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Advanced German, Contemporary Germany
GMAN 151 (L5, taught in German)
Advanced German course focusing on vocabulary expansion through reading practice; stylistic development in writing; and development of conversational German. Critical analysis of selected aspects of contemporary German culture, such as Green Germany, social movements from the 60s to today, the changing “Sozialstaat,” and current events.
The German Fairy Tale and its Legacy
GMAN 165 (L5, taught in German)
Once upon a time, long before Tolkien, Disney, or Rowling, two brothers named Grimm published a collection of fairy tales that went on to have an immense cultural impact throughout the world. German children grow up with these fairy tales and they play a huge part in German culture even today. The Grimm fairy tales are the textual point of departure for a multi-faceted, integrative exploration of this popular and influential genre through time. Students explore fairy tales by Wilhelm Hauff and Ludwig Bechstein, as well as traditional cultural theories of the German fairy tale, psychoanalytic and pedagogical interpretive approaches, and contextualization of this genre in cultural and social history. The focus is on the role that the literary fairy tale played in German culture throughout history and the impact German fairy tales still have today.
German Film from 1945 to the Present
We will look at a variety of German-language feature films from 1945 to the present in order to focus on issues of trauma, guilt, remembrance (and its counterpart: amnesia), gender, Heimat or “homeland,” national and transnational self-fashioning, terrorism, and ethics.
How do the Second World War and its legacy inflect these films? What socio-political and economic factors influence the individual and collective identities that these films articulate? How do the predominant concerns shift with the passage of time and with changing media? How is the category of nation constructed and contested within the narratives themselves?
Close attention will be paid to the aesthetic issues and the concept of authorship. Films by Staudte, Wolf, Kluge, Radax, Wenders, Fassbinder, Schroeter, Farocki, Haneke, Petzold, Schanelec, Seidl, Hausner, Geyrhalter, among others.
Karl Marx’s Capital
A careful reading of Karl Marx’s classic, Capital volume 1, with occasional reference to volume 2, along with influential interpretations of the book.
German Fiction Around 1800
The literary forms of novel, the novella, the short story and the fairy tale were fundamentally reconfigured in Germany around 1800. In the decades 1790-1820, narrative forms begin to take on the importance and enduring shape that will extend through the 19th century and beyond. Techniques such as frame narration (stories in stories), unreliable narrators, gothic and supernatural elements, the Bildungsroman, the novel of the artist, take shape in the context of a highly experimental literary culture. Works covered include Goethe, Conversations of German Refugees and Wilhelm Meister’s Journeyman Years; Schiller, The Ghost-Seer; Tieck, Blond Eckbert; Novalis, Heinrich of Ofterndingen; E.T.A. Hoffmann, The Sandmann and Kreisleriana. Readings are available in German and English.
Robert Musil’s Man without Qualities: The End of the Novel
Musil’s gigantic Man without Qualities (published 1930–33, 1943) is one of the quintessential modernist (interwar) European novels. After looking into Musil’s earlier narrative experiments, the course begins with the close reading of part I of the novel and then focuses on the main strands of its narrative network: modernization and mysticism; the end of old Europe and the rise of fascism; the Vienna Circle’s epistemology and the legal doctrine of accountability; love and violence. The intertwining of essay and narration in the novel, the theory of the novel in the novel, and the question of prose as form are at the core of the course. Readings in English or German. Discussions in English.
Karl Marx’s Critiques of Capitalism
A careful analysis of volume 1 of Capital, with reference to earlier and later works, including volumes 2 and 3, and the Grundrisse.