German (For 2014–2015 academic year) Associate Professors
), Swensen Assistant Professor
Miller Visiting Assistant Professor
Briley Max Kade Fellow
The study of a foreign language not only provides students with the necessary basis for any rigorous or sophisticated understanding of a foreign culture, but also develops in them a more profound understanding of their native language and of the relationship between language and knowledge — “Wer fremde Sprachen nicht kennt, weiß nichts von seiner eignen”; “those who don’t know foreign languages know nothing of their own” (Goethe). The beginning and intermediate language courses emphasize cultural knowledge about contemporary German-speaking societies and provide a strong foundation in the skills of speaking, comprehending, reading, and writing German. This sequence prepares students well to engage in more advanced study of German language, literature, and cultural history, as well as interdisciplinary study and work in complementary academic fields. The German department encourages students to enroll in related courses in other disciplines such as philosophy, history, music, international relations, linguistics, and art history. A major in German is an excellent preparation for graduate studies in these fields as well as in literature and German studies, and can also give students a competitive edge in such fields as economics, politics, law, business, journalism, consulting, and publishing.
A major in German literature and culture consists of a minimum of eight courses. Normally these eight courses include five 400-level courses (including a senior seminar) and three 300-level courses. Exceptions require the permission of the department chair. University regulations require that a student maintain a minimum GPA of 2.00 in the courses comprising the major or minor program.
The German minor consists of five courses at the 300 and 400 levels, with a minimum GPA of 2.00. At least one of the five courses must be a seminar.
Honors and High Honors
An honors project allows students to build on their knowledge to pursue independent research on a topic of their interest in close consultation with one or several faculty members. Students with a GPA of 3.30 in courses included in the major and with a cumulative GPA of 3.00 are eligible for honors in German. Students who have attained that average may apply to pursue honors by the early fall of the senior year. Each candidate must complete a thesis or its equivalent under the guidance of a faculty adviser and must discuss the thesis at an oral presentation normally scheduled in April. Research on this project begins in the fall semester of the senior year. In the spring semester candidates register for GERM 490
. This course must be taken in addition
to the minimum of eight courses required for the major. The quality of the project resulting from this course, as judged by the adviser and one other faculty member, determines whether the student receives honors or a grade in GERM 491
, independent study.
Successful honors students whose departmental average is 3.50 or higher are eligible for high honors. For this distinction the student must fulfill all regular honors requirements and must also pass an additional oral examination based on his or her cumulative work in German courses.
Acceptance in Delta Phi Alpha (national German honor society) is possible for all students who have at least two years of college German, a minimum GPA of 3.30 in all German courses, and an overall GPA of 3.00, and who show a continued interest in the study of German language and literature.
See Honors and Awards: German; in "Chapter VI."
Advanced Placement and Transfer Credit
Both university and major credits are normally granted to students who achieve a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement examinations in German language and literature or a score of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate German exam. Transfer credit for courses taken at other institutions may be granted with the approval of the department chair.
Every spring the department conducts a study group at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg, Germany. Majors in German are normally expected to avail themselves of this opportunity. The study group is also open to non-majors who have sufficient German language skills. For more information, see "Off-Campus Study;"
in Chapter VI, and Study Group Courses; below.
The Max Kade German Center in Lawrence Hall serves the department both as a seminar room and as a common room. It offers audiovisual facilities, German television broadcasts, Internet connections, a German reference library, and current German periodicals. The center is also the site of lectures, film screenings, and a weekly coffee hour.
Each year there are native speakers from the University of Freiburg in residence to assist students.
The German department shares the W.M. Keck Center for Language Study with other humanities departments. Here German audio, video, and computer resources are available for laboratory work in connection with language classes as well as for independent studies.
GERM courses count toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement, unless otherwise noted.
121, 122 Beginning German
sequence is designed to introduce students to the basic structures of German and to teach the basic skills of understanding, speaking, reading, and writing German. The course simultaneously introduces students to the cultures in which German is used.
201, 202 Intermediate German
courses complete the presentation of the basic structures of German and help students develop greater facility and sophistication in using these structures — in speaking, reading, and writing. These courses also continue the exploration of German cultures begun on the 100 level. Prerequisite: GERM 122
or equivalent. GERM 201
is not open to students who score 3 or higher on a German AP exam.
322 German Expressionist Cinema
Students screen a selection of representative German films and analyze them with an eye to the social and historical context in which they were made and to their innovation and influence in the development of cinema art and film language. The films are also discussed in terms of larger theoretical and methodological issues (film and literature, realism, representations of class or gender stereotypes, film and political propaganda, etc.). Taught in English. German major credit is given for participation in the FLAC component (see “Foreign Languages Across the Curriculum” in Chapter VI).
