Archives of Undergraduate Course Descriptions

FALL 2013

GERM-UA153 - Techniques of Translation - Andrea Dortmann
This course introduces students to the history, theory, and practice of translation through German and English texts taken from a variety of cultural backgrounds. While engaging in the craft of translation first hand, students will encounter diverse contrastive grammatical, syntactical, and stylistic problems, thus gaining a deeper understanding of the German language. The course also stresses the acquisition of vocabulary and complex idiomatic structures necessary for effective reading comprehension as well as written expression. A background reader in English will familiarize students with historical and theoretical implications of translation.

Photocopies of primary texts in German (and English) to be translated will be distributed by the instructor. Materials may include newspaper and magazine articles; recipes; TV- and print advertisements; scientific and philosophical articles; pop material such as hip hop and rap songs, cartoons; Literary texts: prose, theater, poetry, libretti, among others. In addition to those weekly translation assignments, which will be critically assessed in class, we will translate one or more longer prose texts (TBD) from German to English as a class. This work will accompany our course throughout the semester.


GERM-UA111
- Conversation/Composition: Taking Sides in Berlin - A Century of Debates in and about a Divided City - Chadwick Smith

The course follows Berlin’s course through the tumultuous 20th century, in which Berlin can rightfully be said to have played the central, starring role. By attending to a series of representative and debates and divisions that came to define the century, we will tour a city riven by the forces of industrialization and rapid growth, torn asunder by war, physically divided in two during the cold war, and finally reunified to emerge as a multicultural world capital. When possible, we will trace the historical public and private divisions forward to the forms they take in contemporary Berlin, a magnet for an international creative class and setting for very contemporary debates over memorialization, race and ethnicity, and art. Toward this goal, we will engage with and comment upon them through the lens of news and entertainment media.

We will work with a variety of written (short stories, poetry, newspaper articles, feuilleton, and a novel) and visual sources including film, visual art, and architecture and design. At the same time, we will learn to write in various genres such as the news report, commentary or feuilleton, and film or book review. Toward these goals, we will also address the development of the various media’s role in society, and the way in which changing media technologies affect interaction with culture and language.

Conversation and Composition is designed for students with a solid grasp on German grammar and vocabulary who wish to extend their knowledge of German language, history, politics, and culture, through reading, discussion, and writing. All readings, discussion, and written work for the course will be in German. We will work on refining written and spoken expression with particular focus on the ability to articulate opinions, exchange substantive information, and argue points of view; developing analytic and interpretive writing skills; and expanding students’ linguistic toolkit. A thorough grammar review will thus necessarily be part of our work.

GERM-UA244 - German Intellectual Tradition: Literature, the Sciences & Philosophy: Kepler to Kleist - Christiane Frey
How did the sciences, philosophy, and literature interact and influence one another on the way to becoming the discrete pursuits they are today? This course will approach this question by tracing a series of entanglements that challenge our sense of what knowledge is. We will explore, for example, why Kepler wrote a dream narrative to promote his scientific discoveries; how Leibniz’s philosophy was shaped by the microscope and romances; how the modern novel aligns with statistics. We will retrace the birth of a new science called “aesthetics,” investigate how Goethe’s affinity to chemistry changed his way of writing, and discuss how the romantic concept of science might question our idea of the humanities and the sciences as “two cultures.” Finally, we will ask how all these “cases” are connected and what they tell us about the distinctions we rely on to produce knowledge.


GERM-UA366 -
20th Century Prose: Women’s Voices from Germany and Austria
- Alys George
This course introduces you to prose works by a selection of the most influential 20th-century women writers from Germany and Austria (among them Lou Andreas-Salomé, Anna Seghers, Ingeborg Bachmann, Christa Wolf, and the Nobel Prize-winners Elfriede Jelinek and Herta Müller). We consider what constitutes Frauenliteratur, “women’s writing,” but also think through major historical topics of the past century as represented in literary texts by female authors. These include: the role of women at the fin de siècle; the New Woman in the Weimar Republic; life under National Socialism; women’s roles in post-WWII reconstruction; gender roles in the Communist bloc; the women’s liberation movement; immigrant and minority discourses; and the status of gender and sexuality as reflected by contemporary media. Genres covered will include autobiography, short story, novella, and novel.


GERM-UA283 - Topics: The Portrait - Christopher Wood
A portrait is a depiction or description of a real individual. Portraiture faces a series of conceptual challenges: how much information is necessary to secure reference to the portrayed person? how is the effect of likeness achieved? what is, in the end, “individual” about a human being? All cultures in all times have produced portraits. Portraiture reveals how a culture thinks about persons, selves, and souls. Some portraits are also works of art; how does this change the game? The seminar will approach a wide range of examples, pictorial and textual, from a variety of perspectives. Topics will include: portraits of holy men and women (icons); tomb portraits; portrait photography; portraits and the state (royal effigies, defamatory portraits, ID cards); verbal portraits; the portrait as a theme in fiction; biography and autobiography; portraits and the performance of self; studio models.

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GERM-UA999 – Senior Honors Seminar -
Alys George & Leif Weatherby


GERM-UA501 – Honors Thesis -
Alys George & Leif Weatherby   

SPRING 2013

GERM-UA152 - Introduction to Literature - Arne Hoecker
This course has two major goals: (1) to introduce students to a selection of representative authors and exemplary texts of literature written in German language from the 18th to the 20th century and (2) to develop close and critical reading skills while learning to express yourselves about literary texts in German, both in writing and in speaking. Covering the three major literary genres – poetry, prose, drama – some of the following issues will be discussed: the depiction of otherness; the representation of time and history; the uncanny; the relationship between form and content; the economy of human relationships on the basis of hierarchy, love, authority, among others. All readings in German.

GERM-UA185 - Introduction to German Poetry: Das Ich und das Ding -
Leif Weatherby

This course introduces the long tradition of German lyric poetry. Lyric is usually associated with the sentimental and experiential subject, longing for the completeness of nature or the embrace of a lover. The lyric subject, however, is constantly confronted by a world of things, and these things are inflected by the gender of the poet. From the thing-like nature of the beloved in niedere (but also ebeneMinne in the medieval tradition to the “thing-poems” of Rainer Maria Rilke to the eviscerated and partial objects of Paul Celan, lyric reveals itself as the genre of the (gendered) subject in a world of objects. We will read poems from one female and one male poet in five periods: Medieval (Hildegard von Bingen, Walter von der Vogelweide); Early Modern (Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg, Andreas Gryphius); Romanticism (Karoline von der Günderrode, Friedrich Hölderlin); Modernism (Else Lasker-Schüler, Rainer Maria Rilke); and post-WWII (Ingeborg Bachmann; Paul Celan). Throughout the German lyric corpus, we will ask ourselves, what is an “I”? To whom and to what gender does this “I” belong? And how is it mediated by the thing-world? All readings in German.

