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.