German Studies Department

Associate Professors: Günter Klabesa, Silke von der Emde (Chair); Assistant Professor: Jeffrey Schneider; Visiting Instructor: Ellen Anderson; Woodrow Wilson Fellow: Daniel Jiro Tanaka.

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, and 270. 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.


I. Introductory

101a.   The Writing on the Wall: Tracing the Cultural Meanings 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. Ms. Anderson.
       Readings and discussions in English.
       Satisfies College requirement for a Freshman course.
105a-106b.   Elementary German
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. Ms. Anderson, Mr. Tanaka (a) Mr. Klabes (b).
       Four 50-minute periods and four 30-minute drill sessions.
109b.   Intensive Elementary German
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
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. Ms. von der Emde (a) Mr. Schneider (b).
       Prerequisite: German 106, 109 or the equivalent.
230a.   Contemporary German Culture and Media
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. Mr. Schneider.
       Prerequisite: German 211 or the equivalent.
       Three 75-minute periods.
235b.   Introduction to German Cultural Studies.
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 2002/03: Visions of Sanity: Psychology and Literature. This course offers an overview of the historical development of the representation of madness in German literature and culture. Drawing on a number of texts (from the nineteenth- century novel to contemporary media), we explore the context of "sanity" and its relation to German social visions. This course introduces key concepts in both psychology and German cultural studies. 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
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
This course offers an overview of selected historical developments in German literature from the last three centuries.
       Topic for 2002/03: United Yet Divided: Literature and Politics in Postwar and United Germany. Focusing on the sweeping socio-political changes in Postwar and United Germany, this course takes stock of the multiple relationships between literature and politics. As we examine the political tensions in divided Germany, we decode strategies of coldwar polemic in literature, public debates, art, and film and trace their residual effects on Germany's contemporary culture at the crossroads of European integration. We study representative works by writers like Brecht, Walser, Grass, Stefan Heym, Irmtraud Morgner, and Christine Brueckner, artists like Richter and Kiefer and film-makers of the New German Cinema. Includes field trip to Manhattan galleries and the Museum of Modern Art. Mr. Klabes.
       Two 75-minute periods.
       Prerequisite: German 230, 239 or the equivalent.
265a.   German Film in English Translation
This course offers an overview of selected historical and formal developments in German film from the silent period to the present.
       Topic for 2002/03: The Cinema of the Other Germany. More than a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, films from and about the former GDR are finally becoming available to audiences, students, and researchers in the U.S. DEFA produced over 850 feature films and countless documentaries between 1946-1990, yet East German film culture had remained terra incognita for the Western public during the existence of the GDR. This course examines the successes and failures of some DEFA films as they aspired to be a national cinema in their own right. We analyze this significant segment of German film history in relation to the development of New (West) German Cinema and think about the exact "placing" of GDR cinema within German film history and international debates around national cinema. 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
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
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 2002/03: Confronting the Self: Readings in German Modernity. This course is a survey of major trends and genres of aesthetic modernity in German culture from Romanticism to the Weimar period. In particular, we focus on challenges to the stability of the subject or self, as seen in a number of different genres ranging from poetry to film. Works considered may include: short texts by E.T.A. Hoffmann, Nietzsche, Freud, Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka, as well as the poetry, art, and cinema of Expressionism. In addition to developing reading skills for complex literary documents in German, this course attends to improving written and oral expression. Mr. Tanaka.
       Prerequisite: German Studies 230, 239 or the equivalent.
       Two 75-minute periods.
275b.   Advanced Topics in German Cultural Studies
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: How German Is It? Jewish Culture and Identity in Germany from Enlightenment to the Holocaust. The question of German-Jewish identity is often considered under the shadow of Nazism, while the prominence of Jews in German culture before the Holocaust remains less understood. This course explores the significance of race, identity and culture for Jews in Germany, especially prior to the rise of National Socialism. Thus, in addition to providing the necessary cultural background for those interested in studying the Holocaust, the course also investigates the rich tradition of thinking about Jewish diaspora and assimilation in Germany. Topics covered may include: Moses Mendelsohn's role in the German Enlightenment, Heine and Marx's writings on "The Jewish question," Wagner's anti-Semitism, Nietzsche and the "Jewish Nietzscheans," as well as writings by Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Franz Kafka, and Walter Benjamin. Mr. Tanaka.
       Readings and discussions in English. Open to all classes.
       Two 75-minute periods.

III. Advanced

301a.   Senior Seminar
An examination of selected topics in German literature and culture. May be taken more than once for credit when topic changes.
       Topic for 2002/03: 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. Mr. Schneider.
       Two 75-minute periods.
355b.   Advanced Seminar
An examination of selected topics in German literature and culture. May be taken more than once for credit when topic changes.
       Topic for 2002/03: From Parchment to Paper: Luther's Reformation and the Power of the Medium of Print. With the revolutionary invention of movable type, Luther's message spread like wildfire winning rapid support throughout Europe. This course examines intellectual challenges of the Reformation to a medieval culture of obedience via the new medium of print. We study German Centers of Renaissance Humanism, like Prague and Strasbourgh, Luther's thoughts on religious reform as published in his pamphlets and correspondence, the use of satire and art as a weapon, and the intellectual and cultural impact of Luther's work creating a reading public and enabling it to move from conformism to critical independence. Includes field trip to the Morgan Library and the Metropolitan Museum. Mr. Klabes.
       One two-hour period.

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