Graduate Seminars

Spring 2020

German(ic) (morpho)syntax (GER 514)

Prof. Michael Putnam (mtp12@psu.edu), T/TH 10:35 - 11:50 AM

This course explores the structural properties of German and its closest relatives, with a primary focus on contrastive differences between German and English. We will survey a wide range of empirical phenomena, including (but not limited to) the structure of nouns and verbs, core elements of sentence structure, and the formation of complex questions. A core component of this course aids students in gaining experience interpreting empirical data through the lens of a theoretical framework. We will discuss how formal approaches to grammar enhance our understanding of (micro)variation across and within languages and how they can assist in refining experimental and pedagogical studies. This course assumes no prior background in either theoretical syntax or a knowledge German and related languages.

German Modernisms 1900-1945 (GER 571)

Prof. Samuel Frederick (smf35@psu.edu), T 6-9 PM

This seminar surveys and introduces German literature and media from the first half of the twentieth century. Its focus will be on different—and often conflicting—conceptions of “the modern,” as articulated by various aesthetic movements and post-1960s theory. How did writers, filmmakers, and artists conceive of their own modernist projects and how has more recent theory revised our understanding of their interventions? How has the history of German modernism been differently written from that of Anglo-American (or Soviet or French) modernism? What vectors of influence are at play? We will look at different—and sometimes competing—modernist programs, including Aestheticism, Futurism, Expressionism, Dada, and New Objectivity, as well as fascist forms of modernism, all with an eye to the relation between politics and aesthetics. We will primarily focus on literary texts, but will also spend some sessions on collage, painting, film, and photography.

Readings/viewings may include works by: Gottfried Benn, Alfred Döblin, Irmgard Keun, Bertolt Brecht, Robert Musil, Walter Benjamin, Else Lasker-Schüler, Robert Walser, Ernst Jünger, Hannah Höch, Lotte Reiniger, Walter Ruttmann, F.W. Murnau,  Emmy Hennings, Kurt Schwitters, Hugo Ball, Georg Trakl, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arthur Schnitzler, Karl Kraus, Elias Canetti, Franz Kafka, Carl Einstein, Maria Lazar, Marie-Luise Fleißer.

Introduction to Visual Culture (VSTUD 501)

Prof. Daniel Purdy (dlp14@psu.edu), T/TH 4:35 – 5:50 PM

Introduction to Visual Culture covers theories of the visual and visualization from ancient formulations in Roman rhetoric in the memory arts and ekphrasis to modernist forms of the book arts, graphic novels in particular, material culture (from popular consumer culture to high-design fashions and objects), architecture and urban spaces, film and television. Our overarching aim will be to understand the theoretical texts that define the field of Visual Studies. Our discussions will include the work of the Frankfurt School, French post-structuralism, feminist psychoanalytic film theory, and contemporary German media studies. The course will engage with avant-garde aesthetics as a mean of understanding the visual potentials provided by twentieth-century technologies.

German Horror VSTUD / GER 597

Prof. Kobi Kabalek (kabalek@psu.edu), W 6-9 PM

The seminar surveys various depictions and concepts of horror in the different German societies. We will read theoretical and empirical studies from various disciplines to ask what constitutes horror as an emotion and genre in each case and how it is expressed through a mixture of the fantastic and the real. The materials include horror films and thrillers, artworks, photography, and literature, but also visual and textual depictions of the monstrous and shocking in descriptions of criminality and the political language of Imperial Germany, during WWI, in the Weimar Republic, in Nazi propaganda before and during WWII and the Holocaust, in postwar memories of Nazism, as well as in various conceptualizations of the respective social and political menace in East, West, and unified Germany. The course thus suggests looking at diverse experiences and realities in Germany using a cultural prism that combines emotion and imagination.

The Politics of Color in Visual Culture (VSTUD / GER 597)

Prof. Sabine Doran (sud28@psu.edu), M 6-9 PM

This seminar explores the politics and aesthetics of color in visual and literary media. Whether associated with particular moods or mental states (“red with anger,” “pale white”), with particular ideologies (Communist red, the environmental Greens) or with particular races (black for African Americans, white for Caucasians, red for Native Americans, yellow for Asians), color has always been seen as an index of meaning. Yet the broad cultural significance of specific colors is rarely been addressed. Reduced to its symbolic – that is, highly conventionalized – function, color is typically understood as a fixed system of reference that is easily decoded. However, this approach to color obscures its dynamic nature, its culturally conditioned ambiguities and dualities. “Every hue, real or imagined, bodes a world,” writes Jeffery Cohen in his introduction to Prismatic Ecology. Ecotheory beyond Green (2013) and it is in the in the vibrant worlds of colors that climate changes, both politically and ecologically, emerge as they energize movements (from “Black Panther” to the “Yellow People Revolution”) and reflections on the color of skin, contaminants, plants, atmospheres. Readings and viewings include Goethe’s Color Theory, Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, Lynch’s Blue Velvet, Kieslowski’s Color Trilogy, Kurosawa’s Ran and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing – to look at perspectives that recognize the complex nature of color and its inscriptions in political networks.

Fall 2019

Phonology II (GER / LING 504)

Prof. Katharina Schuhmann, Tu / Thu 4:35 PM – 5:50 PM

Phonology is concerned with understanding sound patterns in language. Through this course we will seek to understand what this means, and we will explore how phonologists have sought to advance this goal over the past several decades. In this course, we will examine the shift from rule-based to constraint-based theories of phonology with an emphasis on analyzing the shortcomings and paradoxes inherent in earlier approaches. At issue will be the search for a better understanding of how the phonological component continually interacts with phonetics and morphology in order to create optimal outputs. Students will analyze data in formal problem sets and we will examine particular problems through reading various journal articles treating the same topic from different experimental and theoretical approaches. We will then evaluate the various approaches systematically. The goal of this course is to prepare students to do close readings of advanced research.

The Teaching of College German (GER 511)

Prof. Julia Goetze, Tu / Thu 3:05 PM – 4:20 PM

Introduces students to the theory and methods of teaching German at the college level. It deals not only with techniques, materials, and bibliography of the field but also evaluates the contributions of linguistics and psychology to college-level language pedagogy. German 511 familiarizes students with current theories of foreign language education as they relate to post-secondary language acquisition. This course further includes the practical aspects of college-level teaching with special reference to problems related specifically to the teaching and learning of German. Evaluation procedures include examinations, research papers, and the preparation of sample teaching materials. German 511 is a required course for all German graduate students both at the M.A. and Ph.D. levl.

GER/LING 597: 

Filler-gap dependencies: Theoretical and experimental perspectives 

Prof. Michael Putnam, Tu / Thu 9:05 AM – 10:20 AM 

This course takes a deeper look at one of the most peculiar features of human language; namely, the fact that words that go together in meaning can occur arbitrarily far away from each other in an utterance (e.g., What1did Jack buy __1?). We explore the properties of utterances that consist of fillers (what) and gaps (__), with an eye towards developing a more nuanced understanding of the complex nature of filler-gap dependencies cross-linguistically from both a theoretical and experimental perspective. Here we will review theoretical proposals in connection with distributional and experimental results. A key component of this course focuses on the design of experiments targeting utterances containing filler-gap dependencies, highlighting domains of inquiry that to date remain under-researched.

