Core Courses

IS104 Medieval Literature and Culture: Forms of Love

AY/BA1/Begin in Berlin Core Course

Coordinator: Marcela Perett

Course Times: Tue 9:00-12:15, Thu 10:45-12:15 & 13:30-15:00

Credits: 14 ECTS, 8 U.S. credits

The first year spring semester core course is devoted to an exploration of the category of love in medieval European Christianity. The study of the distinctive manifestations of the concept and its accompanying social rituals offers a primary guide to the achievements of the medieval civilizations (between 400 and 1500 C.E.). Taking our departure from the fundamental forms of love (eros) posited in antiquity by Plato in the Symposium, we examine the medieval revision of these terms in a range of different contexts (e.g., the monastery, the court, the city) and genres (e.g., romance, lyrical poetry) both sacred and secular. Principally, the course investigates how the arrival of Christianity as a state-sponsored religion in most of Europe revitalized and transformed the Greek understanding of love into new categories (such as agape, the love with which God allegedly loved his creation, and amour courtois, the romantic love between members of the nobility), which ranged from the metaphysical and the erotic, to social and institutional designations. Secondly, the course will examine the interactions between different ideas and traditions with respect to the category of love, and show how its formulation reflects their wider convictions and norms. Emphasizing the heritage and origins of the texts which articulated these debates, we will also attend to the fact that the works of Greek Antiquity were only available to medieval writers in translation, and to the ways in which authors borrowed from or reiterated one another’s assumptions and frameworks. Finally, the course addresses the transformation of genre that reflection on the concept of love effected; the connections between religious belief and an array of other cultural productions and practices.

Syllabus

IS212 History and Philosophy of Science: Early Modern Science

BA2 Core Course

Coordinator: Michael Weinman

Course Times: Tue 10:20-11:50, Thu 11:15-12:45

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

The course seeks to introduce the scientific advances of the early modern period (with particular focus on the seventeenth century): the developments that defined the principles, methods and frameworks of modern natural science as it exists today.  We not only explore the philosophical basis and conclusions of this historical development, but its experimental procedures, and come to an understanding of their practical form and the meaning of their results. In the first section, we concentrate on the new understanding of space, matter and motion deriving from the cosmologies and mechanical theories of this era (the basis of modern physics). In the second, we consider the remarkable advances in the life sciences at this period (examining anatomical and medical texts), and finally, attend to the emergence of what came to be called “chemistry” out of the mystical practice of alchemy. Spread throughout the course are visits to exhibitions and collections in Berlin, which will help us to reflect on the way in which scientific practices and their discoveries have been historicized, and why we ought to enhance our critical awareness of such historicizing. 

Syllabus

IS311 Berlin: Experiment in Modernity

Bard in Berlin Core Course

Instructor: Florian Becker

Course Times: Mon & Wed 11:00-12:30, Fri (Museum visit - off campus) 15:15-19:00

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

More than any other city, Berlin has been a source and a theater for the forces shaping Western modernity. Its importance and its by turns glorious and catastrophic role in European culture and history have their origins in its peculiar development. Built on a swamp, in a poor duchy surrounded by more powerful states, it was remade during the Enlightenment as a center not only of military discipline and administrative control but also of learning and innovation. Increasingly characterized in the later nineteenth century by almost uncontrolled growth, it rose to the status of capital of the German Empire and became a center of science and technology. With rapid industrialization came sharp social polarization and bitter political conflict, but also the birth of aesthetic modernism and avantgarde culture. After the clamor for imperial power and colonial expansion culminated in the cataclysm of World War I, Berlin witnessed the unprecedented artistic rebirth of the Weimar Republic. During the Nazi dictatorship the city became the point of origin of political terror, war and genocide. Reduced to little more than “a pile of rubble near Potsdam” (Bertolt Brecht), Berlin found itself on the frontline of the Cold War and remained forcibly divided for more than four decades between two radically different political and economic systems. Through a combination of historical sources, literature, philosophy, and a wide range of artifacts—from paintings to photographs to film, archival and contemporary—we shall seek to understand Berlin’s significance and its current position at the heart of Europe. And we will speculate about its possible futures as a place of gathering and experiment for a population from across the world. 

