German Studies Department

Associate Professors: Günter Klabesa, Jeffrey Schneider (Chair), Silke von der Emde;Assistant Professor: Elliott Schreiber; Visiting Instructor: Peggy Piesche.

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 German 210, 211, 230, 239, 260, 269, 270, 301, and 355. Majors must take all 8 units in German. After declaring a concentration in German Studies, no courses taken under the Non-Recorded Option serve to fulfill the requirements. 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: German 301 and 355. Students who wish to be considered for departmental honors must complete a thesis (German 300).

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

Advisers: The department.

I. Introductory

101a. Vampires, Lunatics, and Cyborgs: Exploring the Uncanny Recesses of the Romantic Consciousness(1)

From the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm to E.T.A. Hoffmann's "Nutcracker and the King of Mice," German Romanticism has populated the modern imagination with a multitude of uncanny creations. This course examines the evolution of figures such as vampires, witches, golems, mad scientists, and cyborgs through German culture from their origins in the nineteenth century to their afterlife in the present, including film. In addition, we pursue their reception and development outside of Germany, for instance in Disney's versions of Grimms' tales and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. Mr. Schreiber.

Readings and discussions in English.

Satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

105a-106b. Beginning German: The Stories of Childhood(1)

This course offers a yearlong introduction to the study of German language and culture through literature, fairy tales, and films for and about children. Since these materials tend to be linguistically easier, they are ideal for beginning language learning. Moreover, their role in socializing a new generation makes them important sources for understanding a culture's fundamental values and way of looking at the world. Materials range from classic texts, such as fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, to contemporary stories, films, and television shows. In addition to offering a systematic introduction to German grammar and vocabulary, classroom activities promote practical and active oral and written communication. No prior experience with German required. Ms. von der Emde and Mr. Schreiber.

Four 50-minute periods and four 30-minute drill sessions.

109b. Intensive Beginning German(2)

A single-semester study of the German language, equivalent to German 105-106. Intensive training in the fundamental language skills. Designed for beginning students who wish to accelerate their learning of German. Mr. Klabes.

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

II. Intermediate

210a. Intermediate German I: Identity in Contemporary Germany(1)

Low-intermediate language study through short texts and research topics on questions of national identity in contemporary Germany. Strong emphasis is placed on developing vocabulary and reviewing grammar as well as developing oral and written expression. The course uses an online educational environment and may involve an exchange with learners at another college. Ms. Piesche.

Prerequisite: German 106, 109 or the equivalent.

211b. Intermediate German II: Space in Weimar Germany(1)

Intermediate language study through texts and research topics on questions of space in Weimar Germany at the time of the "Roaring Twenties." Strong emphasis is placed on developing vocabulary and reviewing grammar as well as developing oral and written expression. The course uses an online educational environment and may involve an exchange with learners at another college. Ms. von der Emde.

Prerequisite: German 210 or the equivalent.

230a. Intermediate German III: Contemporary German Culture and Media(1)

Advanced-intermediate language study through an examination of debates about media (film, radio, journalism and rock music) in twentieth-century German culture. Strong emphasis is placed on developing vocabulary and reviewing grammar as well as developing oral and written expression. The course may involve an exchange with native speakers of German. Ms. Piesche.

Prerequisite: German 211 or the equivalent.

235a. Introduction to German Cultural Studies.(1)

Introduction to the methodological questions and debates in the field of German Cultural Studies. Strong emphasis on formal analysis and writing.

Topic for 2009/10: Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. Marx, Nietzsche and Freud are three of the most influential German thinkers of the modern era. We associate their names with different, even antagonistic agendas ranging from political systems (socialism and communism), entire disciplines (psychoanalysis), and even the death of God. Yet all three were pivotal in developing a "hermeneutics of suspicion," in which "reality" turned out to be hiding darker and more powerful forces: economic motives, unconscious desires, or the will to power. This course examines their writings in the context of nineteenth-century Germany and Austria and assesses their contributions to our postmodern understanding of language, truth and modern subjectivity. In addition to reading works by these three thinkers, the course explores their connections to a range of German writers and artists, such as Lou Andreas-Salomé, Brecht, Heine, Kafka, Th. Mann, Schnitzler, Wagner, as well as various filmmakers. Special attention is also paid to the efforts of subsequent theorists, such as Adorno, Arendt, Butler, Derrida, Foucault, Elizabeth Grosz, Heidegger, Sarah Kofman, Lacan, Luhmann, and Žižek, to criticize, refine, or synthesize their ideas. Mr. Schreiber.

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

Two 75-minute periods.

239a. 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. Mr. Schreiber.