Jewish Vienna (GER 540)

Prof. Bettina Brandt, W 6 PM – 9 PM

This graduate course focuses on Austrian-Jewish relations of the last 150 years and examines the interactions between the city of Vienna and its Jewish inhabitants. It looks at Jewish experiences in Vienna in four time periods: from Jewish Emancipation to WWI; from “Red Vienna,” to the “Anschluss;” from 1938-1945; and from 1945 to today. At the same time, students will receive an overview of the most important artistic and literary developments from the last decades of the Habsburg Empire up to the end of the twentieth century. Keywords:  #anti-Semitism; #Jewish experiences; #nationalism, #Herzl, #Klimt Jewish models #Ringstrasse #Schönberg # Mahler #Karl-Marx Hof # public kindergarten #Bettauer #Stefan Zweig #Karl Kraus #Canetti #Zsolnay # Anschluss # Eichmann #Murmelstein  #forced exile #deportations #victim theory# # Third Man #Hilde Spiel # #memory culture #topography of Vienna # #Kurt Waldheim # Woman in Gold

Bauhaus100: Modernism’s Crib (GER 597)

Prof. Daniel Purdy, Tu / Thu 4:35 PM – 5:50 PM

Bauhaus100 will examine the history and legacy of Modernism’s most important school of design, founded in 1919.  We will review the aesthetic and political agendas within avant-garde Modernism generally by concentrating Bauhaus’s central teachings about the relationships between architecture and design, the body in its social environment, and the radical potential of new media in redefining experience.  In addition to reviewing the architecture of Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, and Hannes Meyer, we will devote our attention to Bauhaus innovations in photography, dance, theater, painting, fashion, and publicity.  As we reconsider the established (masculine) dogma of High Modernism, we will turn attention to women’s innovations in Bauhaus design, particularly the metal-work and collages of Marianne Brandt, in order to formulate more complexly gendered critique of industrial design and media. We will also examine Bauhaus ideas as they circulated in the Americas in the second half of the century, in order to consider how the field of Visual Studies emerged during the Cold War through the reception of photography and theory generated by László Moholy-Nagy and György Kepes.  Finally, we will look to the 1960s design of Dieter Rams in order to reveal the links between Apple and Bauhaus. Taught in English and in conjunction with Bauhaus Transfers,an international symposium on September 19 - 21, 2019, sponsored by the Department of Architecture and the Max Kade German-American Research Institute at Penn State. 

Spring 2019

German Phonetics and Phonology (GER 513)

Prof. Katharina Schuhmann

This course is about the sounds and the sound system of the German language. Part of the course will focus on German and English phonetics. Phonetics is the study of speech sounds, and we will pay particular attention to German speech sounds that native speakers of English find difficult. We will use both articulatory and acoustic phonetics to describe German speech sounds and to compare them to corresponding English speech sounds.

Another part of the course will examine German phonology. Phonology is the study of speech sounds as a linguistic system. We will focus primarily on Standard German, but we will also address phonological aspects of dialectal variation, language change and language acquisition. The course will also explore different theoretical models (derivational approaches and Optimality Theory) as they are applied to German phonology.

No prior knowledge of phonology or linguistics is assumed.

Language Attrition (GER/LING 597)

Prof. Michael Putnam

In this course we explore the notion of language attrition; namely, the loss of linguistic knowledge or ability over the course of the lifespan under variable conditions. From a structural perspective, we investigate the effects of attrition on various aspects of language (e.g., phonology, syntax, semantics, etc.) in both L1 and L2 contexts. We explore how cognitive and performance factors (e.g., cognitive aging, processing, lexical retrieval, the (in)frequency of language use) potentially impact language production and comprehension within the context of language attrition. Finally, we discuss the connection between language acquisition and language attrition.

The German Empire in History, Theory and Film, 1871 – 1918 (GER 540)

Prof. Jens Guettel

This seminar studies one of the culturally, socioeconomically, and politically most important periods in Modern European History, the era of the German Empire from 1871 until the end of World War I. The founding of the German Empire during the Franco-German War in 1871 created a new political entity and upset the European balance of power as it had been organized since 1815. On the one hand, between 1871 and 1918, the newly united Germany could boast major cultural, scientific, and economic achievements: from Richard Wagner’s operas to the development of the first modern medications (from Aspirin to a cure for diphtheria) to overtaking Great Britain in economic output by the early years of the 20th century. On the other hand, we find growing domestic social tensions, fantasies and realities of colonial expansion (and linked to the latter the first genocide of the 20th century in German-colonized Namibia), the exclusion of the growing Social Democrat Party from the political decision making process, and finally a game of extreme, nationalism-motivated political brinksmanship that helped to bring about the “original catastrophe” of the 20th century, the First Word War, which also resulted in the Empire’s demise in 1918.

This seminar examines significant literary, theoretical, and political texts of the time, as well as posterior historical and artistic analyses of this particular period. We will discuss literary works, among others, by Heinrich Mann and Theodor Fontane, as well as major historiographical works on the history of the German Empire by Geoff Eley and Reinhart Koselleck, among others. We will also confront theoretical and political works on the German Empire by, for example, Max Weber, Karl Kautsky, and Carl Schmitt. Last but not least, we will watch and discuss movie representations of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Germany.

German Orientalisms (GER 598)

Prof. Daniel Purdy

Reading theorists from Edward Said to Robert Bernasconi, we will examine the development of a particularly German style of Orientalism.  Along the way we will consider the issues in using contemporary categories on historical images and texts. While Orientalism among German writers may be distinguished from French and English variations, the different cultures all share the same images and texts as sources for their representations.  We will consider the relationship between first hand travel accounts, first to each other, whereby each traveler writes in response to his predecessors, and then to domestic European syntheses of these travel narratives.  Topics include: The intercultural conventions of hospitality concerning the treatment of strangers. The Balkans and the Black Sea as zones of confrontation between Christians and Muslims. Leibniz’s engagement with Chinese philosophy in the context of fashionable Chinoiserie and his disparagement of Ottoman Turks.  The cultural negotiations implicit in Enlightenment depictions of religious tolerance. Is German Orientalism more concerned with Biblical exegesis than colonial power?  Topics include: The coalescence of Berlin’s museums in the nineteenth century as related to Prussian railroad building and archeology in the Ottoman Empire. Romantic fascination with religions on the Indian subcontinent, stretching from Novalis to Schopenhauer to Hermann Hesse.  German hippies in India.  Franz Kafka and other Habsburg writers’ ironic appropriation of China as a political foil.  Anti-Semitism as Orientalism.  The adequacy of world-systems theory as a means to describe the cultural negotiations inherent in Asian trading relations. Asia as depicted in Nazi ideology.  The revitalization of Muslim stereotypes in immigration and assimilation debates across Europe.  The self-conscious maneuvering around Orientalism in contemporary transnational writing in German. Early German cinema and photography about China. Werner Herzog documentaries about India. Readings and discussions will be in a mix of German and English.

