German Course Descriptions

German 110 - First-year German: A Foundation Course

Full course for one year. This course introduces the student to all of the basic language skills in German. The teaching of grammar is always supplemented with cultural vignettes from German-speaking countries. Classroom activities include skits, poetry readings, film clips, and internet research. In order to employ the knowledge of German language and culture more creatively, the student will be asked to participate in a final project at the end of the academic year. Use of the language laboratory is part of the course. This course is reserved for students without a background in the language. Conference.

German 220 - Second-year German: Cultural and Literary Perspectives

Full course for one year. The course is designed to develop an understanding of German language, culture, and literature through a variety of texts, class discussions, and written assignments. Course material is drawn from different fields. In addition to literature, we will include readings on history, art, philosophy, and current events from the media pertaining to the German-speaking countries. The communicative competence of students is developed in frequent discussions. One hour each week is spent in conversation tutorials. Students review grammar systematically throughout the year and use the language laboratory. Prerequisite: German 110 or 111 or placement by examination. Conference.

German 311 - Advanced German: 20th-Century Art and Politics

Full course for one semester. This class is designed to help students develop advanced competence in written and spoken German. There will be regular essay assignments, oral presentations, and group projects. Seminar discussions will focus on films and short prose texts dealing with the rise of mass culture, the legacy of fascism, and debates about German identity after unification. Prerequisite: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

German 321 - Modernism

Full course for one semester. By the end of the 19th century, the metropolis had become a central force in the transformation of culture in Europe. This course traces various manifestations of Central European modernism in the context of three metropolitan centers, Berlin, Vienna, and Prague.

Modernism I: Berlin 1871–1929

Germany’s cultural transformation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is explored through works primarily by Berlin writers and artists. Various forms of modernism in the Wilhelminian and Weimar eras will be discussed through an interdisciplinary approach, with focus on literature, visual arts, music, film, and philosophy. The effect of the urban milieu on new aesthetic movements and representations of war are among the major issues to be discussed. Readings include works by Fontane, H. and Th. Mann, Holz, Schlaf, Simmel, Tönnies, Rosa Luxemburg, Brecht, and Döblin. Readings in German, discussion and papers in German and English. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 321. Not offered 2008-09.

Modernism II: Turn-of-the-century Vienna and Prague, 1890–1918

The course explores the cultural transformation in Central Europe at the turn of the 20th century. Impressionism, decadence, and aestheticism will be discussed as the predominant artistic modes of the epoch. The emergence of the “modern” in the late Habsburg Empire will be investigated through a broad spectrum of works, ranging from the literary movement Jung Wien (Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal); texts by the Prague writers Rilke and Kafka; studies in psychoanalysis (Freud); essays, memoirs, and diaries (Broch, St. Zweig, Lou-Andreas Salomé); philosophical texts (Mach, Wittgenstein); music (Schoenberg); to the fine arts (Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka). Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet once a week in an extra seminar. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 321. Not offered 2008-09.

German 325 - Modern German Jewish Writers: The Discontents of Emancipation

Full course for one semester. This course explores a paradigmatic example of a minority culture. We will examine the entwinement of political emancipation and cultural assimilation of the Jews in Germany. The course covers the period from the Enlightenment to the present, with a special emphasis on the first part of the 20th century. At this time German Jewish writers and thinkers became increasingly aware of their tenuous position and devised new ways of realizing Jewish particularity within modern, secular German culture. We will explore themes such as gender and assimilation, racial anti-Semitism, cultural Zionism, the writing of exile, and the aestheticization and politicization of Jewish traditions. The course concludes with a brief look at the reinterpretation of the historical "German-Jewish symbiosis” after the Holocaust. Readings from Lessing, Heine, Schnitzler, Kafka, Döblin, Lasker-Schüler, Celan, Mendelssohn, Buber, Freud, Scholem, Benjamin. Conducted in English. Students may arrange with the instructor to take the class for German credit. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 325. Not offered 2008-09.
Literature 325 Description

German 329 - Early German Cinema

Full course for one semester. This course will explore the emergence and efflorescence of cinema in Germany between the First and Second World Wars. In particular, we will look at how the reciprocal influence of avant-garde aesthetics and a nascent mass audience ensured this new medium a profound and lasting impact. Weekly screenings of the key films of the Weimar era, e.g., Caligari, Nosferatu, Metropolis, Pandora's Box, Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, and The Blue Angel,  will be accompanied by readings about Weimar literary and visual culture. We will investigate how early cinema circulated within—and ultimately reorganized—the wider public sphere. The course will consider the role of Weimar film in the evolution of film studies as a discipline, tracking the theoretical resonances of early German cinema from eyewitness accounts, e.g., Siegfried Kracauer, Kurt and Tucholsky, to the present day. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German credit will meet in extra sessions. Conference. Cross-listed at Literature 329.

