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)