German Studies

Associate Professor: Günter Klabesa (Chair); Assistant Professor:Silke von der Emde (Acting Chair).

Requirements for the German Literature Concentration: 10 units above the introductory level including 220, 221, 270, 271, 301, and 2 additional units of 300-level courses in German.

Senior-Year Requirements: 301 and 1 unit at the 300 level.

Requirements for the German Studies Concentration: 12 units: 8 units of German above the introductory level including 220, 221, 270, 271, 272, 301, and 1 unit of a 300-level literature course in German; 4 units approved by the German department in related fields.

Senior-Year Requirements: 301 and 1 unit of a 300-level course.

Majors must take courses toward their concentration for a letter grade once they have declared their major. Students who wish to be considered for departmental honors must complete a thesis (300).

Courses are conducted in German except for 101, 244, 260, and 265.

Recommendations: Vassar summer program in Germany, Junior Year Abroad, study at accredited summer schools.

Vassar Summer Program in Germany: Vassar College conducts a summer program in Münster, Germany. Students who successfully complete the program receive 2 units of Vassar credit. Minimum requirements are the completion of German 105106, or 109 and the recommendation of the instructor.

Course Offerings in English: For those without sufficient training to take intermediate and advanced level courses in German, the department offers the following courses in English: German 101, Freshman Seminar,The Writing on the Wall; German 244, German Literature in Translation; German 260, German Cultural Studies in English; German 265, German Film in English. Consult individual course listings for descriptions and prerequisites.

Correlate Sequence in German: Students majoring in other programs may complement their study by electing a correlate sequence in German. Course selection should be made in consultation with the department.

Correlate Requirements: 6 graded units, 4 of which must be taken above the 100 level. Either 220, 221, 271 or 272 and at least one unit at the 300 level must be included. A maximum of 2 units from the Münster or other program abroad can be substituted for the 200-level courses, upon approval of the department. No courses in translation may count towards the correlate sequence.

Advisers: The department.


I. Introductory

101a. The Writing on the Wall: Tracing the Cultural Meanings (1)
of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall came tumbling down more than ten years ago, signaling the end of the Cold War and initiating a period of euphoria as East and West Germany reunited. Though the Wall marked the division of Germany and even the split between Eastern and Western Europe, it also held an important place in the American imagination. In order to probe the complex, contradictory and changing meanings of the Berlin Wall within American and German cultures, we analyze political speeches, espionage thrillers, love stories, films, Wall graffiti, interviews, news reports and other kinds of documents. As part of our focus on writing and developing critical thinking skills, we may also make use of new virtual spaces (MOOs) and other educational technologies.

105a106b. Elementary German (1)

A yearlong study of German language for beginning students. In addition to introducing basic grammatical structures, the course focuses on developing the reading, listening, speaking and writing skills necessary for advanced study. Classroom activities are designed to promote practical and active oral and written communication. The department.

Four 50minute periods and four 30minute drill sessions.

109b. Intensive Elementary German (2)

A single-semester equivalent of German 105-106. Intensive training in the fundamental language skills. Designed for beginning students who wish to accelerate their learning of German. Ms. von der Emde.

Open to all classes; five 75-minute periods, four 30-minute drill sessions, and computer-assisted instruction.


II. Intermediate

210a/211b. Intermediate German (1)

Development of all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing through the use of ininovative technology. The course includes a thorough grammar review and a variety of composition exercises. Ms. von der Emde, instructor to be announced.

Prerequisite: German 105-106, or the equivalent.

Three 50-minute periods and one conversation session.

[220a. Introduction to German Literature] (1)

Introduction to the study of literary genres through the discussion from the Enlightenment to the period of realism. Representatives studied in their cultural and historical contexts. The department.

Not offered in 2000/01.

[221b. Introduction to German Literature] (1)

Introduction to the study of literary analysis through discussion of texts from the twentieth century.

Not offered in 2000/01.

[244b. German Literature in Translation] (1)

Prerequisite: Any two literature courses.

Two 75minute periods.

Not offered in 2000/01.

260b. German Cultural Studies in English (1)

Topic for 2000/01: Toward a Culture of Transparency: Germany in the New Millenium in Literature, Politics, Cinema and the Arts.

The impulse for showcasing transparency lies at the heart of German culture in the new millenium. Ten years after its unification, Germany is on a decidedly transnational course where writers, artist and politicians are engaged in a self-critical polemic about the country's new European identity. This course focuses on some of the ambivalent visions and public debates of Germany at the crossroads of European integration. We examine literary works by Grass and Wolf, Kiefer's art as well as Berlin's new architecture at Potsdamer Platz and Foster's Reichstag. Classroom instruction is complemented by trips to New York galleries, film screenings and stage performances as well as guest lectures from other disciplines. Mr. Klabes

Course taught in English.

