Spring 2009, UWEC, Professor Bob Nowlan
    M, 12-3:30 pm (Screenings) and W, 12-2:30 pm (Discussions), HHH 323

    Office: HHH 425, Office Phone: (715) 836-4369
    Office Hours: T 2:40-4:30, W 2:40-3:30 pm, and By Appointment



    English 381, “Topics in Film, Video, and Moving-Image Culture: German Cinemas” offers an introductory survey of German film production and reception from the post-WWI Weimar Republic, through the post-unification present.  We will make sense of German films by situating these in historical and cultural context.  At the same time, we will also approach German film as a significant–and, especially, prospectively significantly revealing–way of engaging with major issues in 20th to 21st century German history and culture.  We will explore German cinemas–and particular German films comprising the principal constituents within these larger cinemas–as offering representations of social identity and social unity, social difference and social division, social conflict and social struggle, and the resolution and dissolution of social contradiction.  We will explore German cinemas–and German films–as  reflections and refractions of dominant, sub-dominant, and counter-dominant social interests.   And we will explore German cinemas–and German films–as instruments, and agents, of ideology and ideology critique.  We will screen and discuss significant films from Weimar Cinema (1919-1933), Third Reich Cinema (1933-1945), Postwar Cinema (1945-1961), East German Cinema (1961-1990), West German Cinema (1962-1990), and Post-Unification Cinema (1990 through the present).  The course aims therefore, in sum, to help you learn not only about German film but also about modern and contemporary German history and culture through film.   


    English 381 is an umbrella course that changes focus from offering to offering but all sections of English 381 always concentrate on making sense of film and video in cultural context.

    Let me take a little space now to explain what that means.

    Culture includes everything that we, as human beings, have created in the course of our entire history, in distinction from what nature itself has given us.  Specific cultures (as well as specific subcultures) comprise the sum total of the particular knowledges, capacities, fields of work (and fields of play), customs and habits, traditions, values and attitudes, social roles and identities, and shared ways of thinking, feeling, acting, interacting, and behaving that characterize and, more importantly than merely characterize, that internally unify and externally differentiate, particular regions, classes, and other social groups.

    Film and video constitute principal constituents of 1.) moving-image culture (i.e., culture produced, distributed, exchanged, and consumed in the form of constellations of moving- images), 2.) human culture at large, and 3.) myriad specific national, regional, local, racial, ethnic, class, gender, sexual, generational, political, religious, artistic, philosophical, recreational, and avocational cultures (and subcultures).  (From this point forward in this course explanation statement I use, as a matter of convenience, “film” when referring to films, videos, and other similar kinds of moving-image culture productions.)

    What does this mean for how we proceed in English 381?   Here’s what.  We examine the ways that films provide pleasure for their audiences, seeking to understand how and why films produce these pleasures in the ways that they do–while also seeking to understand what else always happens, simultaneous with the provision of pleasure, as a result of the kinds of pleasures and the ways of providing pleasures films offer.  We in fact give considerable, and in fact often priority, attention to the many other effects–other than providing pleasure–that films can and do achieve, whether deliberately so or not.  In particular, we inquire into films as providing us valuable knowledge about the real historical societies and associated specific cultures out of which films emerge and into which they exert their impact-even where offering this kind of insight does not constitute a conscious aim of the film makers themselves, and even when we must critique the film's representations in order to produce this knowledge.

    Let me put this last point in another context.  Throughout the history of world cinema, three principal objectives have driven forward the production, distribution, exhibition, and reception of film:

1.) the provision of entertainment, especially as diversion, distraction, and amusement;

2.) artistic expression and communication–concerned with aesthetic issues such as capturing and conveying the felt experience of the ordinary and the extraordinary, the everyday and the unusual, the familiar and the unfamiliar, and, especially, "the beautiful" and "the sublime"–in both the natural world and human society; and

3.) social commentary and critique–as contribution to, and instrument of, social reproduction and social transformation.  

    Many films, as well as many cinemas, aspire to meet two or all three of these goals, often employing one as means toward the achievement of at least one of the other two (e.g., artistic expression as a vehicle of social critique).  (“Cinema” here refers to a particular institutional form governing the production, distribution, exhibition, and reception of a series of related films, especially a series of films sharing common subjects, styles, social vantage points, and cultural backgrounds: e.g., “German Expressionist Cinema,” “Classical Narrative Realist Hollywood Cinema,” “Italian Neo-Realist Cinema,” “French New Wave Cinema,” “Dogme 95 Cinema,” “1960s American Underground Cinema,” “British Free Cinema,” and “The New Queer Cinema.”)

    It is important that we examine film critically because, over the course of the past nearly 120 years, audio-visual texts, especially audio-visual texts organized around the moving image, have come to exert an extremely powerful impact upon the shape and substance of individuals' lived experience of their relationship to the conditions of their own existence.  This impact is today as powerful, if not indeed considerably more powerful, than that exerted by traditional print media.   In fact, film, television, video, and "cyberspace" have become principal sites within our contemporary capitalist societies for the production and dissemination, as well as the reproduction and reinforcement, of meanings, values, ideas, ideologies, and social modes of thinking, understanding, feeling, believing, acting, and interacting, even when presented to us as "sheer entertainment."  That means, in sum, that film and other media that comprise the constituents of ‘moving-image culture’ exert a huge shaping impact over all of our lives.  Our broad aim in English 381 is to help you better understand what that impact happens to be.