325 Imag(in)ing the Transnational in Contemporary German Culture
In a globalizing world, the discourse of transnationalism has emerged to address contemporary political and cultural phenomena that are no longer confined to the stages of nation-states. This course examines the “transnational” imagination at work in recent German cultural production, with an emphasis on cinematic negotiations of German (and European) identity. Factors contributing to these negotiations include the tenuous legacy of German unification, the consolidation of the European Union, and the migration of people to Germany, especially those with a non-European background. To grasp the status of the transnational in this context, the course’s method of inquiry is interdisciplinary: the focus on contemporary films is supplemented with historical background, contemporary political philosophy, and political essays. The films are selected for the aesthetic qualities through which they must be interpreted. To develop an understanding of the transnational aesthetic as a medium-specific feature of film production, students familiarize themselves with the terminology and methodologies of film studies, and perform critical visual analyses of the cinematic material in a number of writing assignments and in-class activities. Attendance at weekly film screenings is mandatory. Participation in the accompanying FLAC section is mandatory for students wishing to earn German major/minor credit for this course. FMST 200
is desirable but not required.
Kafka may be the most dizzyingly overdetermined proper name in world literature. Not only does it stand for the author, it has come to signify a host of political, institutional, existential, and aesthetic conditions. One refers to “Kafkaesque” experiences, sensibilities, or bureaucracies; situations, movies, the 20th century, and modern life are all regularly dubbed “Kafkan” or “Kafkaish.” The name seems to have a life of its own; but to understand what it means, students must animate Kafka by reading him. In this course, students read, discuss, and think about a range of Kafka’s writing, from novels and short stories to diary entries and legal briefs, paying close attention not only to the texts and their various obsessions, but to their emergence in his creative process and their afterlives in translation and the works of other artists. Students explore the multicultural Central European milieu that Kafka inhabited and examine the global transmission and remediation of his work in its critical reception, multiple translations, and adaptations; its transmutation into a style; and its metastasis in popular culture. This course is conducted in English. Participation in the accompanying FLAC section is mandatory for students wishing to earn German major/minor credit for this course.
351, 352 Introduction to German Literature
This course develops critical and analytical skills through a program of selected readings in German literature of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries in their cultural and historical contexts. Prerequisite: GERM 202
This seminar introduces Goethe’s writing and thought through selected plays, narrative fiction, critical writings, and poems. Topics include Goethe’s interest and influence in various cultural spheres, such as the visual arts, the scientific fields of his time, and politics in the age of revolutions. Students explore his comparative approach to world languages and literatures, his changing aesthetic positions during his lifetime, and his literary explorations of gender and love. The seminar interprets Goethe in the context of his time and also examines his dominant and debated position in the German cultural tradition. Prerequisite: two GERM 300-level courses or permission of instructor.
463 Contemporary Jewish German Literature
This course focuses on writing by contemporary Jewish German authors, and in particular on literary representations and engagement with Jewish cultures in Germany and Austria. This literature takes on the complex issues of national and Jewish identities after the Shoah in the German and Austrian contexts, for example through explorations of the interfaces of personal memory, historical knowledge, and contemporary politics; the relationship of generational position and literary voice; and the reflection on language and topographies of identity. Further questions include, what does it mean to write in German as Jews after the Shoah? What views are offered of contemporary Germany and Austria and their Jewish communities, relationship to Israel, and the related phenomena of anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism? How does gender inform the ways that cultural traditions and personal memories are addressed? Readings include fiction, essays, interviews, songs, and articles by Wolf Beirmann, Ruth Beckermann, Maxim Biller, Irene Dische, Barbara Honigmann, Doron Rabinovici, Robert Schindel, and others. Primary readings are supplemented by theoretical readings and other secondary material. The course is taught in English and readings are in English translation. Students enrolled in this course for German credit must also enroll in the additional FLAC section (GERM 463X
) and do readings and written work in German; students enrolled for Jewish Studies may also join the FLAC section, with instructor permission. This course is crosslisted as JWST 463
473 The Enlightenment and “Storm and Stress”
Theater was the object and source of conflicting passions in the 18th century. This course examines German drama and its innovations during this time. Topics include the efforts to establish a new national literary theater in Germany against popular improvisational traditions, the development of the bourgeois drama as an expression of Enlightenment political and social critiques, the German “discovery” of Shakespeare, and the emotional theater of the storm and stress and its revolutionary sentiment. Within these political and cultural contexts, students study central dramatic works and other materials such as theater reviews, portraits of actors, manifestos, letters, and visual representations of theater. Issues explored include the debates on the allures and supposed moral dangers of the theater and its potential positive or negative social effects, the body as expressive medium, theories on the tasks and talents of actors, the gender politics of theater, and the reception and production of 18th-century drama on the contemporary German stage. Prerequisite: two GERM 300–level courses or permission of instructor.
