Graduate Seminars for Spring 2022

Content for Spring 2022

German 204 sec.001 (2) Compact Seminar. Seeba

In recent political discussions of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’, questioning the concept of truth has gained new momentum not only in philosophical but also in literary terms. Few authors in German literature have been as pained as Heinrich von Kleist (1772-1811) by the question of what constitutes truth and how the often futile effort to attain it can be best staged. Starting with Kleist’s personal letters, which are precursors of his literary oeuvre of just ten years, we will discuss primary scenes of exploring, finding, missing, averting and concealing truth – “Wir können nicht entscheiden, ob das, was wir Wahrheit nennen, wahrhaft Wahrheit ist oder ob es uns nur so scheint.” Combining questions of epistemology and language philosophy, Kleist was a trailblazer of modernity who labors about the role of metaphor, representation, reality vs. fiction, image vs. word, innocence vs. moral responsibility, prejudice vs. trust and other aspects of literature central to the understanding of modern existence. As Kleist’s writings are a compelling guide to staging the literal meaning of language and to understanding the conceptual significance of verbal images, studying his particular pursuit of truth can be an exercise in the existential reasoning for the study of literature in general. The despair of the individual, the lure of the abyss, the aesthetic redemption, the violence of stereotyping, historical understanding and identity formation will be some of the topics to be discussed in the seminar. Readings and discussions will be in German.

Required reading: Das Bettelweib von Locarno, Über das Marionettentheater, Der zerbrochne Krug, Amphitryon, Die Hermannsschlacht, Prinz Friedrich von Homburg. The first two texts should be read in advance of the first seminar meeting.

NOTE: This short seminar meets for 5 Fridays from 01/28-02/25/22 only!

German 204 sec.002 (2) Compact Seminar. Liebhart


The compact seminar is aimed at both graduate and advanced undergraduate students from all UC Berkeley Departments, who are interested in Austrian Studies, right-wing populist and far-right politics, political discourse and visual political communication. The seminar looks at recent trends and phenomena related to right­ wing party politics and civil society activism in Austria. The course also sheds light on how these developments are being reflected in political communication (political rhetoric, candidate and  issue centered campaign material, social media communication of party representatives and political activists). Based on a condensed overview of right-wing politics, discourses and related imagery from the mid-1980s up to the present, the seminar puts special emphasis on the analysis of recent developments and significant examples.

Topical, theoretical and methodological input provided by the instructor, in-class group work based on assigned readings and short response papers; discussion formats alternate. Participants will gain interdisciplinary insights into the subject and strengthen their topic related knowledge as well as theoretical and methodological expertise. They will trace discursive and visual communication of right-wing politics and identify relevant strategies such as repudiating pluralistic political concepts, appealing to stereotypes, scapegoating, turning minorities into problems and threats, constructing a homogeneous majority population, blaming the elites, and constructing the enemy within and abroad. While making oral and written arguments on several occasions, participants will also practice presentation and writing skills.  This course will be entirely taught in “English”!

NOTE: This short seminar meets for 5 Fridays from 04/01-04/29/22 only!

German 214 (4) Ecocritical Perspectives: Waste and Value. Gokturk

This seminar will look at culture through the lens of waste, examining how value, pecuniary or otherwise, has accrued to certain objects or categories in markets over time. Drawing on approaches from a variety of disciplines to examine the history and material culture of waste, we will engage with its presentation in literature and cinema. We will consider labor, sanitation, waste management, recycling, and environmental justice with a focus on cultural discourses of waste and its role in artistic production. Texts can include, but will not be limited to, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Karl Marx, Walter Benjamin, Upton Sinclair, Bertolt Brecht, Hannah Arendt, Isaac Asimov, Latife Tekin, and Emine Sevgi Özdamar. We will also watch films featuring waste workers, whose constrained mobility contrasts with the circulation of resources and revenue in the global recycling business. Students will be expected to introduce their own related materials, and to participate in a joint research project. A good introduction to the topic is John Scanlan’s book On Garbage (2005).

German 256 (4) Problems of Literary Theory. Balint
“Digital Literatures, Critical Practices”

This class enquires into forms of born-digital literature and critical practices that engage with them—or, in fact, resist them. To survey a broad range of literary examples, across different languages, the seminar is open to all students. Drawing on participants’ expertise in languages that may not be shared by all, the class will have an emphatic lab character that seeks to strengthen collaborative forms of critical work. The theoretical focus will lie on investigating to what extent our critical terms developed for non-digital forms of literature are applicable and useful when turning to new and emergent forms in digital environments. We will revisit prominent moments in literary theory—such as defamiliarization, the death of the author, aesthetic autonomy—to reexamine their relevance for born-digital texts. At the same time, emphasis will be on developing new critical concepts and practices for emergent forms of literature. How to (re-)theorize form, format, and platform? Moreover, we will dedicate ourselves to a close reading of reading; that is, to the particularities of reading that born-digital texts on different platforms command and/or frustrate. Readings by Armin Nassehi, Marjorie Perloff, Lutz Koepnick, Alan Liu, Kenneth Goldsmith, Jessica Pressman, Kathrin Passig, Boris Groys, among others. Reading knowledge of German is a plus but not required; reading assignments will be handled flexibly. Discussions, class work, and writing assignments will be in English. The class will also feature a series of conversations with producers, editors, and critics of digital literatures. Taught in English.

German 375B (4) Language Pedagogy II. Euba
(Taught in English and German)

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.