Spring 2022
GER 101

Beginner’s German I


The course lays a foundation for functional acquisition of German.  Class time is devoted to language tasks that will foster communicative and cultural competence and will emphasize listening and reading strategies, vocabulary acquisition, authentic input, and oral production.  Conducted in German.

GER 102

Beginner’s German II


Continues the goals of GER 101, focusing on increased communicative proficiency (oral and written), effective reading strategies, and listening skills. Emphasis on vocabulary acquisition and functional language tasks: learning to request, persuade, ask for help, express opinions, agree and disagree, negotiate conversations, and gain perspective on German culture through readings, discussion, and film. Staff

GER 107

Advanced German


Continues improvement of proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing using texts, online media, and other sources as a basis for class discussion.  Grammar review is included. Conducted in German. Staff.

GER 208

Studies in German Language and Style:  Contemporary Society, Politics, and Culture


This course traces German cultural and political history from 1945 to the present by examining the period’s most heated debates: first, the controversy around the aftermath of Nazi rule, which escalated in the 60s and 70s in violent clashes between students and government; second, the ideological rivalry between two German states up to reunification; third, persistent struggles with multiculturalism; and fourth, Germany’s role and reputation in Europe. The course facilitates advanced competence in written and oral German but will also develop analytical competencies in historical and historiographical argumentation across a range of sources.

GER 210

Introduction to German Philosophy


An introduction to the German philosophical tradition from the Enlightenment to the present through the study of its major figures (Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Adorno, Arendt). This course offers a survey of German intellectual history based upon direct engagement with original texts. Domains to be explored include metaphysics, aesthetics, the theory of knowledge, political philosophy and the philosophy of language.

GER 211

Introduction to Media Theory


Through careful readings of a wide range of media theoretical texts from the late 19th to early 21st century, this class will trace the development of critical reflection on technologies and media ranging from the printing press to photography, from gramophones to radio technologies, from pre-cinematic optical devices to film and television, and from telephony and typewriters to cyberspace. Topics include the relationship between representation and technology, the historicity of perception, the interplay of aesthetics, technology and politics, and the transformation of notions of imagination, literacy, communication, reality, and truth.

T Th, Film-Tues
11:00am - 11:50am, Film-Tues 7:30pm - 10:20pm, Precepts TBA
GER 302

Topics in Critical Theory: Culture Industry: Paradoxes of Democratic Mass Culture


The critique of the culture industry is part of a philosophical concern for democracy that is grounded in the diagnosis of a “normative paradox.” A normative paradox arises when a value that initially promised a qualitative gain in freedom tends to become so inverted over time that it opposes such a development. Already early forms of mass culture aroused the suspicion of having realized the egalitarian principle of democracy in a problematic way, namely as homogenization of the masses. The seminar will introduce and discuss the respective tradition of political and aesthetical thought.

GER 303

Topics in Prose Fiction: Kafka and the Powers of Modernity


This seminar will explore the enigmatic world of Franz Kafka, from his stories to his unfinished novels, with some attention to his posthumously published diary and letters. We will pay special attention to the role of the law, machine, animals, objects, and the family. In addition to a close reading Kafka’s major literary text, we will engage with pertinent philosophical texts by thinkers as Benjamin, Blanchot, Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault, and Nietzsche.

GER 306
ECS 387

German Intellectual History: Denial, Disavowal, Conspiracy


Why is it that we know something but don’t act accordingly? This question becomes urgent in the face of issues that require immediate action, like global-warming, meat-production, exploitative working conditions, sexual violence, racism. “Death is a master from Germany,” the poet Paul Celan wrote - given the long denial of the death-camps, we could also say: “Denial is a master from Germany.” This class traces a series of catastrophic (quasi-)events in German history and discusses global analogues. We will also turn our attention to conspiracy-theories, i.e., large-scale communities of denial that affirm alternative realities.

GER 307
TRA 311

Topics in German Culture and Society: Lost in Translation: From the Tower of Babel to Machine


Is translation possible without losing something of the original? Can cultures be translated or appropriated? Is a universal language possible, or even desirable? Can a computer be trained to translate more effectively than a human? This course will explore the limits, uses, and abuses of translation and multilingual difference through readings and discussions of myths, case studies, and theories of translation, with a focus on the German context. We will acquaint ourselves with many different perspectives on translation and untranslatability, as well as developing our own understandings of these problems.

GER 321
GSS 321 MED 321

Topics in German Medieval Literature: Before Gender: Cross-Dressing and Sex in Medieval Romance


A young Arthurian knight loses honor because he enjoys having sex with his wife. The Grail King is wounded near fatally in the genitals while trying to win the “wrong” woman. Young kings dress up and act like women in order to woo their prospective brides. This course will explore what it meant to be men and women in love (with each other or with God) in some of the most spectacular literary works of the German Middle Ages. The larger context for our discussion will be a more nuanced understanding of the history of gender. Readings and discussion primarily in modern German, some readings and discussion in English.

GER 372
ART 341 ECS 384

Writing About Art (Rilke, Freud, Benjamin)


This seminar explores the significance of works of art, and of practices of writing about art, for three great writers of the early 20th century: poet Rainer Maria Rilke, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, and critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin. Readings include: lyric poetry, experimental prose, psychoanalytic theory, cultural analysis, and aesthetic theory. Topics include: the situation of the work of art in modernity; art and the unconscious; the work of art and the historical transmission of culture in modern Europe. Course taught in English.

GER 1025

Intensive Intermediate German


Intensive training in German, building on GER 101 and covering the acquisitional goals of two subsequent semesters:  communicative proficiency in a wide range of syntax, mastery of discourse skills, and reading strategies sufficient to interpret and discuss contemporary German short stories, drama, and film.  Intensive classroom participation required.  Successful completion provides eligibility for GER 107.