Fall 2019 Courses

German Department

Course Descriptions

Fall 2019

 (Check SIS for room assignments)




GERM 3000 (3)  German Language Skills  - Grammar in Use

                             10:00-10:50 MWF                                                               Ms. Neuhaus

This course builds on the first and second year German sequence and focuses on speaking and writing to improve upper-level German language skills. In class, we will discuss current social and cultural events in German speaking countries, with topics drawn from newspapers, films, short literary texts, and the news. Grammar topics will be addressed within the context of these topics. Grading will be based on class participation, quizzes, written assignments, and a final project. All work will be conducted in German. No book required. Prerequisite German 2020 or instructor's permission.


GERM 3010 (3)  Texts and Interpretations

                             11:00-11:50 MWF                                                            Ms. Gutterman

This seminar serves as an introductory course to the practice of reading and interpreting texts. While the focus will be on literary texts, other media will be represented as well, notably film. Participating students will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the three major literary genres (drama, poetry, and prose); the technical terms necessary to discuss and analyze literature and other kinds of texts; and various schools of interpretation, such as structuralism and psychoanalysis. Students will also improve their language proficiency, especially in the areas reading comprehension, speaking, vocabulary, and writing. The class will be conducted entirely in German. Requirements include active participation, regular homework assignments, a series of essays and quizzes, as well as an oral presentation.


GERM 3110 (3) Survey of Literature II 

                           2:00-3:15  MW                                                                   Ms. Gutterman

“Es war kein Traum“ states Gregor Samsa, upon waking up as a giant insect. Ingeborg Bachmann asks whether dreams can be bought – and with what currency? Freud dreamt a different dream: that dreams, rightly understood, would let us glimpse the hidden objectives of human behaviour. Gertrud Kolmar gives us “Tierträume,” and in „Traumkitsch,” Walter Benjamin wonders if we can still dream of the Romantics’ ‘blue flower’. This course follows the motif of the dream from the Romantics to the 20th Century. Students will close read short prose and lyric in German. Sessions involve class discussions, group work, and readings. Active participation is required throughout the couse, and all work will be conducted in German. Prerequisite German 3010 or instructor’s permission. 


GERM 3230 (3)  Intermediate Composition & Conversation I

                              12:30-1:45 TR                                                                Mr. McDonald

Improve your German communication skills through an innovative German conversation and writing method that draws on contemporary online resources, spanning culture, politics, sports, and technology. (Among these resources are Deutsche Welle, Tagesschau, German online newspapers, and online dictionaries.)  Students develop and refine writing and conversation strategies through weekly writing assignments modelled on texts from streaming-media sites. Daily conversation and comprehension exercises build vocabulary and introduce students to idioms. Select grammar review at student initiative.  No textbook is required.


GERM 3250 (3) German for Professionals

                           12:00-12:50  MWF                                                                    Ms. Parker

Prepares students to communicate and interact effectively in the business environment of German-speaking countries. Emphasis is placed on practical, career-usable competence. Prerequisite: GERM 3000 or equivalent


GERM 3330 (1) Language House Conversation

                             Time TBA,  Day TBA                                                               Ms. Colon

                                                                                                                          Ms. Neuhaus

Exclusive to German House residents.


GETR 3372/ (3) German Jewish Culture and History 

HIEU 3372/        12:30-1:45  TR                                                                    

RELJ 3372                                                                                                     Mr. Grossman

                                                                                                                              Mr. Finder

This course provides a wide-ranging exploration of the history and culture of German (-speaking) Jewry from 1750 to 1945 and beyond.  It focuses especially on the Jewish response to modernity in Central Europe, a response that proved highly productive, giving rise to a range of lasting transformations in Jewish life in Europe and later in North America, in particular, and in European society and culture, more generally.

Until the mid-eighteenth century, Jewish self-definition was relatively stable. From that point on, it became increasingly contingent and open-ended.  Before the rise of Nazism in 1933, German Jewish life was characterized by a plethora of emerging possibilities. This course explores this vibrant and dynamic process of change and self-definition. It traces the emergence of new forms of Jewish experience and shows their unfolding in a series of lively and poignant dramas of tradition and transformation, division and integration, dreams and nightmares. The course seeks to grasp this world through the lenses of history and culture, and to explore the different ways in which these disciplines illuminate the past and provide potential insights into the present and future.