GERM-UA240 - Marx, Nietzsche, Freud -
Arne Hoecker

This course examines the work of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, three German authors who in different and decisive ways provided a radically new understanding of the notions of interpretation, history, the subject, politics, religion, and art. The purpose of this course is to provide a comprehensive engagement with and a dialogue between these three thinkers. The seminar underscores their prevailing actuality and thereby strives to delineate the origin of much modern thinking.

GERM-UA347 - German Enlightenment: Vernunft und Schrecken
- Leif Weatherby

The German “Enlightenment” was and is a controversial hybrid. The growth of communications technologies across Europe put the fragmented German-speaking lands into self-perceived cultural, scientific, and philosophical competition and dialogue with other European nations. In literature, poets from Albrecht von Haller to Gotthold Ephraim Lessing to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe struggled to establish a “German” paradigm to match the philosophical and poetic cultures in France, England, and Scotland. From the start, they maintained the combination of literature, philosophy, and science, often mixing these apparently distinct spheres for the purposes of fostering a unified “nation.” This course looks at Enlightenment as a cross-disciplinary attempt to fashion a culture of “reason,” and asks a question: how does reason deal with its weightiest uncanny counterpart, terror? Starting with Newton and Leibniz, we will read the philosophical-aesthetic debates of the 1740s (Bodmer, Gottsched, von Haller), the attempt at Germanification of tragedy as a philosophical form of literature in the 1750s (Lessing, Mendelssohn, Nicolai), and the late but leading Enlightener Immanuel Kant and his natural-scientific counterpart, Johann Blumenbach. We will also discuss such reactions to “Enlightenment” as Wieland’s “sensibility” (Empfindsamkeit) movement, the Storm and Stress (Sturm und Drang), Lavater’s Physiognomie, and Winckelmann's as well as Goethe's and Schiller’s classicism. Throughout, we will see how the emergent hybrid “reason” confronts political and aesthetic (and even natural-scientific) terrors, and how it—perhaps—produces some of its own. All readings in German

GERM-UA283
(This course originates in History- cross-listed as HIST-UA 283) - The Origin of Humanity: History of a Modern Obsession - Stefanos Geroulanos
In its attempt to reexamine and reinterpret the sources and consequences of human knowledge, the Enlightenment irrevocably displaced the widely accepted biblical explanation of the origin of man, his creation in the image and resemblance of God. With this displacement was born, or reborn, a
largely new set of questions: Where does man come from? What was early humanity like? How has mankind changed or progressed since those early times? How long ago were those early times? Did culture proper emerge in Greece? In India? At a historical fount of races and nations? In “primitive”
culture? Which origin should be taken most seriously—that of the human species, or that of modern culture? Were the “early times” a kind of utopia that needs to be recaptured? And given change and progress, where is mankind today, and where is it going? What would be the effect of seeking to
reconstitute, to bring about, a society based on this origin?

These questions, and the history of the answers offered to them, will be at the heart of our course. At its most general level, the course is an introduction and overview of major themes in modern European intellectual history, focusing on the modern obsession with re-divining and often re-living
the origins of man. We will be concerned with both philosophical texts and scientific efforts to identify and clarify this origin, with the political implications of such origins, and not least with efforts to identify who (which discipline? which political party?) should have authority for determining and using “the origin.” We will read some of the crucial texts in the period from the 1750s to the 1960s, tracing the answers offered by philosophers, anthropologists, biologists, linguists, and poets.

FALL 2012

GERM-UA455 - Goethe - Arne Höcker
This course offers insight into one of the big shots of German literature: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) is the icon of the bourgeois artist and universal genius, an Enlightenment philosopher, a researcher of nature, a poet, and a minister in the state of Weimar. This course will examine Goethe as the pivotal literary figure of his time. We will read and discuss Goethe’s prose, poetry, and dramatic work from the late Enlightenment through storm and stress to classicism and beyond. In addition, we will acquaint ourselves with Goethe’s autobiographic and scientific writings.

GERM-UA145 - Viennese Modernism: Love, Madness, Death - Alys George

This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the culture of turn-of-the-century Vienna, one of the birthplaces of twentieth-century modernism. The works of Austrian writers, artists, architects, composers, and thinkers will be studied against the backdrop of the political and social climate of the Habsburg monarchy’s final years. Works from a wide variety of fields—including literary texts (poetry, prose, and drama), film, music, art, architecture, philosophy, and psychology—form the core of this course.

We will consider how cultural production is both shaped by and reflects its historical context. Figures we will engage with include Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Gustav Klimt, Arnold Schönberg, Gustav Mahler, Adolf Loos, Theodor Herzl, and Berta Zuckerkandl. This course is a 100-level, post-intermediate course in German, which will also focus on language acquisition at the advanced level. A portion of the course will involve visits to museums in New York.

GERM-UA111 - Conversation and Composition: Von Geistern, Gespenstern und anderen merkwürdigen Gestalten/Of ghosts and other curious creatures (taught in German) - Andrea Dortmann
Conversation & Composition is designed for students with a solid grasp of German grammar and vocabulary who wish to extend their knowledge of the German language, history, and culture through reading, discussion, and writing. Conversation & Composition is a reading and writing intensive course. Emphasis will be placed on refining written expression and developing the ability to discuss and argue opinions, as well as a thorough review of grammar.        

This course explores the fascination with ghosts, ghostly apparitions, and haunted scenes in the arts from the 1800s to today in a variety of genres: narrative prose, poetry, theater, film, maybe opera, paintings/photos, music, popular culture, etc. Authors will include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich von Kleist, Johann Peter Hebel, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Theodor Storm, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Marie-Luise Kaschnitz, Yoko Tawada, Inka Parei, among others. The question why we are fascinated by the scientifically inexplicable and how it was treated in the arts to this day will accompany us throughout the semester.

Please don’t be scared.

GERM-UA244 - German Intellectual Tradition: Do the Revolution: German Culture and Revolutionary Violence - Leif Weatherby
Germany has never had a successful revolution. Its culture, however, has been obsessed with violence and systemic political change from Luther to the violent leftist groups of the Federal Republic. The external and passive revolutions that dissolved the feudal system in Germany led the poet Hölderlin to call the Germans “thought-rich and deed-poor.” This course will make a positive of what Marx called the “German Ideology,” focusing on the productive anxieties of a figure of fascination: revolutionary violence. Starting with Luther’s rejection of the Peasants’ War, we will consider the French Revolution among the Romantics, the revolutions of 1848 among the Young Hegelians and Marx, the Russian revolutions among the Expressionists, violence and art in and around National Socialism, and the anti-capitalist violence of the RAF and the Baader-Meinhof Group, among others. We will finish the course with theoretical considerations of the meaning of revolution in contemporary geopolitics. Authors include: Luther, Hegel, Kleist, Marx, Luxemburg, Toller, Jünger, Fassbinder, and Zizek.

