Autumn 2018 offers several excellent English-language options for undergraduate students in the department and beyond:
German 195: Popular Film and the Holocaust
Taught by Professor Richard Block. Recent events around the globe and here at home have revived frightful memories of the Holocaust and the devastating possibility that history could repeat itself. Already, we have heard talk of arm bands, national registries of people of a specific faith, and even mass deportations. The devaluation of Jewish and Roma life, in particular, that led to the slaughter of 11 million people, is repeating itself with respect to immigrants and Muslims in particular. In this course, we will ask ourselves why have we learned nothing. Given the virtual industry that has grown up around the Holocaust, the thousands of films, memoirs, novels, songs, operas etc., why has its central and most compelling message—that nothing can justify or redeem genocide-been lost? Why might we be destined to repeat the past?
German 285: Diversity in the Anthropocene
Taught by Professor Sabine Wilke. This course offers an introduction to the environmental humanities. Literature, culture, and the environment are explored in their interlinkages along five examples: the study of food and consumption, species diversity, waste and pollution, climate change, and the concept of the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is a concept that describes the scale of human impact on the Earth in geological terms. Human impact is growing in the area of land use for food production, the altercation of ecosystems, loss of biological, linguistic, and cultural diversity, climate change resulting in large-scale environmental injustices and global inequalities, and accelerated unforeseen species extinction. We will explore the social and cultural dimension of the concept of the Anthropocene and how the study of literature and culture can contribute to an understanding of the historical, ethical, and aesthetic dimension of this new era of the human.
German 385: Sympathy for the Devil
Taught by Professor Ellwood Wiggins. Is compassion the foundation of human morality or a dangerously unreliable emotion? This course explores how different media foster empathy for commonly held enemies or discriminated groups. The syllabus runs from Ancient Greece to depictions of Nazis and terrorists in modern film. Half of our readings are in moral philosophy, while the plays, stories, and films serve as an experimental field to evaluate the philosophers’ claims about compassion.