German Studies

Associate Professor: Günter Klabes (Chair); Assistant Professors:Silke von der Emde, Jeffrey SchneiderbVisiting Instructor: Ute Maschke.

All courses are conducted in German except for German 101, 235, 265, and 275.

Requirements for Concentration: 12 units: 8 units of German above the introductory level including 230, 239, 260, 269, 270, 301, and 2 additional units of 300 level courses in German; 4 units approved by the German Studies Department in related fields.

Senior Year Requirement: 301 and 1 unit at the 300 level. Majors must take all 8 units in the German Studies Department in German. They must also 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 (German Studies 300).

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 105–106, or 109 and the recommendation of the instructor.

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. Students can choose from German Studies 210, 211, 230, 239, 260, 269, 270, and 375. All students must also complete either German Studies 301 or 355. Upon the approval of the department, a maximum of 2 units from the Münster or other programs abroad can be substituted for the 200–level courses. No courses in English may count towards the correlate sequence.

Advisors: The department.

1. Introductory

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

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. Mr. Schneider.

105a–106b. Elementary German (1)

A year–long 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. Mr. Klabes (a); Ms. von der Emde (b).

Four 50–minute periods and four 30–minute 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. Maschke.

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


II. Intermediate

210a–211b. Intermediate German (1)

Intermediate language study through short texts and research topics in literary and cultural studies. The course will use an online educational environment and may involve an exchange with learners at another college. Mr. Schneider (a); Ms. von der Emde (b).

Prerequisite: German 106, 109 or the equivalent.

230a. Contemporary German Culture and Media (1)

An introductory study of contemporary German culture and the role played by different media, such as newspapers, television, radio, film, and the Internet. Strong emphasis will be placed on developing vocabulary as well as oral and written expression. This course may involve an exchange with native speakers of German. Ms. von der Emde.

Prerequisite: German 211 or the equivalent.

Three 75–minute periods.

235b. Introduction to German Cultural Studies (1)

Introduction to the methodological questions and debates in the field of German Cultural Studies. Topics may include German identity, reunification, U.S.–German cultural exchanges, and the status of the German language in a global world. Strong emphasis on formal analysis and writing. Ms. Maschke.

Readings and discussions in English. Open to all classes. German majors see German 239.

239b. Introduction to German Cultural Studies for Majors (1)

Students in this course attend the same seminar meetings as in German Studies 235 but do the readings in the original, attend a separate discussion class, and take separate exaMs. Ms. Maschke.

Prerequisite: German Studies 230 or the equivalent or permission from the instructor.

260b. Developments in German Literature (1)

This course offers an overview of selected historical developments in German literature from the last three centuries. Instructor to be announced.

Topic for 2001/02: To be announced.

Prerequisite: German 230, 239 or the equivalent.

265a. German Film in English Translation (1)

This course offers an overview of selected historical and formal developments in German film from the silent period to the present.

Topic for 2001/02: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Representing Germany in US. and German Film. Films on both sides of the Atlantic consistently locate "evil" in a (shared) cultural imagery called "Germany." This seminar compares and contrasts American and German filmic representations of "Germans" or "Germany" and the ideological mechanisms that stand behind the cinematic apparatus (i.e., notions of personal, gender, and national identity; notions of the public and the private; notions of communication, etc.). Films may include Metropolis, Das Boot, Dr. Strangelove, Taxi Driver, Zentropa, American History X, Paris, Texas, In a Year of Thirteen Moon, The Tin Drum, Schtonk, and Heimat. Ms. Maschke.

Readings and discussions in English. Open to all classes. German majors see German 269.

Two 75–minute periods.

269a. German Film for Majors (1)

Students in this course attend the same seminar meetings as in German Studies 265 but do readings in German, attend a separate discussions class, and take separate exaMs. Ms. Maschke.

Prerequisite: German Studies 230, 239 or the equivalent.

270a. Aesthetic Forms, Texts, and Genres (1)

In–depth study of one or more literary and non–literary genres in their historical and cultural contexts. Examples may be drawn from drama, poetry, autobiographies, manifestos or essays.

Topic for 2001/02: Narratives of Instability. Organized around close readings of novellas by selected writers of nineteenth–century Germany (including Storm, Keller, Kürnberger, Stifter, Ebner–Eschenbach), the seminar investigates possible reasons why the novella becomes the literary genre for representing increasingly unstable bourgeois (masculine) identities emerging in the modem nation–states of Germany and the Habsburg Empire. Ms. Maschke.

Prerequisite: German Studies 230, 239 or the equivalent.

Two 75–minute periods.

275b. Advanced Topics in German Cultural Studies (1)

This course offers an extended analysis of one issue of the major issues in German Cutural Studies. Topics may include memory and the Holocaust, Nazi culture, issues of transparency in political culture, or lesbian and gay culture.

Topic for 2001/02: Modernism in Turn–of–the–Century German Culture. This course focuses on the complex facets and contradictions in German modernism at the beginning of the twentieth century. We pay particular attention to class and gender conflicts, city and mass culture, utopian visions and the aesthetics of heroism prior to the Great War. Using a variety of media, we explore different artistic expressions in works by Fontane, Thomas Mann, Kafka, Nietzsche, Wagner, Klimt and Kokoschka and study the milieu in which they worked in the great cities of Vienna, Prague and Berlin. Class instruction is complemented by field trips to New York City museums and stage performances. Mr. Klabes.

Readings and discussions in English. Open to all classes. German majors see German Studies 375.

Two 75–minute periods.


III. Advanced

For advanced work in German, students must complete the following: German 230, 239, 260, 269, and 270 or their equivalent.

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 2001/02: German Romanticism: Poetic and Pictorial Images. This course examines the strategies of writers and artists struggling to find meaning in a time of revolutionary political and cultural change. Particular attention is paid to changes in cultural aesthetics and new literary and artistic forms with a view toward their legacy in twentieth–century Germany. Course may include works by Goethe, Schiller, Novalis, Kleist, Guenderode, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Heine as well as C.D. Friedrich and Runge. Mr. Klabes.

Two 75–minute periods.

355b. Advanced 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 2001/02: The former GDR produced some of the best, most interesting, and challenging women writers to come out of Germany. Authors such as Anna Seghers, Christa Wolf, Irmtraud Morgner, Sarah Kirsch, Maxie Wander, Brigitte Reimarm, Helga Königsdorf, Monika Maron, and Elke Erb greatly influenced political and cultural developments in the East as well as in the West. In this seminar, we examine the questions and issues raised in these women's texts, such as the status of feminism, the authors' response to censorship practices in East Germany, and the impact of unification in 1990. In addition to developing close readings of texts, we study the political, economic, and social conditions that influenced women's writings as well as theoretical questions raised by feminist literary theory. Ms. von der Emde.

Two 75–minute periods.

375b Advanced Topics in German Cultural Studies for Majors (1)

Students in this course attend the same seminar meetings as in German Studies 275 but do readings in German, attend a separate discussions class, and take separate exaMs. Mr. Klabes.