    Why focus on “German Cinemas”?   Undoubtedly, this question could prompt many answers, including many lengthy and elaborate ones.  But let me keep this short and simple.  Since the beginning of motion pictures in the mid-1890s film and cinema from Germany has been one of the most influential, innovative, and widely critically acclaimed of that coming from any nation in the world.  And few nations–and few national cultures–have likewise exerted greater influence over the course of the late 19th through the early 21st centuries than Germany–for better and worse.  This has been an extremely tumultuous history (and, for that reason, among others, it is more accurate to identify and discuss German cinemAS as opposed to identifying and discussing German cinemA).  At the same time, it will frequently be worthwhile to draw points of comparison and contrast between German and American politics, society, history, and culture–including where we might find disturbing or troubling points of commonality or difference; often this kind of comparison and contrast can enable us to develop a much more rigorously critical self-awareness about who we are, what we are about, where we are situated, and where we are coming than would be the case without the advantage of such an opportunity for comparison and contrast.  To conclude this section, though, for me personally, traveling to Berlin for a week in the summer of 2007 and then to Germany and Austria for five weeks in the summer of 2008, when I had a chance to spend time in Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich, Stuttgart, Vienna, and Berlin was an amazing experience– fantastically stimulating and exciting.  It sparked an interest to want to learn steadily more and more about German film, literature, music, art, culture, history, politics, and society.  And teaching a course is always one of the greatest ways to exponentially advance one’s learning of any subject.


    This class does not require any knowledge of the German language, although if you do maintain any such knowledge–and fluency–you are welcome, and encouraged, to make use of that not only to advance your own learning but also to help everyone else, myself included.  All films will be screened with subtitles–and, possibly, occasionally, dubbed–in English.  Although this is a 300 level class, and I expect an intellectually serious level of interest and effort, as well as some prior familiarity with either interpretation of film or of other cultural texts, this is a general education course, and, once again, an introduction, to the subject it focuses on.  In fact, it has been extraordinarily difficult to limit the selection of films–and the selection of readings–to what I have, as Germany has, from the beginning, been a major contributor to world cinema, and an enormous number of further films could be included, while the scholarship devoted to German film and cinema, not to mention to 20th to 21st century German history and culture, has been enormous.  (Limits of time–and of space–also explain why we are starting with Weimar Cinema, as opposed to starting with Wilhelmine Cinema, and why we are starting with German history and culture after World War I as opposed to starting with the foundation of modern Germany in 1871.)   But, in sum, relax and keep in mind this is simply an upper-level general education introduction to German film in historical and cultural context.  

    I do recommend you take the time, carefully, to do the assigned readings ahead of the screenings on Monday, and then to review these before our discussions on Wednesday; doing so will help you in making useful sense of the screenings as you are watching and listening to them.  Also, although I certainly think all of the films we will screen and discuss are very interesting and important, you should be prepared for the fact that films from earlier periods–even when these were historically innovative and ground-breaking in technological terms at the time of their release–do not maintain the kind of production values that are commonplace in contemporary entertainment cinema.  Plus, these films are products of a different (than American, including Hollywood) cinematic culture, and that means they will often emphasize different conventions, styles, and sensibilities than are commonplace within American entertainment film.  And, finally, not all of the films we will screen were conceived, not by any means, with the end of ‘entertaining’ their audiences–and, at times, even when this was an ostensible aim, the conception of what ‘entertainment’ means the film makers were working with was quite different than what we have all learned from familiarity with mainstream Hollywood.  So, in sum, you’ll need to be somewhat patient, now and then, working to make sense of these films on their own terms, and, especially, try to think about what they meant in the specific times and places where they were produced, and initially distributed and exhibited.  

    I am excited for this class.  English 381 has from the beginning been one of my all-time favorite classes, without a doubt, and the students I have taught in past offerings of English 381 have been great–making wonderful contributions to my own as well as to their individual and collective learning.  I have had a great time together with these people.  I am confident you will be great too and also make similarly wonderful contributions.   


    The following books are required and are available for purchase at the UWEC Bookstore:

1.    Beimer, Robert C., Reinhard Zachau, and Margit Sinka.  German Culture Through Film: an Introduction to German Cinema.  Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Company, 2005.  ISBN#: 1-58510-102-8.  

2.    Hake, Sabine.  German National Cinema.  2nd Edition.  New York: Routledge, 2008.  ISBN#: 978-0-415-42098-3.  

3.    Bergfelder, Tim, Erica Carter, and Deniz Göktürk, eds.  The German Cinema Book.  London: British Film Institute, 2002.  ISBN#: 0-85170-946-X.

4.    Orlow, Dietrich.  A History of Modern Germany.  6th Edition.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2008.  ISBN#: 978-0-13-615400-6.  

