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Department of Germanic Studies

Department Chair

  • Catriona MacLeod

Director of Undergraduate Studies

  • Margareta Ingrid Christian

Director of Graduate Studies

  • Christopher Wild


  • David J. Levin
  • Catriona MacLeod
  • Eric L. Santner
  • David E. Wellbery
  • Christopher J. Wild

Associate Professors

  • Florian Klinger
  • Margareta Ingrid Christian

Assistant Professors

  • Sophie Salvo

Senior Lecturers

  • Catherine Baumann
  • Maeve Hooper
  • Kimberly Kenny, Norwegian

Assistant Instructional Professors

  • Colin Benert, German
  • Jessica Kirzane, Yiddish
  • Nicole Burgoyne, German
  • Shiva Rahmani, German

Emeritus Faculty

  • Reinhold Heller
  • Samuel Jaffe
  • Kenneth J. Northcott
  • Hildegund Ratcliffe

Affiliated Faculty

  • Alice Goff, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of German History and the College
    Interests: Cultural and intellectual history 1750-1850, museums and collecting, aesthetics, looting, historical reception in the GDR. 
  • Philip V. Bohlman, Ph. D., Mary Werkman Professor of the Humanities and of Music; Chair of the Committee on Jewish Studies
    Interests: German-Jewish and German-American ethnomusicology; theory and history of folksong.
  • John W. Boyer, Ph. D., Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of History; Dean of the College
    Interests: German and Austrian history, 18th century to the present; religion and politics in modern European history; European urban history.
  • Daniel Brudney, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Philosophy
    Interests: Marx, German philosophy, Frankfurt School.
  • James Conant, Ph. D., Professor of Philosophy
    Interests: Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Wittgenstein.
  • Kathleen Conzen, Ph. D., Professor of History
    Interests: German-American history and the history of international migration.
  • Constantin Fasolt, Ph. D., Karl J. Weintraub Professor of History; Master of the Social Sciences Collegiate Division; Deputy Dean of the Division of the Social Sciences; Associate Dean of the College
    Interests: Early modern German history.
  • Michael Forster, Ph. D., Professor of Philosophy
    Interests: Herder, Hegel.
  • Michael Geyer, Ph. D., Samuel N. Harper Professor of German and European History
    Interests: German history of the 19th and 20th centuries with special interest in contemporary German and European affairs.
  • Andreas Glaeser, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Sociology
    Interests: Theories of culture and identity; with reference to Germany mostly post-unification controversies, social memory and architecture, reality construction processes among civil servants in authoritarian regimes.
  • Gary Herrigel, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Political Science
    Interests: Political economy of advanced industrial states (Germany, USA, Japan), German political and industrial history in the 19th and 20th centuries, social and political theory.
  • Berthold Hoeckner, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Music and the Humanities
    Interests:19th century Austro-German music; Lyrik und Lied; Romantische Musikästhetik; Wagner; Adorno and music.
  • Loren Kruger, Ph. D., Professor, Department of English; Department of Comparative Literature; Committee on African Studies; Committee on Cinema and Media Studies; Committee on Theatre and Performance Studies
    Interests: German literature 18th century to present (esp. drama); GDR and contemporary Germany; Brecht, Heiner Müller, Marxism; the Cold War; Frankfurt School; "Das andere Deutschland."
  • Jonathan Lear, Ph. D., John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor at the Committee on Social Thought and in the Department of Philosophy
    Interests: Freud, Wittgenstein, Heidegger.
  • Francoise Meltzer, Ph. D., Mabel Greene Meyers Professor of French, Comparative Literature, and the Divinity School; Acting Director of the Franke Institute for the Humanities
    Interests: German romanticism, philosophy.
  • Paul Mendes-Flohr, Ph. D., Professor of Modern Jewish Thought in the Divinity School, Committee on Jewish Studies; Associate Faculty in the Department of History
    Interests: German-Jewish intellectual history.
  • Glenn W. Most, Ph. D., Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought
    Interests: German literature and philosophy since the 18th century.
  • Robert B. Pippin, Ph. D., Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor; Committee on Social Thought and Department of Philosophy
    Interests: Kant; German Idealism; Nietzsche; Heidegger; Modernity Theory.
  • Moishe Postone, Ph. D., Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor of History; Committee on Jewish Studies
    Interests: Marx, Frankfurt School, contemporary European social theory, contemporary German affairs (with particular focus on issues of anti-semitism and the relation of the Nazi past to postwar German society and culture).
  • Robert Richards, Ph. D., Morris Fishbein Professor of the History of Science and Medicine; Professor in the Departments of Philosophy, History, Psychology, and the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science
    Interests: German Romanticism, history and philosophy of science.
  • Jerrold Sadock, Ph. D., Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Linguistics
    Interests: Germanic languages (Scandinavian, Yiddish).
  • Malynne Sternstein, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures
    Interests: Central European Studies, Literary, Psychoanalytic and Cultural Theory; Art and Media Theory
  • David Tracy, Ph. D., Andrew Thomas Greeley and Grace McNichols Greeley Distinguished Service Professor of Catholic Studies and Professor of Theology and the Philosophy of Religion in the Divinity School; Committee on Social Thought
    Interests: 19th century German philosophy and theology.