Fall 2018

Proseminar in the Language Science of Bilingualism (LING 521)

Prof. Carrie Jackson, T/Th 4:35-5:50 pm

This course provides a tutorial introdcution to the tehory and methods of the major perspectives within leanguage science that provide converging evidence on the representation and processing of two languages in bilianguals and second language learners. The disciplines to be covered include linguistcis, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and speech-language pathology. The course will include guest lectures by faculty and postdocs affiliated with the Center for Language Science with expertise in each of these disciplines, as well as guest lectures hosted by the Center for Language Science (e.g., big data, augmentative and alternative communication, historical linguistics) will also present. The topics to be covered include introductions to each of the component disciplines, designand implementation of cross-disciplinary collaborative research that cuts across two or more areas, and research in allied disciplines that potentially inform language science. The seminar will also introduce students to translational research in order to foster the development of across-disciplinary science that is much broader and deeper than the traditional domains of basic and applied sciences. We will also discuss ethical conduct in research, and selected topics related to professional development and (international) research collaboration.

Language Contact (GER 582)

Prof. Richard Page, MW 2:30-3:45pm

This course provides an overview of language contact phenomena in the domains of child bilingualism, adult second language acquisition and societal multilingualism with a particular emphasis on language contact in immigrant and indigenous communities that speak a minority language.  Diachronic as well as synchronic aspects of language contact will be discussed. We will not be covering pidgins and creoles in any depth, but we will look at contact varieties of German (e.g., Kiezdeutsch), Spanish, English and other languages. The class will use the textbook Language Contact by Yaron Matras and read selected articles. Students will write a research paper on an aspect of language contact chosen in consultation with the instructor.

Tense-Mood-Aspect: Description and Analysis (GER 593)

Prof. Michael Putnam, T/TH 3:05-4:20 pm

The primary focus of this course centers on tense-mood-aspect (TMA) properties of natural languages. In this course we'll establish definitions of each of this domains, while discussing important ways in which they intersect and differ from one another. In addition to the semantic-pragmatic contributions of TMA-distinctions, we will also investigate the profound impact these distinctions have on structural traits (i.e., morphological and syntactic) of languages. Beyond defining these typological distinctions, we will also explore and further develop experimental methods on how to best elicit this information from speakers in both field and laboratory settings.

The Holocaust in Visual Culture and Theory (GER 540)

Prof. Sabine Doran, M 6-9 pm

This seminar studies representations of the Holocaust in art, museums, literature, and film. We will examine theoretical questions involved in any attempt to capture what appears to be beyond our comprehension in terms of moral outrage and the sheer scale, inhumanity, and bureaucratic efficiency of the violence perpetrated by the Nazis. We will focus on the ways in which "trauma" has become a key analytical concept in these debates. We will discuss literary works, such as Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz, films such as Alain Resnais’ Night and Fog, The Pianist, The Tin Drum, The PhotographerA Film Unfinished, as well as photographs, poems, installations, and other artifacts. We will also confront questions of memorialization, national guilt, survivor's guilt, stigmatization, and the ethics of historical representation, in theoretical readings by Theodor Adorno, Giorgio Agamben, Hannah Arendt, Cathy Caruth, Hayden White and others.

Visual Studies in Digitality (GER / VSTUD 502)

Prof. Grant Whytoff, W 6-9 pm

The luddites, the philosophers, even the tech evangelists all seem to be in agreement that living in a digitally networked world has changed something about the way we understand ourselves as both individuals and members of a public. In a moment when digital media are complicating some of our foundational assumptions about everything from democratic consensus to the nature of privacy, the elementary work of technical description has taken on new significance. So too has the value of research in the humanities for putting these developments into necessary perspective. This seminar will introduce a range of frameworks from across the humanities useful for thinking through the history, ethics, and aesthetics of digital media. Units on emerging approaches to contemporary digital infrastructures (questions of the public, selfhood, privacy, algorithms and inequality) will be paired with an overview of the most influential paradigms in media studies to guide us through these more contemporary issues. Concepts from our readings will be operationalized with weekly exercises that will include an introduction to digital methods in the humanities as well as tactics for (among other things) protecting against government surveillance. Students will leave with the basic computational literacy necessary for informed scholarship that both critiques and utilizes digital media.

Spring 2018

Visual Culture Theory and History (VSTUD 501)

Prof. Sabine Doran, Mondays, 6-9 pm

"Visual Culture Theory and History” provides a broad exploration of theories describing the aesthetic, psychological, political and social significance of visual images, as well as the media processes inherent in creating visual experiences. The seminar will define Visual Studies as an academic field within the humanities. Topics will include media theories of images, visuality and post-colonial theory, semiotic analysis of images, the cinematic image, gender and visuality, consumer culture’s use of images, spectatorship and social identity, images and the construction of space, the relationship between word and image, experimental manipulation of visual images in art, the history of photography, technologies of image production, intermediality and the role of the senses. Class discussions will elucidate the interdisciplinary effects of image production, reception, and circulation in modern media environments. Theorists studied include Benjamin, Nancy, Mitchell, Deleuze, Foucault, Derrida, Barthes, Cixous, Azoulay, Mirzoeff, Min Ha, Bal, Murray. Visual artists, directors, and architects studied include: Eisenstein, Lang, Lynch, Eisenman, Liebeskind, Bacon, Kurosawa, Wong Kar Wai, Jarman, Denis, Haneke, Marker, Landau, Hirschhorn, among others.

German Realism and Its Other (GER 561)

Prof. Sam Frederick, T 11:15am-2:15pm

This seminar considers key texts from the German nineteenth century that make different claims to realist representation. Central to our discussion will be the ways in which these claims require, as Fredric Jameson puts it, a “negotiation with the shock and scandal of the Other.” The main task of the seminar will be to understand the German realist project in terms of that Other, which appears in a variety of forms (e.g., social, sexual, racial, theological, even aesthetic). In what ways does the supposedly proper or successful representation of the world in fact demand the exclusion or perhaps assimilation of the Other? What do these alternatives mean for the resulting work (both ideologically and formally) and for the ways in which realism has been theorized? How useful is “realism” (an epistemological category) as a conceptual tool for talking about aesthetics, anyway?

These and related questions will guide our engagement with the texts. The seminar, however, is also designed to provide a survey of nineteenth-century German literature after Romanticism.  As such its aim is to introduce students to a constellation of canonical works from roughly 1815 to the turn of the twentieth century that continue to be important touchstones for scholars, theorists, and teachers.  We will read primary texts (all in German) alongside theoretical works (both contemporary to these texts and more recent theory) and exemplary interpretations (from a wide range of methodologies). Discussion will be in English.

