Courses

Courses in English for Spring 2022

German R5B- Reading and Composition Courses (4 units): Feldman in charge
(Taught in English)

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 R5B Section 1: Staff

TBA

German R5B Section 2: Staff

TBA

German R5B Section 3: Staff

TBA

German R5B Section 4: Staff
TBA

German R5B Section 5: Staff
TBA


German 39S (4) Freshman Seminar. Shannon
(Taught in English)

“Language Origins and Development”

It is often said that language is what makes humans human. In fact, it is practically impossible to imagine our society without language. Throughout history, the origins and development of language have engaged the minds and imaginations of myth-makers and scholars alike. And yet many of the basic questions surrounding our ability to communicate in such rich ways remain largely unanswered, or are at least controversial. In this seminar we will consider the long history of thought on this topic in the Western tradition, starting from the Bible and the Greeks, through modern thinkers such as Rousseau, Darwin, and Saussure, down to present-day scholars like Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker.

Some of the issues that will interest us include the following. What is language? How and when did language emerge? In what steps or stages? Was there one (if so, which one?) or more than one original language? How can the great diversity of the ca. 7000 current-day languages be accounted for? What is the relation between language and thought? Is language a species-specific possession of humans and how does it compare to communication among other species? Is there a specific “faculty” or “organ” of language in the mind?

NB: Although this course is offered in the German Department, it not a course in or about German. All readings will be in English, as will classroom discussion.


German C60V (4) Moral Provocations. Feldman
(Taught in English)

How do we know what the “moral” of a story is? We will focus on three biblical narratives that have frequently been interpreted as teaching moral lessons: the story of Job, the story of Abraham and the binding of Isaac, and the story of Moses giving the law. These stories have been interpreted variously in moral terms–e.g. as demonstrating the virtues of faith, obedience, mercy, and forgiveness, and as teaching us about guilt, punishment, reward, and human frailty. They have also been analyzed as existential parables, psychological dramas, and political allegories. The goal of this class is to examine how a range of different, and often provocative, interpretations of these stories’ moral lessons rest on particular ways of reading.


German 160B (4) Fascism and Propaganda. Richter
(Taught in English)

This course will explore the methods, effects and history of propaganda using the example of National Socialism (1933-1945) and will focus on the relationship between politics, propaganda and public opinion. It will highlight practices of persuasion, manipulation and attempts to shape perceptions as well as direct behavior to achieve the responses intended by the National Socialists. We will discuss the role that propaganda played in the National Socialists’ rise to power. Central institutions, organizational structures and actors will be introduced as well as practices and media such as films, newspapers, posters, exhibitions, photos, commemoration days and speeches. Besides the methods and intended effects we will also explore sources which provide insights into reactions of the public to the major themes and into the reception of campaigns by the State. This course is taught in English.


German 186/Film 125 (4)  Documentary Cinemas. Gokturk
(Taught in English)

This course surveys the history, theory and practice of the genre called documentary cinema in a transnational horizon. We will explore what this amorphous and vague term means and examine the ways its forms and ethics have changed from the beginning of cinema to recent digital production and online exhibition. Major modes of documentary filmmaking will be covered, including cinema verité, direct cinema, investigative documentary, ethnographic and travel film, agit-prop and activist media, autobiography and the personal essay as well as recent post-modern forms that question relationships between fact and fiction such as docudrama, archival film, and “mockumentary.” Through formal analysis, we will examine the “reality effects” of these works, focusing on narrative structures, visual style, and audience address. We will ask: How do these films shape notions of truth, reality, and point of view? What are the ethics and politics of representation? Who speaks for whom when we watch a documentary? Who stages whom for whom and to what end? What do documentaries make visible or conceal? What, if anything, constitutes objectivity? And by the way, just what is a document anyway?

NOTE: This course has an additional Film Screening section on Wednesdays from 7-9pm.