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GERMAN 293 A: Introduction to Contemporary German Culture

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:00pm - 2:20pm
JHN 175
Joint Sections: 
LIT 298 A, CHID 270 B
Krakenberg Den Haag
Jasmin Krakenberg

Syllabus Description:

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GER 293 CHID 270B LIT 298                                      


Prof. Jasmin Krakenberg, Office: Th 2:30-4 pm and by app., Denny 337

TA: Justin Mohler,          Office: Mo, We 1:30-2:20 pm, DEN 400k

Focusing on the culture of today’s German speaking world, the course reflects on the role of visual arts, film, music, prose, poetry, and drama in responding to conflict. Its goal is to understand the role of protest and dissent in the 20th and 21st century. How do writers, artists, and filmmakers adopt potent and innovative strategies to resist dominant narratives? And how effective is art as a form of protest and a conduit of change?

In search for better understanding how culture is created, resisted, and appropriated, we will focus on independent, unpopular, and marginalized voices, including the wide range of social movements (e.g. feminism, LGBTQ, civil rights, and environmentalism). To rethink evolving notions of “canon,” we will look at works by Afro-German writer May Ayim and Japanese writer Yoko Tawada, protest songs by poet Wolf Biermann, artworks by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei and German visual artist Hito Steyerl, performances by Russian punk-rock group Pussy Riot and electro-pop musician Bernadette La Hengst, underground literature and publishing, hip-hop and punk music in Hamburg and Berlin, street art, graphic novels, and films associated with the new avant-gardes. The course will offer students opportunities to explore ways in which communities address issues of cultural inclusion and dissonance through the arts. Students will explore a wide range of texts, engage with archival materials (on-line and on-site), and evaluate the legitimacy of sources of information. They will also consider how close readings and textual analysis can translate across genre and medium.

Learning Goals

The course encourages critical self-awareness, helping students identify and apply a variety of approaches and questions to the study of contemporary German culture. It provides substantive writing experiences to further develop writing and thinking competencies. The students' responses will take the forms of written reflections and textual analysis. In addition, students will actively participate in class discussions and debates, group presentations, and multimodal publications. 

By the end, you will be able to

  • describe and interpret various cultural artifacts in aesthetic, cultural, and historical terms
  • demonstrate an appreciation for, and foundation in, visual and literary studies grounded in a range of historical, social, cultural, and ideological perspectives
  • analyze and solve problems through observation, experience, reflection, interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and/or explanations of visual, material, and historical cultural forms and values
  • formulate research questions that expand your knowledge of German culture
  • create and analyze independent examples in various modes through archival, library, or field research


Catalog Description: 
Introduction to culture of today's German-speaking world through readings from various media and discussion of diverse manifestations of both high and popular culture, its underlying beliefs and values, and its institutions and historical background. Readings and discussions in English.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:06pm