This is the first half of a yearlong course for students who are beginning the study of German or have had only minimal exposure to the language. The first semester introduces students to the German language in all four modalities: reading, writing, speaking and listening. The work includes practice in understanding and using the spoken language. Written exercises and elementary reading materials completed outside class serve as a basis for vocabulary-building and in-class discussion and role-plays. Students also write four short essays on familiar topics over the course of the semester. During the second semester, there is more advanced practice in the use of the spoken and written language and we use short fictional and authentic cultural texts to develop techniques of reading. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Students enrolled in this course are automatically added to GERM 112Y for the spring semester. No prerequisite. Offered every fall.
This is the second half of a yearlong course for students who are beginning the study of German or have had only minimal exposure to the language. As in the first semester, the work includes practice of the German language in all four modalities — reading, writing, speaking and listening — in class, in scheduled review sessions with an apprentice teacher and using an online workbook. There is more advanced practice in the use of the spoken and written language. We develop reading skills through a variety of fictional and cultural texts, including a short book we read in its entirety. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. At the end of the semester, students read their first book of fiction in German. Prerequisite: GERM 111Y or equivalent with permission of instructor. Offered every spring.
This first-semester middle-level course is designed to develop German reading, writing and speaking skills beyond GERM 111Y-112Y. We use a grammar text for reviewing and expanding upon aspects of German grammar from the first year. We apply this review as we read "Tshick," a young adult novel in German by Wolfgang Herrndorf, and other short literary and journalistic texts; as we gain a basic understanding of films in the original German; and as we converse in German with a partner or in groups. These texts and films serve as a point of departure for short compositions as well. Keeping a diary in German also is an integral component of the course. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Students enrolled in this course are automatically added to GERM 214Y for the spring semester. Prerequisite: GERM 111Y-112Y or equivalent. Offered every fall.
This second-semester middle-level course is designed to develop German reading, writing and speaking skills beyond GERM 111Y-112Y. We use a grammar text for reviewing and expanding upon aspects of German grammar from the first year. We apply this review as we read short literary and journalistic texts, as we gain a basic understanding of films in the original German, and as we converse in German with a partner or in groups. These texts and films serve as a point of departure for short compositions as well. Keeping a diary in German also is an integral component of the course. Studying the novel "Der Richter und sein Henker" by Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt is a special component of GERM 214Y. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which will be scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Prerequisite: GERM 213Y or equivalent. Offered every spring.
In this course, we attempt to gain an understanding of some of the most complex poetry in German in the 20th century. At least two of the poets we study, Rainer Maria Rilke and Paul Celan, have made it into the canon of what some call "world literature." Our approach is theoretical in that we start with a seminal work in German aesthetics, Nietzsche's "Birth of Tragedy," and throughout the semester discuss the poems side by side with philosophical and critical essays on the poems in question. German 20th-century poetry has resonated in extraordinary ways with writers in theoretically and philosophically oriented criticism. Theoretical work we discuss includes Martin Heidegger's essays "What are Poets for?" and "Language"; Hans Georg Gadamer's essays on Rilke and Celan; Werner Hamacher's "The Second of Inversion"; Adorno's "The Lyric and Society"; and Paul de Man's "Tropes (Rilke)." In addition to Rilke and Celan, we study poems by Else Lasker-Schüler, Stefan George, Georg Trakl, Gertrud Kolmar and Gottfried Benn. The readings open up perspectives on the central aspects of criticism on poetry, namely the relationship between philosophical thought and poetry, the relationship between poetry and language, the problem of self-reference, and questions of history and memory. This course is taught in English translation. No prerequisite. Generally offered every three years.
Contemporary German cinema has been criticized for its presentation of "characters whose primary sense of person and place is rarely an overt function of their national identity or directly impacted by Germany's difficult past" (Eric Rentschler). Politics seem to disappear more and more from the German screen, whereas the New German Cinema from the 1960s to the early '80s often used film explicitly as a means of coming to terms with the past. This course presents major trends in German film since 1989 (beginning with Heiner Carow's "Coming Out," a queer movie and one of the last DEFA films). We try to reassess the often-repeated claim of the disappearance of the political. Indeed, we look at a number of films dealing with gender and queer issues by directors such as Monika Treut ("My Father is Coming") and Kutlug Ataman ("Lola and Billy the Kid"), among others. Ataman, along with director Fatih Akin ("In July," "Head On") serves as an example for a breakthrough in Turkish-German film production. Discussing the work of Tom Tykwer ("Winter Sleepers," "The Princess and the Warrior" and "Perfume") forms one thematic block in this overview of the past 18 years of German film. Another group of movies that deals with the German division and re-unification, such as "The Promise," "Good-Bye Lenin" and "Go For Zucker," is included as well. The course also introduces students to the tools of film analysis. No previous knowledge of German or film is required. This course is taught in English translation. No prerequisite. Generally offered every three years.