Authors may include: Gotthelf, Droste-Hülshoff, Mörike, Büchner, Heine, Stifter, Grillparzer, Keller, Storm, Sacher-Masoch, Fontane, Hauptmann, Hofmannsthal, among others. Theorists may include: Kristeva, Jameson, Lukács, Adorno, Barthes, Auerbach, Jakobson, Riffaterre, Taussig, Nietzsche, among others.

Theory and Practice of Translation (CMLIT 510)

Prof. Adrian Wanner, Tuesdays 2:30-5:30 pm

This seminar will explore literary translation both from a theoretical and practical angle. We will study a few seminal texts of translation theory from the 17th century to the present and analyze concrete examples of translations taken from a variety of languages and time periods. We will ask ourselves what the ultimate aims are served by ideologies that promote theories of translatability or untranslatability, or conceptualize translation in terms of “loss” or “gain.” Special attention will be paid to poetry as a prime example of a type of discourse that is generally deemed difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce in a different linguistic medium. In addition to critiquing existing texts, we will also experiment with creating translations of our own. We will ponder such issues as the rendering of rhymed and metered verse, foreignization vs. domestication, literalism, imitation, homophonic translation, collaborative translation, and self-translation, which poses a challenge to the customary dichotomies of author vs. translator and original vs. “copy.” The course will also include encounters with prominent literary translators, including the poet Alexander Cigale (New York), whose latest book is an English edition of the writings of Russian absurdist Daniil Kharms.

Fall 2017

GER 572 Nation, Migration and Contemporary German Literature

Prof. Bettina Brandt (ubb2@psu.edu)

This course, open to both advanced majors and graduate students, examines how the imaginative contours of German worlds have been reshaped in contemporary literature in German since 1945. It does so through the lens of migration and minorities.  In contrast to the United States, Germany, did not consider itself a country of immigration, despite evidence to the contrary, until recently. The complicated German past marked by the holocaust and the German East-West division also produced a unique situation in which minorities in Germany find themselves, to which they respond, and which they alter with their own textual and visual narratives. Considering the German writings of both so-called Biodeutsche and by authors of Italian, Jewish, Turkish, Arab, African, Eastern European or Russian background we will look at how they critically reimagine Cold War as well as post-Wende German identities in specific aesthetic, historical and geopolitical settings. Along with our literary readings we will watch documentaries and films, visit virtual museums, look at paintings and collages, and think about issues of cultural politics including literary prizes, memory culture and issues of translation.

GER 597 Media and Romanticism

Prof. Daniel Purdy (dlp14@psu.edu)

This course will examine the juxtaposition between the deterministic claims of contemporary German media theory and the poetic inwardness of Romantic writing. The course readings will commence with the early poetry of Goethe and Wordsworth, in order to consider how these authors struggle with the media technology of their own era as they seek to establish an autonomous poetic voice. The class will examine canonical Romantic literature to consider whether subjectivity is largely determined by cultural techniques and media technology? The course will also consider how late Romantics used media technologies in their own construction of poetic experience. How did communications media around 1800 address the Romantic desire for immediate sensations? Central to our discussions will be the concept of the “Romantic image.” Why did Romantics place such great importance on visual images as their ideal form of aesthetic perception? What is the relationship between the image and tone in Romantic writing about Beethoven’s music? To enhance our reflections, we will read recent media theories by Friedrich Kittler, Jochen Hörisch, Bernhard Siegert, Wolfgang Ernst, and Willem Flusser in relation to some of the most important literary works of German Romanticism (broadly defined): J.W. Goethe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, and Bettina von Arnim, among others.

GER 511 The Teaching of College German

Prof. Donald Vosburg (dmv154@psu.edu)

This course is designed to foster an informed professional outlook on the teaching and learning of foreign languages in general and German in particular. There are three main goals for this course:

  • First, both during and outside of class, time will be devoted to the practical side of foreign language teaching within a largely communicative-language-teaching approach, with an additional focus on the continuum between SLA research and pedagogical practice. Assignments and readings with this goal in mind will focus on the nuts and bolts of teaching, including developing lesson plans, writing and grading quizzes and exams, creating a teaching profile, and evaluating oneself as a teacher.
  • Second, as noted above, certain readings and class discussions will provide a broader background about the field of second language acquisition in general. Although one semester-long course can by no means cover everything there is to know about second language acquisition, this course will provide at least a general overview of this field. This portion of the course will help students become more familiar with common concepts and terminology within the field of second language acquisition, and how this area of research informs foreign language pedagogy and vise versa. In addition to gaining further insights into the second language acquisition concept, we will spend addition time discussing the learner language more generally.
  • The final goal of this course is for students to become more aware of their own teaching style, and how they, as teachers, fit into the larger foreign language teaching community.

GER 597 Recent Issues in Instructed Second Language Acquisition

Prof. Carrie Jackson (cnj1@psu.edu)

In this course we will explore recent topics in instructed SLA research. Topics to cover include debates over the effectiveness of explicit versus implicit instruction (and related discussions of deductive instruction vs. inductive instruction vs. guided induction), the role of corrective feedback, and the impact of attention and awareness on learning processes and outcomes. Students will also have the opportunity to propose additional topics to discuss based on their own interests. Students will complete a variety of assignments over the course of the semester to help them become more familiar with seminal areas of research in this area. Students will also be expected to carry out a small-scale pilot study (or propose a larger scale study) that revolves around the larger themes in the course. Students at all stages of their PhD program or qualified undergrads are welcome to sign up for this course. Previous work in linguistics not required. No knowledge of German is required.

GER 514 German(ic) syntax

Prof. Michael Putnam (mtp12@psu.edu)

In this course we survey the syntactic structure of German in comparison with typologically related (e.g., Dutch, Icelandic, Norwegian, etc.) and non-related languages. Empirically we investigate and gain a deeper knowledge of topics such as argument structure, word order variation, morphosyntactic agreement, and displacement. In addition to this empirical overview, students will also receive an introduction into the basics of theoretical analysis and its connection with experimental studies.

Spring 2017

Holocaust and Visual Culture (GER 532)

Prof. Sabine Doran

This seminar studies representations of the Holocaust in art, museums, literature, and film. We will examine theoretical questions involved in any attempt to capture what appears to be beyond our comprehension in terms of moral outrage and the sheer scale, inhumanity, and bureaucratic efficiency of the violence perpetrated by the Nazis. We will focus on the ways in which "trauma" has become a key analytical concept in these debates. We will discuss literary works, such as Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz, films such as Alain Resnais’ Night and Fog, The Pianist, The Tin Drum, The PhotographerA Film Unfinished, as well as photographs, poems, installations, and other artifacts. We will also confront questions of memorialization, national guilt, survivor's guilt, stigmatization, and the ethics of historical representation, in theoretical readings by Theodor Adorno, Giorgio Agamben, Hannah Arendt, Cathy Caruth, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard, Hayden White and others.

