Spring 2017 courses in German Studies

GERM 101: Elementary German I

Frank Mischke

Acquisition of basic grammar and vocabulary, development of reading and speaking skills, introduction to cross-cultural communication. Introduces students to German culture and to cultural interdependencies between German-speaking countries and the U.S. Texts augmented by multimedia materials. Not for native speakers. Not open to students who have passed the high school German Regents examination within the past three years. Meets four times per week; grades based on quizzes, chapter tests, in-class compositions, class participation and special assignments. Successful completion of both GERM 101-102 will fulfill the Gen Ed G requirement. Students must take both GERM 101 and 102 for a letter grade to receive the G; courses must be taken at Binghamton University to receive the G.

GERM 102: Elementary German II

Michelle Brussow, Tom Hanel, TBA

Continuation of GERM 101. Acquisition of basic grammar and vocabulary, development of reading, writing and speaking skills in an interactive learning environment. Encouraging cultural awareness through texts, films, discussions, etc., and understanding German in a global context. Successful completion of both GERM 101-102 will fulfill the Gen Ed G requirement. Students must take both GERM 101 and 102 for a letter grade to receive the G; courses must be taken at Binghamton University to receive the G.

GERM 203: Intermediate German I

Gülden Olgun

Helps students develop ability to communicate in German beyond the basic "survival" level. Begins with a systematic review of German grammar that continues through the second semester at the intermediate level. Students read a series of short literary texts and work with texts taken from popular culture, as they improve their reading, writing and discussion skills. Designed especially for students who are interested in the humanities and social sciences. Prerequisites: GERM 102 or equivalent, or consent of instructor.

GERM 204: Intermediate German II

Maike Rocker

Continuation of GERM 203. First step in expansion of German-language skills beyond functional areas of information exchange, description and narration. By reading and responding to a variety of stimulating texts (modern fiction, lyrics, newspaper articles, historical texts, film clips), students develop both comprehension skills and the ability to express and support their own opinions and interpretations. Equal emphasis on both spoken and written expression. Includes review of more complex grammatical structures and activities designed to broaden vocabulary resources.

GERM 221: Intermediate German Conversation I

Maike Rocker 

Informal instruction and practice in colloquial German. Primarily for students who have completed GERM 102 or 103. Discussion based on variety of cultural, commercial and some technical materials provides practice in more advanced conversational speech patterns and vocabulary. Prerequisite: GERM 102, 103 or equivalent. 2 cr. Course.

GERM 241D: The Fairy Tale

Zoja Pavlovskis-Petit

Structure and meaning of fairy tales. Oral vs. literary fairy tales. Different approaches to interpreting fairy tales: anthropological, psychological, socio-historical, structuralist. Lectures approximately once a week; discussion; take-home midterm and final exams; two 10-page papers.

GERM 241M/N: Germany and its Colonies

Harald Zils

Germany and Its Colonies Course taught in English. Germany's engagement as a colonial power was late and limited. The newly founded Reich tried to become a major player in the "scramble for Africa" in the 1880s; it was active in China and in the Pacific. Its eagerness for success, the will to gain "a place in the sun" in rivalry with the British Empire and France, was economically unsuccessful and ethically ill-fated. The Herero and Nama revolts in "Germany South-West," and the Boxer Rebellion in China are the best-known among the violent outbreaks and repressions of the time, leading to human catastrophe and slaughter. The colonial experience had its after-effects in the Nazi attempts to "expand towards the East" in World War II, and it is still an important memento for German foreign policy today. The course looks at historical events and German political/military history 1881-1919, as well as on cultural and economical influences and exchanges between the new regions in Africa, China, Papua New Guinea and Samoa and the German Reich; it also traces the progression from exploratory travel to "dreams of power," culminating in Wilhelm II's "gunboat policy" and Hitler's Lebensraum ideology. It uses original documents and modern literary texts and films as lenses for both the real events and their aftermath in collective imagination. G, H, O

