire and the Weimar Republic. Topics to be discussed include the relationship between modernism, the avant-garde, and diverse forms of artistic engagement in the context of mass culture; the articulation of gender, class, and race in cultural politics; and the challenge to traditional notions of authorship, representation, mimesis, and textuality mounted by the proliferation of text-, sound-  and image-based mass media. Individual works will be drawn primarily from literature and film, with a special emphasis placed on key concepts that helped define artistic production at this time (Modernism, Expressionism, Dada, New Objectivity, Constructivism, montage, reportage, actuality, etc.).

Full details for GERST 6515 - German Modernism

Fall or Spring.
GERST6720 Futures in German Studies
With the end of the cold war and the growth of globalization, new questions and anxieties arise about "the future" in German culture and European life in an interconnected and precarious world, about utopia, hope, progress, optimism, potential, and predictability in public life, virtual worlds, and critical thought.  This historical juncture serves as a springboard to reflect on the analytical yield of "futurity" as a key concept for understanding German-speaking cultures over time, their contributions to intellectual history, and interdisciplinary German Studies in relation to the humanities and social sciences today. Selected readings are exemplary rather than comprehensive and focus on literature, philosophy, and critical theories of language and history. The future of German Studies will be one of the many "futures" to be discussed.  

Full details for GERST 6720 - Futures in German Studies

GERST6850 Gramsci and Cultural Politics
Intertwinement of Gramsci's pre-prison and prison writings with his legacy in subsequent political theory & praxis, philosophy, linguistics, architecture, and cinema. Criticism of his work from the Right also the Left (Autonomia Operaia, Red Brigades), the communist critique (Althusser) and anarchist Nihilist Communism (Monsieur Dupont). Situation of Gramsci in "Western Marxism" (Perry Anderson). Gramsci's Politics of Language as "engaging the Soviet Bakhtin Circle and the German Frankfurt School" (Peter Ives). Concepts of 'hegemony,' 'civil society,' 'war of position & war of maneuver,' 'organic vs. traditional intellectuals'—all via less Machiavelli than the "Modern Prince" (Gramsci) and "Machiavelli and Us" (Althusser). Gramsci's "little discovery" in Dante's Inferno as origin of Cultural Politics: Gramscian Architecture (Manfredo Tafuri), Painting Political Expressionism (Leonardo Cremonini), and international cinema.

Full details for GERST 6850 - Gramsci and Cultural Politics

GERST7540 Independent Study
Graduate student and faculty advisor to determine course of study and credit hours.

Full details for GERST 7540 - Independent Study

GERST7541 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 7541 - Colloquium