Spring 2019

German Phonetics and Phonology (GER 513)

Prof. Katharina Schuhmann

This course is about the sounds and the sound system of the German language. Part of the course will focus on German and English phonetics. Phonetics is the study of speech sounds, and we will pay particular attention to German speech sounds that native speakers of English find difficult. We will use both articulatory and acoustic phonetics to describe German speech sounds and to compare them to corresponding English speech sounds.

Another part of the course will examine German phonology. Phonology is the study of speech sounds as a linguistic system. We will focus primarily on Standard German, but we will also address phonological aspects of dialectal variation, language change and language acquisition. The course will also explore different theoretical models (derivational approaches and Optimality Theory) as they are applied to German phonology.

No prior knowledge of phonology or linguistics is assumed.

Language Attrition (GER/LING 597)

Prof. Michael Putnam

In this course we explore the notion of language attrition; namely, the loss of linguistic knowledge or ability over the course of the lifespan under variable conditions. From a structural perspective, we investigate the effects of attrition on various aspects of language (e.g., phonology, syntax, semantics, etc.) in both L1 and L2 contexts. We explore how cognitive and performance factors (e.g., cognitive aging, processing, lexical retrieval, the (in)frequency of language use) potentially impact language production and comprehension within the context of language attrition. Finally, we discuss the connection between language acquisition and language attrition.

The German Empire in History, Theory and Film, 1871 – 1918 (GER 540)

Prof. Jens Guettel

This seminar studies one of the culturally, socioeconomically, and politically most important periods in Modern European History, the era of the German Empire from 1871 until the end of World War I. The founding of the German Empire during the Franco-German War in 1871 created a new political entity and upset the European balance of power as it had been organized since 1815. On the one hand, between 1871 and 1918, the newly united Germany could boast major cultural, scientific, and economic achievements: from Richard Wagner’s operas to the development of the first modern medications (from Aspirin to a cure for diphtheria) to overtaking Great Britain in economic output by the early years of the 20th century. On the other hand, we find growing domestic social tensions, fantasies and realities of colonial expansion (and linked to the latter the first genocide of the 20th century in German-colonized Namibia), the exclusion of the growing Social Democrat Party from the political decision making process, and finally a game of extreme, nationalism-motivated political brinksmanship that helped to bring about the “original catastrophe” of the 20th century, the First Word War, which also resulted in the Empire’s demise in 1918.

This seminar examines significant literary, theoretical, and political texts of the time, as well as posterior historical and artistic analyses of this particular period. We will discuss literary works, among others, by Heinrich Mann and Theodor Fontane, as well as major historiographical works on the history of the German Empire by Geoff Eley and Reinhart Koselleck, among others. We will also confront theoretical and political works on the German Empire by, for example, Max Weber, Karl Kautsky, and Carl Schmitt. Last but not least, we will watch and discuss movie representations of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Germany.

German Orientalisms (GER 598)

Prof. Daniel Purdy

Reading theorists from Edward Said to Robert Bernasconi, we will examine the development of a particularly German style of Orientalism.  Along the way we will consider the issues in using contemporary categories on historical images and texts. While Orientalism among German writers may be distinguished from French and English variations, the different cultures all share the same images and texts as sources for their representations.  We will consider the relationship between first hand travel accounts, first to each other, whereby each traveler writes in response to his predecessors, and then to domestic European syntheses of these travel narratives.  Topics include: The intercultural conventions of hospitality concerning the treatment of strangers. The Balkans and the Black Sea as zones of confrontation between Christians and Muslims. Leibniz’s engagement with Chinese philosophy in the context of fashionable Chinoiserie and his disparagement of Ottoman Turks.  The cultural negotiations implicit in Enlightenment depictions of religious tolerance. Is German Orientalism more concerned with Biblical exegesis than colonial power?  Topics include: The coalescence of Berlin’s museums in the nineteenth century as related to Prussian railroad building and archeology in the Ottoman Empire. Romantic fascination with religions on the Indian subcontinent, stretching from Novalis to Schopenhauer to Hermann Hesse.  German hippies in India.  Franz Kafka and other Habsburg writers’ ironic appropriation of China as a political foil.  Anti-Semitism as Orientalism.  The adequacy of world-systems theory as a means to describe the cultural negotiations inherent in Asian trading relations. Asia as depicted in Nazi ideology.  The revitalization of Muslim stereotypes in immigration and assimilation debates across Europe.  The self-conscious maneuvering around Orientalism in contemporary transnational writing in German. Early German cinema and photography about China. Werner Herzog documentaries about India. Readings and discussions will be in a mix of German and English.