German Studies Department

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

Programs

Major

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.

Courses

German: I. Introductory

101a. Sex Before, During, and After the Nazis (1)

This course offers an introduction to Germany's unique position in the history of sexuality. As early as the late nineteenth century, Germany and Austria were a hotbed for new thinking sexuality and sexual freedom, including the founding of psychoanalysis and the world's first homosexual emancipation movement. National Socialism, however, forever changed the way that Germans and non-Germans viewed every aspect of Germany's history and culture, including its sexual politics. This course examines some of Germany's most salient debates about sex from the late nineteenth century to the Nazi era and beyond, including the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Materials include autobiographies, fictional works, plays, films, political tracts, and sexual case studies, as well as secondary texts representing a variety of disciplinary approaches. Mr. Schneider.

Satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar. Readings and discussions in English.

Two 75-minute periods.

105a. 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 Ms. Maxey.

Yearlong course 105-GERM 106.

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

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. Maxey and Mr. Schneider.

Yearlong course GERM 105-106.

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

109b. Intensive Beginning German (2)

A single-semester study of the German language, equivalent to GERM 105-GERM 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.

German: 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. Mr. Schreiber.

Prerequisite: GERM 106, GERM 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. Mr. Trump.

Prerequisite: GERM 210 or the equivalent.

220b. Turning a Phrase: Writing with Style in German (0.5)

Achieving eloquent style in German requires more than knowledge of vocabulary and grammatical correctness. In this course students learn how to take their written German to the next level by focusing on stylistic conventions at the level of the sentence, paragraph and essay while developing their own voice in the language.  In addition to studying examples of published writing on a range of contemporary issues, the course combines an individualized review of German grammar with short writing assignments.  The course offers strong preparation for writing assignments at German universities or upper-level German classes at Vassar. Ms. Ungurianu.

One 2-hour period.

221b. Compelling Speech: German Conversational Skills (0.5)

In this course, students deepen their oral proficiency in the language by studying various forms of spoken German on t.v. series, talk shows and other media and then honing their speaking skills in a variety of different contexts, such as classroom oral reports (Referate), debates, and interviews.  In addition to improving pronunciation, instruction emphasizes conversational conventions for expressing opinions, persuading, and leading discussions. The course offers strong preparation for studying abroad or upper-level courses at Vassar.  Ms. Ungurianu.

One 2-hour period.

230a. Contemporary German Culture and Media (1)

Advanced intermediate language study through an examination of contemporary German culture and the role played by different media such as newspapers, television, radio, film, and the Internet. Strong emphasis is placed on developing vocabulary, reviewing grammar, as well as oral and written expression. The course may involve an exchange with native speakers of German. Ms. Ungurianu.

Prerequisite: GERM 211 or the equivalent.

235a. Introduction to German Cultural Studies (1)

Topic for 2015/16a: 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 19th-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, Bertolt Brecht, Th. Mann, Arthur Schnitzler, Richard Wagner, as well as various filmmakers.  Special attention will also be paid to the efforts of subsequent theorists, such Foucault, Luce Irigaray, or Slavoj Žižek, to criticize, refine, or synthesize their ideas.  Mr. Schneider.

All readings and discussions are in English.

Open to all classes. German majors see GERM 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 GERM 235 but do the readings in the original, attend a separate discussion class, and take separate exams. 

Prerequisite: GERM 230 or the equivalent or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

240a. A Culture of Play: An Introduction to German Theater (1)

Since the eighteenth century, drama and theater have held a vaunted place within Germany's language literary and cultural production. This course offers an introduction to that tradition through the study of specific authors, texts, and theories. Students have the opportunity to hone their speaking skills through performance activities, such as mounting scenes or an entire production. Strong emphasis is placed on developing vocabulary and reviewing grammar as well as developing written expression. Authors may include Brecht, Büchner, Dürrenmatt, Handke, Jelinek, Lessing, Schiller, Schnitzler, and Wedekind. Ms. Ungurianu.

Prerequisite: GERM 211 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

260b. Developments in German Literature (1)

Topic for 2015/16b: The World According to Kafka. Franz Kafka is one of the most popular German-language writers, yet his work is also among the most enigmatic in modern literature. Influenced by the multiple layers of different nationalities, cultures, and traditions in early twentieth-century Prague and troubled by the anxieties of modernity, he created a unique world fluctuating between the real and the fantastic. Through close readings, students will examine literary tropes and constructions of identity in Kafka's texts and practice skills for writing analytical essays on literature and its cultural context. We will also discuss issues of translation and the influence of interpretation. Ms. Ungurianu.