SPRING 2012

GERM-UA.133 - German Culture 1890 - 1989: German/Jewish: Negotiating Identity in Post-1945 Literature & Culture - Alys George
This course explores how authors of Jewish heritage in Germany and Austria have probed the boundaries of identity after 1945. By introducing students to a range of critical questions and forms of cultural production, the course aims is to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of German-Jewish and Austrian-Jewish experience and their contemporary representations.

Central questions will include: can “Jewishness,” “Germanness,” or “Austrianness” be defined? What constitutes “Jewish writing”? How are Jewish identity, experience, and culture “translated” into literature and film? How do Jewish authors perceive their role in contemporary German and Austrian society and public discourse? What role do the remembrance of the past (in particular, of the Shoah), the politics of the present, and day-to-day minority experiences play in public/political discourse and cultural production?

This questioning is set against the background of the exclusions and atrocities that shaped German and Austrian society and their relation to those deemed ‘other’ in the twentieth century.
The course will cover topics such as autobiography and exile, language and gender, memory and “postmemory” in the cultural production of writers of Jewish heritage in the German language. Written and visual texts by first-generation survivors such as Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, Ilse Aichinger, Edgar Hilsenrath, and Ruth Klüger, as well as by second-generation writers like Barbara Honigmann, Doron Rabinovici, Maxim Biller, and Esther Dischereit form the core of the course. These texts will be discussed in connection with theoretical approaches. Genres will include poetry, drama, autobiography and memoir, short stories, non-fiction, the novel, and film.

GERM-UA.152 – Introduction to German Literature -Arne Hoecker
This course has two major goals: (1) to introduce students to a selection of representative authors and exemplary texts of literature written in German language from the 18th to the 20th century and (2) to develop close and critical reading skills while learning to express yourselves about literary texts in German, both in writing and in speaking. Covering the three major literary genres – poetry, prose, drama – some of the following issues will be discussed: the depiction of otherness; the representation of time and history; the uncanny; the relationship between form and content; the economy of human relationships on the basis of hierarchy, love, authority, among others.

GERM-UA244 – German Intellectual Tradition: The Failure of Human Dignity - Chadwick Smith
During the long 19th century, literature and philosophy informed the Enlightenment project of human freedom and emancipation while simultaneously staging its failure. Starting with Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) and taking the notion of the “perplexities” of modern human rights as a guiding framework, we will read canonical 19th-century German literary texts from Goethe to Kafka and place them into dialog with theoretical and philosophical reflections from the 19th and 20th centuries (Hegel, Marx, Ranciere, Agamben) in order to explore the problems inherent both within human rights and in defining the category of the human itself.

GERM-UA.397 – Topics in 19th Century Literature: Literature and Criminality - Arne Hoecker
This course will focus on 19th century German literature by examining the various intersections between cultural, social and scientific discourse. We will study literary representations of crime from Romanticism to Realism and Naturalism, looking at questions of form, genre, and narrativity. In addition, we will confront these literary representations with judicial and psychological definitions of criminality, and study their interrelation at the level of narrative strategies invoked in the portrayal of the criminal

FALL 2011

GERM-UA.0111 - Conversation and Composition – Berlin: Metropolis & Metamorphosis - Alys George
Conversation and Composition is designed for post-intermediate students of German with a solid grasp of German grammar and vocabulary who wish to expand on their knowledge of the German language, history, and culture through reading, discussion, and writing. Conversation and Composition is a reading, writing, and speaking intensive course. Emphasis will be placed on refining written and spoken expression, with particular focus on the ability to articulate opinions, exchange substantive information, and argue points of view; developing analytic and interpretive writing skills; and encouraging flexibility of expression. In addition, a thorough grammar review will be part of our work.

If Walter Benjamin called Paris the capital of the nineteenth century, Berlin was in many ways the capital of the twentieth century. The city became a stage for remarkable shifts and ruptures that occurred between 1900 and 2000, and this course explores a century of radical cultural, historical, and political change. Berlin was, by turns, imperial capital; hothouse for the Weimar Republic’s avant-garde impulses; National Socialism’s imagined “Germania”; post-World War II divided city; Cold War capital of the GDR; and, today, capital of a reunified Germany.

We will take a cultural studies approach to twentieth-century Berlin and learn how to effectively “read” and interpret textual and visual materials. This course is designed to be interdisciplinary, so we will work with a variety of written genres (poetry, short stories, novel, journalistic non-fiction), visual art, architecture, and film. Authors will include Walter Benjamin, Alfred Döblin, Inge Deutschkron, Stefan Heym, Christa Wolf, Peter Schneider, Katja Lange-Müller, Durs Grünbein, Monika Maron, Zafer Senocak, and Wladimir Kaminer. Film materials will include Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt [1927], Berlin Alexanderplatz, Die Mörder sind unter uns, Der Himmel über Berlin, Sonnenallee, Berlin: Sinfonie einer Großstadt [2002], and Das Leben der Anderen.

GERM-UA.0153 - Techniques of Translation - Andrea Dortmann
This course introduces students to the history, theory, and practice of translation through German and English texts taken from a variety of cultural backgrounds. While engaging in the craft of translation first hand, students will encounter diverse contrastive grammatical, syntactical, and stylistic problems, thus gaining a deeper understanding of the German language. The course also stresses the acquisition of vocabulary and complex idiomatic structures necessary for effective reading comprehension as well as written expression. A background reader in English will familiarize students with historical and theoretical implications of translation.
Photocopies of primary texts in German (and English) to be translated will be distributed by the instructor. Materials include newspaper and magazine articles; recipes; TV- and print advertisements; scientific and philosophical articles; pop material such as hip hop and rap songs, cartoons; Literary texts: prose, theater, poetry, libretti, among others. In addition to those weekly translation assignments, which will be critically assessed in class, we will translate a longer prose text (TBD) from German to English as a class. This work will accompany our course throughout the semester

GERM-UA.0244 - The Age of angst: German and Austrian Intellectual History, 1890-1939 - Alys George
This course explores the profound sense of crisis, uncertainty, and anxiety that pervaded German and Austrian experience in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The era’s radical changes—among them the traumas of war, rapid industrialization and urbanization, shifting gender roles, and the political and economic instability of the interwar years—seemed to shake the very bedrock upon which society had been built. The intellectual and aesthetic responses to this pervasive sense of angst and upheaval, as well as the challenges and changes themselves, form the focus of this course. We will reflect in depth on how the intellectual impulses informed aesthetic innovation as we explore the meaning and nature of modernity and crisis in early twentieth-century Germany and Austria. Readings will include Nietzsche, Freud, Loos, Simmel, Weber, Benjamin, Heidegger, and Kracauer.