The graduate program in Germanic Studies at the University of Chicago stresses an interdisciplinary model of study, long an emphasis at this University, which allows students to construct fields of research in fresh ways. In order to draw on the University's strengths, both inside and outside the department, students are encouraged to work not only with departmental and affiliated faculty but with faculty throughout the University whose courses are of relevance to their particular interests.

The University's Workshops (non-credit, interdepartmental seminars that meet biweekly) offer a further avenue for interdisciplinary work. Students are also encouraged to participate in the department's colloquia and lecture/discussions.

Language courses taught in the department include German, Norwegian, and Yiddish.

Application and Financial Support

Applicants to the Department of Germanic Studies should have a solid background in German language and culture. Students with undergraduate degrees in other fields are encouraged to apply, but must include with their application a list of relevant German/Germanic courses as well as a letter of recommendation from a faculty member able to evaluate their level of German language competency. Such students will be asked to make up deficiencies in their language preparation before entry into the graduate program. All entering students whose native language is not German are required to pass an ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) oral proficiency examination in German during their first quarter in the program.
Admission to the department is competitive.
PhD students who matriculate in Summer 2020 and after will be guaranteed to have funding support from the University of Chicago, external sources, or a combination of the two for the duration of their program to include the following:

● Full tuition coverage
● Annual stipend
● Fully paid individual annual premiums for UChicago's student health insurance (U-SHIP, the University Student Health Insurance Plan)

  • Student Services Fee Coverage

The goal of the University’s commitment to ensuring that students are supported is to allow students to prioritize their studies and prepare for rewarding careers. We expect students to remain in good academic standing and to be making progress toward completing degree requirements.

Students in the Division of the Humanities who entered their PhD program in Summer 2016 or later, and who are still enrolled in 2023-2024 will be fully incorporated into this new funding model, and will receive at least the guaranteed stipend level (subject to applicable taxes), full tuition coverage, and fully paid health insurance premiums for the duration of their program. Students are expected to remain in good academic standing.

Students who matriculated before Summer 2016 will receive at least the funding they were offered at the time of admission and may be eligible for additional funding. Over the past several years, the Division of the Humanities has increased investments in funding to support students in degree completion.

Additional fellowships and awards are available to support language study, conference travel, and research travel. 

Pedagogical training is a required component of doctoral education, and University resources can help you acquire the skills and experiences you need to feel at ease in the classroom, whether you are leading a discussion section, lecturing in the Humanities Common Core, or teaching a course of your own design. 

The Department of Germanic Studies has some funds to support students in summer projects, travel, and research. In addition, the Norwegian Culture Program Endowment Fund provides some money for research and travel support for students interested in Norwegian language and culture.

Applications to the program must include a writing sample of not more than twenty pages, in German or English; TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) scores, if applicable; and three letters of recommendation.

