Fall 2015 courses in German Studies
Elementary German 1 - GERM 101
Michelle Brussow, Tom Hanel, Marie-Christine Merdan, 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 tapes and video materials. Offered only in the fall semester. Students will not be able to begin the regular elementary German sequence again until the following fall. 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 and 102 for a letter grade at Binghamton University will fulfill the Gen Ed G requirement.
Elementary German II - GERM 102
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 and 102 for a letter grade at Binghamton University will fulfill the Gen Ed G requirement.
Intermediate German I - GERM 203
Carl Gelderloos, Marie-Christine Merdan
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 instructor's permission.
Fairy Tales: Enchant and Discover - GERM 241B
Fairy Tales: Enchantment, Discovery, Social Development in Global Contexts Exploration and discussion of how the great classical fairy tales told by Charles Perrault in 17th c. France and the Brothers Grimm in 19th c. Germany have been influenced by medieval Indian, Middle Eastern and early modern Mediterranean narrative traditions, how they shape the process of civilization in 17th c. France and 19th c. Germany, and finally, how this Western European fairy tale tradition has influenced and has been influenced by modern Indian English language narratives.. How has the education of the prince found in the mirrors for princes influenced patterns of behavior and decision making of middle class readers in 19th century Germany? How are heroic concepts of merit, virtue and vice depicted in new models of behavior set for a folk becoming literate? How has Shahrazad (Scheherazade), the narrator of 1001 Arabian Nights, set the stage for feminist tales told at the court of Louis XIV in France as well as for Huegenot women, who continued the French tale-telling tradition in 19th century Germany? What impact has the Western narrative tradition had in turn on the Indian and Middle Eastern sources? How is the confluence of narrative streams depicted in modern Indian narratives reflective of relevant influences of East and West? These are the major questions we shall discuss in a context of "sticky" topics, such as ideal kingship, good government, responsible citizenship, entrepreneurship, the acquisition of wealth and wisdom, the depiction of gender roles, and the portrayal of opposing traditions of good and evil or of free speech and the imposition of silence. Finally, we shall explore how the pursuit of happiness, wealth, knowledge, wisdom and power that is observable in the class struggle in 19th Germany is turned around in the tales of Salman Rushdie, the Indian master story teller, in his fairy tale depiction of the defeat of sadness, silence, and control in which eastern and western narrative traditions appear in what he calls "the sea of stories." Format: Lecture and group discussion; Prerequisites: interest in narrative traditions and in global interactions in the process of civilization. No knowledge of German language needed; Evaluation: class participation (including quizzes, blogs) 20% midterm, 20% final. 20% 2 papers s (~5 pages each, many short assignments) 20 % Reading list: Sarma Visnu, The Pañcatantra (Penguin) Sel. The Arabian Nights (tr. Husain Haddawy, Norton (Sel) Attar, The Conference of Birds; The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm, ed. Jack Zipes, Norton; Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories: a novel. (Penguin) Several films will be shown, including Jean Cocteau, Beauty and the Beast. Course counts as an 'H.'
German Turkish Cinema - GERM 241G
Whatever else has been said about the motivation that has driven Turkish German cinema since its inception in the early 1960s, most of its filmmakers share a desire to do more than merely entertain us. Indeed, it's not going too far out on a limb to claim that these transnational filmmakers are cultural ambassadors of a sort. There is nothing namby pamby about this task: their films are edgy and confrontational in that they show that the space of Turkish culture in Germany is not only a highly contradictory space, but a space of political and social contestation. Second generation German Turkish cinema is also driven by a strong desire to render understandable their Turkish cultural inheritance across cultural boundaries. However, many young filmmakers do more than this: they stake out and dramatize identity markers, such as ethnicity, gender, generation, nationality, sexual orientation and sexual difference, in ways you've never seen before. They invite us to see these highly contested spaces (called Germany) through the lens of the cultural Other. In other words, whether through documentary or feature films, TV serials, romcoms, or sitcoms, contemporary Turkish German filmmakers try to express the "truth" of life experiences of Turkish people in the diaspora in terms of transnational filmmaking. The goal of this course is for students to gain a solid grounding in this "hybrid" cinema; to learn to "read" film as a particular medium with its own vocabulary and representational grammar; and to practice dialectical thinking about this cinema's claims, in particular, its claims that it represents the "real" and the "authentic", set in the political and cultural climate of their times. Students who want this course to fulfill one of their writing requirements are expected to become competent in writing in a number of different genres. To achieve this goal, you are required to attend at least two writing conferences with me and two with a writing tutor during the semester. Format: lecture and discussion Requirements: Regular attendance. Weekly quizzes on reading assignments (35%); Midterm (20%). Five 2-pg. film evaluations (20%); Term paper (10 pgs., draft-revision; 25%). Course counts as 'A,' 'G,' 'W.'
German Literature During the Cold War - GERM 241T, 241V
This course examines major works of German literature published between 1945 and the late seventies, a period when authors struggled to come to terms with what happened in the Third Reich, while trying to find a voice for this newly divided country. New talents appeared on the scene as an older generation returned from exile (or not), arguing with those that had retreated to »inward exile« after 1933. Among the authors discussed are Ernst Jünger, Ernst von Salomon, Heinrich Böll, Arno Schmidt, Uwe Johnson, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and Christa Wolf. The course puts an emphasis on oral communication: Presentation methods and designs will be introduced, practiced and discussed, as well as principles of content-focused discussion. Course taught in English. Course counts as 'H,' 'O', 'W.'