5.    Burns, Rob, ed.   German Cultural Studies: an Introduction.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1995, 2007.  ISBN#: 978-0-19-871503-0.

You may feel free to acquire these books other than through the UWEC Bookstore, including by means of on-line outlets, as long as you do obtain them in time to use for class.  I will supply copies of all videos–in DVD and VHS formats–we will use in class, including for the interview conference and final group projects.  I will also supply guides to facilitate study, discussion, and review.


    *** Interview Conference assignments will happen in Week 3 or 4; These conferences we will schedule to take place within 2-3 weeks of these assignments. ***

    Key for Readings: German Culture Through Film=GCTF; German National Cinema=GNC; The German Cinema Book=GCB; German Cultural Studies=GCS; and A History of Modern Germany, 1871 to Present=HMG.

Week 1

M 1/26: Introduction and Orientation; Screening, Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari).

W 1/28: Discussion, Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) and Issues Concerning German Expressionism and an Introduction to German Cinemas.

    Read for Class, W 1/28:

* GCTF, Chapter 1 (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari), pp. 7-13.

Week 2

M 2/2: Screening, Berlin: die Sinfonie der Großstadt (Berlin: Symphony of a City) and Metropolis.

    Read for Class, M 2/2 and W 2/4:

* GCTF, Chapter 3, pp. 25-31 (Berlin: die Sinfonie der Großstadt).

* GNC, Selections from Chapter 2, “Weimar Cinema 1919-33,” pp. 27-41 (Introduction to the Chapter and “Weimar Cinema as Art Cinema”).

* GCS, Selections from Chapter 2, “Weimar Culture: the Birth of Modernism,” pp. 53-77 (Introduction to the Chapter, “Defending Tradition: The Reaction against Modernity,” “Weimar Germany’s Modernist Political Project: Theory and Practice,” “Definitions of Culture,” “Modernism and its Malcontents,” and “Neue Sachlichkeit: The Weimar Structure of Feeling”).

W 2/4: Discussion of Berlin: die Sinfonie der Großstadt (Berlin: Symphony of a City), Metropolis, and Assigned Readings.

Week 3

M 2/9: Screening, Der Blaue Angel (The Blue Angel) and M.

    Read for Class, M 2/9 and W 2/11:

* GCTF, Chapters 4-5 (Der Blaue Angel and M), pp. 33-49.

* HMG (Historical Background Reading), Chapters 4-5, pp. 105-160 (Revolution, Inflation, and Putsches: The Search for a New Consensus, 1918-1923" and “Fool’s Gold: The Weimar Republic”).  

W 2/11: Discussion of Der Blaue Angel (The Blue Angel), M, and Assigned Readings.

Week 4

M 2/16: Screening, Kuhle Wampe oder wem gehört die Welt (Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World) and Mädchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform).

    Read for Class, M 2/16 and W 2/18:

* GCTF, Chapter 6, pp. 51-58 (Kuhle Wampe oder wem gehört die Welt).

* GNC, Selections from Chapter 2, “Weimar Cinema 1919-33,” pp. 42-59 (“Weimar Cinema as Popular Cinema” and “Film, Politics, and the Coming of Sound”).

* GCS, Selections from Chapter 2, “Weimar Culture: The Birth of Modernism,” pp. 77-97 (“The Social Fabric of the Weimar Stage,” “The Cinema and Brecht’s Kuhle Wampe,” and “Weimar Criticized: Three Culture Critics on the Rise and Fall of the Republic”).

* GFB, Chapter 4 (Robert Kiss), “Queer Traditions in German Cinema,” pp. 48-56 and Chapter 15 (Marc Silverman), “Political Cinema as Oppositional Practice: Weimar and Beyond,” pp. 165-172.

W 2/18: Discussion of  Kuhle Wampe oder wem gehört die Welt (Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World), Mädchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform), and Assigned Readings.

    * W 2/18: Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper #1 Assigned. *

Week 5

M 2/23: Screening, Jud Süß and Selections from Other Nazi Propaganda Films.

    Read for Class, M 2/23 and W 2/25:

* GCTF, Chapter 8, pp. 67-73 (Jud Süß).

* GNC, Selections from Chapter 3, “Third Reich Cinema 1933-45,” pp. 64-81 (Introduction to the Chapter, “The Restructuring of the Film Industry,” and “Third Reich Cinema as Popular Cinema”).

* GCS, Selections from Chapter 3, “Culture and the Organization of National Socialist Ideology,” pp. 101-123 (“The Fatal Plausibility of Anti-Democratic Rhetoric in 1933,” “The Shock of Modernism and the Myth of the Volk,” “The Gleichschaltung and the Media of the Reichskulturkammer,” and “The 1936 Olympiad and the Thingspiel”).

* HMG (Historical Background Reading), Chapter 6, “From Authoritarianism to Totalitarianism,” pp. 161-195.

W 2/25: Discussion of Jud Süß, Selections from Other Nazi Propaganda Films, and Assigned Readings.

Week 6

M 3/2: Screening, Baron Münchhausen (The Adventures of Munchhausen) and Kolberg.