475 Romanticism/Junges Deutschland
Studies of the German romantic movement and Junges Deutschland include readings from Tieck, Schlegel, Novalis, Brentano, Eichendorff, Heine, Börne, and Büchner. Prerequisite: two GERM 300-level courses or permission of instructor.
477 Literature at the Turn of the Century
The turn of the century was a time of turmoil. Opposing views clashed and created “modernity.” Taboos were shattered; psychology had its heyday; political art stood in contrast to l’art pour l’art; utopias flourished. This course aims to give an idea of the richness and diversity of this era. Readings include works by such well-known authors as Heinrich and Thomas Mann, Hauptmann, Schnitzler, George, Hofmannsthal, Rilke, Hesse, and Wedekind. Because literature cannot be separated from its historical context, the political background as well as the music and art of the time are also part of the course. Prerequisite: two GERM 300-level courses or permission of instructor.
479 20th-Century Literature
C. Baldwin, M. Miller
This course examines the literature of German-speaking Europe in the 20th century. Because of the wealth of the material, selections vary from semester to semester. Areas of focus may include: the literature of the Weimar Republic, exilic literature by émigrés of National Socialism, comparative approaches to West and East German literature, Austrian and Swiss writers, and the literature of German unification. Prerequisite: two GERM 300-level courses or permission of instructor.
481 Lyric Poetry
This course is a survey of selected examples of German poetry from the period of the baroque to the present. Prerequisite: two GERM 300-level courses or permission of instructor.
482 The Novelle
This examination of this unique German form from Goethe to the present emphasizes its 19th-century expression. Prerequisite: two GERM 300-level courses or permission of instructor.
This course introduces the history, theory, and practice of German drama with a focus on a selection of major dramatic works from the 18th century to the present. As theater continues to thrive as a unique aesthetic and social institution of German-speaking Europe, the course conducts a performance oriented study of theater as a medium of cultural and cross-cultural communication. Canonical playwrights to be studied may include: Lessing, Schiller, Goethe, Kleist, Büchner, Ibsen, Brecht, Peter Weiss, and Heiner Müller. Contemporary playwrights may include Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek, and Falk Richter. Topics to be addressed include the genre of the bürgerliches Trauerspiel, dramatic approaches to the political history of modernity in Europe, and postdramatic theater. The course also undertakes experiments in drama pedagogy. The study of theatrical performances is facilitated by required biweekly screenings of filmed contemporary productions from leading European theaters in Berlin and elsewhere. Prerequisite: two GERM 300-level courses or permission of instructor.
486 What is German World Literature?
What is German world literature? This question highlights the relationship between the idea of a national literary tradition and a broader concept of literature that crosses linguistic, cultural, or national boundaries. This seminar focuses on theories of “world literature(s)” and on primary literary texts written in German as examples of works that circulate through and reflect multiple cultural and linguistic contexts. How are the Grimm fairy tales mediated by Disney? What do we understand by the term “Kafkaesque”? Why did Goethe emulate the Persian poet Hafis? Do Senocak’s readers in America contribute to a new idea of German or German-Turkish literature? Some of the topics students engage include the roles of translation, migration, economic and media globalization, nationalisms, and contemporary and historical transnational identities in shaping world literature written originally in German. This course is conducted in German, and all written work is completed in German. Prerequisite: two 300-level German courses or permission of instructor.
490 Honors or High Honors
Devoted to the honors project, this course must be taken in addition to the eight courses required for the major. Although it is a year-long course, students register for it once, in the spring semester of the senior year. See “Honors and High Honors,” above.
291, 391, 491 Independent Study
Independent studies courses are designed to fulfill individual needs in language and literature not otherwise provided in this department. They are offered upon demand and require approval of the department.
Study Group Courses
341 Advanced Conversation and Composition
This course is especially geared to the needs of American students studying and living in a German environment. It addresses methods for coping in everyday situations as well as in the special setting of a German university. The first part is taught by the director while traveling; the second part is taught by the director or tutors in accordance with the very specific needs of each individual student.
400, 403 German Electives Abroad
Courses of the study group participant’s choice. They may be in any field. Restrictions depend only on the prerequisites of the specific courses.
457 German Literature and Culture
This course is designed to create a frame of reference for students by presenting them with a survey of German history and culture and connecting it to the present experience abroad. In addition to study trips in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, the course incorporates current theater performances, concerts, and visits to museums and art galleries. As with GERM 341, the course has two components: the pre-term weeks (February and March) devoted to travel, and the term at Freiburg during which regular class sessions are scheduled.