GERM 241T/V: Germany During the Cold War

Harald Zils

 Course taught in English. The tension between the two super powers after 1945 was nowhere more obvious than in newly divided Germany. Two societies that were still struggling with the imminent past had to take sides in the global struggle, building up their economies, shaping new work and life models, slowly becoming more engaged with democratic institutions. The course discusses political and cultural developments in West and East Germany after 1945. We focus on three important years: 1949, 1961, and 1968. Historical sources, movies and literary texts will give us insights into a split country full of with fear, denial, hope, guilt, with tense and nervous intellectuals, economic miracles, political experiments and "no experiments!" politicians, almighty churches and almighty parties, student revolts and emergency laws. The course puts an emphasis on oral communication: Presentation methods and designs will be introduced, practiced and discussed, as well as principles of content-focused discussion. Grading based on presentations, a take-home midterm and a take-home final. H

GERM 306: Texts and Contexts II

Rosmarie Morewedge

Texts and Contexts II: GERM 306 offers students the opportunity to refine modes of expression, improve accuracy and fluency and build cultural competency in German by engaging with important trends, ideas and events in the German-speaking world. It prepares students for more advanced work in German Studies in an interdisciplinary context. Students will engage texts and images from a range of genres (literature, history, philosophy, politics film, popular culture, news media, art) to improve critical reading abilities and accuracy in writing. The course also reviews advanced grammar structures in context. Taught entirely in German. Prerequisite: GERM 305 or instructor permission.

GERM 380H: Towards a New World Literature

Gisela Brinker-Gabler

Processes of decolonization since the 60s and of globalization in the last 30 years have produced a rich body of contemporary “mobile” and ex(tra)territorial literature that explores and reflects on postcolonial and (im)migrant experiences, diasporic, exile, and refugee conditions. Students will read a selection of significant works about cultural encounters occurring in various parts of the world in order to study key elements, thematic and aesthetic aspects of this new “world literature.” We will examine major critical approaches to this literature and discuss theoretical foundations of key concepts: postcolonial criticism, transnationalism, neonomadism, transculturality, and cosmopolitics. Authors include J.W. Goethe, V.S. Naipaul, Olive Senior, Richard Rodriguez, Leila Sebbar, Villem Flusser, Pico Iyer, Yoko Tawada, Emine Özdamar, and Teju Cole. Theoretical contributions by, among others, Homi Bhabha, Salman Rushdie, Gayatri Ch. Spivak, Stuart Hall, Gomez-Penna, Francoise Lionnet, Julia Kristeva, Ulrich Hannerz, Sheller/ Urry, Rosi Braidotte, Villem Flusser, Wolfgang Welsch, Ali Mazrui. Requirements for Graduates: Informal one-page response to assigned readings (weekly); one oral presentations, one final research paper (15 pages). Requirements for Undergraduates: two short papers 4-5 pages), and a take-home final exam with essay (7 pages; including poster for conference).

GERM 380L: 'Aliens' and the Uncanny in Literature

Brett Levinson

This class will examine the relationship among ghosts, doubles, selfhood, and the alien departing from the films “Alien” (dir. Ridley Scott) and “Aliens” (dir. James Cameron). In addition, we will read short fiction by Kafka, Bernhard, Sebald, Kleist, Hoffman, Melville, Hawthorne, Cortazar, Carver, Joyce, James, Highsmith, Auster, Camus, Jackson. Finally, in the middle of the course, we will situate Freud’s essay “The Uncanny,” to which we shall link two other Freud texts that concern haunting, death, and mourning. Each student will deliver two 15 minute oral presentations that, together, will count for 30 percent of the overall grade. Presentations will be followed by class discussion, during which presenter will receive extensive feedback from peers. Presenter will then meet privately with professor concerning the form and content of the presentation, after which he or she will write a short summary on how he/she can improve his/her speaking skills. O

GERM 380P: War Stories: German Memories of WWII

Neil Christian Pages

History may be written by its victors, but in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries its losers hardly remained silent. This course explores the way in which memories of WWII have been represented in postwar German literature, historiography and visual culture. Its aim is to explore how “German memories” of the war have been represented in texts, images and elsewhere (film, painting, architecture, urban planning, commemorative practice, museum culture, tourism) and how these representations emerge from and grapple with competing narratives of memory, with questions of ethics and aesthetics, with the relationship between victims and perpetrators and with the responsibility to remember – and to forget. Course taught in English. H