GERM-UA.0366 - 20th Century Prose: Miniatures of Modernity from Nietzsche to Benjamin - Arne Höcker
German and Austrian writers from the turn of the century to the Weimar Republic experimented with genres of short prose as a privileged literary form to express philosophical thought and cultural criticism. Through close readings of German short prose pieces from Nietzsche’s aphorisms to Kafka’s parables, and Benjamin’s thought-images (Denkbilder), this course explores the thresholds between image and text, intuition and reflection, literature and philosophy. Other modernist authors to be read include Hofmannsthal, Robert Walser, Döblin, Benn, Musil, and Broch.

SPRING 2011

V51.0133 - German Culture 1890-1989: Fantasy & Fiction - Viola Kolarov
This course explores 20th century German culture, literature, and media. We will focus on the metropolis as allegory of modern experience. Topics include literary heritage, architecture, philosophy, and major 20th century genres: autobiography, utopia/dystopia, sci-fi, and crime drama. An emphasis will be placed on refining written expression, honing listening and reading skills, as well as a review of grammar.

V51.0152 - Introduction to German Literature - Paul Buchholz
This course has two major goals: (1) to introduce students to a selection of representative authors and exemplary texts of literature written in German language from the 18th to the 20th century and (2) to develop close and critical reading skills while learning to express yourselves about literary texts in German, both in writing and in speaking. Covering the three major literary genres – poetry, prose, drama – some of the following issues will be discussed: the depiction of otherness; the representation of time and history; the uncanny; the relationship between form and content; the economy of human relationships on the basis of hierarchy, love, authority, among others.

V51.0240 – Marx, Nietzsche, Freud - Paul Fleming
This course introduces students to the work of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, three German-language authors who in different and decisive ways provided radically new understandings of economics, philosophy, and the psyche. Writing from the mid-19th century through the 1930s, the three thinkers placed their indelible stamps on reformulating modern notions of the state, the subject, knowledge, and the mind. The purpose of this course is to provide a comprehensive engagement with the writings of Marx, Nietzsche and Freud by bringing them into dialogue with each other. That is, rather than reading the three authors chronologically, the course is organized around six topoi – interpretation, history, subjectivity, politics, religion, and art – in which a paradigmatic text from each author is read. The seminar underscores their prevailing actuality and thereby strives to delineate the origin of much modern thinking.


V51.0253 – Topics in German Cinema: Faust and Film - Viola Kolarov
The course offers an overview of the theoretical responses to J. W. Goethe's "Faust I and II" and the philosophy of tragedy. We will examine a large body of cinematic work that re-releases the component parts of Goethe's literary experiment. The course serves as an introduction to German studies, media studies, and psychoanalysis. In English

V51.0488 – Seminar on 20th Century Authors: Ingeborg Bachmann - Paul Buchholz
The Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973) composed a striking array of provocative writing across a variety of literary genres.  Her work voices a deep discomfort the conventional operations of language, but also continually revisits the hope that writing can bring about changes in the world.  From her early poetry and stories to her later work on the uncompleted “Todesarten” novel-cycle, Bachmann offers reflections on a vast array of interwoven concerns: remembrance of and opposition to war, the nature of time and historical experience, the making of feminine the voice, economic inequality and the persistence of fascist structures within the family, the limits and possibilities of the individual voice.  Moreover, Bachmann's multi-voiced writing engages in an intense dialogue with major 20th century philosophers of history and time (Walter Benjamin and Martin Heidegger).  We will begin with a study of Bachmann's poetry before moving on to radio plays, short stories,
lectures on poetics, and one uncompleted novel.

FALL 2010

V51.0111 - Conversation and Composition: Tatorte/Crime Scenes-Andrea Dortmann
Conversation & Composition is designed for post Intermediate students of German with a solid grasp of German grammar and vocabulary who wish to extend their knowledge of the German language, history, and culture through reading, discussion, and writing. Conversation & Composition is a reading and writing intensive course. Emphasis will be placed on refining written expression and developing the ability to express, discuss, and argue opinions. In addition, a thorough review of grammar will be part of our work.

This course explores narratives about crimes and crime scenes from the 1800s to today in a variety of genres: narrative prose, poetry, theater, film, TV series, paintings/photos,  among others. Authors will include E.T.A. Hoffmann, Franz Kafka, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Bertolt Brecht, Andrea Maria Schenkel, Feuerbach and others. Questions of guilt, social and historical underpinnings of crime stories, motives for crime, and the fascination with solving riddles will accompany us throughout the semester.

While engaging in the topic of crimes, we will work on writing and speaking skills and hopefully also write our own crime or detective story. So don’t be scared.

V51.0132 – German Culture, Politics & Society - Paul Buchholz
Spectres of 1968: Afterlives of Political and Social Revolt

In German culture, the year 1968 continues to haunt, irritate and inspire as a time when society was supposed to change, suddenly and utterly.   The utopian and anti-war student movements of 1960s West Germany emerged amongst a wide array of "alternative" ideas of political action, cultural expression, historical remembering and communal living. 

To explore the diversity of these ideas, we will embark on close and thoughtful readings of a variety of written and visual materials, including films, political essays, newspaper articles, songs, poetry, ethnography, one short novel and a theatre piece.  Authors will include Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Ingeborg Bachmann, Peter Weiss, Peter Schneider, the activist Rudi Dutschke, and Peter Handke.  Our explorations will carry us through the 1970s and 80s, into the present, with study of the alternative communities in the Kreuzberg neighborhood in Berlin, and recent mainstream "political" films that look back to the "lost chances" in German cultural history.

In parallel to our readings, we will work to refine analytic and interpretive writing in German through regular written assignments and a final paper.  This  course is designed for students with a solid grasp of basic German grammar and vocabulary,  and will expand flexibility of expression in German through ongoing and creative dialogue with the many voices that speak about, and from within, a time of "revolt."

V51.0220 – Intro to German Thought & Culture - Elke Siegel 
German thinkers and artists have exerted a profound influence upon the history of philosophy, aesthetics, literature, and science. This course aims not only at providing an introduction to crucial periods and events in German cultural history since the Enlightenment, but also at familiarizing you with some of the most important figures in modern intellectual and aesthetic history. The philosophies of Kant and Nietzsche, the music of Mozart and Wagner, the literary contributions of Lessing, Goethe, Fontane, and Brecht as well as the art movements of Dada and Bauhaus will serve as the basis for a discussion of the complex constellation of “Kultur,” politics, and power in the German intellectual tradition.