    Read for Class, M 3/2 and W 3/4:

* GNC, Selection from Chapter 3, “Third Reich Cinema 1933-45,” pp. 81-91 (“Third Reich Cinema as Popular Cinema”).

* GCS, Selections from Chapter 3, “Culture and the Organization of National Socialist Ideology,” pp. 123-144 (“Literature and Philosophy in the Nazi Era,” “The Aesthetics of Art and Music in Everyday Life,” “The Uses of Cinema Under National Socialism,” and “Culture as Mass Deception”).

* GCB, Chapter 16 (Julian Petley), “Film Policy in the Third Reich,” pp. 173-181.

* HMG (Historical Background Reading), Chapter 7, “Conquest, Death, and Defeat, 1938-1945,” pp. 196-225.

W 3/4: Discussion of Baron Münchhausen (The Adventures of Munchhausen), Kolberg, and Assigned Readings.

    *F 3/6: Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper #1 Due by 12 noon in my English Department Mailbox, HHH 405 *

Week 7

M 3/9: Screening, Die Mörder sind unter us (The Murderers are Among Us) and Berlin–Ecke Schönhauser (Berlin–Schönhauser Corner).

    Read for Class, M 3/9 and W 3/11:

* GCTF, Chapter 9, pp. 75-85 (Die Mörder sind unter us) and Chapter 10, pp. 87-95 (Berlin–Ecke Schönhauser).

* GNC, Chapter 4, “Postwar Cinema, 1945-1961,” pp. 92-122.

* HMG (Historical Background Reading), Chapter 8, “Condominium of the Allied Powers 1945-1949,” 226-260.
W 3/11: Discussion of  Die Mörder sind unter us (The Murderers are Among Us), Berlin–Ecke Schönhauser (Berlin–Schönhauser Corner), and Assigned Readings.

Week 8

M 3/23: Screening, Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul and Paula) and Das Fahrrad (The Bicycle).

    Read for Class, M 3/23 and W 3/25:

* GCTF, Chapter 14, pp. 119-124 (Die Legende von Paul und Paula).

* GNC, Selections from Chapter 5, “East German Cinema 1961-90," pp. 127-147 (Introduction to the Chapter, “The New Waves and the Eleventh Plenary,” and “The 1970s: the Discovery of Everyday Life”).

* GCS, Selections from Chapter 4, “The Failed Socialist Experiment: Culture in the GDR,” pp. 147-186 (Introduction to the Chapter, “Cultural Renewal and National Aspirations,” “Cold War Constraints,” “The Achievements of the ‘Thaw’ Years,” “Repression in the Guise of ‘Cultural Revolution’,” “The Emergence of a Distinctive GDR Culture,” “The Eleventh Plenum and Repressive Cultural Practices in the Second Half of the 1960s,” and “No Taboos?”).

* GCB, Chapter 13 (Horst Claus), “DEFA-State, Studio, Style, Identity,” 139-147.  

W 3/25: Discussion of Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul and Paula), Das Fahrrad (The Bicycle), and Assigned Readings.

    *W 3/25: Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper #2 Assigned *

Week 9

M 3/30:  Screening, Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) and Select Underground Short Films from the DDR (The German Democratic Republic–East Germany).

Read for Class, M 3/30 and W 4/1:

* GNC, Selection from Chapter 5, “East German Cinema, 1961-90,” pp. 147-152 (“”The 1980s: The Decline of Cinema as a Public Sphere”).

* GCS, Selections from Chapter 4, “The Failed Socialist Experiment: Culture in the GDR,” pp. 186-204 (“The Biermann Affair and the ‘Lex Heym’,” “The Threat to Peace and the Environment,” “The Limits of Female Emancipation,” “Modernism and the Challenge to Official Culture,” and “The Final Crisis”).

* HMG (Historical Background Reading), Chapter 10, “The German Democratic Republic, 1949-1990,” pp. 299-333.

W 4/1: Discussion of Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others), Select Underground Short Films from the DDR (The German Democratic Republic–East Germany), and Assigned Readings.

Week 10

M 4/6: Screening, Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes (Aguirre, the Wrath of God) and Die Ehe der Maria Braun (The Marriage of Maria Braun).  

    Read for Class, M 4/6 and W 4/8:  

* GFTC, Chapter 13, pp. 111-117 (Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes) and Chapter 17, pp. 141-148 (Die Ehe der Maria Braun).

* GNC, Selections from Chapter 6, “West German Cinema 1962-90,” pp. 153-163 (Introduction to the Chapter and “The Oberhausen Manifesto and the Young German Cinema”).

* GCS, Chapter 5, “Reconstruction and Integration: The Culture of West German Stabilization,” pp. 209-253.

* HMG (Historical Background Reading), Selections from Chapter 9, “The Federal Republic of Germany, 1949-1990," pp. 261-290 (“The Adenauer Era, 1949-1963"; “The Changing of the Guard, 1963-1974"; and “Culture and Society”).
W4/8: Discussion of  Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes (Aguirre, the Wrath of God), Die Ehe der Maria Braun (The Marriage of Maria Braun), and Assigned Readings.

