Fall 2019

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: Harris

“Speculative Bodies”
Speculative fiction, also known as science fiction, is a genre enjoyed by millions, whether in dystopian novels, superhero films, or television series such as Star Trek or Westworld. Though it can be appreciated purely as entertainment, speculative fiction also invites deeper analysis of themes concerning identity and the relation of humans to their environments and society. Historically this genre has served as a method of social commentary, allowing authors to criticize governments, regimes, and society under the cover of fiction. Though set in a strange world – whether a voyage to space, a parallel reality, or one impacted by a life-changing technology – speculative fiction explores themes much closer to home, such as class, labor, race, gender, and connections between humanity and morality.  This course is concerned with the symbolic use of novel bodies in speculative fiction, including monsters, robots, and clones. These creations serve as a reflection for characters, and the reader, to examine concepts of identity and what it means to be human. Where are the boundaries between human and machine, how do they change, and why might they matter in our present society? What can these authors’ portrayals of humans, androids, and “monsters” indicate about their beliefs and cultural values; and how can the reception of these materials illustrate our own? With materials ranging from Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus to Black Mirror, this course will analyze portrayals of bodies in science fiction, their depictions, meaning, and influence on thought.

Section 2: Shell

“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 the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, the HêliandVölsunga Saga and Das Nibelungenlied. In addition to this selection, we will also include fragments, e.g., laws against paganism, place names, and the Germanic pluralistic idea of a “soul”, that will 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 3: Salehi

“Red Germany”
Germany, the self-anointed land of poets and thinkers, is the birthplace of communism. This course will survey the legacy of communism in German literature and culture, from Karl Marx’s famous 1848 manifesto through the tumultuous first half of the 20th century and up to the end of the socialist project in East Germany. In addition to Marx himself, this R5A invites students to engage critically with literary and theoretical texts by such luminaries of Marxism and communism in the German tradition as the novelist Christa Wolf, the philosopher Theodor W. Adorno, the filmmaker Alexander Kluge, the political activist Rosa Luxemburg, and the poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht.   All readings and written assignments are in English. The primary purpose of this course, which satisfies the first half of the Reading and Composition requirement, is to help students cultivate the research, vocabulary, and argumentation skills necessary to write convincing academic papers.

Section 4: Hoehn

Section 5: Cho-Polizzi.

“Berlin: Making a Modern City”

This reading and writing intensive course is designed to help students develop analytical writing skills. Although the focus will be on creating independent researchers proficient in college-level academic writing, students in this course will be challenged to think critically about a number of thematic issues related to the topic of German modernity through close examination of the long 20th (and early 21st) century in Berlin. Through a combination of historiography, biography, critical theory, literature, and film, students will survey the turbulent evolution of the German metropolis from imperial city to battle field, rubble to divided city, and onward through Reunification and Berlin’s emergence as the pulsing heart of contemporary Europe. Berlin has seen it all: empire, democracy, Nazi fascism, communism, occupation, counterculture, migration, and the ever-growing threat of gentrification. In acquiring an overview of Berlin’s recent history, students will problematize conceptions of modernity and urban life through weekly writing prompts, developing the necessary skills to write concise and well-researched academic papers. For required readings, please consult the syllabus page of this section’s bCourses website (all texts will be read in English and English translation).  

German 39R (4) Freshman Seminar. Balint
“Ideas of Education: From Goethe to Dear White People”

What is the purpose of education? Should the university prepare students for the job market or emphasize the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake? Is knowledge a value in itself? This course explores these questions, among others, while concentrating on the German idea of Bildung. It introduces students to the classical idea of education and self-formation by reading a wide range of texts from German philosophy, intellectual history, and literature. Furthermore, the course traces the history of this idea by exploring how Bildung informs contemporary literary works and film. Emphasis will be on issues of class, race, and gender. Readings, discussions, and coursework in English; no German necessary.

German 160A (4) Century of Extremes. Richter

This lecture will explore Germany’s political and cultural history from 1914 to the reunification of the two German states in 1990. This period was marked by the rise and fall of the first German democracy during the Weimar Republic, the First and the Second World War, the rise of extreme ideologies, the Cold War, and the fall of the Iron Curtain. Against the background of these developments we will focus on continuities and ruptures in German society during the Weimar Republic, National Socialism, the two Republics after 1949 (FRG and GDR), and the (unified) Federal Republic of Germany. By comparing the various dimensions and characteristics of Germany’s radical transformations this course introduces students to major political, social, and cultural changes, emphasizing questions of gender, class, religious identities and milieus; the impact of total war; and the roots of dictatorship and democracy. Course materials will include primary sources in translation and state-of-the-art scholarship on German history, self narratives, as well as contemporary literature, popular images, music and films.  Taught in English.

German 179 (3) Special Topics. Kaes

“The Bauhaus and Its Legacy”
This multidisciplinary course explores the history, theory, and international influence of the Bauhaus movement which started as a radical art and design school in Germany in 1919, one hundred years ago. Although it was cut short by Hitler, its impact on architecture, design, painting, photography, film, theater, dance, even typography and pedagogy is undisputed. Members of the Bauhaus sought to make modernist avant-garde available to the masses. In this course we will discuss its utopian writings about a new architecture; read manifestoes about experimental new approaches to the arts; and study the legacy of Bauhaus principles in today’s consumer product design. Underlying theoretical concepts of the Bauhaus aesthetics, such as abstraction and media specificity, will be examined with the help of concrete examples (ranging from buildings and design to films and photographs). The seminar-style course is meant to inspire original research and possible artistic production. All readings are in English; students with reading knowledge of German will have access to the German originals.

NOTE: Majors and Minors who wish to take this course as a “german taught” requirement must inform the Undergraduate Adviser.