August 27: Introduction to Course

Course Meetings

When: Tuesdays, 3:30pm - 5:30pm

Where: 701 Old Chemistry

Office Hours: T / TH 11-12 and by appointment

Course Description

This course is intended as an introduction to how to do graduate-level research in German studies. The first half of the course will focus on how to understand and interpret texts. The second half of the course will tackle the topic of how to write an academic research paper.

Part I: Crimes, Cases & Texts

The first half of the course will focus on how to approach and interpret different types of texts, all of which are grouped around the broad theme of Crimes and Cases. 

We will examine three texts from the Weimar Republic: Alfred Döblin's Die beiden Freundinnen und ihr Giftmord , an experimental text that is part theory, part fiction, and part social commentary; Franz Kakfa's unfinished novel Der Prozess ; and Fritz Lang's film M , which was based in part on real criminal cases of the time.

We will then look at three recent texts: Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish  (as well as Gilles Deleuze's laconic response to it); Friedrich Dürrenmatt's Der Auftrag , and Benjamin Heisenberg's film Der Räuber , which, like M , is based in part on an actual criminal case.

The emphasis in this section will be on identifying what type of text we are dealing with and figuring out what our possible approaches to the text are. We will learn how to pinpoint the key elements of a complex theories, talk about films using the terminology and methodologies of film studies, and make sense of experimental fiction both within its historical contexts and as aesthetic objects. 

Part II: How to Write an Academic Paper

The second half of the course will work through the process of writing an academic paper. We will begin by talking about how to come up with a topic suitable for academic research. We will then look at the resources available for tracking down texts and the ways in which we evaluate them as we compile a working bibliography. We will then learn how to write a concise and effective proposal and then work on a research paper that could be delivered at an academic conference and expanded into an article (or thesis chapter). 

In this half of the class, students will choose an independent research topic that will culminate in an article-length paper due at the end of the semester. At all stages we will work collaboratively on developing our research and interpretive skills.