    * F 4/10: Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper #2 Due by 12 noon in my English Department Mailbox, HHH 405. *

Week 11

M 4/13: Screening, Die bleierne Zeit (Marianne and Julianne, or The German Sisters) and Der Amerikanische Freund (The American Friend).

    Read for Class, M 4/13 and W 4/15:  

* GCTF, Chapter 19, pp. 159-166 (Die bleierne Zeit).

* GNC, Selection from Chapter 6, “West German Cinema 1962-90,” pp. 163-178 (“The 1970s: the Emergence of New German Cinema”).

 * GCS, Chapter 6, “The Federal Republic 1968 to 1990: From the Industrial Society to the Culture Society,” pp. 257-322.   

*  HMG (Historical Background Reading), Selections from Chapter 9, “The Federal Republic of Germany, 1949-1990," pp. 290-298 (“Troubled 1970s and 1980s,” “Im Mittelpunkt: Günter Grass,” and “Conclusion”).

W 4/15: Discussion of Die bleierne Zeit (Marianne and Julianne, or The German Sisters), Der Amerikanische Freund (The American Friend), and Assigned Readings.

Week 12

M 4/20: Screening, Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire) and Lola rennt (Run Lola Run).

    Read for Class, M 4/20 and W 4/22:  

* GCTF, Chapter 21, pp. 175-180 ( Der Himmel über Berlin) and Chapter 27, pp. 217-224 (Lola rennt) .

* GCB, Chapter 1 (Johannes von Moltke), “The Heimat Genre,” pp. 18-28 and Chapter 19 (Ian Garwood), “The Autoren Film in Contemporary German Cinema,” pp. 202-210.

* GCS, Chapter 7, “Unification and its Aftermath: The Challenge of History,” pp. 325-347.

W 4/22: Discussion of  Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire), Lola rennt (Run Lola Run), and Assigned Readings.

Week 13

M 4/27: Screening, Das schreckliche Mädchen (The Nasty Girl) and Good Bye Lenin!  

    Read for Class, M 4/27 and W 4/29:

* GCTF, Chapter 22 (Das schreckliche Mädchen), pp. 181-186, and Chapter 31, pp. 249-254 (Good Bye, Lenin!).
* GNC, Selection from Chapter 6, “West German Cinema 1963-90,” pp. 178-185 (“The 1980s–Crises and Transformations”) and Selections from Chapter 7, “Post-Unification Cinema 1990-2007," pp. 190-216 (Introduction to the Chapter, “Film-making in the New Germany and a Unified Europe,” “Elements of Popular Cinema: the Return to Genre,” and “Once Again: Coming to Terms with the Past(s)”).

W 4/29: Discussion of Das schreckliche Mädchen (The Nasty Girl), Good Bye Lenin!, and Assigned Readings.  

    * W 4/9: Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper #3 Assigned *
Week 14

M 5/4: Screening, Gegen die Wand (Head On) and Auf der Anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven).

    Read for Class, M 4/27 and W 4/29:  

* GNC, Selection from Chapter 7, “Post-Unification Cinema,” pp. 216-221 (“The Future of National Cinema”).

* GCB, Chapter 23 (Deniz Göktürk), “”Beyond Paternalism: Turkish German Traffic in German Cinema,” pp. 248-256.

* HMG (Historical Background Reading), Chapter 11, “Germany Since Reunification: Euphoria and Disillusionment, 1990-Present,” pp. 336-379, and Chapter 12, “Conclusion,” pp. 380-384.

W 5/6: Completion of Screening, Auf der Anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven), and Discussion of Gegen die Wand (Head On), Auf der Anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven), and Assigned Readings.

*** Sunday 5/10: English 381, Topics in Film, Video, and Moving-Image Culture: German Cinemas Class Conference–Presentation and Discussion of Group Projects–in a room and for a period of time to be announced. ***

    * F 5/15: Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper #3 Due by 12 noon in my English Department Mailbox, HHH 405 *



    Monday afternoons we will screen films.  We will take a short (five-minutes long maximum) break in between the screening of each film.  We’ll be tight for time, so please don’t stretch this beyond five minutes; if you need a break, for whatever reason, other than at this time right between the two films, feel free to take it, but try to be quick, and also try not to be too distracting as you leave–for instance, please try not to block the projection as you walk past it on your way out.  You may bring cushions, pillows, blankets, fold-up chairs, and any other kind of material that you might find more comfortable to sit on during these screenings than the seats already available in the classroom. You do not need to do this, but you may if you wish. You may also bring snacks as long as you try not to make a mess and as long as you clean up after yourself.  PLEASE DO NOT USE CELL PHONES DURING SCREENING SESSIONS– INCLUDING TO TEXT MESSAGE–TURN THEM OFF!  DOING THIS IS MORE DISTRACTING THAN YOU MAY REALIZE AND ALSO TO MY MIND A CLEAR SIGN THAT YOU ARE NOT ENGAGED AS YOU SHOULD BE WITH THE MATERIAL FOR THE CLASS–AND IT WILL THEREFORE NEGATIVELY AFFECT YOUR COURSE GRADE TO A SUBSTANTIAL DEGREE IF YOU DO IT.  As you are watching and listening to screenings, taking notes can prove quite helpful–although it is better not to take too many, or too detailed notes, such that this interferes with your ability to watch and listen carefully.

