Fall 2017 courses in German Studies
GERM 101: Elementary German I
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 multimedia materials. 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 101-102 will fulfill the Gen Ed G requirement. Students must take both GERM 101 and 102 for a letter grade to receive the G; courses must be taken at Binghamton University to receive the G.
Tom Hanel, Jan Hohenstein, Gülden Olgun, Anna Pfeifer
GERM 102: Elementary German II
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 101-102 will fulfill the Gen Ed G requirement. Students must take both GERM 101 and 102 for a letter grade to receive the G; courses must be taken at Binghamton University to receive the G.
GERM 203: Intermediate German I
Carl Gelderloos, Anna Pfeifer
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 consent of instructor.
GERM 241B: Fairy Tales: Happily Ever After
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 shaped the process of civilization in 17th c. France and 19th c. Germany,
and finally, how the strands of the Western European fairy tale tradition have in
turn influenced 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 in wisdom literature, such
as ideal kingship, good government, responsible citizenship, entrepreneurship, the
acquisition of wealth and wisdom, the depiction of gender roles, the portrayal of
opposing traditions of good and evil, and the treatment of cultural/religious diversity.
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 silence and political control in a cosmopolitan fusion
of eastern and western narrative traditions. Prerequisites: Love of tales; No knowledge
of German is expected.
Course counts as G, H, W
GERM 241T, 241V: Volkswagen and Beyond
What makes "German Engineering" so special that the phrase brings up twice as many
Google hits as "American Engineering?" For a long time, there have been common qualities
in the products of German design. The course investigates into the creative ideas
that have been driving the history of German engineering and its continuations in
society (Bauhaus, Volkswagen, Kraftwerk). It shows how ideas of beauty and well-formedness,
even principles of "good" engineering are determined by economic situations and political
issues; and how engineers' designs influence the self-image of a whole society in
return. Students are introduced to creative artists' statements and aesthetic programs,
but for a huge part of the course we will analyze concrete manifestations of engineering
aesthetics and the role of science, technology and engineering in German and US societies.
Note: This is a humanities course, not an engineering course. We will not discuss
BMW's anti-locking brakes; we will discuss the institutional and intellectual traditions
and mindsets that engineer the engineering. Course taught in English. Grading is based
on two presentations, an exam and a group project.
Course counts as A, (O,) W
GERM 241S: Media Theory
This course explores the major paradigms of media theory that have developed since
the beginning of the twentieth century. Against the cultural tendency to treat the
plural “media” as a single, unified object of study, the class focuses on the differences
between media—from the printing press through the personal computer. Through readings
spanning the Frankfurt School, Toronto School, and New German Media Theory, the course
concentrates on how the structures and operations of contemporary and historical media
technologies have been theorized and their social, political, psychological, and aesthetic
implications for viewers, listeners, writers, readers, and users. Offered regularly.
4 credits. This course fulfills the Post-1800 Art History major requirement.
Course counts as A
GERM 305: Texts & Contexts I
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.
GERM 380N: Staging Revolutions
In this course we will read plays about revolution. Specifically, we will be exploring
German works from the 18th to the 21st centuries (in English translation) that deal
with revolutions, revolts, uprisings, and violence. As the literary form that actually
involves people modeling a social situation on a stage in front of other people, drama
seems uniquely suited to represent the thoughts, ideas, and impulses behind moments
of political and social conflict and upheaval, as well as to explore questions of
agency, individuality, collectivity, and nation; yet how does drama represent mass
social and political events with only a few actors on stage, and how does the genre
respond to this problem of representation? Our focus on revolutions will allow us
to see how the history of German drama offers a wide variety of strategies by which
literature grapples with society, history, and politics. Readings will include works
by Aristotle, Schiller, Büchner, Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Brecht, among others. This
is a writing class, which means both that you will learn to write analytically about
literature, and that analytic writing will be the primary tool with which you will
probe and learn about the texts we will be reading. No knowledge of German is required.
Course counts as H, C
GERM 380Z: Cinematic Representations of Nazi Germany
This course explores Nazi German Cinema and all genre of Holocaust films after 1945
to the present. Part I of the course examines the manipulations of audiences by the
Third Reich’s media machine under the tutelage of the Minister of Propaganda, Dr.
Josef Goebbels. To this end, part I of the course analyzes how the Nazi Regime used
entertainment films like a Trojan Horse to smuggle in Nazi ideology. In addition to
feature films, directed by such star directors of the Third Reich, like Veit Harlan,
so-called documentary films (especially Leni Riefenstahl’s) became the engine for
whipping up national pride and desire to fight to the death. Part II of the course
explores how moving pictures (whether in feature or documentary films) became important
historical evidentiary sources for the Nazis’ “Final Solution.” In this section, we
study footage of witnesses’ moving and still photography, their writings and art as
historical evidence of the first class. Part II concerns itself with ethical questions
that were initially posed by the filmmaker Claude Lanzman and the poet, essayist and
survivor, Primo Levy, and which engendered vigorous debates about the representability
of the Holocaust and the status of memory in trauma studies (de Capra) that are still
being waged today.
Course counts as A, W
GERM 481A: Walter Benjamin and Critical Theory
Over the last decades Benjamin has emerged as one of the most important critics and
theorists of the 20th century. The rich and varied work of this idiosyncratic thinker
has become crucial for our readings of modernism and modernity, seminal for the discipline
of urban semiotics, full of inspiration for the study of the relation of literature,
art and technology, and provocative in its theses on history and historiography. Nevertheless,
for all their momentous influence, Benjamin's texts strangely resist assimilation.
He engages in a writing that is often deliberately literary and multivalent, and that
aims at a conscious and active mode of reception. This seminar will address this irreducibly
literary and self-reflexive dimension of Benjamin's writing by reading many of his
most important works that play a vital role in the contemporary study of literary
practice and culture. The focus will be on topics like Benjamin's study of media and
technology, especially photography and film, and their impact on literature and culture,
his writings on allegory in early modern drama (German, Spanish, English), and his
turn to the dialectical image, his study of modern poetry and literature (Baudelaire,
Proust, Kafka), his essays on Avant-garde movements (Surrealism) and urban spaces
(Arcades-Project), and his theoretical essays on language, translation, history and
Course counts as W