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    Vassar College
  Dec 15, 2017
Catalogue 2017-2018
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STS 235 - Introduction to German Cultural Studies

Semester Offered: Fall
1 unit(s)
(Same as GERM 235 ) Topic for 2017/18: Literary Science: Exploring the Fusion of Literature and the Natural Sciences. Departing from C.P. Snow’s famous thesis that the sciences and the arts comprise two distinct cultures, this course investigates the border crossings between these domains, with an emphasis on literature and the natural sciences practiced in German-speaking Europe from the Enlightenment to the present.  We consider how and why scientists such as Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Alexander von Humboldt, and Sigmund Freud cultivate a literary style in their evocations of nature or human psychology.  We also study how and why authors such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe appropriate in their literary work principles derived from the natural sciences, and how and why authors such as Bertolt Brecht, Janna Levin, or Daniel Kehlmann (author of the best-selling novel Measuring the World) depict the lives of scientists and mathematicians such as Galileo, Humboldt, or Kurt Gödel.  In addition, we discuss the extent to which scientific methodology can be applied to literature.  Our overarching questions are: What have the modern arts and sciences learned from one another, and what can we in turn learn by studying literature and science in relation to one another? Other authors, scientists, artists, and mathematicians we may consider include Carl Friedrich Gauss, Georg Büchner, Frederic Edwin Church, Kurd Lasswitz, Werner Heisenberg, Robert Musil, Michael Frayn, and Rebecca Goldstein. Elliott Schreiber.

Two 75-minute periods.

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