The application process for admission and financial aid for all graduate students is administered through the divisional office of the Dean of Students. The Application for Admission and Financial Aid, with instructions, deadlines and department-specific information is available on the Graduate Student Online Application page. Please note that the application and all supporting materials are to be submitted online. Questions pertaining to admissions and aid should be directed to:

International students must provide evidence of English proficiency by submitting scores from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). (Current minimum scores, etc., are provided with the application.) For more information, please see the Office of International Affairs website at, or call them at (773) 702-7752.

Degree Requirements

The following is an outline of the main features of the graduate program. If you need additional information, please write directly to the Department of Germanic Studies.
Students in the Department of Germanic Studies are  admitted into the Ph.D. program of study. Students interested in a one-year interdisciplinary Master's program in Germanic Studies should contact the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities. Study towards the M.A. degree, normally completed after the first year, is intended as an introductory period, a time for both faculty and students to decide on the suitability of an extended graduate program. All students entering the Ph.D. program with a master's degree from another institution will undergo an informal evaluation at the end of their first year in the department to assess their progress and to plan their further course of study.

Master of Arts Degree Information

Course Work

Students in the Department of Germanic Studies are admitted into the Ph.D. program of study, but can receive an MA degree.

Three quarters of course work and a total of eight courses are required during the first year of study. These include the mandatory pedagogy course ("Acquisition and Teaching of Foreign Languages"). A completed M.A., which includes the pedagogy courses and a "superior" rating on the German oral proficiency test, are prerequisites for teaching appointments. Besides the pedagogy course, students must take at least one course each quarter from departmental faculty, and at least two additional courses from departmental faculty during the year. The remaining courses could contain little or no Germanic material and may be taken primarily for methodological, theoretical, or historical interest. Course selections must receive the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. All courses must be taken for a letter grade. We expect students to develop a broad historical sense of German culture through coursework as well as their own background reading. The primary aim of the master's year is for students to explore a variety of materials, approaches and problems.

Language Examination

Students who do not achieve a "superior" rating on the oral proficiency examination in German (to be taken early in their first quarter) will be advised to undertake further language training or to take other steps to improve their skills; they will be re-tested during the second quarter.

M.A. Exam

The purpose of the M.A. exam is to test students’ ability to work with concepts central to the discipline, to articulate literary-historical arguments, to discuss significant patterns that extend beyond individual texts, and to articulate how such concepts relate to the interpretation of individual works. In addition, the exam establishes a useful foundation of knowledge upon which the student can build in later studies.

The examination takes place in the eighth week of Spring Quarter of the student’s first year of graduate study. Its basis is a list of some twenty to twenty-five texts selected by the student in consultation with the two members of the student’s M.A. exam committee. (The committee—consisting of two members of the department’s core faculty—is to be designated by the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the student.) This list reflects a category of literary research such as a genre, a period, or a general concept bearing on a mode of writing. Examples of the former might be “The Bourgeois Tragedy” or “Modern Urban Short Prose” or “The Elegy.” Periods can be variously conceived: Enlightenment, Realism, Weimar Republic. General concepts are more abstract categories such as “narrative” or “performance” or “argumentative writing.” Lists could also be organized along thematic lines or in terms of a traditional narrative subject. The point is that the list be designed so as to sustain a process of coherent intellectual inquiry. In addition to the 20-25 primary texts, the list includes a representative cross-section of secondary literature addressing the topic under study.

The examination itself has two components:
a) a take-home written examination, and
b) an oral examination approximately one hour in length.

The take-home component consists of three essays (of two and one half, never more than three double-spaced pages) written in answer to questions devised by the faculty. These questions offer the student an opportunity to demonstrate her/his ability to explore various intellectual issues raised by the list as a whole as well as by specific works on the list. Students will receive these questions on Friday morning of the eighth week of classes and hand in their completed essays by 5:00 p.m. the following Monday. The oral examination is devoted to a critical discussion of the students’ three essays as well as to works included on the list but not addressed in the written part of the examination. It will take place one week after the written exam. Following a forty-minute discussion of the essays, the student and the faculty examination committee will assess the student’s overall progress, including course work.