This course is intended to acquaint students with the study of German (-speaking) Jewish history and culture and assumes no prior training in the subject. Class meetings will combine lecture and discussion. Readings will be drawn from both primary and secondary literature. Represented in the primary reading will be central figures in the annals of German-speaking Jewry, including Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Heinrich Heine, Arthur Schnitzler, Gershom Scholem, Franz Kafka, and Inga Deutschkron.

This course fulfills the Second Writing Requirement.


GETR 3505/ (3) Topics in History and Fiction: "Hitler"                         

HIEU 3505         2:00-3:15  MW                                                                   Ms. Achilles

Who was Adolf Hitler and what explains our enduring fascination with the Hitler phenomenon? Was his rise to power an aberrant historical accident or a logical outcome of German history? What was more decisive in shaping the catastrophic course of events under Hitler’s regime: his personality or deep structural historical factors? Would history have turned out better (or worse) if Hitler had been accepted into art school or died in infancy? Do melodramatic depictions of his last days normalize or even trivialize the Holocaust? Is it acceptable to laugh about or even empathize with Hitler today? 

This course investigates Hitler’s life and afterlife on the basis of a broad variety of sources. Course materials range from scholarly articles to Nazi propaganda, films, novels, counterfactual histories and Hitler representations on the internet. Throughout this course, we will combine an interest in the personal dimensions of Hitler’s rule with the study of power structures, social interests, aesthetic forms, generational shifts, and national frames. We will pay particular attention to the affective logics and representational regimes that shape our understanding of the past (and present). Requirements include regular attendance, active participation, one oral presentation, and short written assignments. There will be no midterm or final examinations. Fulfills the historical and second writing requirements. Counts towards the major.


HIEU 3352  (3) Topics in History and Fiction: "Hitler"                         

                           10:00-10:50  MW                                                                   Ms. Achilles

plus one discussion section (recommended for German minors and majors)

Modern German history is a tale of radical reinvention: Imperial Germany, Weimar Germany, Nazi Germany, Cold War (divided) Germany, Reunified Germany -- on each transition, the historical shock was sufficiently strong to force the country upon a new path. This course explores the repeated fundamental transformations of the German polity, the appeal of xenophobic populism and fascism, as well as the realities and legacies of dictatorship, war, and genocide. We will also study more recent phenomena in German history, such as the country’s integration into the European Union, its responses to migration, and the mainstreaming of Green policies and ideas. Requirements include two short essays, as well as a midterm and final examination. Fulfills the historical and second writing requirements. No prerequisites.


GETR 3392 (3)   Fairy Tales

                             3:30-4:45 MW                                                                        Mr. Schmid

In fairy tales, everything is possible: throw a frog against the wall, it may well turn out to be a prince in disguise; go visit your grandmother and you may realize that she has been eaten and replaced by a wolf; and if you have plans for the next hundred years, you better beware of being pricked by a spindle. Entering the world of fairy tales often feels like passing into an elaborate dream: it is a world teeming with sorcerers, dwarves, wondrous objects, and animals that speak. In this seminar, we focus on fairy tales and dream narratives from the romantic period into the present. Why did the Grimm brothers bother to collect fairy tales? What does all this have to do with Germany’s emergence as a nation? How does Disney depict the fairy tale in film? –  These are some of the questions that our seminar addresses. Authors to be discussed include: Goethe, the brothers Grimm, Bettelheim, Hoffmann, Freud, Saint-Exupéry, Tolkien, and others. Requirements include regular attendance, active participation, and short written assignments.