This course examines the construction of national identity through the medium of film. For Germany, which historically looked to its writers to define its national identity, film became a very important medium for expressing this goal. In addition to a basic understanding of the terms and methods used in the formal description of film, this course provides students with the sociohistorical background to be able to understand and evaluate the role that films played in both shaping and reflecting German cultural ideals from the early 20th century through the present. The majority of films viewed in this course represent three distinct historical epochs: the Weimar period, which produced some of the greatest silent films ever made, such as "Nosferatu," "The Golem," "Dr. Caligari" and "Dr. Mabuse"; the Nazi period, which resulted in the artistically unequaled propaganda film "The Triumph of the Will," as well as examples of Hollywood-inspired Nazi propaganda films such as "Jew Süss"; and the post-World War II period, for which we view films made by members of the New German Cinema, like Fassbinder's "The Marriage of Maria Braun," Werner Herzog's "Aguirre: The Wrath of God," and "Wings of Desire" by Wim Wenders. Finally, we view a number of films that represent a reaction of sorts to the New German Cinema, such as the (anti-) war film "Das Boot," as well as recent works by female filmmakers such as Margarethe von Trotta ("Rosenstraße"), Dorris Dörrie ("Men") and Vaness Jopp ("Forget America"). This course is taught in English translation. Students majoring in film should contact the department chair regarding counting this course toward their major. No prerequisite. Generally offered every three years.
In this course, we explore a wide array of topics in contemporary German culture to provide advanced students with the opportunity to strengthen their abilities to write, read and speak German. Topics may include the impact of reunification on contemporary Germany, religious life and popular music. Students read excerpts from two German books on German culture and identity: "Typisch Deutsch: Wie deutsch sind die Deutschen?" by Herman Bausinger and "Die deutsche Seele" by Thea Dorn and Richard Wagner. We explore the topics of migration and citizenship, as well. Students develop fluency in German to perform linguistically and culturally appropriate tasks. The composition component seeks to improve the ability to write clearly and coherently in German. To foster these goals, the course also provides a review of advanced grammatical structures. This course can be repeated for credit up to 1.0 unit. Prerequisite: GERM 213Y-214Y or equivalent. Offered every fall semester.
This course is designed as an introduction to the study of German literature and culture beginning with the earliest writings by the Germanic tribes in the early Middle Ages and going through 1900. Students gain a greater understanding of German literary history and related social and philosophical trends. Other central goals include practice in the close reading of texts and acquiring a basic German vocabulary to do so. We read samples from various genres — drama, prose and lyric poetry. Authors and works to be studied may include the "Hildebrandslied," Walther von der Vogelweide, Martin Luther, Immanuel Kant, Ludwig Tieck, Georg Büchner (including Werner Herzog's film rendition of Büchner's "Woyzeck"), Karl Marx, Louise Otto-Peters, Gerhard Hauptmann, Karl May and others. GERM 321 is recommended. Prerequisite: GERM 213Y–214Y or equivalent.
This course provides an overview of various movements in German, Swiss and Austrian literature and film of the 20th and 21st centuries on the basis of representative textual and cinematic examples. Students gain a greater understanding of German literary history and related social and philosophical trends. Other central goals include practice in the close reading of texts and films and acquiring a basic German vocabulary to do so. We read samples from various genres — drama, prose and lyric poetry. Authors to be studied may include Arthur Schnitzler, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Anna Seghers, Bertolt Brecht, Heinrich Böll, Ingeborg Bachmann, Barbara Honigmann, Uwe Timm and Judith Hermann. We also watch films such as "The Blue Angel" (1930, von Sternberg), "The Murderers Are among Us" (Staudte, 1946), "Berlin: Schönhauser Corner" (Klein 1957) and "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" (Herzog, 1972). GERM 321 recommended. Prerequisite: GERM 213Y-214Y or equivalent.
Heinrich Heine, Arthur Schnitzler, Franz Kafka and Paul Celan are considered among the greatest authors ever to have written in the German language — or, one might argue, in any language. They also were all Jews. In this course, we read short fictional texts and poems created over the last 250 years by these and other German-language Jewish artists. In addition, we examine a variety of treatises surrounding the origins of Germany's so called Judenfrage and the answers to the Jewish question given over time by important Jewish and non-Jewish thinkers such as G. E. Lessing, C. W. von Dohm, Karl Marx, Richard Wagner, Theodor Adorno, Jean Améry and Gershom Scholem. Even as we consider the meaning of the Holocaust's unhealable rupture in the German-Jewish encounter, the primary focus of the course is on the continuity and vibrancy of German-Jewish life and the variety of German-Jewish cultural expression during the period in question, including after the Shoah. Other possible authors include Moses Mendelssohn, Fanny Lewald and Karl Emil Franzos in the late 18th and19th centuries; Theodor Herzl, Joseph Roth and Else Lasker-Schüler in the early 20th century; Ilse Aichinger in the immediate postwar period; and Jurek Becker, André Kaminski, Maxim Biller and Doron Rabinovici in more recent times. Films by Ernst Lubitsch, Ruth Beckermann and Dani Levy also are examined. Prerequisite: GERM 325 or above. Generally offered every three years.
