RC Hums 334, 003: Cultures in Dialogue:Crossing External and Internal Borders
M&W 7-10 p.m. course instructor: janet hegman shier

Welcome to the web site of the RC Hums 334 "Cultures in Dialogue" course This site is under ongoing construction so check back for updates. Last updated: Oct. 28, 2010

Course Description HUMS 334.003 Special Topics in the Humanities: Cultures in Dialogue:  Crossing External and Internal Borders; M 7-10, W 7-10 (Shier) (HU)

In this cross-disciplinary course, we will do scene work and discuss scenes from contemporary German-language plays and first person narratives that deal with diaspora, identity, and re-presentation of the Self and the Other. We will explore issues related to crossing external and internal borders, and we will ask ourselves:  What “borders” did 20th and 21st Century German history create and how did these impact on perceptions of identity?  For example, how did the Berlin Wall as a physical border ultimately create hierarchies among dominant and non-dominant communities, even after its fall?  To what extent has the so-called “Wall in the Head” contributed to our enhanced or diminished access to Germans and their sense of identity? We will view the role of the Wall, not only as a physical border that existed between East and West, and a temporal border separating past, present and future, but also as a perceptual border that continues to define and distort conceptions of the Other.

A desired outcome of this course will be to achieve a more differentiated understanding of German identity today as we probe what lies behind the “Mauer im Kopf”, examine what it means to various communities who live in Germany, and describe their Self/Other relationship to it, e.g, Jewish and Muslim communities in Germany, Aussiedler and recent Eastern European immigrants. 

Materials used in this course will include contemporary plays, art works and films, as well as readings from a variety of fields, including Holocaust studies, articles on memorials and counter-memorials, and both non-fictional and fictional literature by and about ethnic communities in Germany today.  Students in this course must be prepared to participate actively in movement and theater workshops (in German and in English), to take part in an end-of-term show created and performed by the group, and to contribute to the ongoing research and scholarship of the group as it examines course topics and follows current events. 

This course has received ISAC funding from the Office of International Programs and it will culminate in an optional partially-subsidized two week study trip to Berlin in May where students will meet with and learn first-hand about various communities studied in the course, and where they will  witness theater efforts to spark discussion about current issues surrounding identity. 

Prerequisites: Permission of the Instructor is required to register for the course.   It is desirable for students to have at least intermediate-level proficiency in German by May 2010; students with no previous language experience, who take Intensive First-Year German in Winter 2010 may qualify to take the course.  Students interested in the course are urged to contact Janet Hegman Shier (jshie@umich.edu).

Study Trip to Berlin, Germany• May 2010 . . . DATES: (tentative) May 7-21, 2010. . . LANGUAGE of Instruction: English and German (Participants must be through at least first year German by May. Concurrent registration in German191/RCLang191 is recommended for students who have no background in German) HOUSING: Youth Hostel or with host families. DEADLINE: Prospective participants should contact Janet Hegman Shier no later than Nov.30. Travel documents and a down payment for the trip will be due in January COST: est. will be determined by early January. The trip will be partially subsidized by OIP and the RC, and students are encouraged to help with fundraising for the trip. CREDITS: 2 additional Michigan in-residence credits for W '10 (Students should register for no more than 16 credits, including RC Hums 334) ELIGIBILITY Novice level proficiency in German (or concurrent enrollment in German191/RCLang191) and permission of the instructor.
Syllabus . . .under construction.2006)

Learn about a course I team-taught in '06, which shared topics with Cultures in Dialogue 2010:

Cultures in Dialogue 2006


berlin itinerary 2006