    Wednesday afternoons we will discuss readings as well as the screenings from the previous Monday afternoon.  Discussion will proceed according to a variety of formats.  I will usually prepare a packet for you of questions and other materials for study, discussion, and review that I’ll give to you at the start of class, right before we begin our screenings, each Monday.  I will design these packets to help you make sense of  readings and screenings, and we will use these to structure our discussions on Wednesdays.  At times I will make relatively short, informal presentations, but I prefer not to lecture at length; instead I want to work with you so that we can together come to grips with the issues this course addresses.  I may prepare and post occasional written texts of extended length on Desire2Learn or the W (the Student-Faculty Shared Drive) for you to study and review on your own.  At times I may ask students to do some short writing before or during class to help facilitate discussions, and frequently students will work for portions of our Wednesday classes in small groups.  At times as well we will watch clips from films previously screened, and we will also, on occasion, watch clips from additional films as well as DVD extras from the films we have just previously screened on the preceding Monday.   In short, we’ll aim to do all kinds of things in class on Wednesday to keep it interesting.  I will maintain ultimate responsibility, authority, and control for the direction of our class discussions, yet I will do my best to make sure we hear extensively from everyone else.  You all have much to offer of value–we all gain from you sharing and us engaging with your observations, reflections, interpretations, and other perspectives.


    I expect students in this course to strive to become sincerely interested in learning about the subject matter of this course, and to be consistently intellectually serious as well as academically diligent in their pursuit of this learning.  And I expect you to let me know right away when and if you have any questions or problems about any aspect of how you are doing in and with the course, so that I can do whatever I possibly can to help answer these questions and solve these problems.

    In addition, students should keep in mind that the higher educational academy is not a "safe space" separate from the rest of the "real world" where you can expect to be sheltered from encountering anything you might find disagreeable or objectionable.  After all, disturbing positions and practices exist extensively outside of the classroom as well as in what we read, see, hear, and otherwise confront in and for class; what we confront in class exists in this institutional space as symptomatic of positions and practices that operate beyond the confines of the classroom, the course, and the university.  If and when you find any text or topic genuinely upsetting, you maintain the ethical responsibility not simply to try to hide from but rather to engage with it in an intellectually serious, responsible, mature adult way.  Students should expect therefore that you will on occasion encounter representations that you will find troubling, in this UWEC course and in many others as well; within this Department you will receive no right of exemption from engaging with these and absolutely no welcome for simply complaining (especially to a higher administrative authority) about their inclusion.   After all, great works of art–including of literature–are often created with the deliberate aim of disturbing, even shocking many people who will encounter these; often the intent here is to provoke strong response, as well as thought–and action–that goes beyond what has become familiar, conventional, commonsensical, and, especially, merely “safe.”

    Finally, students should also be prepared to deal with that fact that a professor differs from a high school teacher in many respects, but one key difference is that we maintain a principal professional, ethical responsibility forthrightly to represent the most advanced knowledges in our fields of expertise and to proceed from there to work toward their further development and dissemination.   In short, we must create, advocate for, and profess these knowledges; you should expect that your professors may from time to time take controversial positions on difficult and challenging issues, eschewing the pretense of disinterested neutrality.  To do anything less than assume this responsibility would be to shirk our professorial responsibility and to render ourselves unworthy of maintaining our professorial positions.


    These are the five most important, official goals all UWEC undergraduate courses are designed to help you meet:

1.    Knowledge of Human Culture and the Natural World

2.    Creative and Critical Thinking

3.    Effective Communication

4.    Individual and Social Responsibility

5.    Respect for Diversity Among People

These goals require your striving to meet them.  Striving means learning actively and deliberately, completing assignments in a thorough and timely fashion, participating in class discussion, and making connections between what we do while meeting in class and what you do when engaged outside of the classroom.



    In evaluating all work done for this course, I will take account of how carefully, seriously, intelligently, enthusiastically, and imaginatively students engage with the concepts, issues, positions, and arguments addressed in the course and represented by the texts we read, the films we screen, by me, and by each other.

Learning and Contribution/Learning and Contribution Reflection Papers

    My foremost aim in teaching this course is to help you to learn something of significance and value.  I will judge you to a significant degree on what you learn, how–and how hard–you strive to learn, and on how–along with how well–you contribute to the learning for the rest of the class.

    Class participation represents an important opportunity to learn, not just a place in which to demonstrate what you have learned.  By raising questions, testing and trying out ideas, taking risks and making mistakes, you learn a great deal–and help others learn a great deal as well.  You learn through talking, not just talk to show what you have learned.  Don't hesitate to speak forth in class if you have anything at all to throw into the mix.

    At the same time, just talking a great deal does not necessarily mean that you are making a quality contribution to the class by aiding the learning that we aim to accomplish.  Quality of participation is much more important than quantity, although a sufficient quantity is indispensable to insure quality.  Still, I want to emphasize here that I perceive talking for talking’s sake–especially talking which pulls us off on far-fetched tangents, which remains disconnected from and disengaged with the reading and the rest of the class, or which effectively silences others–to be negative participation.  Quality class participation does not, moreover, involve merely asking questions of me and responding to my questions; quality class participation requires you to work to advance a serious and substantial discussion with your peers about the films, readings, and issues subject to discussion.

