This is the first half of a year-long course for students who are beginning the study of German or who have had only minimal exposure to the language. The first semester introduces students to the German language in all four modalities: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The work includes practice (in class, in scheduled review sessions with an apprentice teacher, and using an online workbook) in understanding and using the spoken language. Written exercises and elementary reading materials completed outside class serve as a basis for vocabulary-building and in-class discussion and role-plays. Students will also write four short essays on familiar topics over the course of the semester. During the second semester there is more advanced practice in the use of the spoken and written language, and we will use short fictional and authentic cultural texts in order to develop techniques of reading. The class meets four and one-half hours per week with the professor, and an additional three hours per week with an apprentice teacher. Offered every fall semester.
This first-semester middle-level course is designed to develop German reading, writing, and speaking skills beyond GERM 111Y-112Y. A grammar text is used for reviewing and expanding upon aspects of German grammar from the first year. We will apply this review to the reading of short literary and journalistic texts, to gaining a basic understanding of films in the original German, and to conversation in German with a partner or in groups. These texts and films will serve as a point of departure for short compositions as well. Keeping a diary in German is also an integral component of the course. An apprentice teacher or language assistant will conduct a fourth weekly meeting, in addition to the three regular classes. Prerequisite: successful completion of GERM 111Y-112Y or equivalent. Offered every fall semester.
In this course, we will explore a wide array of topics in contemporary German culture, in order to provide advanced students with the opportunity to strengthen their abilities to write, read, and speak German. Topics may include the impact of reunification on contemporary Germany; religious life and popular music. Material for conversation and composition may be provided by textbooks and/orarticles from the current press in German-speaking countries, films, other media, and Web sites. Students will develop fluency in German in order to perform linguistically and culturally appropriate tasks. The composition component will seek to improve the ability to write clearly and coherently in German. To foster these goals, the course will also provide a review of advanced grammatical structures. Prerequisite: completion of GERM 213Y-214Y or equivalent. Offered every fall semester.
In this course, we will attempt to gain an understanding of some of the most complex poetry in German in the twentieth century. At least two of the poets we will study -- Rainer Maria Rilke and Paul Celan -- have made it into the canon of what some call "World Literature." Our approach will be theoretical in that we will start with a seminal work in German aesthetics, Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, and throughout the semester, we will discuss the poems side by side with philosophical and critical essays on the poems in question. German twentieth-century poetry has resonated in extraordinary ways with writers in theoretically and philosophically oriented criticism. Theoretical work we will discuss in this course will include Martin Heidegger's essays "What are Poets for?" and "Language," Hans Georg Gadamer's essays on Rilke and Celan, Werner Hamacher's "The Second of Inversion," Adorno's "The Lyric and Society," and Paul De Man's "Tropes (Rilke)." In addition to Rilke and Celan, we will study poems by Else Lasker-Schüler, Stefan George, Georg Trakl, Gertrud Kolmar, and Gottfried Benn. The readings will open up perspectives on the central aspects of criticism on poetry, namely the relationship between philosophical thought and poetry, the relationship between poetry and language, the problem of self-reference, and questions of history and memory. Open to students of all levels. No German language proficiency required, as all readings will be in English. Normally offered every two to three years.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Vienna was home to figures as diverse as Sigmund Freud, Gustav Klimt, Gustav Mahler, Leon Trotsky, and Adolf Hitler. How do we begin explain the extraordinary cultural energy that characterized this capital of the far-flung Austro-Hungarian Empire? The course will first examine some of the tensions that characterized "fin-de-siècle" Vienna, including a new urban modernism that confronted historicist architectural trends, the rise of mass politics and the simultaneous disintegration of political liberalism, and the centripetal force exerted by the monarchy in Vienna vis-à-vis centrifugal nationalist movements at the periphery of the Habsburg empire. Against this historical backdrop, Vienna 1900 became home to a variety modernist artistic, cultural, and intellectual movements that fascinate us to this day, even as it confronted issues that remain relevant for the modern multi-ethnic state. We shall explore a wide variety of significant figures in literature (Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal, Musil, Kraus), music (Mahler, R. Strauss, Schönberg), and the visual arts (Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos). We will investigate the psychoanalysis of Freud and the philosophies of Wittgenstein and Weininger. Finally, we shall examine the specific role that Jews played in this cultural flowering, including tracing the emergence of modern Zionism (Theodor Herzl) in a context of growing antisemitism. The course will be conducted as a seminar. Prerequisite: GERM 325 or equivalent. Permission of instructor possible for students who have completed GERM 321.