Prerequisite: GERM 230, GERM 239, GERM 240, 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 2015/16b: The "Other" German Cinema: Films from East Germany.  25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, films from the former GDR still offer a broad understanding of life during the Cold War in East Germany and the enduring legacy of this period in world history. The films from the East German state-owned DEFA studios are rich in theme, structure and style, and beautifully crafted by inventive filmmakers who tested the limits of censorship and whose films reflect on the political complexities of artistic production in the East Germany. Students will explore a diversity of film genres and styles, including Westerns, musicals, and science fiction movies. We will consider issues, such as continuities and breaks with Weimar cinema and the Nazi past; Communist Party politics and the successes and failures of socialist realist aesthetics; gender and sexuality; consumer culture in a socialist context; the enduring cult power and nostalgia of DEFA films in Germany today; and questions of German "national" cinema after unification. Ms. von der Emde.

Readings and discussions are in English, and all films have English subtitles. Open to all classes. German majors see GERM 269.

Two 75-minute periods and two film screenings.

269b. German Film for Majors (1)

Students in this course attend the same seminar meetings as in GERM 265 but do readings in German, attend a separate discussions class, and take separate exams.

Prerequisite: GERM 230, GERM 239 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

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

Topic for 2015/16a: Sick Stories: Illness in German Literature. In her essay "On Being Ill," Virginia Woolf wonders why "illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature." This course will examine literary and philosophical representations of illness, both of the body and of the mind. Drawing on works by such authors as Ingeborg Bachmann, Georg Büchner, Anne Duden, Sigmund Freud, Emmy Hennings, ETA Hoffmann, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Elfriede Jelinek, Arthur Schnitzler, Thomas Mann, and Friedrich Nietzsche, we trace how language and narrative combine to define or subvert the categories of truth and lies, the normal and the pathological, the self and the other. Mr. Schreiber.

Two 75-minute periods.

280a. Foreign Language Learning and Teaching: Theory and Practice (1)

(Same as EDUC 280) This course is designed for students who intend to teach language in the United States or abroad, and for those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of how second languages are learned and taught. In the course, we explore major topics in foreign language teaching and learning, including writing, speaking, listening, reading, culture, and grammar, addressing questions such as: Does explicit grammar instruction actually help students learn grammar? Can you really learn a second language the same way you learn your first one(s), as some language learning software ads claim? What does culture have to do with language, and why should (or shouldn't) we teach it? As we attend to these and other issues, students reflect on their own language learning experiences and become familiar with the history, scholarship, and practices within the fields of second language acquisition and foreign language pedagogy. Ms. Maxey.

Two 75-minute periods.

290a. Field Work (0.5to1)

297a. Readings In German (0.5)

298a or b. Independent Work (0.5to1)

Permission required.

German: III. Advanced

300a or b. Senior Thesis (1to2)

The department.

Open only to majors. Permission required.

301a. Senior Seminar (1)

Topic for 2015/16a: Christa Wolf: Literature and Politics. Christa Wolf (1929-2011) was one of the most important figures of post-war literature in East and West Germany. With her specific perspective onto both the Nazi dictatorship and the "real existing socialism" in the GDR, her work continues to raise the question of the relationship between literature and politics, specifically the role of the artist and intellectual in a totalitarian state. In this course, we will gain an overview of the vast œuvre of this seminal and controversial author and discuss recurring questions in Wolf's work, such as the role of the individual in society, gender roles, memory and remembrance, subjective authenticity and the constitution of the self, and ecology. The course will also offer a cursory overview of the GDR's afterlife in literature and film after 1989. Ms. von der Emde.

Prerequisite: GERM 260 or GERM 270 or the equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods.

302a. Senior Thesis (0.5)

The department.

Open only to majors. Permission required.

Yearlong course 302-GERM 303.

303b. Senior Thesis (0.5)

The department.

Open only to majors. Permission required.

Yearlong course GERM 302-303.

355b. Advanced Seminar (1)

Topic for 2015/2016b: Verboten: Censorship and Cultural Production in Germany and Austria. What effect does censorship have upon cultural production? Does it necessarily limit such production, or can it also paradoxically spurn cultural innovation? This course investigates particular state policies of censorship in German-speaking Europe from the absolutist and authoritarian states of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, through the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth to the present-day Federal Republic. We study the casualties these policies have incurred, but also focus on the imaginative ways in which writers, artists, and filmmakers have subverted the censor's gaze.  In addition, we consider whether, as Freud has posited, the psyche is continually subject to its own self-censorship, and what consequences this might hold for the creative process.  Readings may be drawn from Goethe, Lessing, Moritz, Heine, Wedekind, Schnitzler, Brecht, Wolf, and Biller.  Mr. Schreiber.

Prerequisite: GERM 260 or GERM 270 or the equivalent.

One 3-hour period.

375b. Advanced Topics in German Cultural Studies (1)

Not offered in 2015/16.

399b. Senior Independent Work (0.5to1)