A crucial aspect of the M.A. examination is planning and advising. Students should choose their examiners and have one planning meeting with each examiner by the eighth week of Autumn Quarter. Students should choose examiners and design the lists with a view to the seminars they plan to attend throughout the year. Students must submit their lists for approval at the end of the fourth week of Winter Quarter. Two weeks after submission, they should meet with their examiners to discuss preparation for the exams. During Spring Quarter, students should meet with their examiners twice prior to the exam in order to discuss questions arising from their readings. Of course, throughout the process students are encouraged to discuss questions arising from their readings with other faculty members, both inside and outside the Department of Germanic Studies.

First Year: Time Schedule for M.A. Exam

Fall, Week 8 - Choose examiners
Winter, Week 4 - Submit exam list for approval
Winter, Week 7 - Arrange to meet with examiners to discuss exam preparation
Spring, Week 8 - Written exam
Spring, Week 9 - Oral exam

The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Students who enter with an M.A. from another university will be required to take one pedagogy course in their first year ("Acquisition and Teaching of Foreign Languages"). This requirement may be waived by the department if a student can demonstrate that equivalent work was successfully completed at another institution. Completion of the course (or a departmental waiver), together with a "superior" rating on the oral proficiency interview in German taken early in the first quarter (or re-taken later if necessary), are prerequisites for teaching appointments.

COURSE WORK: Students will establish that balance of course work and individual preparation that best suits their intellectual agenda. Course selections, however, must be approved by the director of graduate studies. A minimum number of eight courses over two years, not including the pedagogy course, is required. All of these courses must be taken for credit. Six must be taken for a letter grade. The remaining two may be taken Pass/Fail. Typically, the two post-M.A. years (during which students will also be teaching) will look as follows: two seminars each quarter the first year; at least one seminar each quarter for the fall and winter quarters of the second year; exams in the spring quarter of the second year. In this way students will have ample time during the second Ph.D. year to prepare for the exams.

LANGUAGE EXAMINATION: All students are required to pass one university foreign language reading examination before taking their Ph.D. oral exams. The choice of language should be made in consultation with the director of graduate studies. Exams are administered by the Chicago Language Center.

Ph.D. EXAMINATIONS: The exam focuses on a small archive of literary, philosophical, and literary critical works (approximately 50 works) established by the student. This “major field list” should be organized around a broad topic that will in many cases anticipate the larger field within which the dissertation project will be situated. Some examples from previous exams: “Discourses of Madness from Kant to Musil,” “Worldly Provincialism: German Realism 1850-1900,” and “The Aesthetics of Sacrifice in Postwar German Literature and Art.” Works on the list should be grouped into clusters according to categories and questions relevant to the topic. These criteria should be expressly formulated in the list. Students are encouraged to meet with as many faculty members as possible as they work on these materials. In consultation with the director of graduate studies, they should arrange for an exam committee of three faculty members: two faculty members (normally both members of the department) to compose and evaluate the written examination questions, and a third faculty member (from either departmental or resource faculty) to serve as an additional examiner for the oral exam. At the beginning of the fall quarter of the second Ph.D. year, students will submit a preliminary exam list to the faculty committee they have chosen and to the director of graduate studies.

The four-hour, open-book, written exam will normally be taken around the seventh week of spring quarter. Five weeks prior to the exam, each student will submit to the exam committee and to the director of graduate studies a final draft of the list. As noted, the list should be organized by way of the categories and questions that indicate what the students considers to be the salient issues animating the different clusters of texts. Faculty will use this list as a guide in preparing the exam. Within two weeks of the exam, the full committee will meet with the student for an hour-long discussion that will encompass the exam and plans for the dissertation. Students should work on their dissertation proposals over the summer and schedule the formal proposal defense at the beginning of the fall quarter of the third Ph.D. year. For further details regarding the Ph.D. exams, students are encouraged to consult with the director of graduate studies.

