German Studies Department

Associate Professors: Günter Klabes, Silke von der Emde (Chair); Assistant Professor: Jeffrey Schneider; Visiting Instructor: Ellen Anderson.

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. Students can choose from 210, 211, 230, 239, 260, 269, 270, 301, and 355. Students can take a maximum of 4 units approved by the German department in related fields. Upon the approval of the department, a maximum of 2 units from the Münster and 4 additional units from other programs abroad can be substituted for the 200-level courses.

Senior Year Requirement: 301 and 355. 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 (300).

Recommendations: Vassar summer program in German, 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, 109 (or the equivalent), 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 210, 211, 230, 239, 260, 269, 270, 301, and 355. All students must also complete either 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.

Advisers: The department.


I. Introductory

 
101a. Writing Home: Displaced Identities Inside and Outside Germany
(1)
Modernity has been prominently defined as an age of "homelessness." In this course we will explore the literature and film of modern displacement in a range of identities on the move, including wanderers, ethnographers, exiles; dislocated populations during and after World War II; contemporary tourists, immigrants and refugees to Germany; and the homeless. Because this is a writing-intensive course, students will complete a variety of analytic and creative writing assignments as well as keep a "travel journal" of their reactions and thoughts throughout the semester. Mr. Schreiber.
       Readings and discussions in English.
       Satisfies College requirement for a Freshman course.
       Three 50-minute periods.
 
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. Schneider (a); Mr. Klabes (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. Anderson.
       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.
       Topic for 2003/04: Aesthetics in an Authoritarian Age: Totalitarianism and Culture. This course explores twentieth-century totalitarian culture in its two German extremes: fascist Nazi Germany and communist East Germany. What does it mean for a government to so completely mediate artistic production, and how does one identify aesthetic dissent? By looking at examples from literature as well as science fiction, film, painting, and architecture, we seek a more theoretical and detailed understanding of the conflicted position of the individual artist (and citizen) within a totally socialized world. Readings include texts by Hannah Arendt, Theodor Adorno, Christa Wolf, Joseph Goebbels, Albert Speer, Susan Sontag, and others. Ms. Anderson.
       Readings and discussions in English. Open to all classes. German majors see German 239.
       Two 75-minute periods.
 
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. Anderson.
       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.
       Topic for 2003/04b: From Dandy to Starving Artist: Portraits of the Artist in German Literature and Culture. From the eighteenth century onward, German-speaking writers have struggled to define the relation of the artist to society. This course will examine foundational and contested texts and figures in this process of self-definition, including the artistic "genius," the radical-subversive artist, the insane artist, the dandy, and the starving and unrecognized artist. We will consider a number of different genres (including fiction, poetry, drama, autobiography), media (literature, visual art, film), and authors (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Georg Büchner, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Marieluise Fleißer, Christa Wolf, etc.).
       Two 75-minute periods.
       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 2003/04: Divided Heaven: Berlin in German Film. The city of Berlin has had a history unlike any other. Early in the century it was a world center of modernism, later the capital of Hitler’s Third Reich. Then, after the city was virtually destroyed by war, the iron curtain was drawn through it. Berlin became a microcosm of the Cold War, as the capital of the communist German Democratic Republic in the East, and an island city of West Germany, cut off from the Federal Republic. The fall of the Wall in 1989 and subsequent unification of Germany the following year began a new and challenging age for Berlin, now the capital of a “new Germany,” which is not only marked by the architectural effects of unification turmoil but also by different attempts to reach some kind of urban and national identity. Films include Walter Ruttmann’s 1927 Berlin, Symphony of a Big City, West German films, such as Helke Sander’s Redupers, Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire, and Tom Tykwer’s Run Lola, Run, as well as East German films, such as Gerhard Klein’s Berlin, Corner Schönhauser Street, Konrad Wolf’s Divided Heaven, and Jürgen Böttcher’s The Wall. Ms. von der Emde.
       Readings and discussions in English. Open to all classes. German majors see German 269.
       Two 75-minute periods plus one film screening.
 
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. von der Emde.
       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 2003/04: Constructions of German Identity: German Literature and Culture from 1871 to present. Focusing on the turbulent last 130 years of German history, the course explores the changing conceptions of what constitutes German identity. Starting with Germany’s emerging modem nation state of 1871, we study a variety of materials to examine how they reflect the cultural transformations from the turn of the last century to the turn of the new millennium. Materials are drawn from diverse genres, including literary texts, public debates, letters, art and film with special emphasis on the impact of recent socio-political changes that are shaping unified Germany in the new Europe. Mr. Klabes.
       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 2002/03: The Weimar Years: Poetic and Pictorial Images. The course examines movements and issues central to this turbulent, yet culturally most challenging and experimental period. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we study works by writers, artists and filmmakers, such as Kafka, Brecht, Doeblin, Grosz, Heartfield, and Riefenstahl. Topics include Expressionism and dada, literary and photomontage, epic theater and agitprop, aesthetics of heroism, and the rise of fascism. Mr. Klabes.
       Readings and discussions in English. Open to all classes.
       Two 75-minute periods.
 
298a or b. Independent Work
(1/2 or 1)
Permission required.
 

III. Advanced

For advanced work in German, students must complete the following: German 230, 239, 260, 269, and 270 or their equivalent.
 
300a or b. Senior Thesis
(1)
Open only to majors. The department. Permission required.
 
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 2002/04: German Romanticism in Literature, Art and Music. This course examines the strategies of writers and artists struggling to find meaning in a time of revolutionary political change. Particular attention is paid to transformations in cultural aethetics and new modes of artistic expressions with a view toward their legacy in twentieth-century Germany. Course may include readings by Goethe, Novalis, Kleist, E.T.A. Hoffmann as well as works by such artists and composers as C.D. Friedrich, Schubert and Wagner. 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 2003/04: Mastering the Unmasterable German Past (1945-2003). Almost six decades after the Holocaust and the end of the Second World War, German politics and culture remain profoundly influenced by the recent past. In this course we examine various German responses to the experiences of the Third Reich using texts from different media and genres, including literature, film, psychoanalysis, and historiography. Of particular importance is the question of representation and the Holocaust; or to paraphrase Adorno—can there be art after Auschwitz? Readings include works by Theodor Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Jurek Becker, Christa Wolf, and Günther Grass and films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Hans Jürgen Syberberg, and Wim Wenders. Ms. von der Emde.
       Two 75-minute periods.