Syllabus

SO312 City for Citizens: Urban Design and Social Change in the European Metropolis (co-taught with the TU Berlin)

Bard in Berlin Core Course

Instructors: Irit DekelDominik Bartmanski (TU)

Course Times: Thu 13:30-16:45, Fri (Museum visit - off campus) 15:15-19:00

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

This seminar consists of three parts: a theoretical, empirical and practical, all revolving around the question of what makes Berlin a center of urban and political action and migration. We will seek to show the relations between cityscape, urban experience, participation and direct democracy, display and media, memory cultures and social change. Our conceptual literature will include Alexander, Mitchell, Casey, Simmel, Huyssen, Löw, Ricoeur, and Sennett, among others who deal interpretively, historically and phenomenologically with the questions concerning the representation of spaces and things, social conditions such as foreignness and strangeness in cities, and diversity and display. Our conceptual frameworks will be connected to some illustrative cases, to be discussed in the second seminar part, from Berlin and other European capitals developed by specialists from Carl Schorske to Gerard Delanty and John Urry. In the third part, open to TU Berlin participants, students will conduct hands-on research guided by the discussed texts and will link up with other Bard campuses for a discussion that will enable close examination of key contemporary issues in the study of urban space. 

Syllabus

IS322 Modernism: Time

BA3-4/PY Core Course

Coordinator: Laura Scuriatti

Course Times: Tue 9:00-12:15, Thu 10:45-12:15 & 13:30-15:00

Credits: 14 ECTS, 8 U.S. credits OR 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits (Tuesdays only)

At the turn into the twentieth century, a new movement arose, now primarily identified with literary and aesthetic practices, but which can be said to reach across all the most important developments in the arts and sciences. The category of "time" was central to modernist experiment, whether in defining a change in the way human consciousness was conceived and represented, in the relationship between the present and the past, and the dynamics of historical transformation itself. “Newness” itself was a fundamental value of modernism, guiding the programs of artistic practice and an embrace of the microcosmically complex and the unpredictable in scientific procedure.  This core course draws upon one of the monumental works of modernist literature, Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, written between 1930 and 1942, to explore the key developments in modernist epistemology and their connection to philosophical accounts of temporality. We investigate the relationship between modernism and modernity; the emergent accounts of the functioning of human consciousness (in psychoanalysis, the discipline of psychology, analytic and continental philosophy); the meaning of modernism in music and the arts, and the specific characteristics of modernist narrative. Musil’s novel accompanies the readings and topics throughout, providing a record of the main intellectual developments in its time (from politics to criminology) and embodying some of the defining features of the modernist novel: a protagonist adjacent to conventional social identity; a narrative logic which follows the associations of the mind; an open-ended structure which negates the frameworks of form; a reflection on the high-bourgeois European culture that was destroyed by the First World War.  We end with a reflection on the legacy of modernism today, and its implications for the experience and representation of everyday life and the definition of the objects and aims of art, philosophy and science.

Syllabus

Syllabus (Musil) 

Foundational Modules

Economics

EC110 Principles of Economics

Module: Principles of Economics

Coordinator: Martin Binder

Course Times: Mon & Wed 10:45-12:15

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

This course is an introduction to the essential ideas of economic analysis. It elaborates the basic model of consumer and firm behavior, including demand and supply, in the context of an idealized competitive market, and examines several ways in which the real world deviates from this model, including monopoly, minimum wages and other price controls, taxes, and government regulation. The assumptions concerning human behavior that underlie economics are presented and critiqued. The module is also concerned with the aggregate behavior of modern economies: growth and measurement of the economy, unemployment, interest rates, inflation, government spending and its impact, boom and bust cycles, and international trade. A large part of the module focuses on the government tools used to influence economic growth and individuals' behavior.  

Syllabus

EC210 Microeconomics

Module: Microeconomics

Coordinator: Martin Binder

Course Times: Mon & Wed 15:15-16:45

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Microeconomics is the study of how individual economic units (households and firms) interact to determine outcomes (allocation of goods and services) in a market setting. The course further develops principles and analytical methods introduced by the Principles of Economics. The positive and normative characteristics of alternative market structures—perfect competition, monopolistic competition, oligopoly, pure monopoly, and, in resource markets, monopsony—are studied in depth. Market forces are examined in the context of social and political institutions that shape, and are shaped by, market outcomes. The alleged trade-off between equity and efficiency is debated. “Lab” sessions are devoted to problem solving, in which students present solutions to the problems posed by specific case studies.

