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.