At the turn of the 20th century, Vienna was home to figures as diverse as Sigmund Freud, Gustav Klimt, Gustav Mahler, Leon Trotsky, Adolf Hitler and Bertha von Suttner, the first women to be solely awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. How do we explain the extraordinary cultural energy of the capital of the far-flung Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was itself on the verge of disintegration? The course first examines some of the tensions that characterized “fin-de-siècle” Vienna. These included a new urban modernism that confronted historicist architectural trends, the rise of mass politics and the disintegration of political liberalism, and the power of the Habsburg monarchy in Vienna vis-à-vis nationalist movements at the periphery of the empire. Against this historical backdrop, Vienna 1900 became home to a variety of modernist movements. We explore significant figures in literature (Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal, Musil), music (Mahler, R. Strauss, Schönberg) and the visual arts (Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos). We investigate the psychoanalysis of Freud and the important role of the coffee house in cultural exchange. We ask ourselves, where are women in all of this? Finally, we examine the specific role Jews played in this cultural flowering, tracing the emergence of modern Zionism (Theodor Herzl) in a context of growing anti-Semitism. This seminar's readings and discussions are in German. Students who have completed GERM 321 should contact the instructor for permission. Prerequisite: GERM 325 or above. Generally offered every three years.
Taking the concept of borders and border crossing as a central theme, we consider how German-speaking countries have long been nodes of cultural transit and migratory exchange. The course further explores how migration challenges the borders drawn between nation-states and blurs the boundaries of identity, language, religion and culture. We examine the topic from a variety of perspectives, studying the history, politics, rhetoric and culture of immigration in Germany. The cultural aspect of the course will include literary and cinematic expressions of migration and immigrant communities. Of particular interest for this course is the influx of refugees to Europe and Germany during the years 2014-15, as well as the political changes that have come to Germany since then. Germany took on an outside role in responding to the refugee situation in the Middle East, accepting around 1 million refugees and asylum seekers. Though admirable in scope and aspiration, the events sparked an intense debate about the country’s ability to absorb and integrate such a large number of immigrants, fueling the rise of right-wing parties such as the “Alternative for Germany” and xenophobic groups such as Pegida. We contextualize these contemporary debates about the refugee crisis within longstanding discussions of migration and German identity. This advanced-level course taught in German may count toward all three major tracks in MLL. Prerequisite: GERM 325 or above. Generally offered every two to three years.
Some of the greatest masterpieces of German literature thematically explore family relationships, harmonious or dysfunctional. In this course, we look at images of the family in German and Austrian literature and film. Three masterworks from the Age of Goethe are juxtaposed with novels, short fiction and films from the early and late 20th century. Schiller's "Intrigue and Love," Goethe's "Elective Affinities" and Heinrich von Kleist's "Earthquake in Chile" provide surprisingly different approaches to the family theme in the earlier period. Discussion of these works provides a basis for exploring later texts, such as excerpts from Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks," Kafka's shorter works "The Metamorphosis" and "The Judgment," and Thomas Bernhard's 1986 novel "Extinction," which shares with Kafka's texts the outsider status of its protagonist within his family. Films may include Fritz Lang's silent movies based on the Nibelungen myth, Margarethe von Trotta's "Marianne and Juliane" and Tom Tykwer's "The Princess and the Warrior." We analyze these works from different perspectives — for example, family history as a mirror for economic development (Mann), the family in the face of terror (Schiller, Kleist, von Trotta), and the juxtaposition of family intimacy with totalitarian power (Schiller). We trace connections among different family images while also exploring theoretical considerations, such as the influence of the family theme on narrative structure. All readings and discussion are in German. Prerequisite: GERM 325. Generally offered every other year.
In a special journal issue on emerging German writers, Frank Finley and Stuart Taberner write: "What is most immediately striking about the German literary market since unification, and in particular since the mid-1990s, is its sheer diversity." In this course, we read and interpret exemplary works from the wealth of texts that form this new literature. Among the authors are emerging writers, as well as well-established writers such as Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass. Our focus for discussion shifts a number of times during the semester. We explore issues of German history and German identity with respect to Grass' novel "Im Krebsgang" and Daniel Kehlmann's historical novel "Die Vermessung der Welt." More aesthetic and philosophical problems, such as intertextuality and memory, guide our discussion of W.G. Sebald's "Schwindel. Gefühle." Sebald's book is related to Judith Hermann's "Nichts als Gespenster" through the theme of the travelogue. Likewise, we discuss the poetics and narrative strategies of Hermann's stories. We investigate questions of popular literature and generational issues ("Generation Golf") by looking at Christian Kracht's "Faserland" (which — like the Hermann and Sebald texts — can be read as a travelogue) and excerpts from Jochen Schmidt's "Triumphgemüse." We discuss at least one of the texts in connection with its adaptation to the screen. The format of the course is seminar-type discussion, complemented by occasional presentations by students and the instructor. All readings and discussion are in German. Prerequisite: GERM 325 or above. Generally offered every three years.
