Course Offerings | German Studies

Division of Humanities

Ian Wilson (chair), Ken Keffer; student:

The major program in German studies is designed to meet the needs of four types of students: those who intend to continue the study of German in graduate school and want to enter the teaching profession; those who want to be proficient in a second language for work in international relations or commerce; those who major in another field and use language study to support their research in that field; and those for whom German serves as the basis of a broad liberal education, in much the same way a major in English serves this purpose for many students.

The program offers an integrated curriculum of German culture from the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Images of daily life and German civilization as portrayed in films, music, art, literature, and drama focus language acquisition and create the basis for seven courses on major themes and questions about German culture. Students will encounter the figures of Luther, Goethe, Nietzsche, Mozart, Thomas Mann, Kafka, or Rilke in many of the courses, but all courses will promote a
broad understanding of literary values, critical analysis, and appreciation of cultural traditions.

A unique feature of the program is the immersion stay of a minimum of six weeks in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland required of all majors. A true beginner can become sufficiently proficient in the language to major in German and to take up residence in one of these countries where some recent majors are currently employed or studying.

While the major in German studies prepares students for the study of language and literature in graduate school and the teaching profession, it is also intended for those with cultural, social, political, or economic interests. German serves as a solid basis for a broad liberal education and proficiency in the language can provide research opportunities in many scientific fields and further careers in government, international relations, music, drama, the fine arts, or commerce.

Recommended First-Year/Sophomore Preparation

Students considering a major in German studies are encouraged to plan their academic program to include as wide a distribution of courses as possible regardless of their professional or vocational objectives. Prospective majors should consider taking courses in literature, history, philosophy, and the fine arts.

Requirements for the Major

GER 110, 120, 210, 220, or equivalent;
Six German courses numbered 300 or higher and GER 500;
Certification of study abroad.

Note: An immersion stay of a minimum of six weeks in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland is required for the German studies major. This stay is to be completed by the time of graduation (through participation in Centre’s program in Strasbourg, by a family stay in Frankfurt, Göttingen, or elsewhere). The German faculty assists students in finding an appropriate program. Equivalent prior experience may be counted at the discretion of the German Studies Program Committee.

Requirements for the Minor

GER 110, 120, 210, 220, or equivalent;
Three additional German courses numbered 300 or higher.

German Studies Courses

GER 110, 120 German Culture and Language (four credit hours each)
A study of the characteristic features of German idiom and usage through texts chronicling the development of German culture from the age of Mozart to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Prerequisite: 110 for 120 or placement.

GER 210 Images of Daily Life and Geography
German language and culture through the medium or current films, television, slides, and paintings. Readings in "Landeskunde," the geography and contemporary political and social institutions of the Federal Republic, Austria, and Switzerland. Emphasis on speaking, reading, and writing in German. Prerequisite: GER 120 or placement.

GER 220 Images of History and Civilization
German language and culture through the medium of current films, television, slides, and paintings. Readings in "Kulturgeschichte," the historical and cultural development of Germanic lands since the time of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Emphasis on speaking, reading, and writing in German. Prerequisite: GER 120 or placement.

Note: GER 210 or 220 or placement is prerequisite for all German courses numbered 300 or higher.

GER 320 Nature, Volk, and Lore
A study of German identity drawn from the rich storehouse of sagas, legends, fairy tales, and other folk sources welding historical events with interpretations of the mysterious natural world. Selections from the Nibelungenlied, Herder, the Brothers Grimm, Eichendorff, Heine, Wagner, and others are included.

GER 325 German Film
A survey of German-language cinema emphasizing the early black-and-white films of the Weimar period (1919-33), the highly influential art films of the “New German Cinema" (ca. 1965-85) and the (superficially) lighter German films made after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Emphasis on understanding films in their social, cultural and historical contexts and on understanding the fundamentals of film art, analysis and criticism. Films will be screened in the evenings and will be available on reserve in the library. Prerequisite: GER 210 or placement.

GER 340 Vaterland und Muttersprache
An exploration of the cultural and political competition between the public realm of fatherland and the private sphere of family and of the evolving process of breaking down gender barriers in Germanic culture. Readings include plays, novels, diaries, letters, and polemical writings by Gottfried Lessing, Sophie von LaRoche, Friedrich Schiller, Theodor Fontane, Christa Wolf, and Christine Bruckner.

GER 350 German Cultural Geography
An examination of the unique effects of geography on Germanic arts and letters from the early Roman walls criss-crossing the landscape; to terrifying border invasions; to the Berlin Wall, the most recent Kafkaesque monument to political division. Readings include Gottfried von Strassburg, Heinrich Kleist, Franz Kafka, Günther Grass, Christa Wolf, and others.

GER 360 Advanced German Grammar
A systematic study of German grammar, vocabulary, and style with attention to linguistic developments from the time of the Reformation to the present.

GER 410 The German Stage
A conversation course using informal student re-enactment of scenes from landmarks of German language drama; readings and rehearsals from plays by Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Büchner, Brecht, Borchert, Frisch, and Jelinek (works spanning the 18 th to the 20 th century. No experience in theatre or acting is required. Prerequisite: GER 210 or equivalent.

GER 420 The Theme of Love in German Culture

An investigation of the theme of love in a a variety of works of German culture, including prose fiction, poetry, plays, opera, pop music, art and film. Materials from the medieval period to the present day. Prerequisite: GER 210 or 220 or placement.

GER 500 Senior Colloquium (one credit hour)
A colloquium based on the German studies reading list, a group of 10 important works and anthologies deemed essential to the major. (Offered on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis only.)

Special Topics Offered 200

GER 430 German Literature in European Context
This course focuses the study of German literature in its European context. A comparative approach is used to guide students to a better understanding of the ways German-language literature has interacted with and reacted to broader developments in European literature, culture, philosophy, politics, and society. The course may provide a broad chronological survey, or it may focus on a specific period, such as the medieval era, the Baroque, the Enlightenment, Realism, Naturalism, fin-de-siècle, the 20th century, or the contemporary. Prerequisite: GER 210 or placement. Conducted in Strasbourg.

GER 440 Man-Machine: Androids and Automata in German Literature
The apparent ease with which we have come to speak of various “interfaces” between man and machine cannot belie the fact that even today it is difficult to answer two ostensibly simple questions: what is a machine, and what is a man? These questions—and the historically variegated ways in which they have implicated one another—form the core of a class that traces the appearance of figures like the golem, the homunculus, the marionette and the android in works stretching from the eighteenth to the late twentieth century. In the texts, films, and other media we pay particular attention to those moments in which man appears as the doppelganger of his doppelganger, the machine. How are such moments staged in literature, philosophy and film? And what are their aesthetic, epistemological and political implications? Prerequisite: GER 210 or 220 or placement

GER 454 Laughter in Literature and Philosophy
An investigation of how philosophical and literary texts deal with laughter and its strange relationship to language and conceptual thought. In the first half of the seminar, we will ask ourselves what makes philosophers laugh. (Apparently it is something that can only be described as a most serious philosophical failure: namely, a clash between concepts and objects.) In the second half, we will attune our ears to the echoes of laughter in a number of romantic, modern, and postmodern works. How does the speechlessness of laughter translate into literary language? All readings and discussions will be in English. German students read the German texts in the original and meet for additional discussions with the instructor. Prerequisite: GER 210 or equivalent.

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