To summarize, the second Ph.D. year will normally flow in the following way. In the fall quarter, the student establishes the exam committee in consultation with the director of graduate studies. A preliminary list is submitted by fifth week of the quarter. The winter quarter is dedicated to reading and exam preparation. By the second week of spring quarter, the final list (articulated into clusters of texts) is submitted to the committee. The written exam is taken in the second half of the quarter, typically around the seventh week. Within two weeks of the written exam, the student meets with the committee for an hour-long discussion of the exam and dissertation plans. The summer after the exam is dedicated to elaborating the dissertation proposal. The final proposal is due no later than one quarter (not including summer) after passing the Ph.D. exam.

DISSERTATION PROPOSAL: Within three weeks of the Ph.D. exam, a student must identify a primary dissertation advisor (in some cases there will be two co-advisors). A full dissertation committee of three members will be established in consultation with the advisor. The committee need not be identical with the exam committee and there is always the possibility that the dissertation committee and primary advisor(s) will change over the course of the project (it may turn out, for example, that another faculty member proves to be more engaged with the primary materials of the dissertation). The proposal itself ought not attempt to predict the final conclusions of the project before the research is fully under way. Instead, it should seek to divide the project into subordinate questions and to rank the parts of the project in terms of priority. It should include a preliminary bibliography and a potential chapter structure, and also indicate a rough timetable for the research and writing of the dissertation. The proposal of approximately 20-25 pages should be problem-driven and question-oriented, and should contextualize the project within relevant scholarly debates. The student will discuss the project in a proposal defense with the dissertation committee, to be scheduled in consultation with the primary advisor and the departmental administrator. This will typically be done one quarter (not including summer) after the Ph.D. examination. Students must file copies of their exam lists and proposal with the department administrator.

SYLLABI PROPOSALS: During the third summer of the Ph.D. program, students will compose two syllabi, one for an upper-division undergraduate class and one for a graduate seminar (consultations with faculty about the syllabi should already have begun in the spring quarter). These syllabi may overlap to some extent with the dissertation project but should ideally represent other areas of interest and developing expertise. They may be designed as courses in translation, courses taught in German, or courses requiring reading knowledge of German. In many cases students will wish to submit one of these syllabi for the annual Tave competition in the winter quarter. (The Stuart Tave Teaching Fellowship allows graduate students to teach a free-standing, self-designed undergraduate class.) The primary advisor(s) of the dissertation will meet with the student in the course of the fall quarter to discuss and evaluate the syllabi.

WRITING THE DISSERTATION: After the proposal has been approved by the readers, the student should plan on spending the remainder of that year researching and reading. Some students may spend this time away from campus; others may choose to remain in Chicago to work closely with their committee. Students are strongly encouraged to try to complete the dissertation during the sixth year. All students should complete the dissertation by the end of the fall quarter of their seventh year.

Teaching in the College

Graduate students in the Department of Germanic Studies at the University of Chicago will enter the job market with a solid basis in current pedagogical theory and practice as well as a range of teaching experiences in a variety of classroom settings. Teaching in the undergraduate language program is an integral part of the graduate program.

Before they begin teaching, graduate students must participate in a graduate seminar on pedagogy ("Acquisition and Teaching of Foreign Languages"). This course is an introduction to foreign language acquisition and to the theoretical models underlying current methods, approaches and classroom practices. Syllabus and test design and lesson planning are also treated. All participants do two days of observation and two days of supervised teaching in a first-year class.

Graduate students have the opportunity to teach in the beginning and intermediate German language program. They have full responsibility for the courses they teach, including syllabus design, day-to-day instruction, test design, grading and all other record keeping. Input from the graduate students is also critical in the ongoing implementation and revision of the curriculum. Internal grant monies have been made available to support the development of an on-line writing project designed by graduate students, as well as other curricular innovations.

Graduate students also have the opportunity to work as on-site coordinators and/or instructors in study-abroad programs in Vienna and Freiburg. The preparation of students for study-abroad and their reintegration into the curriculum is an ongoing process in which graduate students, in their roles as instructors, are deeply involved.