Syllabus

EC211 Macroeconomics

Module: Macroeconomics

Coordinator: Dirk H. Ehnts

Course Times: Mon & Wed 10:45-12:15

Credits 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

This course familiarizes students with the main models that macroeconomists use to analyze the way economies behave. The module begins by examining theories that seek to explain long-term economic growth. We then focus our attention on investigating economic theories that explain short run business cycles, the periods of recession and boom that occur on a regular basis. An important part of the module is to investigate the role of governments in affecting the long and short-term economic prospects of their countries. We apply this theoretical knowledge to a range of current economic issues, including budget deficits and national debt, international trade, and the role of institutions.

Syllabus

MA151 Statistics

Module: Statistics

Coordinator: Dirk H. Ehnts 

Course Times: Tue & Fri 13:30-15:00

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. Credits

This module is designed to introduce the methodologies proper to the empirical social sciences. Basic concepts of statistics, probability, probability distributions, random variables, correlation, and simple regression are introduced; the techniques of statistical inference hypothesis testing are developed.

Syllabus

Ethics and Politics

PL233 Value and its History 

Module: Ethics and Moral Philosophy

Instructor: Frank Ruda

Course Times: Mon 11:00-12:30, Fri 15:15-16:45

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

The concept of value is crucial for a wide range of areas of knowledge and experience, including theories of economic production and exchange, art, morals, and politics. The concept has a complex history. A major tension in this history concerns an opposition between "objective" (mathematically measurable, calculable) forms of valuation, and less quantifiable but nevertheless pressing, putatively  "subjective" claims. Our exploration of this tension begins with Aristotle's distinction between a healthy communal economy and the dangerous effects of chrematistics (the mere accumulation of wealth). Examining readings from John Locke, Adam Smith, and Max Stirner, we address key turning points in the notion of value, for instance Nietzsche's proposal for a transvaluation of all values, and his contention that it is impossible to evaluate "life" as such. We will also confront Marx's attempt to offer an analysis of the very process by which "objective" values are produced, and explore contemporary discussions of value in economic theory (Harvey, Jameson), political philosophy (Negri, Chomsky) and ethics (Agamben, Badiou). Our central, guiding question will be: how do we justify the very concept of value itself? 

Syllabus

PL208 Introduction to Existentialism

Module:  Ethics and Moral Philosophy

Instructor: Tracy Colony

Course Times: Mon & Wed 9:00-10:30

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

One of the most important philosophical movements of the 20th century is unquestionably Existentialism. The philosophy of existence developed by Jean-Paul Sartre can be seen as the clearest expression of this movement. In this course we will read selections from Sartre and other core representatives of French Existentialism. However, this reading will be prepared for by tracing through important philosophical lines of influence which the existentialists often acknowledged in the works of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Heidegger. All texts will be read in translation, however, parallel readings in the original French or German will be supported and encouraged.  

Syllabus

PT112 Ideology: A Thing of the Past?

Module: History of Political Thought

Instructor: Jan Völker

Course Times: Mon 17:00-18:30, Thu 15:15-16:45

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

The word “ideology” seems most often to be invoked to refer to monolithic political doctrines, such as the Communism of the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the latter, it was said that we had reached “the end of history”—that liberal democracy had triumphed, and there would be no other alternative, all-encompassing political belief systems. This view coexisted with a general distrust of any belief system or “metanarrative” asserting universal validity. The term “ideology” is sometimes used to denounce what are seen as oppressive universalizing claims. In fact, however, the history of the category “ideology” is more complex. Marx and Engels suggested that “ideology” first appears when a class of people emerge who are engaged exclusively in “mental labour,” or the production of ideas. An “ideology” is the set of beliefs that are necessary for the perpetuation of the way a society provides for its material needs. This raises the question of how far, and in what ways, we experience “ideology” today. What forces influence and reproduce belief? What is the role played by educational and other institutions, or by art and culture? What ideas remain “unthinkable” in our society? The course will introduce the key theories and historical struggles over the concept of ideology, and ask about its usefulness for analysing contemporary political commitments (or the lack thereof).

