German Course Descriptions
- First-Year German: A Foundation Course
Full course for one year. This course introduces the student to all of the basic language skills in German. The teaching of grammar is always supplemented with cultural vignettes from German-speaking countries. Classroom activities include skits, poetry readings, film clips, and internet research. In order to employ the knowledge of German language and culture more creatively, the student will be asked to participate in a final project at the end of the academic year. Use of the language laboratory is part of the course. This course is reserved for students without a background in the language. Conference.
- Second-Year German: Cultural and Literary Perspectives
Full course for one year. The course is designed to develop an understanding of German language, culture, and literature through a variety of texts, class discussions, and written assignments. Course material is drawn from different fields. In addition to literature, we will include readings on history, art, philosophy, and current events from the media pertaining to the German-speaking countries. The communicative competence of students is developed in frequent discussions. One hour each week is spent in conversation tutorials. Students review grammar systematically throughout the year and use the language laboratory. Prerequisite: German 110 or 111 or placement by examination. Conference.
- Advanced German: Germany Today
Full course for one semester. This course explores contemporary issues in post-unification Germany through a variety of texts and other media. Readings include current debates in the German press, with topics such as the new German identity, Germany and the European Union, minorities and citizenship, political parties, and the crisis of the German economy. We will also focus on selected literary texts and recent films. Language skills will be enhanced through discussion and short weekly writing assignments. Prerequisite: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Full course for one semester. By the end of the nineteenth century, the metropolis had become a central force in the transformation of culture in Europe. This course traces various manifestations of Central European modernism in the context of three metropolitan centers, Berlin, Vienna, and Prague.
Modernism I: Berlin 1871–1929
Germany’s cultural transformation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is explored through works primarily by Berlin writers and artists. Various forms of modernism in the Wilhelminian and Weimar eras will be discussed through an interdisciplinary approach, with focus on literature, visual arts, music, film, and philosophy. The effect of the urban milieu on new aesthetic movements and representations of war are among the major issues to be discussed. Readings include works by Fontane, H. and Th. Mann, Holz, Schlaf, Simmel, Tönnies, Rosa Luxemburg, Brecht, and Döblin. Readings in German, discussion and papers in German and English. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 321. Not offered 2006-07.
Modernism II: Turn-of-the-Century Vienna and Prague, 1890–1918
The course explores the cultural transformation in Central Europe at the turn of the century. Impressionism, decadence, and aestheticism will be discussed as the predominant artistic modes of the epoch. The emergence of the “modern” in the late Habsburg Empire will be investigated through a broad spectrum of works, ranging from the literary movement
(Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal); texts by the Prague writers Rilke and Kafka; studies in psychoanalysis (Freud); essays, memoirs, and diaries (Broch, St. Zweig, Lou-Andreas Salomé); philosophical texts (Mach, Wittgenstein); music (Schoenberg); to the fine arts (Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka). Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet once a week in an extra seminar. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 321. Not offered 2006-07.
- Modern German Jewish Writers: Emancipation and Its Discontents
Full course for one semester. This course examines texts by modern German Jewish writers and thinkers, with a special emphasis on the period between 1900 and 1933. Often regarded as the culmination of a century-long process of emancipation and acculturation, this period is in fact marked by complex renegotiations of German/Austrian Jewish identity. Themes include gender and assimilation, exile and diaspora, racial antisemitism, Jewish “self-hatred,” representations of East European Jewry, and the aestheticization and politicization of Jewish traditions. The course concludes with a brief look at the post-Holocaust reinterpretation of the “German-Jewish symbiosis.” Readings from Lessing, Heine, Schnitzler, Kafka, Lasker-Schüler, Roth, Celan, Mendelssohn, Buber, Freud, Scholem, and Benjamin. Conducted in English. Students may arrange with the instructor to take the class for German credit. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 325. Not offered 2006-07.
- Discourse of Alterity
Full course for one semester. The course traces treatments of “das Fremde” in major philosophical and literary works of the German language from Romanticism to the present. Through selected texts by Hegel, Tieck, Kleist, Nietzsche, Simmel, Freud, Adorno and Gadamer, we will explore shifting definitions of alterity. We will then focus on the discourse of alterity in the contemporary literary scene in Germany. Readings include recent constructions of selfhood and otherness by German authors (H. Müller, B. Strauss, F.X. Kroetz, S. Lenz, and S. Nadolny) and by Turkish émigrés, such as Ören, Pazaraya, Özakin, and Senocak. Current theoretical approaches will complement the literary readings. Readings in German, discussion and papers in German and English. Prerequisite: German 311 or its equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
- Readings in Contemporary German Literature
Full course for one semester. This course offers several expeditions into the German-language literary imagination since the late 1980s. We will explore topics, such as the German unification, pop culture, exilic identities, remembrance, and contemporary myths. Texts include those by Brussig, Sparschuh, Schulze, Kracht, Senocak, Honigmann, Sebald, Hermann, and Bernhard. Themes and techniques of postfeminist writing will be examined in works by Jelinek and Erpenbeck. Conducted in German. Prerequisite: German 311 or its equivalent or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Story and History
Full course for one semester. This course explores the intimate connection between story and history in modern German culture. We will trace how history patterns personal experience and how narrative shapes historical understanding. Themes will include realism and everyday life, modernism and war trauma, the writing of monuments, and representations of Nazism and the Holocaust. Texts by Heinrich von Kleist, Theodor Storm, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin, Robert Musil, Thomas Mann, Ernst Jünger, Günter Grass, and W.G. Sebald. Films by Leni Riefenstahl, Rainer Maria Fassbinder, Edgar Reitz, and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg. Readings in German, discussion and papers in German and English. Prerequisite: German 331 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Exile: Theoretical and Literary Configurations
Full course for one semester. The course explores multifaceted experiences of exile represented in twentieth-century literature and theory. A small selection of film screenings complements textual analyses. Varying definitions of exile, ranging from catastrophe to a new state of freedom, will be discussed. We will examine the transformation of lived experience into literary themes and techniques. While emphasizing the heterogeneity of the approaches, we will also aim at establishing a working definition of an “aesthetics of exile.” Literary readings include works by Kafka, Nabokov, Bachmann, Ch. Wolf, Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, and Turkish expatriates in Germany. Studies of exile associated with the Frankfurt School, postcolonial theory, poststructuralism, and new feminist thought constitute the theoretical framework. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet once a week in an extra seminar. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 340.
