German Courses

Fall 2013

Winter 2014

Spring 2014




19     Is a Nonviolent World Possible?
Fiat Lux Freshman Seminar
Robert Kirsner
Reading and discussion of Michael N. Nagler's provocative book The Search for a Nonviolent Future (2004), first edition of which won 2002 American Book Award (now translated into French, German, Italian, Croatian, Korean, Hebrew, and Arabic.) Many U.S. citizens think of Gandhi as an ascetic idealist whose non-violent campaign may have worked against the British in India in the 1930s and 1940s but would not have stood a chance against Hitler, Stalin, or tyrants of today. Others, however, looking at fact that the U.S. continues to spend billions of dollars to wage wars abroad while neglecting the health and well-being of many of its very own citizens, believe that some form of nonviolence might well be our only hope for civilization in the long run. Prof. Nagler, now Emeritus, taught comparative literature and founded the Peace Studies program at UC Berkeley. He is co-director of the Metta Center for Nonviolence Education. His book is well worth studying, if only for questions it raises and assumptions it questions.

56     Figures Who Changed the World
John McCumber
Introduction to strains of German philosophy and political thought that resonated internationally. Use of version of "great man" model of history to move beyond such models in its understanding of how, exactly, intellectual currents actually ferment change in world.  Taught in English.

M70    Origin of Language
Christopher Stevens
Theoretical and methodological issues surrounding origin of language. Topics include evolutionary theory, evolution of man, how language is organized in brain, and science of language, including physiology of speech, phonetics, and comparative reconstruction. Taught in English.

110     Major City, Minor Literature? Berlin through Lens of German-Jewish and Yiddish Literature in Translation
Special Topics in Modern Literature and Culture
Samuel Spinner
Between the two World Wars--a period of intense artistic and intellectual vitality--Berlin was an international center for theater, visual arts, and literature. Many important Yiddish-language writers were drawn to Berlin and, together with their German-language counterparts, produced a body of literature that explores issues of modernity and identity. By comparing works in Yiddish and German, students learn about interwar Berlin's cultural diversity and richness while also gaining insight into particular issues of writing about Jewish identity in the 1920s, and implications of writing in a minor language (Yiddish). German authors read include Joseph Roth and Alfred Döblin; Yiddish authors read include Moyshe Kulbak and Dovid Bergelson. All texts read in translation.

115    19th-Century Philosophy
John McCumber
German philosophy, which may generally be characterized as philosophy that takes activity rather than passive subsistence to be fundamental nature of all things, is one of Germany's greatest gifts to humanity. Exploration of first half of two-century history of German philosophy -- period from Kant to Nietzsche, including Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Marx.   Taught in English.

140     Language and Linguistics
Christopher Stevens
Theories and methods of linguistics, with emphasis on structure of modern standard German, its phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Other topics include diachronic, spatial, and social variation of German (i.e., its historical development, dialectology, and sociolinguistic dimensions).  Enforced requisite or corequisite: course 6.  Taught in English with German proficiency required.

152     Conversation and Composition on Contemporary German Culture and Society I
Magdalena Tarnawska
Structured around themes as they emerge in contemporary German texts ranging from news magazine articles to literature, with emphasis on speaking and writing proficiency. Presentation software featured.  Requisite: course 6. Taught in German.

166     Introduction to Contemporary Literature
Brechtje Beuker
Analysis and discussion of German, Austrian, Swiss, and ex-GDR literatures from 1945 to present. Examination of writers such as Heinrich Böll, Günther Grass, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Elfriede Jelinek, and Christa Wolf with view to their specific political and cultural context.  Requisite: course 152 or 153. Taught in German.

495     Approaches to Foreign Language Pedagogy
Magdalena Tarnawska
Issues include development of current theories of second-language acquisition, effects of these theories on language teaching, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, assessment techniques, use of multimedia in foreign language pedagogy, and design of syllabi for basic foreign language courses.


Winter 2014      

59     Holocaust in Film and Literature
Samuel Spinner
History of Holocaust and its present memory through examination of challenges and problems encountered in trying to imagine its horror through media of literature and film.  Taught in English.

103     German Film in Cultural Context: Early German Film
Brechtje Beuker
Survey of German film between 1919 and 1945. Analysis of technological and stylistic development of film from silent Expressionist films to Nazi propaganda and entertainment films. Film discussions enhanced by interactive media.  Taught in English.

112     Feminist Issues in German Literature and Culture
Maite Zubiaurre
Analysis of major issues in German feminism today (e.g., status, creative work, and reception of women writers in various periods such as Romanticism, Fascism, and/or divided/unified Germanies).  Taught in ENglish.

116     20th-Century German Philosophy
John McCumber
German philosophy, which may generally be characterized as philosophy that takes activity rather than passive subsistence to be fundamental nature of all things, is one of Germany's greatest gifts to humanity. Exploration of second half of two-century history of German philosophy -- period from Nietzsche through Habermas, including Heidegger, Gadamer, Jaspers, and Frankfurt School theorists.  Taught in English.

118SL     Between Memory and History: Interviewing Holocaust Survivors
Todd Presner
Strongly recommended requisites: prior European and Holocaust history courses. Examination of historical value of eyewitness testimony of Holocaust through unique service opportunities that bring students together with survivors. Question of testimony approached from number of perspectives, including legal, historical, and ethical, to examine vexed relationship between history and memory. Examination of survivor testimony through classic memoirs in field, such as Primo Levi's "The Drowned and the Saved" and Ruth Kluger's "Still Alive." Through collaboration with Jewish Family Services, 1939 Club, and Los Angeles Museum of Holocaust, students meet and work with Holocaust survivors and undertake collaborative research projects and oral histories. Students also research and curate series of interactive tours through Museum of Holocaust.