Each fall there is an orientation for all graduate students who will teach that year. It is held in conjunction with the Center for Teaching and Learning and deals with general procedural and pedagogical issues as well as specific course objectives and practices. This inter-departmental cooperation also includes jointly held workshops and seminars on different topics in the field of second language teaching, offered by University of Chicago faculty and experts from other institutions.

Germanic Studies Graduate Courses


GRMN 33623. Evil: Myth, Symbol and Reality. 100 Units.

From the horrors of the Shoah to violence suffered by individuals, the question of the origin, meaning, and reality of evil done by humans has vexed thinkers throughout the ages. This seminar is an inquiry into the problem of evil on three registers of reflection: myth, symbol, and reality. We will be exploring important philosophical, Jewish, and Christian texts. These include Martin Buber, Good and Evil, Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Immanuel Kant, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Paul Ricoeur, The Symbolism of Evil, Edward Farley, Good and Evil, Hans Jonas, Mortality and Morality and Claudia Card, The Atrocity Paradigm. There will also be a viewing of the movie Seven (1995) directed by David Fincher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker. Accordingly, the seminar probes the reality of evil and the symbolic and mythic resources of religious traditions to articulate the meaning and origin of human evil. The question of "theodicy" is then not the primary focus given the seminar's inquiry into the fact and reality of human evil. Each student will submit a 5-7 page critical review of either Jonathan Glover's Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century or Susan Neiman's, Evil in Modern Thought. Each Student also will write a 15 page (double spaced;12pt font) paper on one or more of the texts read in the course with respect to her or his own research interests.

Instructor(s): William Schweiker     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): This course meets the HS or CS Committee distribution requirement for Divinity students.
Equivalent Course(s): RETH 33600, RLST 23600, JWSC 23600, FNDL 23600, GRMN 23623, THEO 33600

GRMN 33724. Beauty in Nature. 100 Units.

In this class, we will examine the relationship between art, nature, and the self around 1800 through the idea of the beautiful. In his Critique of Judgement (1790), Immanuel Kant enshrines beauty as the highest and purest aesthetic category; however, Kant's aesthetics of the beautiful respond to an already-widespread tendency in his time to present nature aesthetically - as idyll, paradise, arcadia - which only evolves and intensifies in the following decades. What, we might ask, is the appeal of nature as the ideal locus of the beautiful? How can the experience of beauty in nature be both mediated and immediate? What sort of nature is being represented, and where is it located? We will think through these questions together through a range of literary, musical, and artistic works by Salomon Gessner, J.W. Goethe, Ludwig Tieck, Karoline von Günderrode, Franz Schubert, Joseph von Eichendorff, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Caspar David Friedrich, Philipp Otto Runge, and others. Note: This seminar is conducted in German and is intended for advanced learners of German (undergraduate and graduate students welcome).

Equivalent Course(s): GRMN 23724

GRMN 34524. The Illustrated Book. 100 Units.

Kafka prohibited images of Gregor Samsa. In a 1915 letter to his publisher, he stipulated that the insect should not be drawn, not even to be seen from a distance. Why? Along with Henry James, Mallarmé, and others, Kafka seemed to fear that illustration would diminish the power of the text to "illustrate" or illuminate in its own way, as Hillis Miller has put it. The study of illustration has, however, emerged as a new interdisciplinary field in recent years, though illustration has often been neglected as an ornamental "handmaiden" to the printed word or as a commercial appendage to the book. This seminar will approach the topic with a focus on the heyday of the illustrated book, the nineteenth century, from the perspectives of book history, literary criticism, art history, word and image studies, and translation and adaptation studies. Topics to be considered to include: paratextuality; illustration as translation and/or adaptation; extra-illustration; illustration and authorship; text-image interactions or non-interactions; illustration and mass production; photography and illustration.

Instructor(s): Catriona Macleod     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GRMN 24524

GRMN 34921. Robert Musil: Altered States. 100 Units.