Nietzsche and Kafka stand out as two of the most important prose stylists of the German language. At the same time, the period between the beginning of Nietzsche's productive career around 1870 and Kafka's death in 1924 is one of fundamental historical change: It starts with the rise of the German nation-state and ends after the downfall of both the German and the Austro-Hungarian monarchies. Not surprisingly, the literature of this era in the German language is marked by similar radical transformations. We attempt to trace these changes by beginning with a discussion of Nietzsche's "Also sprach Zarathustra" (1883-85) and concluding with Kafka's fragmentary novel "Der Process." From the perspective of the changing role of literature in response to societal and historical realities, or as a depiction of states of human consciousness, we investigate a number of additional works: for example, Hugo von Hofmannsthal's "Ein Brief," Gerhart Hauptmann's "Bahnwärter Thiel," Lou Andreas-Salome's "Fenitschka" and Arthur Schnitzler's "Leutnant Gustl," as well as poetry by Rilke, Trakl and Benn. All readings and discussion are in German. Prerequisite: GERM 325 or 326, or equivalent. Offered every two to three years.
As Tanya Krzywinska writes in "Sex and the Cinema," "From the sanctioned to the forbidden, the suggestive to the blatant, evocations of the sexual have saturated cinema with a heady distillation of fleshly passions." For the German-language cinema after reunification, this is especially true, as one of the most commercially successful films of the early days of the Berlin Republic -- the comedy "Maybe, Maybe Not" (Sönke Wortmann) -- aptly demonstrates. The film is criticized for belonging to the contested "comedy wave of the 1990s," but few critics are actually aware that it is an adaptation of two queer graphic novels by the popular but nonetheless controversial gay cartoonist Ralph König. Starting with König's graphic novels and Wortmann's adaptation, the course takes us through different topics and perspectives on sexuality throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s. Among the films that highlight these topics are "Love in Thoughts," a scandal about youth sexuality in Weimar; "Jerichow," a drama set in new Eastern States by Berlin School director Christian Petzold; "Three,"an exploration of the fluidity of sexual orientation by "Run, Lola, Run" director Tom Tykwer; and "A Woman in Berlin," about the sexual violence against German women during the downfall of the Third Reich. Additional movies we interpret include films by Fatih Akin, Michael Haneke, Ulrich Seidl, Maren Ade, Margarethe von Trotta and Matthias Luthardt. We discuss films alongside the books from which they are adaptated, as well as essays by German film studies scholars (Randall Halle, Marco Abel and Helga Druxes, among others). Films are screened in the original German, and most readings, as well as class discussion, will be in German. No film studies background required. Prerequisite: GERM 325 or above. Generally offered every three years.
The purpose of this course is twofold: to provide an overview of the development of German literature from the 18th century to the present, and to focus on the ways different writers and thinkers (and later, filmmakers) represent the fundamental human experience of love in exceptional or "uncanny" ways. The course begins with a consideration of the role of the emotions versus reason in the German Enlightenment. We then turn to the literary works from major German authors, from Goethe to Kleist, Kafka and Thomas Mann, in which love is marked by loss, violence and tragedy and/or elevated to the realm of the aesthetic. Freud's theory of love as outlined in his psychoanalytic writings informs the course in general. The course concludes with a selection of films from the postwar era. Prerequisite: GERM 325 or above. Generally offered every three years.
This course offers an opportunity to study on an individual basis an area of special interest — literary, cultural or linguistic — under the regular supervision of a faculty member. It is offered primarily to candidates for honors, to majors and, under special circumstances, to potential majors and minors. Individual study is intended to supplement, not to take the place of, regular courses in the curriculum of each language program. Staff limitations restrict this offering to a very few students. To enroll in an individual study, a student must identify a member of the MLL department willing to direct the project and, in consultation with him or her, write a one-page proposal for the IS which must be approved by the department chair before the individual study can go forward. The proposal should specify the schedule of reading and/or writing assignments and the schedule of meeting periods. The amount of work in an IS should approximate that required on average in regular courses of corresponding levels. Typically, an IS earns the student 0.25 or 0.5 units of credit. At a minimum, the department expects the student to meet with the instructor one hour per week. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study by the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval.