Spring 2015 courses in German Studies
Elementary German I - GERM 101
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 content. Offered only in the fall semester. Students will not be able to begin the regular elementary German sequence again until the following fall. 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.
Elementary German II - GERM 102
Tom Hanel, Michelle Brussow, Frank Mischke, Gülden Olgun
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.
Intermediate German II - GERM 204
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.
The Fairy Tale - GERM 241D
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. Course counts as an 'H'.
Fairy Tales in Social History - GERM 241E
A study of the shift from the oral folk tale to the literary fairy tale in Germany to discover how tales (chiefly those collected by the Brothers Grimm) mirror symbolically the social historical processes that occur in the transformation of an agrarian into an industrialized society that dreams of social mobility. We shall explore great fairy tales that mirror the transformation of social attitudes and behavior in connection with societal changes occurring from absolutism to enlightenment, from authoritarian aristocratic rule to the French Revolution and to utopian but also progressive and satirical thinking that continued in its wake. We will also examine the structure and meaning of tales written for adults (Kunstmärchen) by Goethe, Schikaneder/Mozart (The Magic Flute), Tieck, Novalis, E:T.A. Hoffmann and others, observing the relationship of protagonists to their environment, as well as the role of tales in the civilizing process, as the development of the self and social evolution become grand themes. Gender construction, the intersection of gender and class, confrontational and participatory modes of behavior, the historical location of authority and negotiations with it by the rising middle class, and implications of the development of literacy by the middle class will be further topics of discussion. We shall read and interpret tales in terms of formal patterns, as paths to socialization, as well as in terms of memetic developments, aesthetic perspectives, historical and phenomenological frameworks, but also as representations of social evolution. . In English; no knowledge of German required Texts: Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, ed. Jack Zipes. Spells of Enchantment: The Wondrous Fairy Tales of Western Culture, ed. Jack Zipes. Course counts as an 'H'.
Introduction to Media Theory - GERM 241I
This course explores the major paradigms of media theory that have developed since the beginning of the twentieth century. Against the cultural tendency to treat the plural "media" as a single, unified object of study, the class focuses on differences between media and theories of media. Through readings that span from Walter Benjamin, Adorno, and the Frankfurt School, to Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan, and the Toronto School, to Friedrich Kittler, and what has been called "New German Media Theory," the course concentrates on how the structures and operations of media have been theorized and have affected approaches to the interpretation of art and information. We will examine how various media have been defined, influenced forms of cultural production, and their social, political, and aesthetic implications for viewers, writers, readers, and browsers. This course fulfills the ARTH Post-1800 Art History requirement. Course counts as an 'A'.
Myths of Power - GERM 241L
Courts, Kings, and Cities in Germany: Myths of Power in Images: Focusing on the time span of the Middle Ages to the French Revolution, we shall explore the rise of sacral kingship, the development of major courts of the high nobility, power struggles between the more conservative forces of power and the ascending middle class in cities, centripetal and centrifugal force fields that shape the center and the periphery to a great extent through images. We will watch a number of films, making use of a series of compelling docudramas produced by the German broadcaster ZdF, as well as feature films, but will also look at and critique visual depictions of these historical power struggles and ask how these iconic images –often as myths of power-- have contributed to the shaping of aristocratic status and social mobility, and ultimately to a regional, urban and/or national identity in Germany. Course counts as an 'H', 'W'.
Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain - GERM 241S
Course is taught in English. Intensive reading and discussion of Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain," published in 1924, one of the major novels of the 20th century. Course explores the work in its context: history, politics, philosophy, literature, music, medicine, psychoanalysis. Students will give two presentations and write a 10-page term paper. Everyman's Library edition of the translation by John E. Woods (paperback, ISBN 0679772871) will be used. Course counts as an 'H', 'O'.
Texts and Contexts II - GERM 306
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.
Learning to See: Art & Media in Weimar Germany - GERM 380C
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 advertizing culture, photojournalism to Bertolt Brecht, these are the questions we will explore in this class. Course counts as an 'A'.
Towards a New World Literature - GERM 380H
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.
Kafka and his Readers - GERM 380P
Neil Christian Pages
Course explores the work and reception of Franz Kafka (1883-1924), arguably the most famous writer of German Modernism and the inspiration for the 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 Woody Allen, 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 and the debates about the translation of his work, we will also reflect on the process of reading and interpretation more generally as well as on the ways in which literary criticism works. Course counts as an 'H', 'W'.
Sustainability: Green Germany - GERM 381B
Course taught in German. There is a long tradition of thinking about nature and sustainability in German culture. This course will examine important concepts in literature, art, sociology and philosophy that still impact politics, economics, engineering and general perspectives on life in Europe. We will relate these ideas to findings on campus field trips and in the Binghamton area. This is a seminar for advanced learners of German. Students should have either completed GERM 204, or they should have passed GERM 203 with very good results, or have similar qualifications. When in doubt, please contact the instructor. Book: Volker Quaschnig: Mülltrenner, Müsliesser und Klimaschützer: Wir Deutschen und unsere Umwelt.
Early Cinema: Transitional Media - GERM 480A
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 in western history 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 an 'A'.