Mimesis GER591/CMLIT 570

Prof. Jonathan E. Abel

If recent musings about the anthropocene recast the scope and scale of the humanities, they also force reconsideration of one of the longest standing problems of humanistic inquiry, that of representation.  This course excavates layers of discourse on mimesis from the deep time of philosophy and criticism to answer a vital question about human transformation of the planet: how does art transform human and non-human interactions?
The study of representation has too often been taken at several layers of remove from the real world, and yet it is precisely through the mediation that art and artifice play among humans and between humans and the world that we are connected to each other and to our environment.  Representation matters as much for identity formation as it does for government, but do our creations reflect and refract the world or dictate and define it?  This course traces the long history of mimetic thinking and acting to articulate a vision of the power of critique at the ends of humanity. Depending on participants’ interests and backgrounds, readings may include work from: Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Rousseau, Diderot, Zeami, Brecht, Heidegger, Lukacs, Benjamin, Adorno, Auerbach, Lacan, Derrida, Martin Jay, Taussig, Bhabha, Elin Diamond, Irigaray, Lacoue-Labarthe, Ming Dong Gu, and Luhman.

Psycholinguistics in the foreign language classroom (GER 593)

Prof. Carrie Jackson

The primary goal of this course is to think critically about how recent advances in psycholinguistic research, and psycholinguistic research on bilingualism in particular, can inform foreign language instruction. We will approach this larger question from several perspectives, including:

  • exploring theories of second language learning that emphasize how online processing strategies facilitate or hinder learning (e.g., Processing Instruction by VanPatten and colleagues)
  • how the manipulation of language input impacts learning
  • how lab-based experimental methodologies may be adapted for classroom-based activities (e.g., syntactic priming)

Students will complete a variety of assignments over the course of the semester, most notably carrying out a pilot research project that revolves around the larger themes in the course. Students at all stages of their PhD program are welcome to sign up for this course. Previous work in linguistics not required.

Second Language Speech Perception (GER / LING 597)

Prof. Katharina Schumann

This course examines how adults learn to perceive sounds in a second/foreign language.

This course provides an overview of the major theories and accounts of non-native and second/foreign language (L2) speech perception in adults. In particular, we will focus on segmental aspects in L2 speech. To this end, we will investigate mainly, but not exclusively, data from non-native learners of German or Dutch, and data from native speakers of German or Dutch learning other languages (e.g., English). We will ask whether all non-native sounds and sound contrasts are equally difficult to perceive, and, if not, upon which phonetic and phonological factors this might depend. We will also ask whether phonetic training can lead to increased native-like L2 speech perception. Throughout the course, we will read overview chapters and original research articles in the areas of phonetics, phonology, and psycholinguistics, and we will discuss core methodologies for conducting research on L2 speech perception.

Fall 2016

Literary Theory: An Introduction (GER 510)

Prof. Samuel Frederick

This seminar is designed for both Literature/Culture and Linguistics track students. Its aims, broadly, are twofold: 1) to give an overview of various methodologies for literary/cinematic analysis, and 2) to learn how to teach German literature and culture at North American colleges and universities. To accomplish the first we will read short texts representative of various literary (and cinematic) theories falling under these broad categories: language, history, sexuality, technology. Students will read theoretical these texts alongside primary literary and filmic works as well as exemplary readings of these works that are carried out within the given methodological framework. The goal is to gain an understanding of and appreciation for theory via its applications; as well as to be able to articulate in our own language the stakes of the different theoretical interventions. The course’s (shorter) second, pedagogical component will involve learning how to create various kinds of syllabi and lesson plans for undergraduate instruction. We will also discuss what texts and films work well in these contexts, and the different methods for introducing them in the classroom.

The Teaching of College German (GER 511)

Prof. Donald Vosburg

German 511 introduces students to the theory and methods of teaching German at the college level with further discussions centered on the Penn State curriculum (both face-to-face and online/World Campus). It deals not only with techniques, materials, and bibliography of the field but also evaluates the contributions of linguistics and psychology to college-level language pedagogy. German 511 familiarizes students with current theories of foreign language education as they relate to post-secondary language acquisition. This course further includes the practical aspects of college-level teaching with special reference to problems related specifically to the teaching and learning of German. Additionally we will discuss practical matters in the classroom, and create a teaching portfolio which includes lesson plans, and a teaching philosophy statement. Evaluation procedures include homework and discussion, research papers, and the preparation of sample teaching materials. German 511 is a required course for all German graduate students both at the M.A. and Ph.D. level. It is offered every year.

German Phonetics and Phonology (GER 513)

Prof. Richard Page

This course is about the sounds and the sound system of the German language. The first part of the course will focus on German phonetics. Phonetics is the study of speech sounds, and we will pay particular attention to German speech sounds that native speakers of English find difficult.  We will use both articulatory and acoustic phonetics to describe German speech sounds and to compare them to corresponding English speech sounds.

The second part of the course will examine German phonology. Phonology is the study of speech sounds as a linguistic system. We will focus primarily on Standard German, but we will also address phonological aspects of dialectal variation, language change, and language acquisition. The course will also explore different theoretical models as they are applied to German phonology.

No prior knowledge of phonology or linguistics is assumed.

The Frankfurt School & the Politics of Visual Aesthetics (GER 591)

Prof. Daniel Purdy                                                     

The course will examine critical theories by members of the Frankfurt School regarding visual strategies for representing and challenging urban consumer culture. The course will center on German Marxist theories about how the rise of urban mass culture at the beginning of the twentieth century produced Modernist forms of visual representation. The course will examine how the spread of fashion-driven behavior had dramatic implications for aesthetic theory, film, architecture, and literature. The course will provide a survey of the most important works in the German critical tradition and the major thinkers associated with the Frankfurt School. These include Georg Simmel, Georg Lukacs, Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Jürgen Habermas, among others. Students will learn how these modern theories relate to the German Idealist tradition, particularly Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche, as well as the history of German Marxism.

Topics include the psychology of the metropolitan individual, the commodification of culture, money, and interpersonal relationships, the architecture of shopping, visual advertising through posters and photography, and cinema as a means of understanding social relations, as well as the role of visual media in public debate. The course will consider how modernist architecture, particularly from the Bauhaus school, redefined urban spaces and introduced new functionalist designs. The course will examine how Frankfurt School thinkers responded to the provocative design proposals presented by modernist architects. Students will examine specific modernist designs for consumer products to examine the relationship between the appearance of a commodity and its use, in order to understand how appearance and function are interdependent within modernism. In broad terms, class discussions will focus on such questions as: How does the relationship between the visual image and society change under industrial capitalism? What political functions do visual images have in consumer culture? What visual mechanisms does the “culture industry” deploy to organize public consciousness? What critical responses are available to visual artists within a mass-market economy? The course will provide students an historical understanding of early twentieth-century German consumer culture and its visual representation, while also offering them critical intellectual tools to understand the social and economic implications of visual images within consumer culture. The course will be taught in English with readings available in both languages.