German 331 - Discourse of Alterity

Full course for one semester. The course traces treatments of “das Fremde” in major philosophical and literary works of the German language from Romanticism to the present. Through selected texts by Hegel, Tieck, Kleist, Nietzsche, Simmel, Freud, Adorno, and Gadamer, we will explore shifting definitions of alterity. We will then focus on the discourse of alterity in the contemporary literary scene in Germany. Readings include recent constructions of selfhood and otherness by German authors (H. Müller, B. Strauss, F.X. Kroetz, S. Lenz, and S. Nadolny) and by Turkish émigrés, such as Ören, Pazaraya, Özakin, and Senocak. Current theoretical approaches will complement the literary readings. Readings in German, discussion and papers in German and English. Prerequisite: German 311 or its equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

German 335 - Readings in Contemporary German Literature

Full course for one semester. This course offers several expeditions into the German-language literary imagination since the late 1980s. We will explore topics such as the German unification, pop culture, exilic identities, remembrance, and contemporary myths. Authors include Brussig, Sparschuh, Schulze, Kracht, Senocak, Honigmann, Sebald, Hermann, and Bernhard. Themes and techniques of postfeminist writing will be examined in works by Jelinek and Erpenbeck. Conducted in German. Prerequisite: German 311 or its equivalent or consent of instructor. Conference.

German 336 - Story and History

Full course for one semester. This course explores the intimate connection between story and history in modern German culture. We will trace how history patterns personal experience and how narrative shapes historical understanding. Themes will include realism and everyday life, modernism and war trauma, the writing of monuments, and representations of Nazism and the Holocaust. Texts by Heinrich von Kleist, Theodor Storm, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin, Robert Musil, Thomas Mann, Ernst Jünger, Günter Grass, and W.G. Sebald. Films by Leni Riefenstahl, Rainer Maria Fassbinder, Edgar Reitz, and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg. Readings in German, discussion and papers in German and English. Prerequisite: German 331 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

German 340 - Exile: Theoretical and Literary Configurations

Full course for one semester. The course explores multifaceted experiences of exile represented in 20th-century literature and theory. A small selection of film screenings complements textual analyses. Varying definitions of exile, ranging from catastrophe to a new state of freedom, will be discussed. We will examine the transformation of lived experience into literary themes and techniques. While emphasizing the heterogeneity of the approaches, we will also aim at establishing a working definition of an “aesthetics of exile.” Literary readings include works by Kafka, Nabokov, Bachmann, Ch. Wolf, Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, and Turkish expatriates in Germany. Studies of exile associated with the Frankfurt School, postcolonial theory, poststructuralism, and new feminist thought constitute the theoretical framework. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet once a week in an extra seminar. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 340. Not offered 2008-09.
Literature 340 Description

German 343 - Aesthetics of the Everyday: East German Literature and Film, 1949–1989

Full course for one semester. In the German Democratic Republic (GDR), literature and film were intended to guide and reflect citizens' everyday lives. From the workplace heroics of 1950s socialist realism to the domestic dramas of the 1970s and 1980s, East German public culture examined the triumphs, setbacks, pleasures, and frustrations of daily life under socialism. In this course, the literature and film of the GDR will provide an object through which to theorize the aesthetics of the everyday. What does it mean to make the ordinary exemplary? Did socialist ideology lead inevitably to a characteristic socialist aesthetics? How can we understand these cultural objects within the broader currents and categories of Western aesthetics? Students taking the course for German credit will meet in extra sessions. Conducted in English. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 343. Not offered 2008-09.
Literature 343 Description

German 345 - Literature and Love

Full course for one semester. The rise of the ideal of Romantic love around 1800 presented literary authors with a new question: Can love, one of the oldest and most familiar of literary themes, be written about at all? How can we communicate feelings that in their intensity and specificity seem necessarily to elude verbalization? In this course, we will read a range of poems and stories that confront this question. We will analyze a bourgeois Enlightenment discourse on individuality and sexual difference that still influences contemporary conceptions of love. Finally, we will examine the creation of a new semantics of love in literary modernism. Literary readings by Lessing, Goethe, Kleist, Schlegel, Eichendorff, Keller, Benn, Rilke, Lasker-Schüler, Th. Mann, Kafka, Bachmann. Theoretical readings by Plato, Freud, Foucault, Luhmann, and others. Readings are in German, discussion and papers are in German and English. Prerequisite: German 311 or consent of the instructor. Not offered 2008-09.

