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.