Spring 2016

Digital Humanities (GER / CMLIT 570)

Prof. Thomas Beebee

This seminar will function as a workshop and laboratory for sampling, exploring, and experimenting with a variety of computer-based technologies that are currently being applied to (typically) large corpuses for the purposes of algorithmic criticism. Our focus will be hands-on experimentation with software for network analysis (gephi); stylistics (R); topic modeling (mallet), and mapping, with attention paid to foundational ideas of information theory, visualization, spatial humanities, etc. Exploration of further topics and methods according to student interests, preparation, and usefulness for specific research agendas.

Romantic Spaces (GER 592)

Prof. Daniel Purdy

Once upon a time, it was common to subordinate spatial relations to temporality. Time was considered the more fundamental quality of modern consciousness, both in literature and philosophy. Modernist literature was seen as concerned foremostly with the passage of time, memory and the unstable cohesion of subjectivity; only post-modernist writing was considered spatially oriented with its interest in commodity relations, globalizing capitalism, simultaneity and description.

This course will take a step or two back to investigate how Romanticism (broadly defined) constructs space in order to 1) organize interior feelings, along the axes of knowledge, sexuality, and power ; 2) establish a domestic terrain and boundaries for the nation state; 3) define differences between home and foreign spaces. Along these lines we will read Romanticism in light of theories of subjectivity, nationalism and Orientalism.

These three areas will overlap so that we will readily interpret the Orient as a space allowing for alternate modes of identity or the nation as an arena that incorporates ethnic, sexual and cultural differences. This course will also examine how literary texts represent the subjective experience of space. Literary depictions of space have long served as external reflections of interior states of mind. Thus our readings will lead us through ancient Italian labyrinths, psychic caverns, neo-gothic ruins, cartographic landscapes, broad boulevards, dark alleys, and bureaucratic compartments. We will also ponder the difference between the beautiful and the sublime.

Romanticism stressed the unique qualities of place. The poetic descriptions of natural sites such as the Rhine, the Danube or the Alps will receive our particular attention. We will study how literary texts construct the borders between Europe and the Orient while simultaneously arranging sexualities into heteronormative and queer spaces. All along the way, we will be reading some of the most important canonical texts in the Romantic tradition, in order to provide you with an overview of cultural history. Students taking the class for a grade will be asked to give one in-class presentation and write a 20-page research paper.

The secret lives of verbs (GER / LING 593)

Prof. Michael Putnam

In this course we take a detailed look at the underlying structure of verbs. Here we explore the many domains of grammar that intersect in verbs; i.e., argument structure, event semantics, tense/mood/aspect distinctions, etc., from both descriptive and theoretical perspectives. The primary goal of this course is to improve our understanding of the interface between aspects of the structure (syntax & morphology) and meaning (semantic & pragmatic) of the grammatical properties of verbs cross-linguistically. In addition to building a solid foundation of previous research carried out on verbs, students will work to develop independent research projects focusing on under-researched topics in this area. Finally, we will also investigate what these cross-linguistically differences mean for language acquisition and language contact. Although German(ic) data will be a dominant empirical focus throughout the course, we will also consider data from a wide array of typologically diverse languages, so students from other departments are welcome to enroll. This course will be taught in English.

The Holocaust in Visual Culture and Theory (GER 540)

Prof. Sabine Doran

This seminar studies representations of the Holocaust in art, museums, literature, and film. We will examine theoretical questions involved in any attempt to capture what appears to be beyond our comprehension in terms of moral outrage and the sheer scale, inhumanity, and bureaucratic efficiency of the violence perpetrated by the Nazis.

We will focus on the ways in which "trauma" has become a key analytical concept in these debates. We will discuss literary works, such as Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz, films such as Alain Resnais’ Night and Fog and more recent films such as Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book, as well as photographs, poems, installations, and other artifacts. We will also confront questions of memorialization, national guilt, survivor's guilt, stigmatization, and the ethics of historical representation, in theoretical readings by Theodor Adorno, Giorgio Agamben, Hannah Arendt, Cathy Caruth, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard, Hayden White and others.

Readings and discussion in English.

Fall 2015

Tendenzen der deutschen Gegenwartssprache (Trends in modern German) (Ger 497)

Prof. Michael Putnam

What's sorts of dialectal differences exist in German-speaking Europe today? How pervasive are they? Is there any stark contrast in the German spoken by young speakers? What are we to make of the L2 German spoken by immigrants in larger cities; i.e., can we classify this as a form of "German", or is it more apt to label this as a pidgin or creole? According to Heraclitus, "the only constant is change", and perhaps in no domain is this axiom more applicable than in the study of human language, i.e., linguistics. In this course we will closely examine the grammatical structure of modern German from different angles, paying particular attention to sociolinguistic, contact-induced, and internal language change. In addition to in-class discussions and readings on these related topics, students will have the opportunity to access digital corpora of spoken German (mostly from the Berlin-area) and to engage in Skype and video chats with students at die Gemeinschaftsschule auf dem Campus Rütli (in Neukölln). No background in linguistics is required. This course will be taught in German.

Walter Benjamin (GER 591)

Prof. Samuel Frederick

This seminar investigates the intellectual development of Walter Benjamin, one of the twentieth century’s most important critics. It focuses on the writings Benjamin produced up to the mid-1930s, with special attention to his thought prior to his serious engagement with Western Marxism. In these early years Benjamin was deeply influenced by Jewish mysticism and the utopianism of the German Youth Movement, pushing back against positivist and Neo-Kantian epistemology with the help of esoteric theology and Romantic aesthetics. In the first part the semester we will attempt to get a grip on Benjamin’s conceptions of language, history, allegory vs. symbol, criticism, messianism and time, among other key concepts. We will also take a detour through some of his writings on children’s literature and collecting. Using his essay on Brecht, his experimental aphoristic collection One-Way Street, and his essay on surrealism as transitions we will then ask how Benjamin carried over his project of “redemptive criticism” as developed in these early works to his new interest (after about 1928) in historical materialism, technology, and commodity culture, looking to some of the representative writings from the later years, including his famous writings on art and reproducibility, Baudelaire and urban experience, and storytelling.

All readings and discussion in English. (Those who can read German are encouraged to read the original texts.)

Spring 2015

Literary Theory: An Introduction (GER 510)

Prof. Sabine Doran

This seminar will introduce students to contemporary literary and cultural theory in an effort to provide them with the methodological tools they need to undertake cutting-edge literary and cultural analysis themselves. German Studies in the U.S. has at least two defining characteristics. First, though, at least for those of us in German Departments, its emphasis is mainly on culture, it is genuinely interdisciplinary, attempting to explore how cultural products and practices (defined as extending far beyond the traditional canon of German literature) are constituted by and help to constitute history and politics. And, secondly, it advances its interdisciplinary analyses by drawing increasingly on new methodologies elaborated by Anglo-American and foreign cultural theorists.

