Courses in English for Spring 2020

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: Cho-Polizzi, J.
What is Modern German Literature?  This reading intensive course builds upon the analytical skills established by students through the successful completion of German R5A (or equivalent). Although the focus will be on creating independent researchers proficient in college-level reading and writing, students in this course will be challenged to think critically about a number of thematic issues related to the topic of German modernity. From science fiction to psychoanalysis, Romanticism to rubble literature, students will be introduced to a variety of literary texts and media sources which problematize conceptions of “modernity,” “literature,” and “nationhood.” For required readings, please consult the syllabus page of this section’s bCourses website (all texts will be read in English translation).  

German R5B Section 2: Hoehn, P.
“Paradigms of Performance”.  The concept of performance has been central to thinking about literature at least since Aristotle’s Poetics—the oldest extant work of literary theory. More recently, performance has become equally important to scholarly discussions of social issues through the work of Judith Butler and other inheritors of J. L. Austin’s work on the “performativity” of language. But what does the performance of classical tragedy have to do with these recent notions of performativity? And can these paradigms of performance help us understand a third paradigm, that of “job performance?”  This course will use literary, theatrical, and filmic texts as a basis to explore performance both as a real practice and as a resource for thought in order to explore these and other questions that bridge literary, aesthetic, political, and social interests. While we begin to consider the possibility of thinking of writing as a kind of performance, you will also be honing your own writing skills and learning to think about academic writing as a historically situated practice. This course satisfies the second semester of the reading and composition requirement and while many texts are German in origin, no German proficiency is required.

German R5B Section 3: Shell, S.
The theme of the course aims to understand Germanic lower mythology as portrayed in various folktales and legends. For example, the terms elfdwarfettintomtenixe, trollhulder, and many other Germanic beings are often conflated and therefore misunderstood. Although these beings may share the same name, the functions of these beings are expressed differently in various, relevant geographic Germanic regions. We will explore these issues by researching the Christianization of the Germanic tribes, comparative folk tales and legends, and the degree of language contact within the migration period.  

German R5B Section 4: Harris, S.
“Yesterday’s Future: Science Fiction and Social Commentary”.  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, science 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 critique governments, oppressive regimes, and social norms 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 – science fiction actually explores themes much closer to home, such as class, race, gender, and humanity. This course deals with classic sci-fi tropes including monsters, AI, and androids in texts ranging from Frankenstein to Black Mirror to explore how authors use science fiction to explore a future different from their own present.

German 24 (1) Freshman Seminar. Feldman
“Nietzsche at the Movies”
In this freshman seminar we will read and discuss short excerpts from the work of Friedrich Nietzsche and relate those excerpts to popular films. We will focus on the following topics: Apollo vs. Dionysus; strength and weakness; truth and representation; history; and repetition. The goal is to develop a cursory understanding of some central Nietzschean concepts.

German C24 (4) Freshman Seminar. Feldman
(Taught in English)

“Marx, Nietzsche, Freud”
Marx, Nietzsche and Freud revolutionized how western readers view truth, history and power. This course will investigate what made their thought so revolutionary, focusing on the following themes: truth, power, religion and critique of Enlightenment.

German 160K/Film 160 (4)  Weimar Cinema. Kaes
(Taught in English)

“Berlin/Hollywood: Cinema and the Modern Experience”

This course will focus on the cinema of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933) and discuss classics such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis, and M, as well as many newly restored discoveries from this rich and influential period of film history. We will explore the stylistic impact of these films on mainstream genres such as horror, science fiction, and film noir, and examine how they have shaped our view of the conditions and crises of modernity. Whether technological war, gender and sexuality, class struggle, or the rise of fascism, Weimar cinema addresses the most pressing questions of its time — and our time — by creating a radically new film language and new ways to tell a story. Throughout the course, we will bring German cinema into dialogue with Hollywood, from classics like Dracula and Frankenstein to current productions. The course will be conducted in the most interactive way possible through open discussions in class, group presentations, and weekly posts on bCourses that comment on the readings and films. No knowledge of German is required.

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.  No German required. Readings, discussion, coursework in English.