This course is an introduction to the work of Robert Musil, one of the major novelists of the twentieth century. We will focus on Musil's idea of the "Other Condition" [der andere Zustand], which he once described-in contrast to our normal way of life-as a "secret rising and ebbing of our being with that of things and other people." What is this "Other Condition": what are its ethics and aesthetics, and how can it be expressed in literature? We will begin with readings from Musil's critical writings and early narrative prose, then devote the majority of the quarter to his unfinished magnum opus, The Man without Qualities. Particular attention will be paid to Musil's experimentations with narrative form and his development of the genre of "essayism. Readings and discussion in English.

Instructor(s): Sophie Salvo     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): GRMN 24921, FNDL 24921

GRMN 35424. Spiritual Exercises: Giving Form to Thought and Life from Plato to Descartes. 100 Units.

This course will examine the tradition of spiritual exercises from antiquity to the early modern period. Spiritual exercises were at the core of classical paideia, the regimen of self-formation designed and promoted by ancient philosophers, orators, and other pedagogues. As Pierre Hadot and Michel Foucault have demonstrated, ancient philosophy first and foremost has to be understood as a "way of life," as a set of techniques and practices for shaping the self according to wisdom. It was not until philosophy's critical turn with Kant that it shed its practical dimension and became a "theoretical" discipline. Early Christianity, stylizing itself as the "true philosophy," eagerly adopted the ancient spiritual exercises and retooled them for its salvational ends. Throughout the middle ages and early modern period spiritual exercises and meditative techniques informed a host of religious, cultural, and artistic practices and media such as prayer and devotional reading, religious art and poetry, but also theatrical performances and musical works. We will focus on individual exercises like the meditation, the examination of conscience, the discernment of spirits, the application of senses, prosoche (attention), consolation, contemplation, etc., and discuss authors such as Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, John Cassian, Augustine, Bonaventure, Ignatius, Descartes, and others.

Equivalent Course(s): CLAS 35423, RLST 25424, CMLT 25424, CMLT 35424, GRMN 25424, RLVC 35424, CLCV 25423, FNDL 25424, COGS 22017

GRMN 35524. Writing Gender. 100 Units.

In German, even if you are not writing about gender, you are always writing gender: the grammatical categories "masculine," "feminine," and "neuter" are implicated in every noun declension and personal pronoun. How have writers negotiated this in their constructions of gender identity? In this course, we will examine how gender has been thought within and beyond the masculine/feminine binary in German intellectual history. We will study historical conceptions of grammatical gender as well as recent attempts to make German more inclusive for genderfluid and trans people (e.g., neopronouns). Finally, we will consider how authors use literature as a space for gender exploration, such as in Kim de L'Horizon's recent award-winning novel Blutbuch. Readings and discussions in English.

Instructor(s): Sophie Salvo     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GRMN 25524, GNSE 20129, GNSE 30129

GRMN 35823. Fascism. 100 Units.

Developments in recent years have clearly shown a resurgent interest in "fascism". While it designates a phenomenon which might concern everyone, it is also a term used more often in the manner of an insult than a precisely defined concept. One might even say it is what W.B. Gallie once called an essentially contested concept-not because many claim it for themselves today, but on the contrary, because virtually everyone denounces it in their own specific way. In this course, students will consider what "fascism" means by engaging with several influential explanations of it. We will read and discuss more contemporary philosophical views (Stanley, Eco), historical perspectives and documents (Paxton), but also classic perspectives from political theory (Arendt), philosophy (Burnham), and critical theory (Horkheimer, Adorno, Pollock), as well as political economy (Neumann, Sohn-Rethel, Gerschenkron, Fraenkel, Kalecki). With an eye to its historical and contemporary applications, our purpose throughout will be to reconstruct the arguments which we will consider in order to develop a rigorous concept of "fascism". This course will be offered in English. Its only prerequisite is a non-dogmatic approach to reading and discussion.

Instructor(s): Daniel Burnfin     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 35823, HIST 32508, GRMN 25823, PHIL 25823, HIST 22508

GRMN 36223. Rainer Maria Rilke: Poetry and Prose. 100 Units.