V51.0298 – Topics in 20th Century Lit:  Playing & Reality: Hamlet in German Letters - Viola Kolarov
The course offers an overview of the German reception of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" with an emphasis on its impact on 20th century thought. We will consider general theoretical questions of translation in the German context, the psychoanalytic paradigm of transference, ghostly transmission, film and media responses, and common grounds between the German and Anglo-American traditions. The course will serve as introduction to German thought, comparative methods, psychoanalysis, and media analysis.

V51.0488 – Rilke’s Lyrical Poetry - Eckart Goebel 
This class is conceived to provide an introduction to the universe of Rilke’s Lyrical Poetry. By means of measured and careful close readings we will follow the trajectory of Rilke’s oeuvre, from the early poems to the late Duino Elegies. Since Rilke excelled in many different forms and meters, this seminar also serves as an introduction to “Verslehre,” including the study of random phenomena like the prose poem. A special emphasis will be put on Rilke’s theory of “things” as well on his art of description.

V51.0999 – Senior Honors Seminar - Paul Fleming

SPRING 2010

V51.0152 - Introduction to German Literature -Eckart Goebel
This course has two major goals: (1) to introduce students to a selection of representative authors and exemplary texts of literature written in German language from the 18th to the 20th century and (2) to develop close and critical reading skills while learning to express yourselves about literary texts in German, both in writing and in speaking. Covering the three major literary genres – poetry, prose, drama – some of the following issues will be discussed: the depiction of otherness; the representation of time and history; the uncanny; the relationship between form and content; the economy of human relationships on the basis of hierarchy, love, authority, among others.

V51.0133 - German Culture 1890-1989: Fantasy & Fiction - Viola Kolarov
This course explores 20th century German culture, literature, and media. We will focus on the metropolis as allegory of modern experience. Topics include literary heritage, architecture, philosophy, and major 20th century genres: autobiography, utopia/dystopia, sci-fi, and crime drama. An emphasis will be placed on refining written expression, honing listening and reading skills, as well as a review of grammar.

V51.0253 - German Cinema: Crypto-fetishism and the Postwar Film - Viola Kolarov
We will focus on the psychoanalytic definition and evolution of the concept of the fetish by examining the psychological effects of war on filmmaking in Germany and beyond. As a product of trauma the techno-fetish contains a record of failed mourning and a blueprint of group formation. We will base our readings and discussion of psychoanalytic, philosophical, and literary texts on postwar film made in the Federal Republic and Hollywood.

V51.0216 - Scoring Literature: The Drug Culture -Avital Ronell 
This course is taught in English and originates in the Comparative Literature Department and is crosslisted with the German Department. As a way to get access to some of the most vital aspects of comparative literature and German as fields, this course will explore the role of addiction, pharmacology, intoxication, and poison in fiction, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. Our readings will take us to places where the motifs linked to drug cultures are often concealed or repressed. During the course of the semester we will take a close look at the pharmacodependency with which literature has been associated historically--as sedative, as cure, as escape conduit or euphorizing substance, as mimetic poisoning. In the cases of Baudelaire, Flaubert and James Joyce the literary text was legally treated as a drug and run off the market by outraged judges. We will analyze the legal documents that first declared these literary works illicit, and then turned around those decisions.

Some of the questions that will be raised in class discussion include: What is the relation of literature to law? How does the literary work become a medical problem? Why has fiction been identified as part of a self-destructive drive? What are the rhetorical strategies that render the poetic word, since the time of Plato, socially inadmissible? We will read the relevant stimulants and works of Kant, Heidegger, Derrida in philosophy, Freud and Lacan on destructive pleasure, and explore the terrains opened up by Thomas De Quincey's "Confessions of an Opium Eater" to Flaubert's "Madame Bovary," and Boroughs' and Dennis Coopers' works to see how imaginary worlds collide with acts of legal and social policing. Prepare for the intellectual rush of a lifetime!

V51.0488 – Seminar on 20th Century Authors: Bertolt Brecht -Elke Siegel 
Bertolt Brecht’s profound and influential work as a poet and dramatist, as theater director and theorist of the ‘epic theater’, as writer for radio and film encapsulates history, political or literary-aesthetic, of the 20th century, affording a unique perspective on the pervasive question of the relationship between politics and art. Having celebrated his first successes in the Weimar Republic, Brecht’s major dramatic works were written in exile, while upon his return to the GDR Brecht, with the Berlin Ensemble, was able to realize a style of theatrical performance which is influential to this day.

The course aims, 1) to give an overview of Brecht’s work in different genres – prose, poetry, drama, theory – ranging from the beginnings in the Weimar Republic to the 1950s; 2) to touch upon trends and figures influencing Brecht (e.g., the comedian Karl Valentin, avant-garde theater director Erwin Piscator, mass sports events); and 3) to discuss the profound influence Brecht has exerted on literature and theater (e.g., the dramatist and theater director Heiner Müller).

FALL 2009

V51.0111 - Conversation/Composition: Berlin - Elke Siegel
Conversation & Composition is designed for students with a solid grasp on German grammar and vocabulary who wish to extend their knowledge of the German language, history, politics, and culture through reading, discussion and writing. Conversation & Composition is a writing intensive course.
This course explores German culture, literature, and politics from the Weimar Republic to the fall of the Wall and unification (1917-1990s) through an examination of the city of Berlin. Topics include: the question of the metropolis; the Weimar Republic; the Nazi dictatorship; rebuilding Berlin; two Berlins; 1968; multiculturalism; the fall of the wall. An emphasis will be placed on refining written expression, honing listening and reading skills, developing the ability to discuss and argue opinions, as well as a thorough review of grammar. We will work with a selection of written and visual narratives, including literature (e.g., Döblin, Enzensberger, Delius, Brussig, Wolf, Özdamar, Lange-Müller), historical, political and sociological texts (e.g., Georg Simmel, Rudi Dutschke), journals, newspaper accounts, official documents, architecture, and films/film clips (Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt, Menschen am Sonntag, M, Kuhle Wampe, Berlin Alexanderplatz, Die Mörder sind unter uns, Sonnenallee, Good Bye Lenin, Das Leben der Anderen).

V51.0153 - Techniques of Translation - Andrea Dortmann
This course introduces students to the history, theory, and practice of translation through German and English texts taken from a variety of cultural backgrounds. While engaging in the craft of translation first hand, students will encounter diverse contrastive grammatical, syntactical, and stylistic problems, thus gaining a deeper understanding of the German language. The course also stresses the acquisition of vocabulary and complex idiomatic structures necessary for effective reading comprehension as well as written expression. A background reader in English will familiarize students with historical and theoretical implications of translation.
Photocopies of primary texts in German (and English) to be translated will be distributed by the instructor. Materials include newspaper and magazine articles; recipes; TV- and print advertisements; scientific and philosophical articles; pop material such as hip hop and rap songs, cartoons; Literary texts: prose, theater, poetry, libretti, among others.