141     Current Topics in Germanic Linguistics
Christopher Stevens 
In-depth investigation of one topic in field of Germanic linguistics, such as phonetics and phonology, morphology and syntax, semantics and pragmatics, social and spatial variation (i.e., sociolinguistics and dialectology of German), or history of German.  Enforced requisite: course 152. Taught in English with German proficiency required.

153     Conversation and Composition on Contemporary German Culture and Society II
Magdalena Tarnawska
Structured around themes as they emerge in contemporary German texts ranging from news magazine articles to literature, with emphasis on speaking and writing proficiency. Presentation software featured.  Requisite: course 6. Taught in German.

175    Intercultural Germany: Literature, Politics, Migration, and Culture
Magdalena Tarnawska
Exploration of issues surrounding immigration and intercultural identity in Germany since 1960, with focus on period after 1990. Examination of various cultural spaces, practices, and standpoints as staged in literary and nonliterary texts, with emphasis on constructions of ethnicity, nation, race, class, and gender. Analysis of several political and cultural debates that dominated media and public discussions in Germany and Europe for several weeks. Discussion of several literary texts by Turkish German and other minority/intercultural writers. Examination of hip-hop minority music and culture as voices in political debates. Exploration of contemporary controversies around Islam in Germany. Reading of several theoretical pieces that examine relationships between immigration, globalization, culture, and identity.  Taught in German. Most readings in German; some theoretical readings in English.

187     The German Body
Undergraduate Seminar
Brechtje Beuker
What do images of athletes, freaks, femme fatales, and FKK (nudist culture) reveal about the process of negotiating identity and consolidating (or challenging) cultural norms? Building on the understanding of the body as culturally and historically specific rather than biologically given, this course examines how imaginations and fantasies of the German and Austrian body have changed after 1900. Discussion of literary, filmic and media representations and how they intersect with discourses on sexuality, race, health, and power. Taught in German. Most readings in German; some theoretical readings in English.

232     Old High German
Christopher Stevens
Introduction to earliest phases of German literature, with extensive readings in major documents of that period (750 to 1050). Emphasis on grammatical interpretation of these documents and identification of dialects used in their composition.

265     German Philosophy
John McCumber
German philosophical tradition is one of most influential, difficult, and problematic Western world has known. Beginning with Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" and continuing through Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger to Arendt and thinkers of Frankfurt school, German philosophers have explored, more deeply and rigorously than any other Western thinkers, nature and limits (if any) of human mental activity. Results have been basic to social, political, and aesthetic theory as well as to philosophy itself. Exploration of thought of one member of that tradition by concentrating yearly on one exemplary text.


Spring 2014      Tentative Schedule

61C     Modern Metropolis: Vienna
Brechtje Beuker
Vienna at the turn of the century was a vibrant cultural melting pot and the birthplace of artistic and scholarly innovations that radically changed Western thinking. In this course, we explore the preconditions of Vienna's unique cosmopolitan milieu around 1900 and discuss the modernist movement's contributions to psychoanalysis, linguistic philosophy, modern art and design, and atonal music. Among the figures considered are Klimt, Hofmannsthal, Musil, Schnitzler, Schönberg, Freud, and Wittgenstein.  Taught in English.

110     The Provocations of Art: Histories of the German-Language Avant-Garde
Brechtje Beuker
In the early 20th century, Europe and North America were shaken up by artistic movements that not only distanced themselves from previous art forms and traditions, but that radically called the status of art itself into question. These historical avant-gardes challenged the dissociation of art from the praxis of life in bourgeois capitalist society, and their formal experimentations while often provocative and destructive in nature?can be seen as efforts to renegotiate (and reassert) the role of art in society. Focusing specifically on German, Austrian, and Swiss culture, this course examines how we can trace the history of the avant-garde from its inception in the modernist period through the postwar years to its postmodern manifestations. How does the avant-garde respond to general aspects of modernity? What is its relationship to high culture and mass entertainment? Can artists continue to push the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm in our age of cultural relativism?
Course topics include literary developments, film, performance, and visual arts. Among the figures to be discussed: Dada-artists, Bertolt Brecht, Joseph Beuys, Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek. Taught in English.

154     Business German
Magdalena Tarnawska
Specialized language course that teaches German business administration, practices, and correspondence, with attention to cultural nuances. Ongoing developments in European Union analyzed via newspaper articles and Internet.  Requisite: course 6. Taught in German.

158     Introduction to Study of Literature
Kai Terrasi
Introduction to most important terms and resources of literary analysis to help students develop and improve skills in close and critical reading of literary texts, develop basic research techniques, acquire familiarity with basics of literary and cultural analysis, and find pleasure in pursuit of literary and cultural study. Taught in German.

173     Advanced Study of Modern Literature
Samuel Spinner 
 Naturalism, Expressionism, and other early 20th-century literary movements and works.  Taught in German.

191C     Capstone Seminar
Magalena Tarnawska
Limited to senior German majors. Collaborative discussion of and reflection on courses already taken for major, drawing out and synthesizing larger themes and culminating in paper or other final project. Requisites: courses 140 or 141, 152, 153, 158, and four upper division electives required for major.  Must be taken in conjunction with one course numbered 140 or higher.









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