Spring 2016

Digital Humanities (GER / CMLIT 570)

Prof. Thomas Beebee

This seminar will function as a workshop and laboratory for sampling, exploring, and experimenting with a variety of computer-based technologies that are currently being applied to (typically) large corpuses for the purposes of algorithmic criticism. Our focus will be hands-on experimentation with software for network analysis (gephi); stylistics (R); topic modeling (mallet), and mapping, with attention paid to foundational ideas of information theory, visualization, spatial humanities, etc. Exploration of further topics and methods according to student interests, preparation, and usefulness for specific research agendas.

Romantic Spaces (GER 592)

Prof. Daniel Purdy

Once upon a time, it was common to subordinate spatial relations to temporality. Time was considered the more fundamental quality of modern consciousness, both in literature and philosophy. Modernist literature was seen as concerned foremostly with the passage of time, memory and the unstable cohesion of subjectivity; only post-modernist writing was considered spatially oriented with its interest in commodity relations, globalizing capitalism, simultaneity and description.

This course will take a step or two back to investigate how Romanticism (broadly defined) constructs space in order to 1) organize interior feelings, along the axes of knowledge, sexuality, and power ; 2) establish a domestic terrain and boundaries for the nation state; 3) define differences between home and foreign spaces. Along these lines we will read Romanticism in light of theories of subjectivity, nationalism and Orientalism.

These three areas will overlap so that we will readily interpret the Orient as a space allowing for alternate modes of identity or the nation as an arena that incorporates ethnic, sexual and cultural differences. This course will also examine how literary texts represent the subjective experience of space. Literary depictions of space have long served as external reflections of interior states of mind. Thus our readings will lead us through ancient Italian labyrinths, psychic caverns, neo-gothic ruins, cartographic landscapes, broad boulevards, dark alleys, and bureaucratic compartments. We will also ponder the difference between the beautiful and the sublime.

Romanticism stressed the unique qualities of place. The poetic descriptions of natural sites such as the Rhine, the Danube or the Alps will receive our particular attention. We will study how literary texts construct the borders between Europe and the Orient while simultaneously arranging sexualities into heteronormative and queer spaces. All along the way, we will be reading some of the most important canonical texts in the Romantic tradition, in order to provide you with an overview of cultural history. Students taking the class for a grade will be asked to give one in-class presentation and write a 20-page research paper.

The secret lives of verbs (GER / LING 593)

Prof. Michael Putnam

In this course we take a detailed look at the underlying structure of verbs. Here we explore the many domains of grammar that intersect in verbs; i.e., argument structure, event semantics, tense/mood/aspect distinctions, etc., from both descriptive and theoretical perspectives. The primary goal of this course is to improve our understanding of the interface between aspects of the structure (syntax & morphology) and meaning (semantic & pragmatic) of the grammatical properties of verbs cross-linguistically. In addition to building a solid foundation of previous research carried out on verbs, students will work to develop independent research projects focusing on under-researched topics in this area. Finally, we will also investigate what these cross-linguistically differences mean for language acquisition and language contact. Although German(ic) data will be a dominant empirical focus throughout the course, we will also consider data from a wide array of typologically diverse languages, so students from other departments are welcome to enroll. This course will be taught in English.

The Holocaust in Visual Culture and Theory (GER 540)

Prof. Sabine Doran

This seminar studies representations of the Holocaust in art, museums, literature, and film. We will examine theoretical questions involved in any attempt to capture what appears to be beyond our comprehension in terms of moral outrage and the sheer scale, inhumanity, and bureaucratic efficiency of the violence perpetrated by the Nazis.

We will focus on the ways in which "trauma" has become a key analytical concept in these debates. We will discuss literary works, such as Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz, films such as Alain Resnais’ Night and Fog and more recent films such as Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book, as well as photographs, poems, installations, and other artifacts. We will also confront questions of memorialization, national guilt, survivor's guilt, stigmatization, and the ethics of historical representation, in theoretical readings by Theodor Adorno, Giorgio Agamben, Hannah Arendt, Cathy Caruth, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard, Hayden White and others.

Readings and discussion in English.