    Contribution to the class certainly can extend far beyond mere speaking in class: it may include a variety of ways in which you can bring to bear your insights to help yourself as well as the rest of us gain from the experience of this course.  Excellent writing for class is also a valuable way to contribute to class.  At the same time, listening carefully, respectfully, and thoughtfully in class discussions is yet another important means of contribution–as is taking time to meet and talk with me outside of class.  In fact, meeting and talking with me outside of class can be an excellent way to contribute–as well as to show us me how seriously interested in and engaged with the course material you are.

    Learning and contribution will constitute a significant proportion of your overall course grade.  As part of this grade, you will write three short learning and contribution reflection papers.  For these papers I will ask you, simply, to assess 1.) what, most importantly, you have been learning over the preceding third of the semester, 2.) how, along with how well you have been contributing to your own learning and to the collective learning of the class over the preceding third of the semester.  As I see it, these short papers provide you a useful opportunity to communicate with me how you are doing with the course, and to demonstrate your critical self-reflexivity, the hallmark of a liberal arts education.  As you are assessing your own learning and contribution, you may include thoughts in reaction to issues raised in class discussion that you did not have the opportunity or did not feel comfortable enough to share in class; these additional reflections can help me get a better sense of what you have been thinking about and how you have been responding to class discussions, as well as to the readings.  I will take into account what you write in determining your learning and contribution grade for the preceding half-semester; performance on these papers represents a vital component of your learning and contribution grade.

    I  will provide you specific directions in the assignments I give you for each of these papers.  Length will be quite flexible, but I suggest you can imagine approximately 5-7 double-spaced, typed pages (or approximately 2500 to 3500 words) as a reasonable target in each case.  Each learning and contribution grade (including each learning and contribution reflection paper) will be worth 17.5% of the overall course grade, making for a combined  total worth 52.5% of the overall course grade.  

Interview Conference
    For this assignment, I will ask you to meet in conference outside of class with me to engage in an extended, serious, critical discussion of one German film we have not yet previously screened together this semester.  I estimate we will talk together for approximately one hour.  You will work on this assignment as part of a group of three to four students from our class.  

    Group assignments will take place either during week three or four of the semester.  At that time I will also give each group a copy of the film it will be working with so that you can screen it individually, as well as collectively, and review it–as well as special features on the DVD–in preparation for the conference.  I will also give you the specific questions ahead of time that I want you to come to the conference prepared to address.  The conference will happen approximately two to three weeks later at a mutually convenient time for all of us, and it will take place in my office.  Tentatively, the films I am thinking of making available for this purpose are as follows (with titles in English): Triumph of the Will; Olympia; Somewhere in Berlin; Naked Among Wolves; The Gleiwitz Case; and The Bridge.

    This assignment will be worth 20% of the overall course grade.  I will give you individual grades for this assignment (although they most likely will turn out to be the same, unless different members of the group clearly put in substantially different amounts of work on this assignment).   I will give you all copies of a written form after the conference providing each of you an opportunity individually to evaluate (in confidence) each other member’s contribution to the group’s work–as well as to evaluate yourself.  I will take into account these evaluations in determining your individual grades.  

Final Group Project and Class Conference

    Once again, you will work together with a group of two to three fellow students from our class on this project.  Groups may consist of three to four students.  I will give each group three German films we have not screened together as part of the course.  Your task will be to prepare a presentation that uses these films as a point of departure, reference, and return in order to help illuminate, as well as stimulate, thinking and discussion, in relation to a.)  a significant issue in German cinema studies, as well as b.) a significant issue in German history, society, politics, and/or culture.  You yourselves, in your groups and in consultation with me, will determine, based upon what the films you are working with suggest, precisely what these specific issues will be.  At the end of the semester you will present what you have come up with as part of a public class conference; you will have approximately 45 minutes time to present, followed by approximately 30 minutes time to engage in–and lead–discussionThis class conference will take place on Sunday May 11 in a room and at times to be arranged.   It will be open to the public to attend as interested and able.

    These projects may involve incorporation of original creative work, depending upon the interests and talents of the members of your group.  For instance, you may create and present a.) your own short video (or film); b.)  an exhibition of visual or plastic art; c.) a music, theatre, dance, and/or spoken word performance; and d.) other kind of collages or montages from multiple, mixed media.  You certainly do not need to create and present any of this kind of material, as long as you can find a way successfully to illuminate and stimulate (as I described in the preceding paragraph).  In other words, you can present the results of research and critical analysis to us, together with the screening of illustrative clips, along the lines of what you would commonly find at a professional academic conference (and you may prepare the same kind of poster or array of posters that many academic conferences often include at “poster sessions,” or that UWEC features at its annual ‘Student Research Day[s]’ in April).  [I mention the ‘creative’ options here solely because past 381 students have wanted to make these kinds of additional contributions to their final group projects, not because I myself necessarily expect them.  I’m not one to stifle creativity and enthusiasm, so if you want to do something like that, I’ll support you, but if not, no problem whatsoever.]