265b. German Film in English (1)

Topic for 2000/01: Fassbinder's Own Private Germany. Fassbinder was undoubtedly the most famous and most controversial German artistic talent of the post-war era. In addition to producing approximately three films a year, he acted, wrote literature, directed in theaters, and conducted an intense public life never separated from his personal or "private" life. Almost two decades after his death, his work and his person continue to be a locus of both aesthetic and socio-political controversy. Unlike other internationally celebrated German artists, Fassbinder resolutely remained a performer of "German-ness." This course investigates Fassbinder's film productions along a variety of axes: as the most famous examples of New German Cinema and its acclaimed aesthetic project, as a direct intervention in the political and social life of the West German state, as a critique of capitalist class structures, as a meditation on the basic elements of submission and domination in gender, and as an argument that sexual or romantic love is within bourgeois society. Instructor to be announced.

Course taught in English.

Prerequisites: Although recommended, no previous experience with film is necessary.

Two 75-minute periods.

270a. Composition and Conversation (1)

Development of written and oral expression with extensive discussion and frequent essays based on topics related to contemporary Germany, such as the new Berlin and sociopolitical issues between the former East and West. Required for majors. The department.

Prerequisite: German 210 and 211, or equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods and one 50-minute conversation period.

271b. German Civilization and Culture (1)

Topic for 2000/01: Constructions of German Identity. Focusing on the turbulent last 130 years of German culture and history, this course explores the changing conceptions of what constitutes German identity. Starting with the founding of the Second Reich in 1871, we study a variety of texts and materials to examine how they reflect the cultural transformations during major historical events. In addition to examining Austrian national self-consciousness, we analyze the impact of the changes that have shaped unified Germany, including the transformations of Berlin as the German capital at the threshhold of the new millennium. Materials are drawn from diverse genres, including historical documents, public debates, letters, speeches, literary texts, art and film. Mr. Klabes.

Course taught in German.

Prerequisite: German 220, 221, 271, or equivalent.

272a. Berlin. Where the Wild Things Are (1)

Berlin has recently been declared the city of the world: Berlin is the place to be for politicians and profit-seekers, for architects and artists, for the rich and famous, but also for those seeking new thrills. Will the new Berlin pulse once again with the energy of the twenties or become overwhelmed by the baggage of history: the legacy of fascism and the divided country of the Cold War era? This course will investigate the emergence of contemporary Berlin in the context of its history as the capital of Germany. Using a variety of medialiterature, film, architecture, music, political documents and the Internetwe investigate these aspects with the help of different representations of the city. Instructor to be announced.

Course taught in German.

Prerequisite: German 220, 221, 271, or equivalent.

Summer Program in Germany

250. Intermediate German (1)

An intensive grammar review progressively accentuating reading skills. Practice in simple essay writing.

256. Conversation I (1)

Study of idiomatic phrases and synonyms to develop skill and confidence in discussions.

257. Conversation II (1)

Intensive oral training in expressing personal and critical views in idiomatic German. Readings of contemporary texts provide a background for discussions.

252. Civilization (1)

The political, social, and artistic developments in Germany from 800-1800. Excursions to cultural sites support the instruction.

253. Modern German Literature (1)

A study of selected texts by modern German writers.

297.1. The German Novel of the Nineteenth Century (1/2)

Selections made from a basic reading list in consultation with an instructor. A written examination. The department.

Prerequisite: German 220, 221 or equivalent.

297.2. The Modern German Novel (1/2)

Selections made from a basic reading list in consultation with an instructor. A written examination. The department.

Prerequisite: German 220, 221 or equivalent.

298. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Program to be worked out in consultation with an instructor. The department.

Prerequisite: German 220, 221 or by permission.


III. Advanced

Prerequisite for all advanced work in German: 220, 221, 270, 271, or equivalent.

300b. Senior Thesis (1)

The department.

301a. Senior Seminar (1)

An examination of selected topics in German literature and culture. May be taken more than once for credit when topic changes.

Topic for 2000/01: Staging Revolution/Revolutionizing the Stage. This seminar explores nineteenth and twentieth-century developments in German drama through the dual context of political and aesthetic revolutions. In our study of dramas about political revolutions, we focus on theoretical conceptions of German theater as an institution for motivating political change. Readings are drawn from Schiller, Büchner, Hauptmann, Brecht, Handke, Müller, Bernhard and Jelinek, among others. Instructor to be announced.

Two 75-minute periods.

355b. Turn of the Century German Literature (1)

A study of a cross-section of works from the turn of the century in relation to the effects of dominant cultural values on modes of identity and sexuality. Such writers as Theodor Fontane, Thomas Mann, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Kafka are studied, as are the milieus in which they worked, such as the cities of Berlin, Vienna, and Prague. Mr. Klabes.

Topic for 2000/01 The Weimar Years: Poetic and Pictorial Images.This course examines movements and issues central to this turbulent, yet culturally rich and experimental inter war period. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we study works by writers, artists, and filmmakers, such as Kafka, Brecht, Doblin, Grosz, Heartfield, and Riefenstahl. Topics include: Expressionism and dada, literary and photomontage, epic theatre and agitprop, aesthetics. Course taught in German.

One 2-hour period.

399. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Program to be worked out in consultation with an instructor.