We will first consider ways in which literature represents, and is perhaps itself driven by, the visuality of language and the recognition of an unfamiliar Other. Masks and revelations of faces are very important to the Medieval epic Parzival, as well as more modern texts like Arthur Schnitzler’s Dream Story. We will discuss how acts of concealing and unveiling are related to the face that everyone has, and what it means to recognize the face that is unmasked. Some texts by Goethe and Eliot from the Romantic and Realist periods assume that we can “read” faces according to features that tell us about the character of the person behind the face. By closely interpreting a moment of facial recognition in a text, we will each practice and reflect on what it means to recognize a face.
Courses in English for Fall 2018
Reading and Composition Courses
Readings and discussions in English. Fulfills the second half of the university’s Reading & Composition Requirement (equivalent to English 1B, Comp. Lit. 1B, etc.).
German R5A. Reading and Composition (4)
Section 1: Hossainzadeh, Z.
“Once Upon A Time”
Once upon a time. The phrase lures us into an unknown land, a land of endless imagination, a land of fairy tales. But the words only provide us with one glimpse into the imagined land. It is up to us, up to our own thoughts, to explore deeper, varied meanings of fairy tales, beyond the mere words that comprise them. And that exploration of the land of once-upon-a time’s, the world of the fairy tale, is what we’ll be doing in this course. We’ll delve into fairy tales, seeking to understand the deeper significance of them and why they have such a lasting influence on modern culture. We’ll focus on the German context, in particular Grimms’ fairy tales, but we’ll also examine fairy tales present in other national contexts, including our own.
Section 2: Fragomenii, M.
“Rock and Roll during the Cold War”.
In this course, we will consider the impact and influence of Rock & Roll music during the Cold War, with a special emphasis on its effects in East Germany and the USSR. We will investigate how various Rock & Roll genres challenged social conventions, as well as how they influenced the evolution of music itself. Concurrently, we will also cover the timeline in three units: Overview of the Cold War 1945 – 1991, Rock & Roll of the 50’s and 60’s, and then of the 70’s and 80’s.
Section 3: Shell, S.
“Language and worldview in light of Germanic mythology”
The primary purpose of this course, which fulfills the second component of the Reading and Composition Requirement, is to help students develop college-level skills in critical reading and academic writing. We will conduct close reading and analysis of texts, and the writing of clear and persuasive arguments. Subsequently, we will write a series of essays in which will be dedicated to general topics in grammar, rhetoric, and style.
In this course, we will use many major texts such as Beowulf, the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, the Hêliand, Völsunga Saga and Das Nibelungenlied. In addition to this selection, we will also include fragments, e.g., laws against heathenry, place names, folklore surrounding the Germanic idea of a “soul”, that help to provide clues to the ancient Germanic religions and myths and their worldview. We will further explore these issues by researching the Christianization of the Germanic tribes and the degree of language contact within the migration period. When reading theses texts, we will ask such questions as: how are thought, identity, and culture influenced by language and vice-versa? While the linguistic culture may not be the only focus, we will debate this topic heavily.
Section 4: Duri-Agri, J.
Facial recognition has lately become a buzzword in conversations around privacy and identity, but how well do we understand what faces and recognition are? Faces in texts are not always visual, and recognition does not only deal with identification and categorization. In a philosophical sense, to recognize someone means to find legitimacy and coherence in the way that they exist. When we read faces in texts, or when texts read faces by telling us about a person from their features, do we approach the face with the same ethical stakes as when we recognize someone on the street? In this course, we will question what it means to have a face, and whether texts and characters can have faces that are recognizable in a similar way.
Once we have become familiar with practices of reading faces, as was the overwhelmingly popular literary tradition of physiognomy in the 18th and 19thcenturies, we will be prepared to consider how facial recognition fails or is problematic. Rainer Maria Rilke’s Notebooks of Malte Laurids Briggeprovides a striking scene of prosopagnosia, or the inability to recognize a face, which will provide an interesting test case for our individual and then collaborative consideration.
By looking closely at something so quotidian as the face and our recognition of it, we will consider the paradigms by which faces function or mean anything at all. Our conversation will finish by bringing to the philosophical roots of facial recognition in thinkers like Hegel and Lévinas, who connect the recognition of others with personal freedoms in a way that feels relevant to the present day. These thinkers, and others whom you will encounter in your own research, will provide the theoretical background for a final exploration of what it means to recognize a face in literature, with implications for what it means to recognize faces in real life.
Section 5: Reitz, L.
“Reading the Reader”.
The purpose of this course is to provide students with the reading, analytical, and writing skills necessary for university study. To this end students will read various genres of texts closely, analyze critical arguments, and produce well-written, argument-driven essays of their own.
In this course we will engage and improve these practical skills by examining the figure of the reader in German literature and modern scholarship. (*NB all texts and discussions will be in English. Knowledge of German is not expected.) We will read literary texts of various lengths and genres spanning the entire history of German literature that present fictional representations of readers and reading. We will ask what these texts tell us about historical reading practices and attitudes toward reading. How is reading good for the soul, detrimental to our health, critical to the formation of the individual, and potentially ruinous for communities? Are readers heroic or lazy? Are they paragons of intelligence or diseased individuals? Does reading provide an escape or intensify our everyday experiences? Parallel to our reading of literature, we will also engage scholarly theories in which the reader plays a key theoretical role. Finally, we will critique academic scholarship in general, specifically how it privileges certain reading practices and rejects others. By the end of the semester, students should begin to question the very academic reading and writing skills this course intends to teach.
German 24 (1) Freshman Seminar. Feldman
“Germany Now”. This 1-unit freshman and sophomore seminar explores contemporary Germany, with comparisons to the USA in particular contexts. We begin with a review of German and European geography, recent history from World War I, through National Socialism and divided Germany, to reunification. The seminar then turns to German politics, the party system, the basic law governing Germany and central social issues. We will consider Germany’s social system: What do its policies mean for its inhabitants? In this context we will discuss such topics as the Turkish presence in Germany, German environmentalism, women and gender roles, and the refugee crisis. Taught in English.
German C75/L&S 60T (4) Discovery Course. Feldman
“What is Beauty”? Artistic beauty and the beauty of nature lend themselves to discussion of abstract philosophical concepts: truth, eternity, goodness and harmony. This course will examine primarily western European and north American historical approaches to the beauty of art and nature as represented in works of philosophy, literary theory and theories of art and aesthetics. Taught in English.
German 157D (4) German Intellectual History in a European Context: Historical Figuress & Continuing Reflection: Adorno, Benjamin, Habermas. Feldman
This course examines the writings of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, a major branch of western Marxism. Focusing on confrontations with modernity, the lectures will deal with three seminal thinkers: Walter Benjamin, known for his genial insights into the culture of modernism; Theodor Adorno, the versatile philosopher and aesthetic theorist of the avant garde; and Jurgen Habermas, the most influential German intellectual after World War II. Taught in English.
German 160C (4) A Divided Nation. Richter
This course offers an introduction to the history and culture of divided Germany in the era of the Cold War. It will look at the different ways the two states dealt with the country’s pre-1945 history, the relations to the Allied Powers, and the major cultural shifts which eventually created a watershed in the history of German mentalities. We will look at various kinds of sources, including literature and film. Major national debates will be touched upon, such as breaks and continuities within the national elites, re-armament and pacifism, the student movement, opposition and conformity under Socialism, and the rise of environmentalism. We will also discuss the problems and opportunities of re-unification. Taught in English.