GETR 3590 (3)   Stories of Love and Adventure

                             2:00-3:15 TR                                                                  Mr. McDonald

King Arthur, Joseph Campbell––and more! Trace the origin of the ‘Lord of the Rings,’ Star Trek, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones. Encounter the stories that inspired Richard Wagner's music. A multi-media course that follows heroes and heroines of medieval fiction through the stages of the heroic quest: the call to adventure, meeting the mentor, tests and trials, symbolic death and rebirth, the road back (to civilization), and the return to society with a boon. Among the stories read are ‘Parzival’ and ‘Tristan and Isolde.’ Grade based on classroom discussion, oral reports, a mid-term paper, and a creative concluding project. No final examination. No textbook required.

Those choosing the Second Writing Requirement-option have a final written exercise.


GETR 3590 (3) Serial Media

                            5:00-7:30 W                                                                            Mr. Schmid

Recent years have witnessed two major cultural shifts in regard to film. Firstly, the medial possibilities made available through online streaming have inspired a trend away from the theater in favor of the laptop, and secondly, the primacy of feature length film has been upset by the advent of the so-called second golden age of television and the serials that compose it. Of course these two occurrences are intricately connected. 

In this course we will consider the relationship between medial or technological possibilities and art, as well as the concept and experience of seriality in art, not just in relation to film but in relation to multiple art forms. We will explore the rich history of serial art, particularly through its German tradition beginning with the 19th century serial journal projects of the Romantics and culminating with the contemporary German Netflix show “Dark,” a show that involves like the show “Stranger Things,” parallel dimensions and supernatural elements. Requirements include regular attendance, active participation, and short written assignments.


GETR 3692/ (3) The Holocaust

HIEU 3692          9:30-10:45 TR                                                                         Mr. Finder 

In this course we study the encounter between the Third Reich and Europe’s Jews between 1933 and 1945. This encounter resulted in the deaths of almost 6 million Jews.  The course aims to clarify basic facts and explore competing explanations for the origins and unfolding of the Holocaust—in Hebrew, Shoah. We also explore survivors’ memories after the Holocaust, postwar Holocaust-related trials, and the universal implications of the Holocaust.

This course is intended to acquaint students with the historical study of the Holocaust and assumes no prior training in the subject.  We will read studies by important historians, including Saul Friedländer, Christopher Browning, and Peter Hayes, contemporary documents, and memoirs. Class meetings will combine lecture and discussion. Course requirements include three written assignments and conscientious participation in class discussion.


GETR 3710/ (3) Kafka and His Doubles 

CPLT 3710/          11:00-12:15 TR                                                                Ms. Martens

ENGL 3560

The course will introduce the enigmatic work of Franz Kafka:  stories including "The Judgment," "The Metamorphosis," "A Country Doctor," "A Report to an Academy," "A Hunger Artist," "The Burrow," and "Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk"; one of his three unpublished novels (The Trial); the Letter to His Father; and some short parables.  But we will also look at Kafka's "doubles":  the literary tradition he works with and the way in which he, in turn, forms literary tradition.  Thus:  Kafka: Cervantes, Kafka: Bible, Kafka: Aesop, Kafka:  Dostoevsky, Kafka: Melville; Kafka: O'Connor, Kafka: Singer; Kafka: Calvino, Kafka: Borges.  Readings will center on four principal themes:  conflicts with others and the self (and Kafka's psychological vision); the double; the play with paradox and infinity; and artists and animals.  A seminar limited to 20 participants.   Requirements include a short midterm paper (5-7 pages) and a longer final paper (10-12 pages).


GETR 3720/ (3) Freud and Literature 

CPLT 3720          3:30-4:45 TR                                                                      Ms. Martens

ENGL 3559

In formulating his model of the psyche and his theory of psychoanalysis, Freud, a scientist with a vast humanistic education, availed himself of analogies drawn from various fields, including mechanics, optics, philosophy, politics--and not least, literature.  Freud textualized the human mind, turning the stories generated by its different levels into an object of analysis.  But if literature was formative for psychoanalysis, Freud's ideas in turn captured the imagination of many twentieth-century literary writers.  After introducing Freud's theories through a reading of his major works, including The Interpretation of Dreams, the course will turn to literary works by post-Freudian writers, including Kafka, Schnitzler, Breton, Lawrence, and Woolf, that engage with Freud's masterplot.

Two 5-page papers; midterm examination; final examination.

No prerequisites.