Spring 2017

Holocaust and Visual Culture (GER 532)

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, The Pianist, The Tin Drum, The PhotographerA Film Unfinished, 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.

Mimesis GER591/CMLIT 570

Prof. Jonathan E. Abel

If recent musings about the anthropocene recast the scope and scale of the humanities, they also force reconsideration of one of the longest standing problems of humanistic inquiry, that of representation.  This course excavates layers of discourse on mimesis from the deep time of philosophy and criticism to answer a vital question about human transformation of the planet: how does art transform human and non-human interactions?
The study of representation has too often been taken at several layers of remove from the real world, and yet it is precisely through the mediation that art and artifice play among humans and between humans and the world that we are connected to each other and to our environment.  Representation matters as much for identity formation as it does for government, but do our creations reflect and refract the world or dictate and define it?  This course traces the long history of mimetic thinking and acting to articulate a vision of the power of critique at the ends of humanity. Depending on participants’ interests and backgrounds, readings may include work from: Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Rousseau, Diderot, Zeami, Brecht, Heidegger, Lukacs, Benjamin, Adorno, Auerbach, Lacan, Derrida, Martin Jay, Taussig, Bhabha, Elin Diamond, Irigaray, Lacoue-Labarthe, Ming Dong Gu, and Luhman.

Psycholinguistics in the foreign language classroom (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)

Students will complete a variety of assignments over the course of the semester, most notably carrying out a pilot research project that revolves around the larger themes in the course. Students at all stages of their PhD program are welcome to sign up for this course. Previous work in linguistics not required.

Second Language Speech Perception (GER / LING 597)

Prof. Katharina Schumann

This course examines how adults learn to perceive sounds in a second/foreign language.

This course provides an overview of the major theories and accounts of non-native and second/foreign language (L2) speech perception in adults. In particular, we will focus on segmental aspects in L2 speech. To this end, we will investigate mainly, but not exclusively, data from non-native learners of German or Dutch, and data from native speakers of German or Dutch learning other languages (e.g., English). We will ask whether all non-native sounds and sound contrasts are equally difficult to perceive, and, if not, upon which phonetic and phonological factors this might depend. We will also ask whether phonetic training can lead to increased native-like L2 speech perception. Throughout the course, we will read overview chapters and original research articles in the areas of phonetics, phonology, and psycholinguistics, and we will discuss core methodologies for conducting research on L2 speech perception.