Graduate Seminars for Spring 2019

Content for Spring 2019

German 202C (4) Modern German Literature. Balint
The seminar surveys the aesthetics of the contemporary through the lens of work and labor. Our focus will be on German fictional prose by authors such as Christian Kracht, Kathrin Röggla, Wolfgang Herrndorf, Judith Hermann, Abbas Khider, Rainald Goetz, Stefanie Sargnagel, among others, in order to examine the long-standing cliché that literature and work do not pair well. We will dedicate our attention to the ways in which literary and cultural production (mostly since 1989) has registered major shifts such as the rise of neoliberalism, the so-called creative economy, digital technology, and new precarity. How do firmly established genres, like the bildungsroman, engage with these phenomena and which new aesthetic forms and regimes of representation emerge? How do ideas of the self that crystallize in these texts relate to changing notions of work, or the lack of work? In what ways does literature theorize its own position under these conditions? We will read literary texts alongside contemporary social, political, and cultural theory (Isabell Lorey, Wendy Brown, Jonathan Crary, Ulrich Bröckling, Andreas Reckwitz, Diderich Diederichsen) to explore key notions such as productivity, creativity, flexibility, and precarity. Readings, discussions, and coursework both in German and English. Undergraduates welcome; consent of the instructor required (please email

German 204 (2) Compact Seminar. Kappelhoff

Screening 1968: On the Poetics of Film Viewing

In the wake of many retrospectives on the occasion of the fifty-year anniversary of “1968,” it became evident that prior knowledge about events and contexts has come to frame conceptions about the cultural shifts signaled but this momentous year. But what if one were to investigate the ideas about “1968” that are inherent in the films themselves, considering classics of art cinema as well as mundane documentaries and genre films such as jarring examples of exploitation? How can films be read as documents that reveal interactions of heterogeneous cultural, social and political phenomena? Based on film-analytical discussion, this seminar intends to give center stage to the poetics of film-viewing, that is, a way of thinking of and through cinematic images, in order to access the historical constellation of 1968 that has since been overwritten in the popular and academic imaginary.

  Note: this class only meets for 5 Fridays from 02/22-03/22/2019.  Taught in German.

German 214 (4) 20th Century. Kudszus
“Studies in the 20th Century: Nietzsche, Freud, and Beyond.  In our readings and discussions, we will explore the (strongly interrelated) writings of Nietzsche and Freud as well as consider their works in the context of our various intellectual interests (e.g., literary, linguistic, philosophical, intercultural, semiotic). Depending on these interests, the seminar will engage topics related to these two figures and/or their—not necessarily chronological—resonances. In the first few weeks especially, joint readings will provide a core corpus and generate ideas for individually focused projects. Our readings will include excerpts from Nietzsche’s “Also sprach Zarathustra” and “Ecce homo”, as well as from Freud’s “Die Traumdeutung” and “Das Unbehagen in der Kultur”.–Taught in English; texts and course work optionally in German or English.

German 256 (4) Problems of Literary Theory. Feldman
This course will focus on the themes of Enlightenment, critique and freedom, centering on readings of Kant and Hegel. We will begin with Kant’s “What is Enlightenment?” and then turn to his aesthetic theory and his attempt to ground a moral theory. Our study of Hegel begins with his criticisms of Kant’s moral philosophy. We will then move on to Hegel’s formulations of how philosophy works, and ultimately, we will spend several weeks studying selected sections of the Phenomenology of Spirit. Most weeks will include short commentaries, aphorisms and criticisms from other prominent authors in the history of critical theory, most notably Marx, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Adorno and Arendt. The goal is for students to understand not only some of the basic concepts and gestures in Kant and Hegel, but also to place those within the context of 19th – and 20th -century Critical Theory.

German 268 (4) Literature and Cultural History. Tang
“Literature and Political Thought”.  Insofar as the political consists in action and speech, it is intertwined with literature or the representation of “people doing things” (Aristotle). Not only do literary texts articulate political ideas, sometimes more effectively than conceptual discourse, they may also perform the function of political interventions as speech in the public sphere. Against the backdrop of the intense interest in the political among literary scholars, this seminar investigates modern German literature in relation to political thought from the eighteenth century to the present, with emphasis on two crucial periods: the classical-romantic period and the period of avant-garde and modernism. We will focus on various models of community and belonging, visions of revolutionary change (including conservative revolution), as well as new frontiers of the political such as biological life, facts and data. Literary texts include Lessing, Goethe, Hölderlin, Kleist, Brecht, Ernst Jünger, Heiner Müller, Peter Weiss and Christian Kracht, while theoretical texts range from the German idealists to twentieth-century and contemporary thinkers such as Weber, Schmitt, Plessner, Arendt, Agamben, and Rancière.    

German 273 (4) Gothic. Rauch
Study of the orthography, phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon of the earliest Germanic dialect with a sizeable corpus. The Indo-European origins of the Gothic language as well as the relationship with North and West Germanic are considered.  The socio-cultural environment in which Bishop Wulfila translated the Scriptures in the fourth century is discussed. Very much alive as a prime research tool, newly discovered documents such as leaf VI of the Skeireins (found in 1955), leaf 188 of the Codex Argenteus in 1970, and the Gothica Bononiensia fragment in 2009, enrich the debate.

German 375B (4) Language Pedagogy II. Euba
This course expands upon the basis of methodology and theory of language teaching covered in 350 and prepares students for teaching at the intermediate level. The theoretical and practical exploration of recent developments in second language teaching concentrates on instructional technology, teaching writing, teaching literary texts, and curriculum design. Students reflect on their development as teachers through a journal, video, and observation of their teaching, and the final portfolio.