V51.0249 - Intro to Cultural Studies - Kathrin DiPaola
An interdisciplinary tool kit to read realities
The terms “Culture” and “Cultural Studies” have become magical formulas to describe the intricacies of our presence. They are applied to explain and investigate any angle of our multi-facetted social and historical realities spanning from pop culture via business culture to even the culture of war. However, to fully understand the underlying definitions of the vast term “culture,” it is necessary to comprehend its pluralistic lines of theoretical tradition. Beginning with the framework of the Birmingham Center for Cultural Studies in England and its most famous intellectual Stuart Hall, this course brings together ideas from critical theory, cultural studies, film, and literature to analyze the development and strategic use of discourses of race, class, and gender in contemporary society. Bridging the gap between high culture and street culture, the course offers students a basic, interdisciplinary “tool kit” with which to read contemporary culture in its literary, cinematic, and other popular forms.

V51.0244 - The German Intellectual Tradition: Critical Theory - Paul Fleming
This course introduces students to German Critical Thought, beginning with its roots in the 19th century (e.g., Marx and Nietzsche) and following its trajectory to the Frankfurt School (e.g., Adorno, Benjamin) and beyond (e.g., Bakthin, Barthes). Established in 1930 at the Institute for Social Research, the assorted circle of scholars comprising the Frankfurt School played a pivotal role in the intellectual developments of post-war American and European social sciences, and continues to exert influence in contemporary social theory and cultural studies. Often known simply as “Critical Theory,” their key works cover a vast array of intellectual and political concerns, from the critique of state capitalism, industrial society, and instrumental reason to commentaries on mass culture, aesthetics, fashion, fascism, and psychoanalysis. The interdisciplinary undertakings span many academic subjects and traditions of economics, sociology, philosophy, literature, art, psychology, pol itics, and history.
In this course, we will begin with an examination of the central precursors to Critical Theory in the 19thc and will then undertake a broad survey of the major writings associated with the Frankfurt School as well as those written in their wake. This introduction to the programmatic statements and eclectic reflections of various scholars will highlight the diverse historical influences, collaborative efforts, and internecine debates that shaped the intellectual tradition across continents and generations. Authors include: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Adorno, Benjamin, Marcuse, and others.

V51.0390 - Topics in German Cinema: Creature Features - Viola Kolarov
We will examine some literary, philosophical, religious, and cinematic contemplations of the creature while focusing on the ways in which the individual and the mass media metabolize the creaturely in response to trauma.

V51.0999 - Senior Honors Seminar - Dopico-Black

SPRING 2009

V51.0133 - German Culture 1890-1989: Fantasy & Fiction - Viola Kolarov
This course explores 20th century German culture, literature, and media through an examination of the metropolis as a mirror of our contemporary media experience. Topics include: the family; literary heritage; technical and occult media; 20th century genres: thriller, dystopia, sci-fi, crime and drama. An emphasis will be placed on refining written expression, honing listening and reading skills, as well as a review of grammar.

V51.0152 - Intro to German Literature - Elke Siegel
This course has two major goals: (1) to introduce students to a selection of representative authors and exemplary texts of literature written in German language from the 18th to the 20th century and (2) to develop close and critical reading skills while learning to express yourselves about literary texts in German, both in writing and in speaking. Covering the three major literary genres – poetry, prose, drama – some of the following issues will be discussed: the depiction of otherness; the representation of time and history; the uncanny; the relationship between form and content; the economy of human relationships on the basis of, e.g., hierarchy, love, authority.

V51.0220 - Intro to German Culture - Elke Siegel
German thinkers and artists have exerted a profound influence upon the history of philosophy, aesthetics, literature, and science. This course aims not only at providing an introduction to crucial periods and events in German cultural history since the Enlightenment, but also at familiarizing you with some of the most important figures in modern intellectual and aesthetic history. The philosophies of Kant and Nietzsche, the music of Mozart and Wagner, the literary contributions of Lessing, Goethe, Fontane, and Brecht as well as the art movements of Dada and Bauhaus will serve as the basis for a discussion of the complex constellation of “Kultur,” politics, and power in the German intellectual tradition.

V51.0253 - Topics in German Cinema: Media & Psychoanalysis - Viola Kolarov
This course explores the intersections between psychoanalysis and the media emerging at the time of its conception, most notably film. Since the course serves as an introduction to the theory and practice of psychoanalysis we will examine our daily involvements and investments in both the mass media and therapeutic practices that rely on our ability to communicate. We will read texts from the classic Freudian tradition, literary works that inhabit the psychoanalytic corpus, and watch a number of films from Germany and Hollywood that tell the story of their -- and our -- development.

V51.0401 - Great Books in German: Twilight of the Idols - Eckart Goebel
This seminar, conducted in German, is conceived as a careful, introduction to Friedrich Nietzsche’s highly influential thinking, and style. The first part will, after an introduction to Also Sprach Zarathustra, provide a close reading of the first book of Day Break (Morgenröte), where Nietzsche develops his idea of a strictly historical philosophy, and confronts us with his theory of culture. The second part of this seminar will go step by step through Nietzsche’s attempt to summarize his entire philosophy in The Twilight of the Idols (Götzendämmerung). Finally we will read Nietzsche’s essay on Truth and Lying and conclude with the interpretation of some of his poems, the Dionysos-Dithyramben. Copies of the German version of Götzendämmerung may be purchased at the NYU Bookstore. The other texts will be available in a reader. Course requirements: Three written reading responses (2 pages each) and one final paper (5 pages long).

FALL 2008

V51.0297 – Jews & Germans, an Intercultural History -  Paul North
The relationship between German and Jewish cultures has historically been much more complex than the “and” in the title of this course would lead us to believe. Influence between the “two” cultures often flowed in both directions. For instance, Enlightenment ideas in Germany strongly influenced the Jewish Enlightenment or Haskala, while philosophers of the Enlightenment—such as Immanuel Kant—took cues from a Jewish thinker, Moses Mendelssohn. Similarly, debates over Jewish emancipation in the early nineteenth century corresponded to a general opening of society that was part of the coalescence of German national identity. In this course we will explore the complexities of an affiliation that spoils the conception of culture as single and unified, based on proprietary treasures deposited in “a” culture. Beginning with the late eighteenth century we will consider literary, political, theological, and philosophical texts, along with films, plays, and operas produced up to the eve of World War II—all of which represent struggles to understand the association of the two names “German” and “Jew.” Regarding names, you might also conceive of this course as an attempt to come to terms with a statement made by Franz Kafka, a German-speaking Jewish writer living in Prague in the early 20th century. “I have nothing in common with the Jews,” he wrote, and then added: “I have nothing in common with Franz Kafka.” Whatever else it might mean, the statement expresses ambivalence toward unquestioned acceptance of an identity such as “Zionist,” “assimilationist,” “anti-Semite,” and so forth. Instead Kafka asks a more basic question: what does it mean to have “something in common with” … any proper name? This question will help guide our discussions.