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 2009/10: What's So New about the New Generation? German Culture after 1989. The generation growing up in Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 faces an entirely different world than their parents' generation. While conflicts between East and West Germany still linger, this cohort has also come of age in a time of globalization, multiculturalism, and an expanded European Union. This course examines the efforts of this latest generation to negotiate a new "German" identity out of a complicated past and within an ever more complex present. Drawing on works of literature, film, music, and material culture produced since 1989, we study their attempts to come to terms with a variety of challenges and opportunities, including an abundance of consumer goods, nostalgia for the East ("Ostalgie"), and the existence of robust minority cultures (Turkish-German, queer, etc.). Readings include Jana Hensel'sZonenkinder, Jakob Hein's Mein erstes T-Shirt, and examples of "pop" literature and contemporary music. Ms. Piesche.

Prerequisite: German Studies 230, 239 or the equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods.

265b. German Film in English Translation(1)

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

Topic for 2009/10: From Caligari to Fatih Akin: Transnational Approaches to German Cinema. Siegfried Kracauer's famous book, From Caligari to Hitler, serves as one of the most famous attempts to interpret German film history as a specifically German phenomenon. Indeed, the rubric of a national cinema has continued to shape our understanding of such diverse traditions as New German Cinema in West Germany, DEFA films in East Germany, and the contemporary films coming out of post-unification Germany. This course seeks to question such a narrative by placing German film in its multiple and contradictory relationships to other cinemas and cultural practices. We study early German films and Nazi cinema in their competition with Hollywood, the influence of German emigrants on Hollywood film, the development of East German and West German film in response to the political and aesthetic dictates of "their" respective superpowers during the cold war period, the prominence of recent immigrant filmmakers working in Germany, and the internationalization of film production today. In examining the works of directors such as Fritz Lang, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Fatih Akin and stars like Marlene Dietrich and Franka Potente, we interrogate the benefits and problems of using national, international, and global perspectives. Ms. von der Emde.

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

Two 75-minute periods.

269b. 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)

Topic for 2009/10: Blues in Black and White: The Politics and Poetics of Afro-German Culture. This course explores the cultural production and politics of Germans of African descent. In addition to offering an introduction into the history of Afro-Germans, the course examines the efforts to articulate and celebrate a black subjectivity. Special attention is paid to the specific genre conventions of autobiography, poetry, public history, narrative fiction as well as documentary and feature films. Readings are drawn from such authors as May Ayim, Raja Lubinetzki, Ika Hügel-Marshal, Aisha Blackshire-Belay, Maisha Eggers, and Fatima El-Tayeb. Ms. Piesche

[ 275a. Advanced Topics in German Cultural Studies ](1)

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

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 286b. At Home on the Road: Tracing the African Diaspora in Germany ](1)

Though people of African descent have lived in Germany for more than a century, their existence has largely been overlooked by scholars and the German public alike. Yet their history has much to tell us about the construction of race and racial politics in German identity as well as the vagaries of the African Diaspora in Europe. From Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi's time in the Hitler Youth to black feminist and lesbian organizing in contemporary Berlin, this course examines the efforts by Germans of African descent to document their experiences and articulate a black subjectivity. Special attention will also be paid to the representations of blackness and the Black Diaspora that have circulated in German films, comics, music videos and photography over the past two centuries. Readings are drawn from such authors as May Ayim, Raja Lubinetzki, Ika Hügel-Marshal, Aisha Blackshire-Belay, Maisha Eggers, Fatima El-Tayeb, Tina Campt, Leroy T. Hopkins, Etienne Balibar and Paul Gilroy.

Readings and discussions are in English.

Not offered in 2009/10.

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 2009/10: From Weltschmerz to Hip-Hop: German Poetry of the Twentieth Century. With poets such as Rilke, Benn, Trakl, Brecht, Celan, Bachmann, Grass and Enzensberger, Germany boasts one of the world's greatest poetic traditions in the twentieth century. This course seeks to develop students' skills in interpreting individual texts and to reflect on poetry's status within the discourses of history, philosophy, and politics. We read poetry as a living counter-force to socio-political reality, including poetry of dissent and fear, and poetry of private grief and political protest: from the elegance of Brecht or the gloomy denseness of Gottfried Benn to the oblique and straightforward responses to the country's villainous history and the bitter and haunted poetry of the postwar years. The course closes by exploring contemporary forms of expression in a reunified country looking at itself and its neighbors in new ways. We interpret poems by visualizing, performing, and setting texts to music as well as other creative experiments for experiencing poetry. Ms. von der Emde.

302a-303b. Senior Thesis(1/2)

Open only to majors. The department.

Permission required.

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 2009/10: German Classicism: Faustian Dreams ands Aesthetic Campaigns. This course studies writers and thinkers representing the culmination of Weimar Classicism and the voices that defended or defined themselves against it. Particular attention is paid to the vigorous discourse on the aesthetic education of man in the context of the era's sociopolitical agenda. Readings include works by Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, along with responses by Büchner, Heine and other nineteenth-century writers. Influential essays by German philosophers and art historian's complement our readings. Mr. Klabes.