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Spring 2018 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

Tom Hanel, Jan Hohenstein, 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 181G: Intensive German Grammar

Anna Pfeifer
This course offers a thorough review of the major areas of German grammar. The course emphasizes linguistic accuracy and is designed to familiarize students with the most important aspects of German grammar at the elementary and intermediate levels, such as the major verb tenses, the cases and declinations of nouns, articles, and adjectives, word order, pronouns, and the like. Student needs and preferences will help determine what areas receive special focus; this course is for all students who want to consolidate, improve, and perfect their knowledge of German grammar and their ability to use spoken and written German with accuracy and nuance. Prerequisites: Successful completion of GERM 102 or equivalent, or instructor's permission.

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

Anna Pfeifer

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 241E/COLI 280A/ENG 200A: Fairy Tales in Social History

Rosmarie Morewedge

A study of the shift from the oral folk tale to the literary fairy tale in France and Germany to discover how tales mirror symbolically the social historical processes that occur in the transformation of an agrarian society 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 explore the role of tales in the civilizing process, as the development of the self and social evolution become grand themes. Formal aspects of tales, gender construction, the intersection of gender and class, confrontational and participatory modes of behavior, the historical location of authority and negotiations with power by the rising middle class, and implications of the development of literacy by the middle class will be further topics of discussion. In English; no knowledge of German required; an additional weekly one hour discussion section of the course will be offered to those wishing to work in German. H

GERM 241F/HIST 281K: The Nazi State

Harald Zils

The course looks at Germany between 1933 and 1945, at the organization and inner functioning of the Nazi 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.
Part of the course is a weekly "history lab" that provides hands-on experiences with sources as well as research practice.
Course taught in English.
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GERM 241G/ENG 200W/PHIL 280C: Introduction to Marx and Critical Theory

Carl Gelderloos

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." So begins Part One of the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels. This sentence also stands at the beginning of a tradition in philosophy, history, and politics that places everyday human labor and struggle at the heart of historical change. This course offers an introduction to this tradition, with an emphasis on its origins in the 19th century and its development in the 20th century, particularly in the work of writers associated with the Frankfurt School. As we will see, this critical tradition draws its strength from the ways in which it considers questions of power, economy, society, and culture as inextricable from each other rather than as separate disciplines. Because it holds that cultures and ideologies cannot be understood without considering how given societies and economies are organized, the tradition of critical theory is materialist; because it highlights the importance of struggle and contradiction, it is dialectical. Topics we will consider include capitalism, revolution, utopia, mass culture, dialectical reasoning, historical materialism, the state, fascism, antifascism, and the human relationship to nature. Readings may include works by Marx, Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Adorno, Benjamin, Lukács, Kracauer, Brecht, and Fanon.
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GERM 241L/MDVL 280C: Myths of Power

Rosmarie Morewedge

Courts, Kings, Dynasties and Cities in Germany: Myths of Power in Images and Icons Focusing on the time span of the Middle Ages to the French Revolution, we shall explore the rise of sacral kingship, the institutionalization of power, 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, as well as centripetal and centrifugal force fields that shape the center and the periphery . We will study icons and images, read texts and 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 critique literary and visual depictions of these historical power struggles. We will explore how these iconic images – linked often to myths of power-- have contributed to the shaping of aristocratic status, social hierarchies and social mobility, and ultimately to a regional, urban and/or national identity in Germany.


GERM 306: Texts and Contexts II

Neil Christian Pages

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 380W/COLI 380E/ENG 450H: Germany after the Wall