The Devil’s Lectures - Laurence Rickels
Vampire Professor Larry Rickels from UCSB (UC Sucks Blood) presents: THE DEVIL in Ernest Jones, Freud, and Vilem Flusser, among other masters of the university. Consideration of the syndications of the Devil's reign in literature and film completes this tempting offering. Sign up of your own free will.The medley of texts includes excerpts from THE DEVIL'S ELIXIRS, THE DAMNED, NEEDFUL THINGS, PARADISE LOST, and CHILDHOOD'S END, among many others. We begin with film clips from SATAN'S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS and THE RACE WITH THE DEVIL, rev up with clips from DEMONS and DEMONS 2, and advance to the slow clip of such Luciferian works as INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME. In between we will also consider -- and exploit! -- some of the better known Devil films.

Germany Culture, Politics & Society: Berlin 1900: Lifestyles - Viola Kolarov
This course explores the culture, literature and language of Berlin at the turn of the 20th century. Topics include mores and ethics, inheritance, mental health, and contemporary tabloid culture. An emphasis will be placed on refining written expression, honing listening and reading skills, and reviewing grammar and vocabulary.

SPRING 2008

Introduction to German Literature - Sladja Blazan
This course has two major goals: (1) to introduce students to a selection of representative authors and exemplary texts of literature written in German language from the 18th to the 20th century and (2) to develop close and critical reading skills while learning to express yourselves about literary texts in German, both in writing and in speaking. Covering the three major literary genres – poetry, prose, drama – some of the following issues will be discussed: the depiction of otherness; the representation of time and history; the uncanny; the relationship between form and content; the economy of human relationships on the basis of hierarchy, love, authority, among others.

German Intellectual Tradition: Friendship -  Elke Siegel
The topic of friendship in recent years has experienced a renaissance. Disciplines as different as anthropology, literary studies, philosophy, and sociology have developed a new and invigorated interest in the theory and practice of friendship as a utopia of a community of individuals differing radically from those communities based on family or nation. Whereas friendship was once defined by proximity, similarity, and mutuality, in modern manifestations and discussions friendship tends towards distance, difference, and asymmetry (see Derrida’s Politics of Friendship). The course explores crucial reflections on friendship in changing contexts and discourses: Antiquity (Plato, Aristotle, Cicero), Montaigne’s and Bacon’s friendship essays of the 17thcentury, the 18th century German ‘cult of friendship’ (Klopstock, Schiller), and Romanticism(Tieck); the re-configurations of friendship in modernity (Nietzsche, Kafka, Bernhard);sociology’s investigation of the friend as the locus of discretion and tact (Simmel); the notion of friendship as “a way of life” (Foucault) and as a moral phenomenon (Blum) of particular importance for feminism (Friedman).

Readings in Contemporary Theory: Outrageous Texts - Avital Ronell; Nicola Behrmann M.A.
This class will explore over-the-top texts by means of contemporary theoretical works of Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, Hélène Cixous and other crucial writers and philosophers. This much can be said in anticipation: readings will be slow and intense, at once fabulous and frustrating, because we no longer believe in wrapping up the meaning of inexhaustible texts or achieving transparency. If you need subtitles to understand this description, the class will provide them for you. The texts will be mostly culled from the French, German, and English canon, ranging from Kleist’s MARQUISE OF O to Kathy Acker’s version of DON QUIXOTE, and including Werner Herzog’s movie MY BEST FIEND.

FALL 2007

Techniques of Translation - Andrea Dortmann
This course introduces students to the history, theory, and practice of translation through German and English texts taken from a variety of cultural backgrounds.  While engaging in the craft of translation first hand, students will encounter diverse contrastive grammatical, syntactical, and stylistic problems, thus gaining a deeper understanding of the German language.  The course also stresses the acquisition of vocabulary and complex idiomatic structures necessary for effective reading comprehension as well as written expression.

Composition & Conversation: Berlin(s) -Yevgeniy Pomerantsev
This course explores 20th (and 21st) century German culture through a focus on the city of Berlin and its multiple incarnations as capital (Imperial Reich, Weimar Republic, Nazi Reich, divided city, GDR and reunified Germany). We will examine the birth of Germany's first modern metropolis and its subsequent division and reunification after 1989, focusing also on the post-unification phenomenon of "Ostalgie." We will work with a variety of written and visual narratives, including short stories, poetry, film, Feuilleton pieces, and a novel.

Modern German Drama - Elke Siegel

V51.0999 Senior Honors Seminar - Elke Siegel

SPRING 2007

Germany Culture, Politics and Society: Minority Cultures and Media, - Janelle Blankenship
The course explores contemporary German culture, politics, and society, with special focus on minority cultures and media.  Topics include the ‘Turkish Turn’ in contemporary German literature and film, Afro-German identity and diasporic literature, and Holocaust memory.  This course is designed for students with a solid grasp of basic German grammar and vocabulary who wish to extend their knowledge of German language, history, politics, and culture, through reading, discussion, and writing.

Introduction to German Literature - Eckart Goebel
This course has two major goals: (1) to introduce students to a selection of representative authors and exemplary texts of literature written in German language from the 18th to the 20th century and (2) to develop close and critical reading skills while learning to express yourselves about literary texts in German, both in writing and in speaking.  Covering the three major literary genres – poetry, prose, and drama – some of the following issues will be discussed:  the depiction of otherness; the representation of time and history; the uncanny; the relationship between form and content; the economy of human relationships on the basis of hierarchy, love, authority, among others.

European Avant-garde Cinema - Janelle Blankenship
This course examines the history, politics, and aesthetics of European avant-garde film.  We will discuss concepts of political modernism, the culture industry, and the aesthetics of shock.  Diverse movements will be considered, including Expressionism, Soviet Agit-prop, Dada, and Surrealism.

