Course Offerings - Catalog 2013-14

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German Studies

Division of Humanities

The major program in German Studies is designed to meet the needs of four types of students: those who intend to continue the study of German in graduate school and want to enter the teaching profession; those who want to be proficient in a second language for work in international relations or commerce; those who major in another field and use language study to support their research in that field; and those for whom German serves as the basis of a broad liberal education, in much the same way a major in English serves this purpose for many students.

The program offers an integrated curriculum of German culture from the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Images of daily life and German civilization as portrayed in films, music, art, literature, and drama focus language acquisition and create the basis for seven courses on major themes and questions about German culture. Students will encounter the figures of Luther, Goethe, Nietzsche, Mozart, Thomas Mann, Kafka, or Rilke in many of the courses, but all courses will promote a broad understanding of literary values, critical analysis, and appreciation of cultural traditions.

A unique feature of the program is the immersion stay of a minimum of six weeks in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland required of all majors. A true beginner can become sufficiently proficient in the language to major in German and to take up residence in one of these countries where some recent majors are currently employed or studying.

While the major in German Studies prepares students for the study of language and literature in graduate school and the teaching profession, it is also intended for those with cultural, social, political, or economic interests. German serves as a solid basis for a broad liberal education and proficiency in the language can provide research opportunities in many scientific fields and further careers in government, international relations, music, drama, the fine arts, or commerce.


Ian Wilson (chair), Ken Keffer


Recommended First-Year/Sophomore Preparation

Students considering a major in German Studies are encouraged to plan their academic program to include as wide a distribution of courses as possible regardless of their professional or vocational objectives. Prospective majors should consider taking courses in literature, history, philosophy, and the fine arts.

Requirements for the Major

GER 110, 120, 210, 220, or equivalent;
Six German courses numbered 300 or higher and GER 500;
Certification of study abroad

Note: An immersion stay of a minimum of six weeks in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland is required for the German Studies major. This stay is to be completed by the time of graduation (through participation in Centre’s program in Strasbourg, by a family stay in Frankfurt, Göttingen, or elsewhere). The German faculty assists students in finding an appropriate program. Equivalent prior experience may be counted at the discretion of the German Studies Program Committee.

Requirements for the Minor

GER 110, 120, 210, 220, or equivalent;
Three additional German courses numbered 300 or higher

German Studies Courses

GER 110, 120 German Culture and Language (four credit hours each)
A study of the characteristic features of German idiom and usage through texts chronicling the development of German culture from the age of Mozart to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Prerequisite: 110 for 120 or placement.

GER 210 Images of Daily Life and Geography*
German language and culture through the medium or current films, television, slides, and paintings. Readings in “Landeskunde,” the geography and contemporary political and social institutions of the Federal Republic, Austria, and Switzerland. Emphasis on speaking, reading, and writing in German. Prerequisite: GER 120 or placement.

GER 220 Images of History and Civilization*
German language and culture through the medium of current films, television, slides, and paintings. Readings in “Kulturgeschichte,” the historical and cultural development of Germanic lands since the time of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Emphasis on speaking, reading, and writing in German. Prerequisite: GER 120 or placement.

*Note: GER 210 or 220 or placement is prerequisite for all German courses numbered 300 or higher.

GER 305  Introduction to the Cultural History of Central Europe
This course leads students to direct encounters with the cultural history of Central Europe through travel to some of the countries that comprise this region now and have comprised it in the past. Though centered in Germany, visits may also include Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia. Emphasis is on extended classroom knowledge through on-site discovery of the geography, urban organization, transportation networks, commerce, and daily life of the area, as well as on discovering ways the past is preserved there, including architecture, museums, palaces and castles, monuments and memorials, and concentration camps. Prerequisite: GER 210.

GER 320 Nature, Volk, and Lore
A study of German identity drawn from the rich storehouse of sagas, legends, fairy tales, and other folk sources welding historical events with interpretations of the mysterious natural world. Selections from the Nibelungenlied, Herder, the Brothers Grimm, Eichendorff, Heine, Wagner, and others are included.

GER 325 German Film
A survey of German-language cinema emphasizing the early black-and-white films of the Weimar period (1919-33), the highly influential art films of the “New German Cinema” (ca. 1965-85) and the (superficially) lighter German films made after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Emphasis on understanding films in their social, cultural and historical contexts and on understanding the fundamentals of film art, analysis and criticism. Films will be screened in the evenings and will be available on reserve in the library. Prerequisite: GER 210 or placement.

GER 340 Vaterland und Muttersprache
An exploration of the cultural and political competition between the public realm of fatherland and the private sphere of family and of the evolving process of breaking down gender barriers in Germanic culture. Readings include plays, novels, diaries, letters, and polemical writings by Gottfried Lessing, Sophie von LaRoche, Friedrich Schiller, Theodor Fontane, Christa Wolf, and Christine Bruckner.

GER 350 German Cultural Geography
An examination of the unique effects of geography on Germanic arts and letters from the early Roman walls criss-crossing the landscape; to terrifying border invasions; to the Berlin Wall, the most recent Kafkaesque monument to political division. Readings include Gottfried von Strassburg, Heinrich Kleist, Franz Kafka, Günther Grass, Christa Wolf, and others.

GER 360 Advanced German Grammar
A systematic study of German grammar, vocabulary, and style with attention to linguistic developments from the time of the Reformation to the present.

GER 370 Issues in Contemporary German Culture
A consideration of issues facing German culture in the last 10 years. Topics include: youth culture, political parties and voting patterns, immigration, European integration and economics, and the military. Course materials include: print media, television, film, and literature.
Prerequisite: Ger 210 or 220 or placement.

GER 411 World Literature in German
An introduction in German to “world literature,” that is, to literature in the age of globalization; the use of German translations provides proof of that language’s status as a world language and impels us to focus on elements of character, plot and setting that are shared across vastly different cultures; works studied include those by men and women having recently won the Nobel Prize for Literature—from Egypt (Mahfouz’ Adrift on the Nile), China (Xingjian’s Soul Mountain), Germany-Rumania (Herta Muller’s The Passport), Poland (Wislawa Szymborksy’s Nothing Twice), Turkey (Pamuk’s Snow), Peru (Vargas-Llosa’s Paradise is Elsewhere) and others. Prerequisite: GER 220 or equivalent.

GER 420 The Theme of Love in German Culture
An investigation of the theme of love in a variety of works of German culture, including prose fiction, poetry, plays, opera, pop music, art and film. Materials from the medieval period to the present day. Prerequisite: GER 210 or 220 or placement.

GER 500 Senior Colloquium (one credit hour)
A colloquium based on the German studies reading list, a group of 10 important works and anthologies deemed essential to the major. (Offered on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis only.)