Graduate Seminars for Fall 2018

Content for Fall 2018

204 (2) Compact Seminar. Jennifer Kapczynski
NOTE: German 204 meets on the following 5 Fridays only: 08/31-10/05/2018
“Mediating Democracy”
Democracy is notoriously difficult to depict –– as a system commonly associated with pluralistic thinking that challenges easy attempts to symbolize its forms, principles and practices. At the same time, democracy seems to demand representation – requiring not only a spirit of civic participation, but also an educational and cultural system that promotes a participatory culture. This compact seminar takes up the question of how, in the context of postwar West Germany, the arts were mobilized in the project to imagine, nurture, and critique democracy. What roles were film and theater assigned in mediating the emergence and maintenance of a democratic way of life, in a culture still profoundly shaped by National Socialism and deeply ambivalent about the experiences of postwar occupation and reeducation? Drawing on essayistic, literary and cinematic works by seminal figures of the era (including Adorno, Habermas, Fassbinder and von Trotta) along with writings by key political theorists (such as Norval and Honig), this course explores the major ideas guiding postwar West German representations of democracy: participation, recognition, resistance, and dissent. We will ask how these concepts take shape at the level of aesthetics and performance, and we will probe what lessons postwar thinkers can offer us for the democratic impasses of our own time. As the contemporary moment reminds us, democracy must tolerate within it the seeds of its own destruction even as it works to survive.  Taught in German.  Readings- all materials will be made available through a digital course reader on bCourses.

German 205 (4) Medieval and early Modern. Largier
“Scenes of formation: Media before modernity”.  Time and again, modern media theorists have turned to premodern configurations of ‘media’, e.g., the transition from scrolls to codices and books in manuscript culture, the relations between images and texts in manuscripts and early prints, the emergence of print, as well as medieval and early modern theories of media. In this seminar, we will discuss exemplary situations of media use and of the significance of media from the Middle Ages to the Baroque. We will also try to see how far modern media theory is able to help us understand premodern artifacts.  Taught in English, Readings in German.

German 265/Film 240 (4) Film Theory Kaes
“Cinema of Crisis”.  The seminar looks at German cinema between 1929 and 1934 through the lens of philosophical writings about crisis — economic, political, and cultural. We will analyze selected films from the pivotal years before and after the ascent of Hitler and ask how culture registered the gradual transition from a democratic to an autocratic system of government. Our interrogation will also address larger conceptual questions, such as the entanglement of aesthetics and politics, modernity and myth, proletariat and populism, as well as the very definition of crisis and state of exception. In addition, we will examine the media-technological shift from silent to sound cinema and radio. We will screen films by Bert Brecht, Fritz Lang, G.W. Pabst, Max Ophüls, Leni Riefenstahl, and lesser-known documentary and avant-garde works. Most importantly, we will discuss critical interventions by Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, Sigmund Freud, Martin Heidegger, Ernst Jünger, and Carl Schmitt, as well as retrospective readings of the period by Theodor W. Adorno, Giorgio Agamben, Hannah Arendt, Jacques Rancière, Peter Sloterdijk, and Jürgen Habermas.  Taught in English.

German 270 (4) History of the German Language. Rauch
“History of the German language”.   Designed for graduate and undergraduate students interested in the external and internal history of the German language from prehistoric times to the present and its interchange with closely and remotely related languages. Sociolinguistic approaches to genetic language processes, informing the German language across time, are illustrated through the interface with literary documents from ancient Cattle Raids though Runic, Gothic, Medieval German and English texts, as well as excerpts from Luther’s era, Modern and Contemporary German. No prerequisites. Taught in German & English, Textbook in German, Reader in German & English.

German 285 (4) Approaches and Issues in Modern German.  Shannon
“Approaches & Issues in German Linguistics”.   This seminar is designed to provide students with a representative survey of various approaches to, and issues in, the study of the contemporary German language. These methods and issues will be illustrated by examining a number of problems in the analysis of modern German. Some of the theories and topics to be discussed (tentatively) include: structuralism, transformational grammar and its successors, dependency grammar, functional grammar, problems of phonological analysis, valence and sentence patterns, functional sentence perspective and word order in German, pragmatics, and semantic analysis. There will be readings from a variety of original sources, which will be available on bCourses. Besides the regular reading assignments there will be one or two written assignments, and a final or a term paper. Grades will be determined by active participation in class and on the basis of the written work.Taught in English, Readings in German and English.

German 290 (4) German Linguistics.  Rauch
“Germanic Linguistics: From Then to Now”.   The rich legacy that is Germanic linguistics will be constructed from several foci: Germanic grammar with its roots in the Anomalists and Analogists of Classical Greco-Roman grammar, from the Old Icelandic First Grammarian to contemporary ethnicity and gender grammar; appeal to theoretical, anthropological, and sociological approaches, highlighting controversies and personages through time, surrounding the establishment of linguistic laws informing Germanic language changes; the outreach of the principles of Germanic linguistics to general linguistics and to non-linguistic related arts and sciences. In addition, less studied evidence such as Langobardic will be subsumed under the umbrella of this seminar. No prerequisites.Taught in English, Readings in German.


German 375A (3) Seminar in Foreign Language Pedagogy: Teaching College German I. Euba
Focusing on the theory and practice of foreign language pedagogy, this course is designed to provide graduate students in German with knowledge and tools for their careers as teachers in the language classroom and beyond. While emphasizing critical reflection on pedagogical practices–-one’s own and that of others–-students will also be introduced to the field of Second Language Acquisition research and its relationship to pedagogy. This, along with the development of practices that promote continuing professional growth, should provide a basis for the ability to stay theoretically informed and to participate in the professional discourse of a rapidly developing field. Included in this course is a significant practical component addressing the day-to-day challenges of planning for and teaching the simultaneously offered elementary German language courses.