Post 1945 Literature Erinnerungs/Kulturen/Memory Cultures - Christopher Clark
This course provides an overview of German literature, film, and culture since 1945, with an emphasis on the topic of memory. German culture after 1945 has been preoccupied the memory of war, National Socialism, and the Holocaust; debates among historians are front-page news, particularly the Historikerstreit of the 1980s and the Goldhagen-Debatte of the 90s. Literature has been an important vehicle for the process of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, or coming to terms with the past, and we will discuss texts that both thematize and perform acts of memory. We will examine various strategies of remembering and memorializing the past, always asking what the significance of memory is for the present and future. Furthermore, we will examine a range of memory cultures, considering memories of the 1950s "economic miracle," the 60s student movement and 70s radicalism, and the GDR and its demise, all of which coexist and compete with memories of the war and the Holocaust in the same cultural space. We will read texts and view films by such authors and directors as Anna Seghers, Elisabeth Langgässer, Ingeborg Bachmann, Heinrich Böll, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Michael Verhoeven, Benjamin Wilkomirski, W.G. Sebald, Thomas Brussig, Zafer Senocak, Bernhard Schlink, and other contemporary writers. All readings, discussion, and writing in German.

FALL 2006

1989 and Beyond - Christopher Clark
1989 and Beyond is designed for students with a solid grasp of basic German grammar and vocabulary who wish to extend their knowledge of German language, history, politics, and culture, through reading, discussion, and writing. It is a writing-intensive course. This course will explore the literature, film, and culture of Germany since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the (re-)unification of East and West Germany in 1990. We will examine a range of aspects of the culture of contemporary Germany and the “Berlin Republic.” We will work on refining grammar, vocabulary, and style through frequent writing and revision. We will work with a variety of written and visual narratives, including short stories, poetry, newspaper articles, Feuilleton pieces, films, and a book-length collection of stories.

Conversation & Composition: Friendship/s - Andrea Dortmann
Conversation & Composition is designed for students with a solid grasp of German grammar and vocabulary who wish to extend their knowledge of the German language, history, and culture through reading, discussion and writing. Conversation & Composition is a reading and writing intensive course. In this course we will explore representations of friendship/s throughout German culture from the classics (Goethe and Schiller) to today. The theme of friendship has occupied writers and philosophers throughout history and is a topic of current discussion in contemporary humanities. You are invited to read a great variety of textual genres: ballads, poems, aphorisms, short stories, a children’s novel, and a theater play. Some of the following issues will guide our investigation: difference between love and friendship, family and friends, friends and foes; questions of gender [friendship between men and women, male bonding, girlfriends], proof of friendship; betrayal, loyalty, idealization; the question of power, and other problems that you may want to bring up.

Literature and the Senses -  Janelle Blankenship
This course explores twentieth-century German literature, as it strains to hear, see, touch, and dream of new visions of time and space. We will study fin-de-siècle theories of perception, shock, and trauma (Freud, Ernst Mach, Georg Simmel) and read naturalist novellas, fantasy novels, crime thrillers, animal epics etc.

German for Business - Cornelia Uhlenhaut
This course is designed for students who have fulfilled their language requirement and who wish to learn the terminology and conventions of German in the business world. This is not a class on German economy per se; it rather introduces students to the use of German language in professional situations, thus emphasizing communicational and conversational language skills. In addition to learning about contemporary Germany and its business culture, our aim is to build and strengthen your vocabulary, your communication and presentation skills and to refine your accuracy.

German Poetry: Lyrical poetry from Goethe to Enzensberger - Eckart Goebel

SPRING 2006

German Culture, Society, and Politics: From Ostzone to Ostalgie - Christopher Clark
This course will explore the literature, culture, and politics of the German Democratic Republic, commonly referred to as "East Germany." From its beginning as the Soviet-occupied zone to its foundation as a socialist republic at the dawn of the Cold War, we will trace how artists and intellectuals negotiated between their own utopian ideals and the often brutal reality of daily life in a repressive regime. We will examine the Aufbaujahre of the 1950s and the failed workers' uprising of 1953, as well as the massive flow of people into the West, leading to the construction of the Berlin Wall, the most (literally) concrete symbol of the Cold War. We will read the literature of the relatively liberal early 70s and then explore the disastrous consequences of the Wolf Biermann affair for artists and intellectuals in the late 1970s. We will move on to the events leading to the fall of the Wall and subsequent public debates over re/unification vs. a "third way." Finally, we will consider the cultural legacy of the GDR in the 1990s and beyond, including the remainder of the so-called "Mauer im Kopf" and the phenomenon of "Ostalgie," a widespread nostalgia for many aspects and artifacts of daily life in East Germany. Readings may include literature by Bertolt Brecht, Stefan Hermlin, Anna Seghers, Stefan Heym, Christa Wolf, Irmtraud Morgner, Charlotte Worgitzky, Monika Maron, and Thomas Brussig; the films Coming Out, Sonnenallee, and Good Bye Lenin!; and a range of short historical and non-fiction texts. All readings, discussion, and writing in German.

Introduction to German Literature - Martin Schäfer
This course has two major goals: (1) to introduce students to a selection of representative authors and exemplary texts of literature written in German language from the 18th to the 20th century and (2) to develop close and critical reading skills while learning to express yourselves about literary texts in German, both in writing and in speaking. Covering the three major literary genres - poetry, prose, drama - some of the following issues will be discussed: the depiction of otherness; the representation of time and history; the uncanny; the relationship between form and content; the economy of human relationships on the basis of hierarchy, love, authority, among others.

Marx, Nietzsche, Freud - Paul Fleming
This course examines the work of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, three German authors who in different and decisive ways provided a radically new understanding of the notions of interpretation, history, the subject, politics, religion, and art. The purpose of this course is to provide a comprehensive engagement with and a dialogue between these three thinkers. The seminar underscores their prevailing actuality and thereby strives to delineate the origin of much modern thinking.

Early German Cinema: Science/Sensation/Spectacle - Janelle Blankenship
This course will focus on the sensational origins of cinema in Germany.  We will examine cinema as part of a wider exhibition culture that includes phantasmagoria ghost projection, magic lanterns, and the "edutainement" of microscopes, X-rays and stereoscopes. Our analysis of German cinema starts with the body madness of the "Boxing Kangaroo" (from Max and Emil Skladanowsky's 1895 Wintergarten film program) and ends with colonial cinema (Im deutschen Sudan) and German horror classics (Caligari, Genuine, Nosferatu!). Rare glimpses into the Skladanowsky retrospective of the Third Reich and a screening of New German cinema representations of forgotten film pioneers also illuminate the act of creating a national film history and archive.

Great Books in German Literature: Technology, Tricks, and the Supernatural  - Janelle Blankenship
This course considers uncanny moments of magical tricks, technology, and the supernatural in German literature and film. Diverse historical periods, genres, and aesthetic styles will be analyzed by way of attention to the overarching theme of this seminar. Texts include Goethe’s Faust and ETA Hoffmann’s Der Sandmann. Films include Murnau’s Faust (1926) and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927).