Syllabus

Art and Aesthetics

AH204 Art Production in the Modern Age (co-taught with TU Berlin)

Module: Art and Artists in Context

Instructors: Aya Soika, Andrea Meyer (TU Berlin)

Course Time: Wed 14:00-18:00 (block seminar on Apr. 22, 29; May 6, 13, 19, 20)

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

How do artists generate their art? The Romantic tradition focuses on “inspiration,” on the sudden insights of genius (even though acknowledged geniuses always admit they relied largely on hard work). But the creations of visual artists—more evidently than artists of other kinds—depend for their possibility on a whole range of material and practical conditions, including structures of institutional support, and available materials. In the modern age, new developments in technology at once drastically expand the media to be exploited by art, and threaten its value and relevance as a realm of activity and meaning. This course will focus on the transformations in the conditions influencing the work of German artists in particular, from their new role in the emergent nationalism that followed the Napoleonic wars to their victimisation under Nazism. Across these periods, the course looks at the tension between state-sponsored notions of art and avant-garde experimentation, and between social crisis and artistic critique. Attention will also be paid to the domestic and everyday arrangements of individual artists and movements, including the gender dynamics and class-status considerations that led artists to take up specific kinds of function and aspiration.

Syllabus

FA105 Contemporary Materials and Techniques

Module: Art Objects and Experience

Instructor: John von Bergen

Course Time: Mon 17:00-20:15

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

This course is a comprehensive introduction to sculpture as a medium that has evolved in many diverse directions over the last century, and accelerating as an expansive, critical medium for art production in the 21st Century. The concentration of this course is a hands-on workshop that explores materials and techniques, with supplemental materials and resources relating to contemporary sculpture and installation. Workshops will allow students to learn about a large range of materials that will be explored further by individual projects, as we investigate the advantages and disadvantages of rubber, wood, styrofoam, plaster, plastic, polymer-gypsum, polymer-webbing, wax, and found objects. We also will explore the various options for mold-making and casting techniques, the advantages of 3D scanning and printing in relation to traditional "analog" production, and the importance of maintaining health and safety standards in one's studio. Please Note: A limited supply of materials will be offered to students. Some students may need to contribute their own funds / resources for completing projects.

Syllabus

Literature and Rhetoric

LT251 Poetry and Poetics

Module: Poetry and Poetics

Instructor: James Harker

Course Times: Mon & Wed 9:00-10:30

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Poetic forms were once used for a wide variety of subject matter, often to convey knowledge in the branches of the arts and sciences, as metre was valued for its mnemonic effectiveness. In the modern period, poetry is principally considered an aesthetic form, and its various manifestations (the epic, verse drama) became concentrated into the lyric, associated with the self-expression of an individual voice. The modern poet claimed a hidden but somehow powerful influence on culture and society—the position of an “unacknowledged legislator of the world”—or later, in the French tradition, the condition of being “accursed,” a renegade living outside the bounds of the acceptable, inventing new modes of living and creating.  This course provides an introduction to reading poetic forms from Romanticism to the present day, and to the rhetorical figures most relevant for modern poetry, as well as the philosophical and literary theories (of the sublime, romantic art, the nature of “poetic language”) which developed in tandem with and sought to interpret the lyric.

Syllabus

FM201 Introduction to Film Studies

Modules: Theater and Film; Approaching Arts Through Theory

Instructor: Matthias Hurst

Course Times: Tue & Fri 13:30-15:00, Wed (film screening) 19:30-21:00

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Film is a language. Like any other language it has diverse elements of organisation, different accents and different levels of meaning, and it underwent structural and lexical development since its invention in the late 19th century. Understanding the language of film implies the awareness of film history and aesthetics, of similarities between film and other narrative media and deviations of visual representation and storytelling from traditional literary forms, and consequently the ability to recognize and analyze structures of filmic narration.

This course is an introduction to Film Studies and provides an insight into the basic knowledge of film history and theory, film aesthetics and cinematic language. Central topics are modes and styles of filmic presentation, film analysis and different approaches to film interpretation, classical films, popular film genres and film directors. We explore and discuss the meaning of film as an art form in relation to literary modes of production and interpretation, the elements of narration in fiction film and the representative function of film in our (post-) modern world and society, i.e. the ability of film to address important social and/or philosophical issues.

The course consists of both lectures/seminars and film screenings.

Syllabus 

Advanced Modules

Ethics and Politics

PT310 Law, Culture and Society in Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws

Module: Law and Society

Course Times: Mon & Wed 9:00-10:30

Instructor: Ewa Atanassow

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

What is law and where does it come from? What are the origins of legal principles, and why are they binding? What is the relationship between law, right and culture? Is law properly so called a set of universal norms independent of time and place; or should the legal system reflect and be tailored to the customs, needs and understandings of particular societies? In this course we’ll pose and try to answer these and other questions through a sustained engagement with Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws.

