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.