    I will make more specific suggestions to you for this project as you proceed to work on it. And I will also later offer you a more detailed explanation of how I conceive of the goals of this assignment as well as the criteria for evaluation I will use.  Also, group as well as individual members from groups are welcome–and indeed encouraged–to meet with me in conference as you are thinking through and working on the presentation so I can help assist you in your planning and preparation.  I do recommend, however, that you right away start paying attention to ideas addressed in the readings and screenings for the course that particularly interest you, so that you may well be able to pursue these further with your final group project.  I will give you some choice over what films you will work with, but this will be limited to titles which I own copies of and which I think will prove especially stimulating for our purposes, including supplementing and extending beyond what we were able to cover together in class.

    So you can start thinking about this early on, here are the sets of films (with titles in English) that I am tentatively thinking of making available as possibilities for these projects: 1.) I Was Nineteen; Europa, Europa; and The Ninth Day; 2.) Rosenstrasse, Aimee and Jaguar, and  Sophie Scholl; 3.) The Tin Drum, Mephisto, and Germany, Pale Mother; 3.) The Boat, Stalingrad, and As Fast as My Feet Will Carry Me; 4.) The Consequence, Querelle, and The Blue Hour; 5.) Coming Out; The Virgin Machine, and Summer Storm; 6.) Stroszek, Woyzeck (Herzog Version), and Nosferatu (Herzog Version); 7.) The Edukators, Bandits, and Changing Skins; 8.) Hot Summer, Sun Alley, and Solo Sunny; 9.) Just Don’t Think I’ll Cry, Sun Seekers, and The Architects; 10.) The Rabbit Is Me, She Was Born in ‘45, and Trace of Stones.  

    This assignment will be worth 27.5% of the overall course grade.  Once again, I will give you individual grades (although they may well turn out all the same), and once again I will give you all copies of a written form after your presentation providing each of you an opportunity individually to evaluate (in confidence) each other member’s contribution to the group’s work–as well as to evaluate yourself.  I will, as with the earlier interview conference, take into account these evaluations in determining your individual grades.          

    Finally, each student is required to attend and participate actively in discussion for one other group’s project presentation besides your own. * You will receive 2.5% extra credit for each additional group project presentation you attend and engage with in discussion beyond the one required of you. *

Class Field Trip/Extra Credit

    *** We will take a class field trip on either Saturday April 18 or Saturday April 25 (still to be determined) to attend the annual Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival–where we will aim to focus on films from Germany and/or from other German-speaking nations and regions–as well as have dinner at a German restaurant in the Twin Cities, along with participating in, potentially, some other German-related activities. ***  We will leave from the Hibbard Humanities Hall parking lot in the early morning and return to that location in the late evening of the same day.  We will travel together, to and from the Twin Cities, aboard a charter bus which I will pay for.  I will also be willing to help pay for other students’ expenses (tickets, meals) as possible and as need be.  Friends are most welcome–and in fact strongly encouraged–to come along and join us. *** Students will earn 7.5% extra credit just for attending the field trip.   Students can earn an additional 2.5% extra credit by helping make arrangements for the field trip–for the bus, with the Film Festival, with the restaurant, and elsewhere we might visit. *** We always take a similar field trip in every English 381 class I teach–and, increasingly often as well, in every English 181 class I teach too.   These class field trips–especially for English 381–are always a great time, and I hope as many as possible of you will be able to make it.


    I encourage you to meet with me in conference during office hours or at another mutually convenient time to discuss any issue of interest or concern that you develop as a student in this course and as a member of this class.  I recognize the value of learning that takes place in conferences; I know this can at times be equally as important, and in fact occasionally even more important, than what takes place in class.  It also provides you an opportunity to contribute beyond what you say in class and write for class.  So please do not hesitate to meet with me at any time you think this might be helpful to you–or whenever you’d just like to talk further with me.   I want to help you in your understanding of issues addressed in screenings, readings, and discussions, as well as in your writing and participation.  And you may certainly also feel free to contact me by e-mail or by (my campus office) phone as well.  

    I really do like to get to know my students; students at this university continually demonstrate impressive ability, talent, knowledge, experience, insight, vitality, and good character.  I am lucky to get to know you; it enriches me.

    * Any student who has a disability and is in need of classroom accommodations, please contact the instructor and the Services for Students with Disabilities Office. *


    In the interest of accountability–me to you–I am here providing you links: 1.) to my statement of philosophy as a college teacher: http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan/philosophy.htm; 2.) to my autobiographical profile: http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan/PROFILE_.htm and http://www.myspace.com/insurgentseanmurphy   (if you too are on myspace feel free to contact me to become myspace friends); and 3.) to my professional vita (the academic equivalent of a resume): http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan/VITA.htm.  I encourage you to check these sites out; it is useful for you to know who your teacher is, what he’s about, and where he’s coming from–and I like to be very open, honest, and forthright with you about all of that.  I look forward to a great semester working together with you!