Philosophy and the Arts in Germany (GER 540)

Prof. Dennis Schmidt

This course will look at the relationship between artists and philosophers who made an effort to engage in a dialogue of some.  To this end the semester will be divided into four sections during which we will read (or look at or listen to) works by artists and by the philosophers who shaped them or whose work they influenced.  The sections are as follows: 

  1. Wagner, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche (3 weeks)
  2. Klee, Heidegger, Benjamin, Adorno (3 weeks)
  3. Hölderlin, Heidegger, Benjamin, Adorno (3 weeks)
  4. Celan, Heidegger, Gadamer, Derrida (3 weeks)

Two weeks will also be reserved at the end of the semester for discussions of artists/philosophers chosen by members of the seminar.  While the field here is rather open, some figures who might be especially interesting to consider would be Anselm Kiefer, Sigmund Freud, Ernst Jünger, Max Kommerell, Gustav Mahler, or Rainer Maria Rilke and Rodin – among so many others.

Our intention will be to consider the wider cultural, political, and theoretical issues that emerge in the exchanges that go on among these figures.  Our efforts will be directed by the project of bringing different genre and forms of thinking into conversation with one another. 

The course will be run as a lecture/seminar combination.  Students will be required to do one presentation (about 15 minutes).  There are three options for the written requirement: you may write either 6 interpretive summaries (4-5 page each), or two shorter papers (10-15 pages each), or one term paper (20-25 pages).  Active participation in discussions is expected.

German Literature as World Literature (GER 592)

Prof. Thomas Beebee

From the Germania of Tacitus to the Chinese studies of Leibniz, from the eastward gaze towards India of Friedrich Schlegel and Hermann Hesse to the emergence of Turkish-German literature and the presence of Russian-German writers such as Wladimir Kaminer on the current scene, German literature has been imbricated in other cultural traditions. It has ventriloquized other cultures, taken them as mimetic objects, translated and transadapted their texts. Other cultures of the world have, of course, done the same with German literature. German literature has been written in non-German-speaking countries, and by people for whom German is a second language. German authors have been of vital importance to people who encounter them for the first time in English, Japanese, Spanish, Urdu, and other translations. This course, (cross-listed with Comparative Literature) will convey an image of, and further the conversation about, German literature as world literature. We will examine theoretical pros and cons in the writings of Goethe, Nietzsche, and Spengler, and a variety of primary texts from Goethe to Christa Wolf to Jonathan Franzen. Participants will help shape the reading list (as should happen in a seminar), as will also a series of invited lecturers from other universities.

Research in German linguistics and applied linguistics (GER 593)

Prof. Carrie Jackson

The primary goal of this course is to give students hands-on experience with designing and carrying out linguistics and applied linguistics research. Over the course of the semester students will work through all stages of a research project, including finding an appropriate topic for study and developing research questions, conducting a thorough search for previous research on the topic, and designing, carrying out and reporting on a pilot research project. Course readings will be chosen in conjunction with students' interests, but will cover a range of research methodologies in linguistics, including classroom-based SLA research, laboratory-based L1 and L2 linguistics research, questionnaire-based studies, and linguistics field research. Students at all stages of the PhD program are welcome to sign up for this course. Previous work in linguistics not required.

Fall 2014

Teaching College German (GER 511)

Prof. Michael Putnam

German 511 introduces students to the theory and methods of teaching German at the college level. It deals not only with techniques, materials, and bibliography of the field but also evaluates the contributions of linguistics and psychology to college-level language pedagogy. German 511 familiarizes students with current theories of foreign language education as they relate to post-secondary language acquisition. This course further includes the practical aspects of college-level teaching with special reference to problems related specifically to the teaching and learning of German. Evaluation procedures include examinations, research papers, and the preparation of sample teaching materials.

The Modern(ist) Austrian Novel (GER 581)

Prof. Samuel Frederick

This graduate seminar explores varieties of modernism (in its classical, late, and post-modern incarnations) through the German-language novel of Austria. Despite its shifting politics and geography, Austria has a distinct literary tradition marked by stylistic idiosyncrasies, a proclivity for social critique, and a darkly comic sensibility. The modern Austrian novel in particular is the locus of formal experimentation, philosophical rumination, and political engagement, its malleable form serving as an experimental space for exploring key modernist preoccupations with the city, subjectivity, language, art, gender, the state or “homeland,” and the possibilities or limits of storytelling itself.

The seminar will consider eight works by important novelists from each of the three Austrias of the twentieth century: the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918); the first Austrian Republic (1919-1938); and the current Austrian state, which was formed at the end of the second World War. Primary readings will be supplemented with theoretical texts on narrative and the novel (with emphasis on the German tradition, e.g., Benjamin, Adorno, Lukács), as well as some secondary readings on specific works.

The tentative reading list includes novels by Robert Musil, Rainer Maria Rilke, Franz Kafka, Elias Canetti, Ingeborg Bachmann, Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, and Elfriede Jelinek. All readings will be available in English, and class will be conducted in English. Students who read German are strongly encouraged to seek out the original texts.

Kontaktdeutsch (German in Contact) (GER 582)

Prof. Michael Putnam

The primary aim of this course is to gain deeper insight into the sociolinguistic and structural properties (e.g. phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic/pragmatic) of global varieties of German that continue to exist outside of continental German-speaking Europe (i.e. Sprachinseln). The primary focus group will be heritage speakers of varieties of German, i.e. those who have never resided in a German-speaking country who acquired (some variant of) German as their first-language, which is no longer their dominant language of use in daily life.

The first part of the course will discuss the challenges associated with interviewing heritage speakers and documenting one’s findings and will function as a workshop on techniques and tools to achieve optimal efficiency in these areas. The course will then progress into discussions and analyses of recorded data as well as documented studies of a selection of these German-language Sprachinseln. The final component of this course will touch upon other varieties of “German in contact”; namely, the emergence of L2 German in “natural contexts” (e.g. immigrants without formal instruction in German) as well as developing L2 grammars in a classroom setting.

Lost in Translation?  The Theory and Practice of Translating Poetry (GER 597)

Prof. Adrian Wanner

Poetic form presents a particular conundrum to translation theory.  If, according to Robert Frost’s (in)famous dictum, poetry is “what is lost in translation,” the task of translating a poetic text seems doomed from the outset.  On the other hand, any translation of any text entails a creative rewriting.   This seminar will survey different approaches to translating poetry both from a theoretical and practical angle.  Students will be asked to critique existing translations of poetic texts as well as try a translation of their own.  Special attention will be devoted to the phenomenon of self-translation, which poses a challenge to the customary dichotomy between author and translator, “original” and “copy,” as well as the “domestic” and the “foreign.”  Concrete case studies will include the polemical debates triggered by Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial English rendering of Alexander Pushkin’s verse novel Eugene Onegin.  We will also study Joseph Br!odsky’s bilingual poetic oeuvre in Russian and English and/or Rainer Maria Rilke’s self-translations between German and French.  Other texts will be chosen in accordance with the linguistic background of the seminar participants.  The course will also include encounters with various PSU faculty members who are active translators of poetry.