GERM 380H: Towards a New World Literature

Gisela Brinker-Gabler

Processes of decolonization since the 60s and of globalization in the last 30 years have produced a rich body of contemporary literature of mobility that explores and reflects on postcolonial and migrant experiences, diasporic, exile, and refugee conditions. Students will read a selection of significant works about cultural encounters occurring in various parts of the world in order to study key elements, thematic and aesthetic aspects of this new “translocal” or world literature. We will examine major critical approaches to this literature and discuss theoretical foundations of key concepts: postcolonial criticism, transnationalism, hybridity, creolization, neonomadism, transculturality, dispatriation, and cosmopolitics. Authors include V.S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Pico Iyer, Leila Sebbar, Amin Maalouf, Villem Flusser, Emine Özdamar, Yoko Tawada, and Dinaw Mengestu. Requirements for Graduates: Informal one-page response to assigned readings (weekly); one oral presentation, and one final research paper (15-20 pages). Undergraduates: two short papers, and final essay exam.

GERM 381A: German Poetry

Rosmarie Morewedge

Listening to great German poetry, reading and discussing it in class are super ways to learn the German language because you are encouraged to enter the space of the poem, to focus on the sound and music of the language, as well as the meaning of the content. As relatively short readings, poems invite you to engage with them deeply. We will study representative poems from the German poetic tradition starting with 21 st century poems, but going back to the Middle Ages, stressing poems from the classical period to modernity. We will celebrate poetry at a presentation of our favorite poems Students with little or no background in German literature are invited to take this course, which will increase their enjoyment and understanding of German culture, while it will improve their oral proficiency and reading comprehension of German. The course will be conducted largely in German. Course requirements: Attendance and participation; regular readings; regular written responses to poems, including short papers; presentation/performance of favorite poems. midterm and final. Prereq: German 203 or equivalent.

GERM 480U: Kafka and His Readers

Neil Christian Pages

Seminar explores the work and reception of Franz Kafka (1883–1924), arguably the most famous writer of German Modernism and the inspiration for the troublesome idiom “Kafkaesque.” We will examine the Kafkan text with and against some of the cultural productions that have emerged from it, from the illustrations of R. Crumb, to the installation art of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, the musical compositions of Carsten Nicolai, the films of Steven Soderbergh and Michael Haneke, the literary texts of authors like Jonathan Franzen, Haruki Murakami and J.M. Coetzee and the criticism of thinkers like Adorno, Derrida and Blanchot. While considering Kafka’s literary legacy, his academic function, his impact on thinking about representation, and the debates about the translation of his work, we will also reflect on the process of reading and interpretation generally as well as on what literature does and the ways in which literary criticism works. W

GERM 481C: Travel and Exploration

Giovanna Montenegro

This course will compare and contrast perceptions of travel in literature and visual culture from the Middle Ages to the 21st century along with theoretical readings on travel, tourism, and ethnography. We will begin with Ibn Battouta, Leo Africanus, Marco Polo, and John Mandeville and discuss the particularities of pilgrimage journeys as well as the combination of fantastical, trade, and religious interests in medieval travelogues and maps. We will then examine the representation of the New World in Columbus’s Letters, Hans Staden, Montaigne, Jean de Léry, maps, and films such as Herzog’s Aguirre during the time of Discovery, or, the "Invention" of America. The explosion of travel narratives satisfied a growing European curiosity that explored everything that had to do with “The New World" amidst the growing printing trade. After reviewing the interests of naturalists and navigators, we will turn to travelers during the age of Enlightenment including Humboldt’s pursuit of natural history, Goethe’s grand tour, and Georg Forster’s South Sea edition projects that resulted in an interest in the birth of German “Volkskunde” and “Völkerkunde” or National Folk Studies vs. Studies of Non-European “Others.” We will also read accounts of women and (cross)-dressing slaves that subvert and queer the genre of travel literature (Olaudah Equiano, Isabelle Eberhardt, Françoise de Graffigny, Elena/o de Céspedes, Catalina de Erauso, Hannah Höch). This course will draw upon maps, films, travel narratives and chronicles, as well as theoretical texts on ethnography, travel, and colonialism (Mary Louise Pratt, Susanne Zantop, Anne McClintock, Michel Certeau, Clifford Geertz, Neil Whitehead, James Clifford, Stephen Greenblatt, Frank Lestringant, Anthony Pagden). Written assignments include a minimum of 10 pages of writing and will count for [at least 30%] of the grade in the course.

Last Updated: 10/26/16