Graduate Courses


Fall 2019

GERMAN 297- Modern Yiddish Culture
Sven-Erik Rose

Fridays 1:10-5:00 PM, Sproul 412B

Yiddish is a fascinating “peripheral” European culture that is very rich in its own right, spanning multiple national and political contexts and opening up critical perspectives on how to look at dominant European discourses of culture, gender, territorial claims, and more. Germanists have a special obligation to become conversant with major trends in Yiddish culture, since  Yiddish culture was itself one of the victims of the German genocide of European Jewry. That said, this seminar will not, primarily, be about the Holocaust, but rather about the vibrant and extremely diverse transnational Yiddish cultural currents between the late 19th century and the Holocaust, as well as about attempts to sustain Yiddish cultural practice after the catastrophe.

We will survey the rise of modern Yiddish literature in the late 19th and early 20th century through the work of the triumvirate of modern Yiddish “classical” authors, Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh (Mendele Moykher Sforim, 1835-1917), Shalom Rabinovitz (Sholem Aleichem, 1859-1916), and Yitskhok Leybush Peretz (1852-1915). We will furthermore explore the staging of tradition to various esthetic and political ends in modernist Yiddish drama (Sholem Asch, God of Vengeance, 1906; S. Ansky, The Dybbuk, 1920), and also read key works of experimental modernist prose including Dovid Bergelson’s “At the Depot” and Descent (1913); Yiddish women’s poetry (e.g. Rokhl Korn, 1898-1982 and Kadya Molodovsky, 1894-1975); and Yiddish culture in the USA (e.g. Mani Leyb, 1883-1953; Moyshe-Leyb Halpern, 1886-1932; Yankev Glatshshteyn, 1896-1971; and Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1902-1991). Along the way, we will engage with varieties of Yiddish nationalism and Yiddish socialism; touch on Yiddish culture in the Soviet Union and on cultural exchanges between Yiddish and German; and read recent scholarship including Naomi Seidman on fault lines between European vs. Ashkenazic Jewish gender systems; Daniel Boyarin on Ashkenazic Jewish masculinity; and Zohar Weiman-Kelman on intersections between Yiddish and queer theory.

The seminar will be conducted in English, and all readings can be read in English translation.

GERMAN 206-Cognitive Grammar for Applied Linguists
Carlson Arnett

This course will focus on the role of grammar in the first and second year language classroom.  We will read articles that describe a new syntactic theory, Cognitive Grammar, as well as articles on the acquisition of certain grammatical structures by classroom learners.  The course will alternate between lecture, student led discussion of the readings and hands-on application of CG to the grammar presented in first and second year textbooks in Spanish, French and German.  At the end of the course, students will be able to discuss the role of grammar in language instruction and critically evaluate materials used to teach grammar in the first and second year. Students will also be able to identify and discuss the theoretical framework used in their textbooks. In the term paper, students will design a classroom research project that evaluates how effectively a grammatical structure is taught.

Winter 2020

GERMAN 297- Special Topics in German Literature- Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus- TAUGHT IN ENGLISH
Visiting Max Kade Professor Stefan Keppler-Tasaki

Thursday 2:10-5:00pm- Olson 144- Section 001- CRN: 58998

Course Description: Thomas Mann’s last major novel, written from 1943 to 1947 in Los Angeles, re-examines patterns and dynamics of German culture from late 19th century neo-humanism to fascism. Doktor Faustus is a fundamental “Deutschland-Roman” as well as a renewal of the Faust mythology and an account of Nietzsche’s life, thought and impact. It depicts German academia, art, and bourgeois society through the era of World War I and strives to represent the conditions of Nazi Germany through the main character’s infernal compositions of music.

No knowledge of German is required for this seminar. Students may read the course material in German or English, and seminar discussions will be conducted in English.

Required Text:

Thomas Mann: Doktor Faustus. Das Leben des deutschen Tonsetzers Adrian Leverkühn, erzählt von einem Freunde. In der Fassung der Großen kommentierten Frankfurter Ausgabe. Frankfurt: Fischer Klassik, 2012.

Thomas Mann: Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkuhn As Told by a Friend. Transl. John E. Woods. New York: Vintage Books, 1999.


GERMAN 297-   Special Topics in German Literature- Women, War, Migration
Elisabeth Krimmer
Tuesdays, 1:10-4:00- Olson 109- Section 002- CRN:  58999

Course Description: This course offers 1) the theoretical foundation for a discussion of women, war, and violence; 2) a comprehensive analysis of how women experienced the First World War, Second World War and the Iraq War both as victims of and as participants in warfare. 

We often conceive of war as an exclusively masculine affair. And yet, in the twentieth century, the number of civilian victims, that is, women and children, exceeded that of soldiers by a factor of two. Because scholars tend to conflate warfare and frontline fighting, woman’s experiences (the suffering of the refugee, the rape victim, or the concentration camp inmate) are often sidelined and/or dissociated from the “actual” violence of war. Conversely, until recently, scholars have ignored women’s active contributions to and complicity with warfare and genocide, e.g., as army auxiliaries and as secretaries who helped organize the Holocaust. It is the goal of this course 1) to make women’s experiences in warfare visible; 2) to promote a complex understanding of the categories of victim and perpetrator, which are often conceived as mutually exclusive. 

Topics to be discussed include 1) Theories of Violence and War; 2) War and Representation (Kollwitz; Charlotte Salomon); 3) War and Propaganda (Leni Riefenstahl); 4) War and Rape (Helma Sanders-Brahms); 5) War and Genocide (Marie Simon Jalowicz); 6) War and Refugees (Christa Wolf); 7) War and the Media (Elfriede Jelinek). 


Spring 2020

GERMAN 297- Special Topics in German Literature- What is Enlightenment
Chunjie Zhang

This seminar aims to survey the debates on Enlightenment and its global repercussions from theoretical and historical perspectives. We will read eighteenth-century thinkers such as Lessing, Schiller, Goethe, Kant, and Herder as well as contemporary scholars including Adorno/Horkheimer, Foucault, Jonathan Israel, and Martin Mulsow. This course also endeavors to cover an important part of the German PhD reading list of the eighteenth century to help student prepare for exams. Knowledge of German is helpful but not required.

Gail Finney

This seminar will be conducted on a two-track basis, so that students without a command of German may also participate: texts will be available in both English and German and class discussions will be conducted in English.

Studies major modes and topics in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German and Austrian literature and culture, such as the Naturalist attention to the worker as protagonist, the influence of Zola, the women’s emancipation movement, the femme fatale as topos, decadence and aestheticism, art nouveau, the figure of the dandy, and the roles of Freud, Wagner, and Nietzsche.

Authors treated include Gerhart Hauptmann, Henrik Ibsen, Elsa Bernstein, Frank Wedekind, Robert Musil, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arthur Schnitzler, and Thomas Mann.      



Other Resources

UC Davis General Catalog: List of German Courses