The seminar will address Rilke's major works, focusing on the New Poems, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, the Duino Elegies, and the Sonnets to Orpheus. Critical essays on the conditions of literary production in modernity by Benjamin, Simmel, Kracauer, among others, will be consulted.

Instructor(s): Eric Santner     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): GRMN 26223

GRMN 36423. Improvisation. 100 Units.

What sort of action is improvisation? This seminar aims (1) to elaborate an understanding of improvisation in action-theoretical terms (Can we distinguish between improvised and nonimprovised action?); (2) to consider the political implications (Does improvisation produce its performers' identities or suspend them, and what are the power relations at work in improvisation?); (3) reflect on aesthetic improvisation specifically (What is involved in accounting for improvisation in music, poetry, dance, and the arts in general?). Taking as its main examples the traditions of Jazz, Free Improvisation, and Performance Art, the seminar includes readings by Derek Bailey, Beth Preston, George E. Lewis, Lydia Goehr, Dieter Mersch, Fred Moten, Georg Bertram, Alessandro Bertinetto, Claus Beisbart and Lucia Angelino. The seminar will also seek to include a visit at the improvisation event Freedom From and Freedom To at Chicago's Elastic Arts. Readings and discussion in English. Undergraduates by permission only.

Instructor(s): Florian Klinger     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): GRMN 26423, RLVC 36423

GRMN 36524. Hannah Arendt's Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy. 100 Units.

This seminar is a study of Arendt's lecture course on Kant's aesthetics - a text that Arendt did not live to turn into the book titled Judging that was supposed to conclude the trilogy The Life of the Mind. We will consider the conception of the political that Arendt proposes in the lecture. What does it mean to be free? Why is freedom found only in our relating to one another? How can I include an other in my view? What is it to be a citizen of the world? Can we conceive of a planetary right to pay visits? We will also include other text by Arendt that help to understand the lecture, and we will read the texts by Kant on which Arendt draws: selections from the Critique of the Power of Judgment and from the Anthropology, and the essays Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim, and On Eternal Peace. The class is designed for Arendt novices and returning readers alike. Readings and discussion in English. Undergraduates by permission only.

Instructor(s): Florian Klinger     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): DVPR 36524, GRMN 26524

GRMN 36624. Ekphrasis. 100 Units.

What happens when a text gives voice to a previously mute art work? Ekphrasis - the verbal representation of visual art - continues to be a central concern of word and image studies today. The understanding of ekphrasis as an often hostile paragone between word and image exists alongside notions of a more reciprocal model involving a dialogue or "encounter" between visual and verbal cultures. The affective dimension of the relationship -- ekphrastic hope, ekphrastic fear -- has also been prominent in recent scholarship, as well as attention to the "queerness" of ekphrasis. Drawing on literary works and theories from a range of periods and national traditions, the course will examine stations in the long history of ekphrasis. Why are certain literary genres such as the novel or the sonnet privileged sites for ekphrasis? How can art history inform our understanding of such encounters, and to what extent can we say that it is a discipline based in ekphrasis? What can we learn from current work on description, intermediality, narrative theory, and translation theory? Readings from Homer, Philostratus, Lessing, Goethe, Keats, A.W. Schlegel, Kleist, Sebald, Genette, among others.

Instructor(s): Catriona MacLeod     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 26624, CMLT 36624, ENGL 36624, GRMN 26624, ARTH 36624, ENGL 26624, ARTH 26624

GRMN 46150. Heidegger and the Poets. 100 Units.

An investigation of the role(s) that poetry plays in Martin Heidegger's thinking. We will begin by focusing our attention on Heidegger's reading of the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin. We will then consider his interpretations of figures such as Rainer Maria Rilke, Stefan Georg, and Georg Trakl. We shall conclude by examining poetic responses to Heideggerian thought by figures such as René Char and Paul Celan, among others.

Instructor(s): Ryan Coyne and Eric Santner     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): This course meets the CS Committee distribution requirement for for Divinity students. Undergraduates must petition to enroll.
Equivalent Course(s): THEO 46150, DVPR 46150, CMLT 46150