Previous Graduate Courses

Spring 2021

GER 512

German Literature in the 18th Century: German Letters and Revolution 1789-1808


The upheaval in France beginning in 1789 was as much an historical as a literary and philosophical event, provoking an unprecedented spate of responses. Salient issues studied in this course include the nature of social demise, limits of state power, uses and disadvantages of freedom, and dangers of a violent contagion. Of concern will be the use of literary texts as tools for responding to revolution. The course will also explore the echoes of the Haitian Revolution in contemporary journalistic and philosophical texts.

GER 520

Topics in Literary and Cultural Theory: “Psychoanalytic Turns”


What possibilities have emerged for psychoanalytic studies in the 21st cent.? Seminar addresses recent turns to psychoanalysis in history and criticism of art and literature. In reading psychoanalytic theories and critical writings, paths and detours lead to questions and problems of terminology, translation, representation, and mediation, and to explorations of works of art and literature that might be understood as instances of psychoanalytic criticism and/or critiques of psychoanalysis. Need for critical reflection on the meaningfulness of psychoanalytic theories for current scholarship in the humanities is a guiding concern of seminar.

GER 521
COM523, GSS521

Topics in German Intellectual History: Castrations


When the machismo of fascism gets unbearable and #metoo comes into full swing, cries for the castration of patriarchy grow louder. This seminar investigates the concept of castration from literary, artistic, psychoanalytic, feminist, queer, postcolonial, and philosophical angles. We will think through the question of how to counter a symbolic order that is so firmly organized around the phallus that any attempt at castration is re-appropriated as proof of the transcendental value of the phallus. With guest speakers.

GER 523

Topics in German Media Theory & History: “Signal to Noise: Modernity & the Acoustic”


Acoustic issues have become central to fields such as media studies, literature, art and art history, architecture and cultural theory, serving as a testing ground for anxieties and hopes about the consequences of key socio-political shifts (globalism, digitization, etc.). Analyzing the role of sound within histories of (post-)modernity, this seminar will examine technologies of production, transmission and reception; the geo-political roles and uses of sonic materials; the dynamics of social and individual modalities of acoustic experience, and the challenges posed by sound to the theoretical hegemony of certain models of “representation.”