Harald Zils

The fall of the Iron Curtain brought a lot of changes to Europe, and Germany was at the center of them. Old enemies were gone, instead there was a new phenomenon called "globalism." European societies had to re-familiarize themselves with long lost relatives, new friends and foes, and issues nobody had imagined on the lee side of the Wall.
For moviemakers and authors in newly unified Germany, this was a fresh start. New faces, both in the East and West, challenged the old monopolies of opinion and the taste of old guards. They joyfully rediscovered story-telling; they borrowed some styles and tricks from Hollywood and other places; and worldwide audiences found their new topics fascinating -- among them Oprah Winfrey, whose book club catapulted German author Bernhard Schlink („The Reader") to number one on the New York Times bestseller list. After the dry and boring 1980s, there suddenly was exciting German storytelling again!
The course, taught in English, discusses social change in Germany after 1989 and how it translated into movies, novels and short stories by Henckel von Donnersmarck, Karen Duve, Ingo Schulze, Daniel Kehlmann, Wladimir Kaminer and others.
Grading is based on two presentations (one in a team), a take home exam and a seven page term paper.
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GERM 381C: German Culture 1871–1990

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.


Courses crosslisted in German

GERM 241H: Modern Yiddish Culture

Gina Glasman

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).

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GERM 380A: Modern Women in Literature and Film

Gisela Brinker-Gabler

With an overview of the wide range and tradition of 20th-century women writers, the course will focus on a century of representation of women "practicing modernity." Leaving behind the so-called "cult of domesticity," ascribed to women in the Victorian era, a new model of woman emerged encouraging women to liberate themselves, manage their own lives and to leave behind anything that might restrict their pursuit of happiness and self-realization (e.g., in professional career, activity in a social or political movement or in new styles of love and life defying convention and social norms). What kind of choices did women have in the modern world and the modern city? How did they succeed or fail or both in pursuing happiness and fulfillment? What conflicts did they have to work through, what different practices and decision-making processes emerge from their lives? In this seminar students will learn about key women writers, who created new narratives, and poetic and visual languages, and they will analyze and discuss their books that were turned into films, presenting the challenge and the new consciousness about women in the modern world. BOOKS: Lou Andreas-Salome, FENITSCHKA, Nella Larsen, QUICKSAND, Virginia Woolf, MRS. DALLOWAY, Anita Loos, GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, Irmgard Keun, THE ARTIFICAL SILK GIRL, Ingeborg Bachmann, THREE PATHS TO THE LAKE. Films: A DOLL'S HOUSE, THE HOURS, JULIA, HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT.


GERM 380G: The Holocaust

Gina Glasman

The Holocaust: A History of the Resistance from Anti-Fascist Brigades to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. This class explores the history of Jewish resistance to the existential threat posed by Nazism, both before and during the Second World War. All kinds of responses to that threat – political and cultural, collective and individual – will form part of our inquiry into this terrible historical moment. History, memoir literature and popular song will act as our guides. All sources will be in English translation.

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

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.


GERM 481B: Enlightenment and Empire

Giovanna Montenegro

Even more than the Renaissance, the Enlightenment is often discussed as one of the most important movements of Western history that has continued to shape our intellectual and political lives. This graduate seminar will investigate fundamental texts from the Enlightenment and will study the movement's cosmopolitan and global aftermath through an analysis of its effect on Empire. We will discuss essays and treatises from the political, literary, and aesthetic concerns of the French and German Enlightenment such as Immanuel Kant's and Moses Mendelssohn's essay responses to the question "What is Enlightenment?"; entries from Diderot's and D'Alembert's massive Encyclopedie; Rousseau's Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men; Montesquieu's Persian Letters, Lessing's play on religious tolerance Nathan the Wise, and writings of the most important salonnières (the women who presided over salon culture). We will also debate how racism, slavery and abolition, religious freedom, orientalism, cosmopolitanism, and globality are promoted or debated in the works of Kant, Graffigny, Raynal, and Hegel. Finally, we will finish with recent 20th and 21st century critiques and adaptations of Enlightenment (Carpentier).


GERM 481J: 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, the negotiation of various intersections and components of identity in these works 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, Pico Iyer, Yoko Tawada, Emine Özdamar, and Teju Cole. Theoretical contributions by, among others, Homi Bhabha, Salman Rushdie, Gayatri Ch. Spivak, Stuart Hall, Francoise Lionnet, Julia Kristeva, Bruce Robbins, Mimi Sheller/ John Urry, Rosi Braidotti. Requirements: Undergraduates: two short papers, and final essay exam.


Last Updated: 1/30/19