Fall 2019 courses in German Studies
GERM 101: Elementary German I
Jan Hohenstein, Gülden Olgun, Ruth Seifert
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
Frank K. Mischke
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
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 241E, 241L: Volkswagen and Beyond
What makes "German Engineering" so special that the phrase brings up twice as many
Google hits as "American Engineering?" For a long time, there have been common qualities
in the products of German design. The course investigates into the creative ideas
that have been driving the history of German engineering and its continuations in
society (Bauhaus, Volkswagen, Kraftwerk). It shows how ideas of beauty and well-formedness,
even principles of "good" engineering are determined by economic situations and political
issues; and how engineers' designs influence the self-image of a whole society in
return. Students are introduced to creative artists' statements and aesthetic programs,
but for a huge part of the course we will analyze concrete manifestations of engineering
aesthetics and the role of science, technology and engineering in German and US societies.
Note: This is a humanities course, not an engineering course. We will not discuss
BMW's anti-locking brakes; we will discuss the institutional and intellectual traditions
and mindsets that engineer the engineering. Course taught in English. Grading is based
on two presentations, an exam and a group project.
Course counts as A, (O,) W
GERM 241N: The Nazi State
The course looks at the Nazi regime in Germany between 1933 and 1945, at the organization
and inner functioning of the government and administration. Topics include the Nazi
rise to power, party structures, "Gleichschaltung" of society, economy, and media,
persecution of minorities, the situation of workers and peasants, the role of the
churches etc. Course taught in English.
Course counts as H, W
GERM 241H: Modern Yiddish Culture
In the half century before the Second World War, a Yiddish speaking "Jewish Street" stretched from Buenos Aires to Boston, from London to Łódź, with many cities in between. What characterized the culture of this mostly urban and modernizing society is the subject of this class. Cinema and short stories, poetry and politics provide our vehicle to explore the world of Eastern European Jewry in a time of radical transformation and approaching catastrophe (all material is in English).
Course counts as H,J
GERM 305: Texts & Contexts I
Course provides a comprehensive review of German grammar and usage through readings of texts and contexts related to German-speaking Europe and the global reach of German language and culture. We will work with different genres (fiction and non-fiction; history; geography; art; philosophy; media; visual culture) in order to develop fluency and accuracy in spoken and written German, to explore strategies for reading texts needed for an interdisciplinary approach to German Studies and to learn more about key aspects of German language and culture. Evaluation and grading are based on in-class participation, written homework and exams. Course is taught entirely in German. Prerequisite: GERM 204 or equivalent or instructor permission.
GERM 380B: Learning to See: Art & Media in Weimar Germany
From the movies we watch to the advertisements we see, from the way we understand
images to the fonts we use, the vibrant legacy of modern culture in the 1920s and
1930s continues to influence the way we use and think about media, art, technology,
and communication. Drawing on richly innovative visual artworks and groundbreaking
theoretical texts, this course explores the visual culture of the Weimar Republic
(1919-1933) with a special emphasis on film, photography, and montage. Visual media
played a central role in the cultural production and aesthetic and political debates
of the time: the rise of the cinema provoked an unparalleled reexamination of the
relationship between art, technology, and society, while the rapid expansion of photography
into newspapers and other mass media helped spark diverse discussions of aesthetics,
perception, and individuality. Why did visual media and discussions about them play
such a central role in the cultural and political ferment of modern culture between
two world wars? How did new visual media and technologies help contemporaries rethink
other, non-visual media such as literature and aesthetic representation more generally?
Why were debates about photography and film often so politically charged, and how
were images related to democracy, communism, and fascism? In what ways did Weimar
culture draw on new technologies to see and depict processes of modernization, urbanization,
and industrialization with new eyes? From Dada to advertising culture, photojournalism
to Bertolt Brecht, these are the questions we will explore in this class. Course taught
Course counts as A,H,W
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.
Course counts as W
GERM 481B: Early Cinema
In a media environment saturated with screens it is easy to forget that our habits of viewership, however intuitive they may seem, were learned. The nature of our interactions with and understanding of images on screens becomes legible when returning to a historical moment in which the conventions of cinematic spectatorship were just being established—a time in which the explosion of popular cinema was transforming notions of aesthetics, narrative, and psychology. Beginning with an exploration of proto-cinematic devices and meditations on the nature of perception, and continuing through the very first full-length narrative films in the 1910s, the course examines a period that arguably represents the most radical revision of the practices of seeing, watching, and vision prior to the "digital revolution." Through primary and secondary sources on illusions of movement, early forms of cinema, and the emergence of long-format narrative films, as well as rare archival films, the course confronts the technological and cultural conditions responsible for what could be called "modern vision."
Course counts as A