GERMAN 449 - Special Topics in English Translation
Fall 2021, Section 001 - Cinema and Migration
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: German (GERMAN)
Department: LSA Germanic Languages & Literatures
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Taught in English.
May be elected three times for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
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Rackham credit requires additional work.
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According to the UN Refugee Agency, nearly 45,000 people are forced to flee their homes daily because of conflict and persecution. As a result, there are currently 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. In Europe the situation came to a head in 2015, when the numbers of refugees from Syria, in particular, soared, Germany opened its borders, and the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel declared “wir schaffen das”: we can do it!

Six years on, the European political and cultural landscape have been redrawn. Cinema and visual media have played a central role in this process. The plight of refugees has been seared into public consciousness through widely circulating images of overcrowded camps, of treks along the Balkan route and sea rescues on the Mediterranean, of emaciated figures in thermal foil or the corpse of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish shore. Meanwhile, in an emerging transnational corpus of refugee films, filmmakers have begun to shape this visual repertoire into documentaries and feature films, attempting to find visual and narrative strategies for addressing key issues of migration.

The seminar takes stock of this emerging set of films, which we will submit to close scrutiny while also contextualizing them with reference to contemporary and historical photographic images, visual cultures, and discourses of migration; theoretical readings on photography, documentary, and cinematic narration; as well as cultural theories of Home, Exile, Refuge, Migration, and Human Rights. Besides tracking the shared motifs and thematic concerns in these films, we will devote our attention in particular to their mobilization of vision and the gaze: in the encounter with refugees, what are the ethics of looking? Who gazes at whom, and how?

Course Requirements:

As a seminar, this is a collective endeavor. Come prepared to help direct the conversation by sharing your observations of the films, your questions about the readings, but also your knowledge from other contexts. Students will be responsible for leading discussions of readings and films, and summarizing these afterwards. We will keep film journals, draw connections to current events in the news, and attend relevant cultural events on and around campus. Several shorter writing assignments will help students work toward a final paper that compares multiple films in light of course readings.


GERMAN 449 - Special Topics in English Translation
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
 In Person
002 (REC)
 In Person
003 (REC)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM

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