Teaching Apprenticeship in German (1.5 credits)

Alexander Pichugin
M4 1:10pm-2:30pm, Craig Seminar Room, AB West Wing 4050

This course prepares graduate students for a successful teaching and learning experience in the foreign language classroom. The course addresses two major goals: introduce aspiring and beginning instructors to the most current methodologies of foreign language teaching and provide them with guidance and practical advice in the classroom. Special focus this semester will be on classroom interaction with its various aspects. The course includes designing lesson plans for a learner-centered classroom, stating objectives based on standards of foreign language learning and nationally accepted proficiency guidelines, finding authentic materials for teaching, developing and reviewing graded assignments, analyzing and comparing different assessment tools, observing and reflecting upon one's own teaching and the teaching by others, and discussing personal experiences and the challenges of the language classroom. This course is taught in German with some assignments and readings in English.

Vanitas: Transience and Death in Early Modern and Contemporary Culture
Distinguished Visiting Craig Professor Claudia Benthien
T 4:30pm - 7:10pm , Craig Seminar Room, AB West Wing 4050

/Vanitas: Vergänglichkeit und Tod der frühneuzeitlichen und der zeitgenössischen Kultur

Cultural reflections about human loss usually appear in the form of retrospect: something is mourned that is essentially and inevitably gone. The bereaved endures his or her loss by imagining the ongoing presence of the deceased or the missing object or by trying to resuscitate past incidences and moments by means of their imagination. There is, however, another form of reflecting loss that is structured in the mode of anticipation: the so-called vanitas topos. In Baroque still lifes, for instance, one may perceive, in the midst of the obscene beauty of opulent arrangements of exotic flowers and fruits, a tiny brown spot, a half-rotten leaf, a fly or any other evidence of the coming – and yet present – decay. Future and presence are thus linked and synchronized within a single image. A further element of vanitas is the notion of an emphatic present tense, expressed through the idea of carpe diem: “Wach’ auff mein Hertz vndt dencke; | Das dieser zeitt geschencke/ | Sey kaum ein augenblick/ | Was du zu vor genossen/ | Ist als ein strom verschossen | Der keinmahl wider fält zu rück” (Andreas Gryphius). These lines emphasize the ‘blink of an eye’ as the only certain mode of existence. Vanitas corresponds to such notions of the ephemeral, the void, the transitory, to vainness, futility, and, in particular, to vanity.

The graduate seminar will explore the Baroque semantics and iconography of vanitas in (German) literature and the visual arts. Using this historical background we will then look at contemporary arts and culture, since it is a curious phenomenon that figurations of the Baroque transience trope prominently reappear in recent literature, visual arts, media and, cultural theory. It seems that the trope incorporates notions of temporality that correspond both to contemporary aesthetics and anthropology. The central question to discuss is why a pre-modern temporal concept gains such a virulence for contemporary culture. The seminar will also inquire the functions of these partly morbid recourses, to be found in representations of human skulls in photographic works and sculptures, in the time-based aesthetics of neo-baroque ‘still lifes’ in video art, or the dealing with mortal diseases in autobiographic narratives (Hans Pleschinski: Bildnis eines Unsichtbaren; Wolfgang Herrndorf: Arbeit und Struktur). Poems, dealing with transience, temporality and death, by authors such as Ulla Hahn, Ursula Krechel, Durs Grünbein, and Jan Wagner will also be discussed. In addition, one pop novel reflecting the fleetingness of time (Tino Hanekamp: So was von da) and two highly relevant films (Elegy, dir. Isabel Coixet, and Tourists, dir. Alicia Scherson) will be part of the corpus.

Taught in German.


Impossible Economies: Love and Prostitution
Nicola Behrmann
W 4:30pm - 7:10pm, Craig Seminar Room, AB West Wing 4050

This seminar explores the figurations, rhetoric, and economies of trading sex in a variety of literary master texts and films: If it is true that the figure of the prostitute serves as a mere projection or screen for deviant fantasies in literature and film, what is the impact of such writing over an exchanged body? In what way does the love of the “prostitute” inform Russian Realism, French Symbolism, or German Expressionism? How can we think the gift of/in prostitution? What is really being exchanged in the sporadic encounter with a sex worker? What is the relation between love, sex trade, and the gift? Literary participants in this investigation will be the Marquis de Sade, Fyodor M. Dostoevsky, Charles Baudelaire, Frank Wedekind, Robert Musil, Elfriede Jelinek, Werner Schwab, and Dennis Cooper. Filmic contributions by Michael Glawogger, Luis Buñuel, and Ulrich Seidl; music by Giuseppe Verdi and Alban Berg. Discussions will be framed and guided by Theodor W. Adorno/Max Horkheimer, Georges Bataille, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, Sigmund Freud, Luce Irigaray, Jacques Lacan, Jean-François Lyotard, Catharine MacKinnon, and Karl Marx.

Taught in English.

Course Requirements: 1 formal presentation (30%), 1 peer review (20%), 1 final research paper (50%).