Texts and Contexts I - GERM 305
Neil Christian Pages
Course provides a comprehensive review of German grammar and usage through readings of texts and contexts related to German-speaking Europe and the global reach of German language and culture. We will work with different genres (fiction and non-fiction; history; geography; art; philosophy; media; visual culture) in order to develop fluency and accuracy in spoken and written German, to explore strategies for reading texts needed for an interdisciplinary approach to German Studies and to learn more about key aspects of German language and culture. Evaluation and grading are based on in-class participation, written homework and exams. Course is taught entirely in German. Prerequisite: GERM 204 or equivalent or instructor permission.
Towards a New World Literature - GERM 380H
Processes of decolonization since the 60s and of globalization in the last 30 years have produced a rich body of contemporary literature of mobility that explores and reflects on postcolonial and 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 "translocal" or world literature. We will examine major critical approaches to this literature and discuss theoretical foundations of key concepts: postcolonial criticism, transnationalism, hybridity, creolization, neonomadism, transculturality, dispatriation, and cosmopolitics. Authors include V.S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Pico Iyer, Leila Sebbar, Amin Maalouf, Villem Flusser, Emine Özdamar, Yoko Tawada, and Dinaw Mengestu.
From Hero to Knight - GERM 380J
Beginning with Orff's Carmina Burana, Game of Thrones, Spamalot, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we will construct heroic, courtly and narrative codes in the Middle Ages. We study tales that were recited and performed in Germany as they move from oral performance into the written tradition. Learning about the cognitive revolution that took place in the turn from the oral to the written tradition will be carried out through close reading of the entire Song of the Nibelungs. Access to literacy and the acquisition of this new mode of communication will be studied in terms of their effect on different layers of society. We will also read and explore great tales that define relations between the West and the East during the times of the Crusades, heroic tales of ancient warriors that turn up in courtly dress, as well as Arthurian romances that portray and shape courtly society and civilization. How does the heroic code change into the knightly code? Tellers and writers of tales seek to create a literature that forges values and ideas of heroism, nation building, governance, knighthood, chivalry, courtly love, civilization, kingship, justice, warfare, service to God, the encounter with the Orient, and implications of the rise of the new merchant class in the cities. Works will be read in English translation.. The course will be taught in English with a special discussion section in German for students who have completed Intermediate German or the equivalent. Texts and Movies: The Lay of Hildebrand The older lay and the younger lay BB The Song of the Nibelungs, (complete epic) tr. Frank G. Ryder Siegfried, Kriemhild's Revenge Fritz Lang Duke Ernst, tr. J.W. Thomas and Carolyn Dussere Poor Henry/Der arme Heinrich, Hartmann von Aue, BB Parzival, Wolfram von Eschenbach Excalibur, John Boorman Tristan und Isolde, Gottfried von Strassburg The Book of Memory, Carruthers, Mary (selections) The Power of the Written Tradition, Jack Goody (selections). Course counts as 'H.'
Transnational Science Fictions - GERM 380L
Often dismissed as merely a genre of entertainment, distraction, or escapism, Science Fiction (SF) is attracting increasing critical attention as a complex and contradictory field. Both on the thematic level (its aliens, distant worlds, bizarre technologies, and other various manifestations of alternate futures or pasts) and on the formal level (the myriad ways in which it tells its strange stories), SF explores philosophical, theoretic, political, and aesthetic questions that are central to literature and culture as such, whether high or low. So how might we deepen our critical understanding of SF in relation to more canonical cultural production and to literary theory? How has SF both shaped and reacted to a modernizing world, a technological society, and various imaginable futures ranging from the dystopian to the uncertain to the confidently optimistic? More importantly, how does SF – as a genre, a collection of cultural reference points, and a representational mode – form and inform the very categories in which we think of the future? progress? utopia? the Other? How can we understand SF as a way of theorizing, coming to grips with, and even changing the modern world? In what unique ways might SF pose questions that are germane to all literature? These are some of the questions this class will explore in transnational literature, films, and theoretical texts of the 19th–21st centuries. Class discussions and the writing process (including intensive workshops and revisions) will allow us to pose and refine these questions while improving your skills as a critical reader and a writer of analytical essays. Course counts as 'C,' 'H.'
Art, Image, Psychoanalysis - GERM 380N
This course explores the history of psychoanalysis as both a critical fixture in the interpretation of images during the 20th century, as well as a theory deeply tied to developments in aesthetics and technology. Despite having become a standard theoretical tool in the interpretation of art and film, psychoanalysis, since its inception, has had difficulty accounting for the nature and function of images. Through readings of core psychoanalytic and pre-psychoanalytic texts (Freud, Ferenczi, Rank, Klein, Lacan, etc.) and an engagement with 20th century movements in art and film (including Dada, Surrealism, Weimar cinema, and contemporary criticism) we will examine the ways in which psychoanalysis has informed and been informed by the history of image-making. Prerequisite: any 100- or 200-level course in Art History, English, Comparative Literatue, Cinema, or German and Russian Studies; or permission of instructor. This course fulfills the "Post-1800" distribution requirement for the Art History major. Course counts as 'A,' C.'
Übermen and Underlings - GERM 380Y
To be overwhelmed by what is inconceivably huge or loud is an aesthetic experience well known to the visitor of cathedrals or rock concerts. This course follows the historical and contemporary perusal of what is fearfully big, the notion of the sublime. We investigate Nazi architecture as well as the idea of globalization. And we find out about the opposite of the sublime: aesthetics of dirt or humility in youth culture, religious orders, ghetto literature and many other contexts. Readings include texts by Longinus, Edmund Burke, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schiller, Friedrich Nietzsche, Susan Sontag, and Norman Mailer. Course taught in English. Course counts as 'A,' 'W.'