Montesquieu’s oeuvre is the riverbed that shaped the course of the great stream of European Enlightenment. Hailed as “the Newton of the moral world,” Montesquieu was a formative influence on such significant and diverse thinkers as Rousseau, Hume, Adam Smith, Constant, Tocqueville, Hegel, Marx and others, while his authority presided over the letter and spirit of the American founding. Through a close reading of the Spirit of the Laws and of relevant commentaries, classic as well as contemporary (e.g. by Voltaire, Hume, d’Alembert, Pocock, Shklar, Berlin, Dworkin, Habermas and others), this course aims to introduce the students to fundamental problems in the history and theory of law on the one hand, and to Montesquieu’s legal and political thought on the other.

Montesquieu’s extraordinary erudition and idiosyncratic manner of writing present great challenges to the modern reader. To help students rise to these challenges a French language reading group may be offered by Edit Gerelyes for students at level B1/2 and higher as a companion course to this course. By reading parts of Montesquieu’s work in the original and focusing on its linguistic and cultural dimensions, the reading group would enhance students’ understanding of Montesquieu’s philosophical vision and literary practice. The assignments for the reading group would be designed to harmonize with the reading assignments for the course.

Syllabus

PL320 The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

Module: Movements and Thinkers 

Instructor: Tracy Colony

Course Times: Mon & Wed 15:15-16:45

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

The influence of Nietzsche’s work upon later continental philosophy is perhaps unparalleled. In this course we will read selections from his major works in order to introduce central themes of his philosophy such as the will to power, the eternal recurrence and the death of god. Reading chronologically, we will trace though the development of Nietzsche’s thought with special attention to Nietzsche’s understanding of metaphysics and his preparations for an alternative future for philosophy. Of particular importance will be the role which Nietzsche’s understanding of genealogy plays in these preparations. In this course we will also chart the history of the reception of Nietzsche’s philosophy and become familiar with seminal works in the secondary literature such as those by Heidegger, Deleuze, Derrida and Malabou. All texts will be read in translation, however, parallel readings in the original German will be supported and encouraged.

Syllabus

Art and Aesthetics

AH311 Piero’s “inversions”

Module: Artists, Genres, Movements

Instructor: Peter Hajnal

Course Times: Tue & Fri 13:30-15:00

Credits: 8 ECTS , 4 U.S. credits

The Legend of the True Cross (finished c. 1459), Piero della Francesca’s fresco cycle in the Church of San Francesco in Arezzo is one of the most legendary works of the Italian Renaissance. Radiant and enigmatic, its six main panels, together with some “lesser” episodes, constitute a virtual encyclopedia of the artistic ideals of the Quattrocento as codified by Alberti in On Painting (1435). At the same time, while Piero, the “mathematical” painter par excellence, shows himself obedient to Albertian rules and norms, he is clearly also interpreting and questioning them by various compositional and other visual means. The frescoes are saturated with unexpected mirrorings, visual paradoxes and straightforward puzzles affecting the roles, gestures, and features of characters. These elements are in turn embedded in a system of allusions, cross-references, as well as ruptures and discontinuities in all possible dimensions (vertical, horizontal, temporal, spatial, narrative, compositional) sometimes within the same painting, sometimes across different frescoes, including Piero’s works from other commissions. What emerges upon careful close reading of the numerous levels of meaning in Piero’s cycle is no less than a philosophy of painting, that is at the same time a vision of art and humanity of Shakespearean complexity, making Piero’s work unrivalled not only in the Quattrocento, but possibly in all of art. The course aims to introduce students to a philosophically minded approach to the art of the Italian Quattrocento relying centrally on the oeuvre of Piero.

