GERM-510 Theorizing Culture
Spring for 2015-2016
Course Objectives and Format
GERM 510 is a core course in the MAGES program. It is designed to introduce students to the major concepts, thinkers, and debates concerning European cultural identity formation. We will examine the historical emergence of national identity in the context of modern mass-produced print culture; trace the construction of a post-national, multicultural democracy in contradistinction to the colonial, imperialist, fascist, and communist past through a consideration of museums and memorials; and explore the appeal and perils of a cosmopolitan Europe in relation to visual media. Each module comprises theoretical readings and an application of the theories to cultural texts and objects. It is designed to make you more astute interpreters of cultural objects, and encourage you to integrate cultural analysis into your individual areas of concentration. In addition, the course will introduce you to certain genres of academic writing and oral presentation, enabling you to become more skilled at textual analysis, strengthen your abilities to conduct independent and collaborative research, and communicate succinctly and effectively.
The class is organized largely as a seminar. Most weeks, I will begin the class with an introductory lecture, followed by a discussion of the assigned texts and an application of theoretical concepts to cultural texts, artifacts, and sites.
This course contributes to the learning goals of the MAGES program by:
• introducing multiple perspectives on the major concepts, problems, and questions concerning European cultural identity formation
• practicing the analysis and interpretation of cultural texts, artifacts, and sites that are relevant to European identity
• fostering a self-reflective stance on transatlantic cultural differences and commonalities
• improving oral abilities in presentations
• strengthening the ability to write critically and originally
Written requirements include weekly one-page, single-spaced responses to the readings; a 2-page, single-spaced précis (condensation/analysis of a theoretical argument); a 10-12 page analytical paper (double-spaced) in which you analyze a text or object of your choice through the lens of some of the theoretical texts we’ve discussed in the course; and a final reflection paper (5 pages, double-spaced). In addition, there is a power point presentation based on collaborative analysis.
Preparation, responses, participation: All of you must come fully prepared to participate each week, and the quality of your preparations (not the quantity of your remarks) will make up 20% of your grade. Please read assigned texts slowly and carefully; a one-page written Response to readings should be submitted by Sunday 5pm. Please submit your Responses by pasting them into the Discussion Forum, rather than by attachment. For application sessions, you will meet in groups outside of class to prepare for discussion.
Class attendance is mandatory. Each unexcused absence will reduce your final grade by one-third of a grade (e.g., from A to A-). Only medical or family emergencies count as excused absences. If you have to miss class for any other reasons, please notify me ahead of time in writing, and make arrangements for make-up work. If you have to miss class for medical/family emergencies more than once a semester, you should also arrange for make-up work. Needless to say, you should also get notes from your classmates covering the session you missed. Please note that class attendance implies your presence from beginning to end of each class session, and that repeated late arrivals and early departures will impact your attendance grade.
Class Participation, Reading Responses 20%
Power point Museum/memorial 10%
Analytical paper 40%
Final paper 10%
Readings: The following books will be available for purchase in the GU Bookstore:
• Nicol Ljubic, Stillness of the Sea. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Vagabond Voices, 2011. Please note that Stillness of the Sea is also available as an eBook on Kindle.
• Seyla Benhabib, Another Cosmopolitanism. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.
• Immanuel Wallerstein, European Universalism. New York: New Press, 2006.
Additional articles and chapters will be posted on Blackboard.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: