German and Slavic Studies

The Department of German and Slavic Studies offers a variety of courses in German, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, and Hungarian languages and cultures. Many of its culture, literature, and film classes on the undergraduate, hours, and master’s have a substantial social justice and/or human rights component. Cultural events such as German colonialism, gender, the two world wars, the Holocaust, De-Nazification post World War II trials in West Germany, human rights and freedom in East Germany, and the variety of human rights developments in the culture, society, history and artistic production of reunified Germany since 1990 play a considerable role in German Studies. Similarly, questions of Soviet occupation and dictatorship, social criticism through art, peaceful revolutions in Eastern Europe, constant struggles about freedom and human rights have shaped Polish, Ukrainian, and Russian culture, literature, and film. Recent special topics courses in the area included “The Indigenous  in German 19th century literature,” “Museums and Cultural Memory of the Second World War,” “Memory of the First World War in Germany, Britain, and Canada,” an “Cultural Representations of Poland in the 20th Century: Toilet Paper Hostages.” Regular courses that discuss human rights issues offered in the Department include:

Love in German Culture in English Translation (GRMN 1310)

Language of instruction: English. An introduction to the discourse and meaning of love through German culture from the Middle Ages to the present; analyzes the expression of different concepts of love (spiritual, courtly, erotic, romantic, sexual, free, same-sex, familial, virtual) in literature and other cultural forms. Stresses the development of English reading and writing skills. The course is designed for students who have little or no prior knowledge of German culture.

Introduction to German Culture from 1918 to the Present (GRMN 2120)

Language of instruction: English. An introduction to the culture of contemporary German-speaking countries; analyzes literature and other cultural forms since the end of World War I, including the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich and the Holocaust, divided Germany, Re-Unification, and the European Union.

German Enlightenment and Classicism (GRMN 3240)

Language of instruction: German. A study of selected texts of the German Enlightenment and Classicism, including works by Lessing, Schiller, Goethe and others; Human Rights thinking of Enlightenment thinkers.

German Romanticism (GRMN 3250)

Language of instruction: German. Study of selected fairy tales, novellas, letters, poetry and other texts by authors such as Novalis, Tieck, E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Kleist; topics discussed include the relationship between Enlightenment and Romanticism, the role of women, the discovery of the uncanny, the role of the fantastic, and romantic vampires. Human Rights discourses of the era.

Representations of the Holocaust in English Translation (GRMN 3262)

Language of instruction: English. This course will focus on the literary rendering, including film versions and German memorial culture, of the Holocaust experience by authors from the German-speaking countries, such as Anna Seghers, Jurek Becker, Paul Celan, Max Frisch, Peter Weiss, Ruth Klüger, W.G. Sebald, and others.

Studies in Contemporary German Cinema (GRMN 3270)

Language of instruction: English. Studies the major accomplishments of East and West German cinema of the postwar period, as well as cinematic trends since German unification. We will consider questions of narrative, genre, and authorship, examine film’s relationship to other media, and focus on the dynamic interaction between film history and social history.

Sex, Gender and Cultural Politics in the German-Speaking World in English Translation (GRMN 3282)

Language of instruction: English. Explores a wide range of literary and cultural texts that deal with sex and gender in the German-speaking world. Discussion will address topics such as representation of women and men in literature and the social and historical climate in which the literature was and is produced.

History in Literature in German- Speaking Countries (GRMN 3290)

Language of instruction: German. Analyzes how history is represented and remembered in literature and other genres. The course will focus on the representation of one historical period such as the Weimar Republic or the Nazi Third Reich. Please consult the instructor for details on which historical period as it appears in literature will be considered.

German Representations of War 
(GRMN 3390)

Language of instruction: English. Focuses on representations of war, particularly World War II from a German and European perspective in fiction, historiography, film, photography, and memorial culture. Students may not hold credit for both GRMN 3390 and GRMN 3392.

Love in Russian Culture in English Translation (RUSN 1410)

An introduction to the discourse of love in Russian culture from the Middle Ages to the present. The course explores different meanings of love (spiritual, erotic, romantic, same-sex, familial) in Russian culture by means of examining a variety of portrayals of the interactions of love, sex, religion, and politics in literature and other cultural forms. The course is designed for students who have little or no prior knowledge of Russian culture.

Russian Culture from 1900 to the Present (RUSN 2290)

Russian culture from the end of the 19th century to the present day. Major developments in Russian art, film and literature. Readings are available in both English translation and in the original.

Exploring Russia through Film 
(RUSN 2310)

A survey of Russian cinema from its origins to the present. The course focuses on the role of film in Russian culture, ideological uses of film, and cinema as a medium of cultural dissent and witness to social change.

Russian Literature after Stali
(RUSN 2410)

A survey of Russian literature from the period of High Stalinism to the present. The course examines effects of ideological and political change on literary production.

Literature and Revolution (RUSN 2740)

Responses to the 1917 Revolution, focusing on writers of the twenties. Mayakovsky, Kollontai, Babel, Olesha, Zamyatin, Pilnyak, Bulgakov. References to art, cinema and cultural politics of the period.

Tolstoy’s War and Peace (RUSN 3900)

This writer’s art, view of history and human nature. References to film versions. Lectures in English. Readings in the original or in English.

Ukrainian Culture from 1900 to the Present (UKRN 2780)

Major trends in thought, the visual arts, film and literature from the end of the 19th century to the present day. Lectures in English. Readings are available in both English translation and Ukrainian.

Literature and Revolution in Ukraine (UKRN 2800)

A study of literature and its relationship to the arts in the decade that followed the Revolution of 1917. Lectures in English. Readings available in English and in the original. Viewing and discussion of films.

Holodomor and Holocaust in Ukrainian Literature and Culture (UKRN 2820)

A study of how the Holodomor (Famine) of 1932-33 and the Holocaust have been represented, and of the international impact of these representations. References to art and film. Lectures and readings in English.

Literature of Independent Ukraine (UKRN 3300)

A study of recent writings from Ukraine, focusing on the post-1991 period. References to art and film of the period.

Polish Culture 1918 to the Present
(POL 2610)

An introductory survey from 1918 to the present. This is a lecture style course devoted to studying the achievements of Polish culture and their impact on shaping of the contemporary Polish society. Students will observe the cultural changes that defined Poland following one hundred years of non-existence as a nation. The re-examining of the Polish national identity will be studied through documents from literature, art, mythology and music. Lectures and readings in English.

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