Fall 2017 Courses



Conducted in German
Taught by Chadwick Smith

Conversation and Composition is designed for post-intermediate students of German with a solid grasp of German grammar and vocabulary who wish to expand on their knowledge of the German language, history, and culture through reading, discussion, and writing. Conversation and Composition is a reading, writing, and speaking intensive course. Emphasis will be placed on refining written and spoken expression, with particular focus on the ability to articulate opinions, exchange substantive information, and argue points of view; developing analytic and interpretive writing skills; and encouraging flexibility of expression. In addition, a thorough grammar review will be part of our work. During the course of the semester we will explore the fascination with ghosts, ghostly apparitions, scenes of dread, and haunted or scientifically inexplicable events from the 1800s to today—in particular, with the enduring association of new technologies and electronic media with paranormal or spiritual phenomena from a media or science and technologies studies perspective.

germ-ua 153

techniques of translation

Conducted in German
Taught by Andrea Dortmann

This course introduces students to the history, theory, and practice of translation through German and English texts taken from a variety of cultural backgrounds. While engaging in the craft of translation first hand, students will encounter diverse contrastive grammatical, syntactical, and stylistic problems, thus gaining a deeper understanding of the German language. The course also stresses the acquisition of vocabulary and complex idiomatic structures necessary for effective reading comprehension as well as written expression. A background reader in English will familiarize students with historical and theoretical implications of translation.

Photocopies of primary texts in German (and English) to be translated will be distributed by the instructor. Materials may include newspaper and magazine articles; recipes; television and print advertisements; scientific and philosophical articles; pop material such as hip hop and rap songs, cartoons; literary texts: prose, theater, poetry, libretti, among others. In addition to those weekly translation assignments, which will be critically assessed in class, we will translate one or more longer prose texts from German to English as a class. This work will accompany our course throughout the semester.

germ-ua 250

topics: German Art, 1800 to the Present

Conducted in English
Taught by Christopher Wood

This course will cover the history of art in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland from 1800 to the present. The main theme will be the relation between German art and the eminent German tradition of philosophical and critical writing on art. The course will offer lectures on the major artists and their works, classroom discussion of the works as well as assigned texts, and at least two field trips to New York museums. The readings will be mostly primary sources: artists’ writings and manifestos, art theory and criticism, aesthetics. Protagonists in the course will include the artists Friedrich, Runge, Menzel, Böcklin, von Marées, Klinger, Liebermann, Klimt, Schiele, Kirchner, Nolde, Kollwitz, Albers, MoholyNagy, Höch, Haussmann, Heartfield, Sander, Klee, Beckmann, Beuys, Richter, Kiefer, Polke, Baselitz, Kippenberger, Trockel, Darboven, West, Struth, Gursky, Rauch, Schlingensief, Steyerl, v. Bonim, Hirschhorn, and Althoff; and the writers and thinkers Goethe, Tieck and Wackenroder, Hegel, Marx, Worringer, Hildebrand, Wölfflin, Kandinsky, Benjamin, and Adorno.

Generally the Monday class will be devoted to lectures providing basic introductions to the material; historical framework; and guidelines to interpretation of the artworks and texts.  In the Wednesday classes, devoted to class discussion, we will analyze and discuss the works of art and the texts.

germ-ua 253, Topics in German Cinema:

Man, Monster, Machine: A Century of German Film

Conducted in English
Taught by Doreen Densky

This course presents a survey of German cinema with an emphasis on questions of how the filmic medium depicts human life and pushes the boundaries of body and psyche. We will begin by tracing the reappearance of uncanny figures inherited from Romantic storytelling (supernatural beings, undead, robots) in classics of Weimar film. We will then look at how a superhuman gaze is staged in Nazi propaganda cinema; how ordinary life and the status of the outsider are explored by filmmakers in both parts of the divided Germany; and how Post-Wall film continues to negotiate private and public identities, life and technology, games and psychology. In addition to discussing the complex history of authoritarianism, prejudice, persecution, and surveillance alongside of selected movies and critical readings, we will analyze the narrative and dramatic development in individual films as well as elements of form and style. Our viewings will include works by filmmakers such as Paul Wegener, F.W. Murnau, Fritz Lang, Leni Riefenstahl, Konrad Wolf, Volker Schlöndorff, Margarethe von Trotta, Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Michael Haneke, Oliver Hirschbiegel, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, and Christian Petzold.

germ-ua 298, topics in 20th-century literature:

"Weimar on the Pacific": German Exile Culture in the United States

Conducted in English
Taught by Andrea Krauss

After Hitler's seizure of power in 1933, the number of artists and intellectuals who fled the Nazi regime soon rose into the thousands. Many of these German expatriates ultimately settled in the United States (e.g. Los Angeles, New York), where, simultaneously attracted and alienated by their new surroundings, they made a significant impact on American culture. This seminar will explore German Exile Culture in the U.S. in its broad variety spanning a spectrum from film (Fritz Lang, Fred Zinnemann) to architecture (Walter Gropius), literature (Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, Lion Feuchtwanger), and philosophy (Theodor W. Adorno, Hannah Arendt). Based on the aesthetic and conceptual specificities of the artifacts, class discussions will focus on the relations between language and identity, art and politics, modernist and mass culture, public discourse and democracy. The seminar will close with a look at postwar America and the McCarthy era, when European emigrants became the target of suspicion as left-wing intellectuals.

germ-ua 488, seminar on 20th century:

Franz Kafka: The Power of Writing

Conducted in German
Taught by Elisabeth Strowick

The course analyzes texts by Franz Kafka from a twofold perspective. Inasmuch as his work tirelessly addresses processes of administration, law, punishment, knowledge production and family structures, it can be considered an analysis of modern institutions and forms of power by means of literature. But these forms of power also inform Kafka’s poetic practice. His literary techniques relate to modern communication systems (postal system) and media technologies used in modern bureaucracy (typewriter, phonograph/sound writer, telephone). In close readings we will examine how the specific performative, rhetorical and material character of Kafka’s texts contribute to the power of writing or what Deleuze/Guattari call a ‘minor literature.’ The course will also explore Kafka’s impact on 20th century literary theory and philosophy (Benjamin, Canetti, Deleuze/Guattari). Readings and discussions in German.

germ-ua 977


Department permission required. Please consult Alys George for details.

germ-ua 999

senior honors seminar

Department permission required.