Syllabus

SO312 City for Citizens: Urban Design and Social Change in the European Metropolis (co-taught with the TU Berlin)

Module: Exhibition Culture and Public Space

Instructors: Irit DekelDominik Bartmanski (TU)

Course Times: Thu 13:30-15:00, Fri (Museum visit - off campus) 15:15-19:00

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

This seminar consists of three parts: a theoretical, empirical and practical, all revolving around the question of what makes Berlin a center of urban and political action and migration. We will seek to show the relations between cityscape, urban experience, participation and direct democracy, display and media, memory cultures and social change. Our conceptual literature will include Alexander, Mitchell, Casey, Simmel, Huyssen, Löw, Ricoeur, and Sennett, among others who deal interpretively, historically and phenomenologically with the questions concerning the representation of spaces and things, social conditions such as foreignness and strangeness in cities, and diversity and display. Our conceptual frameworks will be connected to some illustrative cases, to be discussed in the second seminar part, from Berlin and other European capitals developed by specialists from Carl Schorske to Gerard Delanty and John Urry. In the third part, open to TU Berlin participants, students will conduct hands-on research guided by the discussed texts and will link up with other Bard campuses for a discussion that will enable close examination of key contemporary issues in the study of urban space. 

Syllabus

TH310 Bertolt Brecht: The Study and Staging of Epic Theater

Module: Media, Practices, Techniques

Instructor: Julia Hart

Course Time: Wed 13:30-16:45

Credits: 8 ECTS , 4 U.S. credits

Nowhere else can Bertolt Brecht's presence be felt more than in the streets of Berlin. But what really is the Epic Theater he is so famous for and what influence does it have on stage in Berlin's current theater scene? This course will not study the plays of Brecht as literature, but students will be in dialogue with Brecht as one of the most revolutionary theatermakers of the 20th Century.  This seminar will introduce students to Brecht's theoretical texts on the epic theater such as A Short Organum for the Theater  and The Street Scene. Students will not only analyze these provocative theater techniques, but will learn to use Brecht's specific acting and directing exercises and devices in rehearsal.  Throughout the semester, students will act and direct scenes from two of Brecht's classic epic works: Mother Courage and Her Children and The Good Person of Szechuan to investigate how Brecht and his ensemble worked.  This course includes visits to several theater productions in Berlin to question Brecht's footprint on German theater today.

Syllabus

Literature and Rhetoric

LT312 From lyrical essay to Buzzfeed listicle: The contemporary craft of creative non-fiction

Module: Author and Influence

Instructor: Florian Duijsens

Course Times: Mon 17:00-18:30, Thu 15:15-16:45

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

To apply the critical and academic skills of a liberal arts degree outside or after academia entails a change in tone and often a change in subject as well. Yet to write for the internet and its assorted outlets does not necessarily entail a dumbing down. While the likes of David Shields and Geoff Dyer are challenging the borders of non-fiction, writers such as Molly Lambert, Cintra Wilson, and Carl Wilson have shown that there is both a market and a place for sharp and funny essays on, for example, Mad Men, Dior, and Celine Dion. In this intensive writing class we will each week read contemporary writing and blogs alongside the authors and reporters who were their sharp and snarky forebears (Dorothy Parker, Joan Didion, Jessica Mitford). To hone our observation skills, for instance, we will look at sites like Humans of New York or Overheard in… but also read pieces Maeve Brennan wrote for the New Yorker in the 1950s. We will read M.F.K. Fisher on how to boil water (1942) and explore the current crop of cooking blogs with guest speaker Luisa Weiss (The Wednesday Chef). We will trace the roots of Tavi Gevenson’s Rookie magazine to riot grrrl and Mary McCarthy, all the while working on short exercises in writing reviews, reportage, essays, short memoirs, and GIF-laden listicles, the best of which we will pitch or place on the Bard College Berlin blog, as well as other online outlets such as Asymptote and Stil in Berlin.

Syllabus

IS311 Berlin: Experiment in Modernity

Module: Literary Analysis and Cultural Production

Instructor: Florian Becker

Course Times: Mon & Wed 11:00-12:30, Fri (Museum visit - off campus) 15:15-19:00

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

More than any other city, Berlin has been a source and a theater for the forces shaping Western modernity. Its importance and its by turns glorious and catastrophic role in European culture and history have their origins in its peculiar development. Built on a swamp, in a poor duchy surrounded by more powerful states, it was remade during the Enlightenment as a center not only of military discipline and administrative control but also of learning and innovation. Increasingly characterized in the later nineteenth century by almost uncontrolled growth, it rose to the status of capital of the German Empire and became a center of science and technology. With rapid industrialization came sharp social polarization and bitter political conflict, but also the birth of aesthetic modernism and avant-garde culture. After the clamor for imperial power and colonial expansion culminated in the cataclysm of World War I, Berlin witnessed the unprecedented artistic rebirth of the Weimar Republic. During the Nazi dictatorship the city became the point of origin of political terror, war and genocide. Reduced to little more than “a pile of rubble near Potsdam” (Bertolt Brecht), Berlin found itself on the frontline of the Cold War and remained forcibly divided for more than four decades between two radically different political and economic systems. Through a combination of historical sources, literature, philosophy, and a wide range of artifacts—from paintings to photographs to film, archival and contemporary—we shall seek to understand Berlin’s significance and its current position at the heart of Europe. And we will speculate about its possible futures as a place of gathering and experiment for a population from across the world.