Note: This course is not identical with CMLIT 510.  It can be taken in addition to CMLIT 510, or independently from it.

Spring 2014

German Syntax (GER 514)

Instructor: Mike Putnam

The focus of this course is the syntactic structure of modern German, with occasional discussion of and comparison with other related Germanic languages. The study of “syntax” in this course focuses on the basic clausal structure of languages as well as morphosyntactic agreement systems. In this course, students acquire and practice critical and analytic skills, while exploring some of the basic as well as more complex topics pertaining to German syntax.

In addition to this typological overview of the form and function associated with German syntax, students are also introduced to the formal analysis of syntax; namely, Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG). Throughout the course students have the opportunity to be involved in “hands on” analyses of data through (group) problem sets.

No prior knowledge of syntactic analysis (either formal or functional) is assumed.

Course materials:

Müller, Stefan. 2013. Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar: Eine Einführung (3. überarbeitete Auflage). Stauffenberg: Tübingen.

Economies of the Thing (German Literature of the Nineteenth Century)  (GER 561)

Prof. Samuel Frederick

In this seminar we will read a selection of literary and philosophical texts that engage with ‘The Thing,’ construed broadly as the material stuff of everyday life, the stubbornly non-human, or enigmatically opaque matter: tools, furniture, trash, toys, commodities, etc. The seminar will on the one hand serve as an overview of major (and some minor) works of the German nineteenth century; but these works will be read with an eye to uncovering their obsessions with material objects. In particular, following Walter Benjamin, we will look to how things that have been discarded or have outlived their usefulness can become important objects of historical and philosophical reflection.

Guiding questions will include: what does it mean when the material object disrupts or dethrones the human subject of a narrative? Are things aligned with the descriptive and people with narrative? If so, do things open up the spatial realm of a text? What is this realm and how does it echo new constructions of bourgeois identity? What is the redemptive potential of the Thing (if any)? How does the attention to things both support and undermine realism’s mimetic impulses? What happens when things seem to take on a life of their own, becoming menacing or threatening? Do we only see the “back of things” (Bloch), which might turn around to reveal a horrifying face?

We will cover the long nineteenth century (from Romanticism to the fin-de-siècle), but will focus on the aesthetics of Biedermeier and Poetic Realism.

Psycholinguistic Research and Foreign Language Instruction (GER 593)

Prof. Carrie Jackson 

The primary goal of this course is to think critically about how recent advances in psycholinguistic research, and psycholinguistic research on bilingualism in particular, can inform foreign language instruction. We will approach this larger question from several perspectives, including:

  • exploring theories of second language learning that emphasize how online processing strategies facilitate or hinder learning (e.g.,
    Processing Instruction by VanPatten and colleagues)
  • how the manipulation of language input impacts learning
  • how lab-based experimental methodologies may be adapted for classroom-based activities (e.g., syntactic priming)

Fall 2013

Teaching College German (GER 511)

Prof. Michael Putnam

German 511 introduces students to the theory and methods of teaching German at the college level. It deals not only with techniques, materials, and bibliography of the field but also evaluates the contributions of linguistics and psychology to college-level language pedagogy. German 511 familiarizes students with current theories of foreign language education as they relate to post-secondary language acquisition. This course further includes the practical aspects of college-level teaching with special reference to problems related specifically to the teaching and learning of German. Evaluation procedures include examinations, research papers, and the preparation of sample teaching materials.

German Phonetics and Phonology (GER 513)

Prof. Richard Page

This course is about the sounds and the sound system of the German language. The first part of the course will focus on German phonetics. Phonetics is the study of speech sounds, and we will pay particular attention to German speech sounds that native speakers of English find difficult. We will use both articulatory and acoustic phonetics to describe German speech sounds and to compare them to corresponding English speech sounds.

The second part of the course will examine German phonology. Phonology is the study of speech sounds as a linguistic system. We will focus primarily on Standard German, but we will also address phonological aspects of dialectal variation, language change and language acquisition. The course will also explore different theoretical models as they are applied to German phonology.

No prior knowledge of phonology or linguistics is assumed.

Course materials

Hall, Tracy Alan. Phonologie: Eine Einführung. 2d edition. Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter.

Selected articles.

Praat. Free speech analysis software available at http://www.fon.hum.uva.nl/praat/

Post-War and Contemporary German Literature (GER 572)

Prof. Bettina Brandt

1945, the defeat of the so-called Third Reich, and 1989, the collapse of communist Europe, were two geopolitical markers that still bear upon contemporary German culture, as many authors consider the imaginative contours of German worlds in flux by literary means. Additionally, the experience of exile, transnational migration and the struggles of minorities are powerful indicators of global change at the beginning of the 21st century as well. This graduate course examines how imaginative contours of German worlds have been reshaped in literature since 1945 through the lens of migration and minorities. Special attention will be paid to Jews, Turks, Arabs, Black Germans, and Eastern Europeans authors who have immigrated or travelled to Germany at various points after 1945. This course foregrounds the medium of literature to ask how worlds of fiction prompt readers to engage real and possible worlds in newly imaginative ways. Individual texts (mostly narrative fiction but also some poetry, plays and film) will be examined in detail within their specific aesthetic, historical, and geopolitical settings. The class will be taught in German and English 

Readings may include authors such as: Paul Celan, Anna Seghers, Jurek Becker, Barbara Honigmann, Inge Müller, Doron Rabinovici, Irene Dische, Maxim Biller, Aras Ören, Sinasi Dikman, Zafer Senocak/Berkan Karpat, Zehra Cirak, Emine Özdamar, TORKAN, May Ayim, Ika Hügel-Marshall, Hans Jürgen Massaquoi , Galsan Tschinang, Zé Do Rock, José Oliver, Hussain Al Mozany, Herta Müller, Oskar Pastior, Aglaja Veteranyi, Yoko Tawada and others. Literary readings will be accompanied by the study of theoretical contributions in the area of exile, migration, transnational and travel studies.

Literary Translation (GER 510)

Prof. Thomas O. Beebee

Are literary translations inevitably doomed to being “belles infidèles” – beautiful because faithless (to the original); faithful only if unattractive (to readers)? What are we blinded to in the act of translation (including perhaps its gendered nature, as the first question hints) by the fact that it occurs between languages? Why do we always hear about things being “lost in translation” when in reality there is only increase (of text, of meaning, of language)? These and other unanswerable questions will preoccupy this seminar, which will be organized around three approaches to the topic of translation, namely: 1) the practical (what problems and questions arise in doing a translation?); 2) the theoretical (what issues do the encountered problems raise?); 3) the critical/historical/transmetic (what has translation meant to authors and for literary history and cultural survival?). We will begin the seminar by addressing #3 through readings of translational fictions. This will be following by workshop presentations of brief translations done by students. We will then examine the long tradition of translation theory, from St. Jerome to Bella Brodzki. Finally, participants will present an oral version of their final project, which may address translation from any of the perspectives mentioned above, or as yet unthought of.