Spring 2016 courses in German Studies
GERM 101/COLI 180E: Elementary German I
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/COLI 180G: Elementary German II
Michelle Brussow, Tom Hanel, Frank 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 204: Intermediate German II
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
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/COLI 240/MDVL 280D/RUSS 280V: The Fairy Tale
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.
Gen Ed: H
GERM 241E/COLI 280Z/ENG 283R: Fairy Tales in Social History
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; Fairy Tales in the Social History of Germany.
Gen Ed: H
GERM 241I/ARTH 287E/CINE 286G/COLI 280G: Media Theory
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 the differences
between media—from the printing press through the personal computer. Through readings
spanning the Frankfurt School, Toronto School, and New German Media Theory, the course
concentrates on how the structures and operations of contemporary and historical media
technologies have been theorized and their social, political, psychological, and aesthetic
implications for viewers, listeners, writers, readers, and users.
Gen Ed: A
GERM 241L/COLI 280T/ENG 283S/MDVL 280C: Myths of Power
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.
Gen Ed: H
GERM 241T/GERM 241V: 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, for better and for worse; 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. 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 in the background.
Course taught in English. Grading is based on two presentations, an exam and a group
Gen Ed: A, O
GERM 306: Texts and Contexts II
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 380L/COLI 380A/ENG 380N/WGSS 381A: What Freud Said About Women
Freud is often derided by women and women's studies, even though Freud's work is fundamental
for any examination of sexual—as opposed to gender—difference. A good deal of feminism,
even in its opposition to Freud, is in fact grounded in Freudian principles. However,
what Freud actually said about women is rarely examined. The course will do so, focusing
on the case history of Dora in Fragments of a Case of Hysteria, the essays "Feminine
Sexuality" and "Femininity," among other short works. A study of the legacy of Freud
in feminist theory will follow, including in the writings of Kristeva, Irigaray, Butler,
and Soler. Issues such as hysteria, motherhood, female sexuality, and depression will
receive special attention. Thirty percent of grade will be determined by two oral
presentations of 20 minutes each. After talk, student will receive feedback from class
and professor concerning both form and content of presentation, and a dialogue will
ensue. Pupil will then meet with professor to summarize how he or she could improve
his/her oral reports in general.
Gen Ed: O
GERM 380N/COLI 380S/ENG 300L/THEA 389R: Staging Revolutions
In this course we will read plays about revolution. Specifically, we will be exploring
German works from the 18th to the 21st centuries (in English translation) that deal
with revolutions, revolts, uprisings, and violence. As the literary form that actually
involves people modeling a social situation on a stage in front of other people, drama
seems uniquely suited to represent the thoughts, ideas, and impulses behind moments
of political and social conflict and upheaval, as well as to explore questions of
agency, individuality, collectivity, and nation; yet how does drama represent mass
social and political events with only a few actors on stage, and how does the genre
respond to this problem of representation? Our focus on revolutions will allow us
to see how the history of German drama offers a wide variety of strategies by which
literature grapples with society, history, and politics. Readings will include works
by Aristotle, Lessing, Schiller, Büchner, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Brecht, and Jelinek,
among others. This is a writing class, which means both that you will learn to write
analytically about literature, and that analytic writing will be the primary tool
with which you will probe and learn about the texts we will be reading. No knowledge
of German is required.
Gen Ed: C, H
GERM 381C: German Culture 1871-1989
Neil Christian Pages
Course surveys major events, movements, themes and ideas in German cultural history from the founding of the first German nation state in 1871 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. GERM 381C equips students with skills in critical analysis of texts, formal writing and oral expression needed for more advanced work in German Studies. It is excellent preparation for study abroad in a German-speaking country. Taught in German. Prerequisites: Interest in German cultural history and a desire to learn more. Students should have completed GERM 305 or the equivalent.
GERM 480U/ARTH 506A/COLI 480U/COLI 535F/ENG 593B/TRIP 580M: 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.
Gen Ed: W
GERM 481A/COLI 480W/COLI 574H/ENG 674B: Walter Benjamin
Gisela Brinker Gabler
Over the last decades Benjamin has emerged as one of the most important critics and theorists of the 20th century. The rich and varied work of this idiosyncratic thinker has become crucial for our readings of modernism and modernity, seminal for the discipline of urban semiotics, full of inspiration for the study of the relation of literature, art and technology, and provocative in its theses on history and historiography. Nevertheless, for all their momentous influence, Benjamin's texts strangely resist assimilation. He engages in a writing that is often deliberately literary and multivalent, and that aims at a conscious and active mode of reception. This seminar will address this irreducibly literary and self-reflexive dimension of Benjamin's writing by reading many of his most important works that play a vital role in the contemporary study of literary practice and culture. The focus will be on topics like Benjamin's study of media and technology, and their impact on literature and culture, his writings on allegory in early modern drama (German, Spanish, English), and modern poetry (Baudelaire), his essays on Avant-garde movements (Surrealism) and urban spaces (Arcades-Project), and his theoretical essays on language, translation, history, and memory. FORMAT:The course will be conducted as a seminar. Required work for all students: regular attendance, meaningful participation, and careful preparation of class readings. For Graduate students: 1page informal response to weekly required readings, one oral presentation (20 min) and one research paper (15 pages); for Undergraduate students: 1typed question on weekly readings, two short papers (each 5 pages) and a final take-home exam. BOOKS: Two collection of essays - Walter Benjamin, ILLUMINATIONS; REFLECTIONS. - THE ORIGIN OF THE GERMAN MOURNING PLAY; ARCADES PROJECT.
GERM 481C/COLI 480D/COLI 574N: Translation and Exploration
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, 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 Foster's South Sea translation and edition projects. We will also read accounts of women and (cross)-dressing slaves that subvert and queer the genre of travel literature (Olaudah Equiano, Isabelle Eberhardt, 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 (Mary Louise Pratt, Susanne Zantop, Anne McClintock, Michel Certeau, James Clifford, Stephen Greenblatt, Frank Lestringant, Anthony Pagden) that focus on the ethnography and aesthetics of travel writing.