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This post is the product of cold weather and my reluctance to leave the warm confines of the library just yet, as well as the slight sense of shame I always feel when I take up communal work-places to laze around on the internet. So, instead, I shall take up the communal work-space and write a Serious Post of Seriousness. Well, not really, but at least I won't spend another half hour looking at the funny macros George Takei keeps posting...

As a background, please see my previous post: Stundenplan @ HU [1] a.k.a. "Wot I actually do in school here in Berlin"

Wednesday : Language & History / Body/Machine Interaction (a.k.a. CYBORGS)

The full name of the language class I'm visiting is "Deutsch: Sprach- und Geschichtskurs für Fortgeschrittene C1: Deutsche Geschichte nach 1945" which tells you everything you want to know about German universities and what they think is a snappy name right there means "German: Language and History course for advanced students: German history after 1945". The C1 is my language proficience level, which the university has decided through a really odd and not entirely accurate test; but it basically means that I'm in the second-highest level of language classes for foreigners. Go me.

I took this class mostly because all ERASMUS students are offered a voucher to take one, basically. Even without the vouchers, these language classes are really cheap, 12-20 € pro term, unless I'm misremembering. Anyway, it was touted as a conversation class, which I liked because there are few things I despise as much as trying to press grammar into my head (this btw becomes Very Obvious when I write in German. Alas). And also, all the other remotely interesting classes were placed either at the same time as something else or began at eight in the morning omfg, what? No way

It's a easy class, so-so interesting but it's been really helpful to get a historical overview which does not already assume that I have a German high-school level education. And now we're doing presentations, which so far has meant we talk about history from our home countries, and that is totally interesting.

Then there is the class "Body-/Machines in Literature and Film of the Twentieth century", which didn't sound thaaat exciting until I read the course description and realized - holy shit, it's a science fiction class! With cyborgs and gender studies! ^___^

Before Christmas, we focused on movies, so each class was actually four hours long unless one opted to go home and try and download watch the movie in some other way. Now, it's only two hours/week, but instead we have to read experimental German sf, so I'm actually thinking we students lost out on that exchange...

It's with this class we went and saw René Pollesch's Schmeiss dein Ego Raus which I apparantly have forgotten to blog about, whoops. But, yes, good play, damn hard script to read.

Otherwise we have watched Blade Runner, Robocop, Videodrome (a wtf experience if any) Virtuosity (which, btw, sucks), Ghost in the Shell, The Matrix and not read William Gibson which I don't quite understand the logic behind.

But it's been interesting to discuss the cyborg-body as a place where (in the spirit of Donna Haraway) binary gender and humanity boundaries can be broken down. Equally interesting is of course that so few of these movies actually manage it and in fact sometime directly or indirectly strenghtens the boundaries.

I'm planning to write my exam essay for Media analysis in this class, since I just don't click with any of the texts from the photography class, and I pretty much know GitS backwards by now.

A critique I do have towards this class (besides the sometimes frankly baffling choice of movies. Virtuosity was apparantly a flop and never even hit the cinemas in Germany and it's a really crappy movie, so why even bother working with it when there's so much other sci-fi/cyberpunk/anime to watch?) is that the teacher doesn't really acknowledge that the students come from very, very different places. That means that some people have no clue about gender theory, others know nothing about film analysis and a whole load of people are not familiar with the history of science fiction (this surprised me a bit, tbh). And yet, we only got a primer to film analysis, which sometimes makes the discussion very stilted and awkward.

And now the library is closing, so my favorite class, which is on Thursday, will have to wait until later.

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May 2012

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