- Literature and Love
Full course for one semester. The rise of the ideal of Romantic love around 1800 presented literary authors with a new question: can love, one of the oldest and most familiar of literary themes, be written about at all? How can we communicate feelings that in their intensity and specificity seem necessarily to elude verbalization? In this course, we will read a range of poems and stories that confront this question. We will analyze a bourgeois Enlightenment discourse on individuality and sexual difference that still influences contemporary conceptions of love. Finally, we will examine the creation of a new semantics of love in literary modernism. Literary readings by Lessing, Goethe, Kleist, Schlegel, Eichendorff, Keller, Benn, Rilke, Lasker-Schüler, Th. Mann, Kafka, Bachmann. Theoretical readings by Plato, Freud, Foucault, Luhmann, and others. Readings are in German, discussion and papers are in German and English. Prerequisite: German 311 or consent of the instructor.
- German Drama and Dramatic Theory: From Lessing to Brecht
Full course for one semester. Classics of the German and Austrian drama from the eighteenth to the twentieth century by writers such as Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Grillparzer, Büchner, Hebbel, Hauptmann, and Kaiser. Dramatic theory from the Enlightenment to Naturalism and Expressionism will be introduced. Students taking the course for German credit will meet separately to discuss the texts in the original. Conducted in English. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 351. Not offered 2006-07.
- The Modern German Novel
Full course for one semester. This course acquaints students with twentieth century novelists of the German language. Beginning with Kafka, we will trace various manifestations of the genre from the 1920s onward. Readings in the early twentieth century include works by Th. Mann, Broch, Musil, Rilke, and Hesse. We will then focus on representatives of the post–World-War-II novel, such as Frisch, Böll, Grass, and Ch. Wolf. Categories closely connected with the novelistic mode, such as irony, ambiguity, digression, and reflection, will be of major concern. Selected readings by Lukåcs, Todorov, Bakhtin, and Iser will provide the theoretical framework. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German credit will meet once a week in an extra seminar. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 354. Not offered 2006-07.
- The Holocaust and the Limits of Representation
Full course for one semester. Through a study of Holocaust film and literature, this course investigates the relations between history, trauma, and representation. How do authors and filmmakers describe events that shatter traditional forms of perception and comprehension? How do they portray human agency in an age of bureaucratically administered mass destruction? How do they relate history, memory, and imagination? We will study works from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds and explore a wide range of genres, including documentaries, diaries, novels, poetry, drama, comics, and feature films. Primary sources will include works by Primo Levi, Jean Amery, Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, Peter Weiss, Charlotte Delbo, Cynthia Ozick, Tadeusz Borowski, Aharon Appelfeld, Art Spiegelman, Alain Resnais, Claude Lanzmann. Conducted in English. Students may arrange with the instructor to take the class for German credit. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 358.
- The Idealist Revolution and Beyond
Full course for one semester. This seminar explores German Idealism’s unparalleled influence on the study of literature and the arts. Whether the topic is lyric poetry, mass culture, or the theory of history, scarcely anybody in today’s humanities proceeds without some engagement—implicit or explicit, positive or negative, intentional or unwitting—with the forms and figures of thought we find in Kant and his inheritors. Conducted in English. Students may arrange with the instructor to take the class for German credit. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 364. Not offered 2006-07.
- Studies in German Theory I: Frankfurt School Theory and Beyond
Full course for one semester. This class explores Romantic conceptions of poetic imagination and their importance for twentieth century debates about art and politics. We will focus on the relationship between literary and philosophical argument and on the implications of literary theory for Marxist discussion of ideology. Authors include Kant, Schlegel, Kleist, Marx, Brecht, Freud, Benjamin and Adorno. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German credit will meet in extra sessions. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 391.
- Studies in German Theory II: The Languages of War
Full course for one semester. This seminar explores the intimate relationship between literary discourses and languages of conquest and violence. We will focus on models of linguistic force, considering whether oratorical (if not political) authority rests on the power to declare war or peace. Authors will include Kant, Büchner, Marx, Lenin, Benjamin, Jünger, Joyce, Freud, Stein, Derrida, and George Bush Jr. Conducted in English. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 392. Not offered 2006-07.
- Seminar: Friedrich Schiller: Drama and Theory
Full course for one semester. We celebrate in 2005 the 200th anniversary of Schiller's death. His works, especially his dramas, made him a classic writer. We will begin the seminar with a "Storm and Stress" play,
Intrigue and Love
(1787) we will continue exploring Schiller's work through a series of history plays, including
(1800). Dramatic and literary theory will augment the readings. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet once a week in an extra seminar. Cross-listed as Literature 462. Not offered 2006-07.
One-half or full course for one year.
- Independent Study
One-half or full course for one semester. Prerequisite: approval of
instructor and division.
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