Syllabus

Cross-Listed Modules

LT311 Fictions of Justice: Literature, Truth Commissions, and International Criminal Law

Modules: Literary Analysis and Cultural Production (advanced Literature and Rhetoric); Law and Society (advanced Ethics and Politics)

Instructor: Kerry Bystrom

Course Times: Tue & Fri 13:30-15:00

Credits: 8 ECTS , 4 U.S. credits

This course explores the intertwining of literature and law, as it looks specifically at the dilemmas of "transitional justice" and the rebuilding of societies in the wake of conflict. What is the space of testimony after mass human rights violations, and to what extent is testimony before a truth commission or in a court room related to testimonial non-fiction? More generally, what is the importance of storytelling and performance in the legal realm and outside of it? What are the limits of courts as a site of justice, and what other conceptions of justice arise in literary and other aesthetic works? Can literature provide a form of justice? We will explore such questions in relation to case studies looking at truth commissions in Chile, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, as well as international investigations and trials before the International Criminal Court. We will study  first-person witness testimony and confessions, historical and theoretical materials, and fictional texts such as Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden, J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace and Michael Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost.

Syllabus

MA313 The Calculus and the “Mathematization of Nature”

Modules: Social Theory/Critical and Cultural Theory

This course fulfills part the Mathematics and Sciences distribution requirement for the BA in Humanities, the Arts, and Social Thought

Instructor: Michael Weinman

Course Times: Mon & Wed 9:00-10:30

Credits: 8 ECTS,  4 U.S .credits

This seminar explores the “mathematization of nature” thesis, which holds that the seventeenth-century attempt to use mathematical analysis to demonstrate the validity of theories about natural phenomena, perhaps most especially with the invention of the calculus and its use in demolishing the distinction between terrestrial and celestial physics, changed in a decisive fashion not only “knowledge procedures” in European science but also played a crucial role in the formation of modern Europe as such. We proceed in two movements. In the first, we carefully read the works and demonstrate the proofs in which and through which Newton and Leibniz first formalized “the calculus.” This reading will be supplemented with earlier “original sources” in the history of mathematics and calculus, such as the work of Apollonius, Archimedes and Descartes, and secondary literature on it, such as the work of Boyer and Courant. Once we have familiarized ourselves thoroughly with the details of the mathematical procedure invented in the second half of the seventeenth century, we move to the second unit in which we engage with the classical approaches to this material in twentieth century history and philosophy of science, such as those of Husserl, Klein, Koyre and Kuhn, in order to better understand how the process of “making physics mathematical” has been understood, and how this understanding is at the heart of questions about the relationship of mathematics and physical reality that remain open today.

Syllabus

Electives

IS331 Berlin Internship Seminar: Working Cultures, Urban Cultures

Instructor: Agata Lisiak

Course Time (Group A): Mon 13:30-15:00

Course Time (Group B): Mon 15:15-16:45

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits (in combination with an internship)

The Berlin Internship Seminar accompanies students’ undertaking of an internship or period of practical training, and addresses such issues as: the successful functioning of institutions, the role of guiding principles and values in determining the direction and structure of projects and initiatives, and the relationship between the various spheres of society (the EU, the state, the market, and the individual) in influencing the way institutions operate. Over the course of the seminar we will also talk about contemporary ways of living and working in Berlin and beyond: How is work organized temporally and spatially and how does it, in turn, affect the city and its residents? What distinguishes the spaces in which we live and work today? Which new forms of work have emerged in Berlin recently? Which of them seem to thrive? How do Berlin’s political, artistic, and citizen-activist organizations operate? What can we learn from these institutions?

Syllabus

FM310 Space is the Place: Site and Spatial Cinematography in Film & Video

Instructor: Caitlin Berrigan

Course Time: Mon 17:00-20:15

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

In this video course for newcomers and advanced students, we will focus on site, landscapes and interiors not just as textures of film— but as central motifs, as investigations of space, or even as a characters of their own. We will analyze examples from both cinema and video art in which site or landscape play a central role, including several works in which the city of Berlin is inseparable from the substance of the film. We will also experiment with formal camera techniques to establish visual and tactile aspects of landscape, as well as experimenting with montage and "embodied cinematography" as ways of communicating the feeling of moving through space to the viewer. The choreography of human subjects within sites, and how performers may relate to, contrast with, or activate a landscape, will also be a terrain of exploration. The class will include  visits to particular sites in Berlin, where we will experience, look at, and film locations together as forms of collective filmmaking. The semester's work will include compositions in any genre that take a focused approach towards site and space, and may be completed individually or by collaborative groups. The intention of the course is not only to film Berlin up-close as a subject, but also to develop spatial and cinematic sensibilities that can be deployed in any encounter with site, from documentary to experimental film to video art.

Syllabus

Language Courses

GM101 German Beginner A1 (Group A)

Instructor: Ulrike Harnisch

Course Times: Mon & Wed 10:45-12:15, Fri 15:15-16:45

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Syllabus

GM101 German Beginner A1 (Group B)

Instructor: Ulrike Harnisch

Course Times: Mon & Tue 15:15-16:45, Fri 9:00-10:30

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Syllabus

GM151 German Beginner A2 (Group A)

Instructor: Ulrike Harnisch

Course Times: Mon 13:30-15:00, Thu 9:00-10:30, Fri 10:45-12:15

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Syllabus

GM151 German Beginner A2 (Group B)

Instructor: Silke Hilgers

Course Times: Mon 10:45-12:15, Tue & Fri 13:30-15:00

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Syllabus

GM201 German Intermediate B1

Instructor: Silke Hilgers

Course Times: Mon & Tue 15:15-16:45, Fri 9:00-10:30

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Syllabus

GM251 German Intermediate B2

Instructor: Silke Hilgers

Course Times: Mon 13:30-15:00, Thu 9:00-10:30, Fri 10:45-12:15

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Syllabus

GM301 German Advanced C1

Instructor: Ariane Faber

Course Times: Mon 13:30-15:00, Thu 9:00-10:30, Fri 10:45-12:15

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Syllabus

FR151 French Beginner A2

Instructor: Edit Gerelyes

Course Times: Mon 13:30-15:00, Wed 9:00-10:30, Fri 10:45-12:15

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Syllabus

FR251 French Intermediate B2

Instructor: Edit Gerelyes

Course Times: Mon 17:00-18:00, Wed 11:00-12:30, Fri 9:00-10:30

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Syllabus

SP101 Spanish Beginner A1

Instructor: David Perucha

Course Times: Tue 17:00-18:30, Thu 15:15-16:45, Fri 10:45-12:15

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Syllabus

SP151 Spanish Beginner A2

Instructor: David Perucha

Course Times: Mon & Tue 15:15-16:45, Thu 9:00-10:30

Credits: 8 ECTS, 4 U.S. credits

Syllabus

All Bard College Berlin language courses address the development of skills in reading and listening comprehension, conversation and writing within the context of the European Framework of Languages from level A1 through C2.

Beginner German, French, Spanish A1
Emphasis on familiar vocabulary building, listening comprehension and speaking with gradual introduction to grammar and writing skills. 

Beginner German, French, Spanish A2
Continued emphasis on listening comprehension and routine communication. Students read and write short, simple texts. 

Intermediate German, French, Spanish B1 
Emphasis on communication skills including comprehension of standard speech and descriptive reading passages, topical conversation and simple, descriptive composition. 

Intermediate German, French, Spanish B2 
Continued emphasis on communication skills including comprehension of extended speeches and lectures, reading of newspapers and general periodicals, spontaneous conversational interaction with native speakers and writing clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects. 

Advanced German, French, Spanish C1
Development of listening and reading comprehension levels to include extended speech and some literary texts. Emphasis on conversational and writing skills to express ideas and opinions and present detailed descriptions expressing points of view. 

Advanced German, French, Spanish C2 
Development of comprehension skills to allow for understanding of all forms of spoken language and written texts. Emphasis on communication skills for the fluent expression of ideas and argument both orally and in written form. 

Bard College Berlin typically offers students three levels of language instruction, beginning, intermediate and advanced. Placement tests determine each student’s enrollment level.