German 351 - German Drama and Dramatic Theory: From Lessing to Brecht

Full course for one semester. Classics of the German and Austrian drama from the 18th to the 20th century by writers such as Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Grillparzer, Büchner, Hebbel, Hauptmann, and Kaiser. Dramatic theory from the Enlightenment to Naturalism and Expressionism will be introduced. Students taking the course for German credit will meet separately to discuss the texts in the original. Conducted in English. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 351. Not offered 2008-09.
Literature 351 Description

German 354 - The Modern German Novel

Full course for one semester. This course acquaints students with 20th-century novelists of the German language. Beginning with Kafka, we will trace various manifestations of the genre from the 1920s onward. Readings in the early 20th century include works by Th. Mann, Broch, Musil, Rilke, and Hesse. We will then focus on representatives of the post-World War II novel, such as Frisch, Böll, Grass, and Ch. Wolf. Categories closely connected with the novelistic mode, such as irony, ambiguity, digression, and reflection, will be of major concern. Selected readings by Lukács, Todorov, Bakhtin, and Iser will provide the theoretical framework. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German credit will meet once a week in an extra seminar. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 354. Not offered 2008-09.
Literature 354 Description

German 358 - The Holocaust and the Limits of Representation

Full course for one semester. Through a study of Holocaust film and literature, this course investigates the relations between history, trauma, and representation. How do authors and filmmakers describe events that shatter traditional forms of perception and comprehension? How do they portray human agency in an age of bureaucratically administered mass destruction? How do they relate history, memory, and imagination? We will study works from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds and explore a wide range of genres including documentaries, diaries, novels, poetry, drama, comics, and feature films. Primary sources will include works by Primo Levi, Jean Amery, Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, Peter Weiss, Charlotte Delbo, Cynthia Ozick, Tadeusz Borowski, Aharon Appelfeld, Art Spiegelman, Alain Resnais, Claude Lanzmann. Conducted in English. Students may arrange with the instructor to take the class for German credit. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 358. Not offered 2008-09.
Literature 358 Description

German 365 - City, Space, Memory

Full course for one semester.  At the advent of the twentieth century, the metropolitan city emerged as a new network of signification generating a rethinking of the trajectories of time and space.  We will explore the transcription of urban space as a new site of knowledge in experimental literary forms.  The spatialization of memory and history will be a major focus.  City narratives from German modernity include Rilke’s novel The Notebooks of Malte Lauridds Brigge, Benjamin’s Berlin Chronicle and Arcades Project, and essays by Simmel and Krakauer.  We will also explore contemporary readings representing space as the container of traumatic memory (Sebald, Austerlitz), nostalgia (Pamuk, Istanbul), and "subaltern counter publics" (postcolonialism). Theories on memory are examined through Freud, Bergson, and Ricoeur.  Students taking the course for German credit will have an extra weekly seminar. Prerequisite: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference.   Cross-listed as Literature 365.

German 371 - The Laws of Lyric

Full course for one semester. This course is an introduction to German poetry. The goal of the course is to develop skills in interpreting individual texts and to reflect on poetry's status within the discourses of history, philosophy, and politics. The readings have been arranged by topic rather than chronologically or by author. We will study poems by Goethe, Schiller, Novalis, Hölderlin, Eichendorff, Heine, Mörike, George, Rilke, Trakl, Benn, Brecht, Celan, Eich, Bachmann, and others. Prerequisite: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Not offered 2008-09.

German 376 - German Romanticism

Full course for one semester. This course is designed to acquaint students with the theory and seminal texts of German Romanticism. Beginning with the emergence of the movement from the context of German Idealism, we will explore the revolutionary premises and program of early Romanticism in works by Schiller, Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel, Novalis, and Tieck.  Through concepts such as transcendental universal poetry and irony we will examine the modernity of the Romantics.  Our readings include works by the Heidelberger Romantics, such as Eichendorff, and by prominent women authors of Romanticism, including Caroline Schlegel-Schelling, Bettina Brentano, and Caroline Günderrode.  We will read selections from lyric poetry across the Romantic movement. Works by E. T. A. Hoffmann and Heine will lead us to the apex and dissolution of Romanticism.  The course concludes with an overview of philosophical and political developments in mid-nineteenth century, such as the rise of nationalism and liberalism, Junges Deutschland and the revolution of 1848. Readings are in German, discussion and papers are in German and English. Prerequisite: German 311 or consent of the instructor. 

German 391 - Studies in German Theory I: Introduction to Critical Theory

Full course for one semester. This class explores post-Kantian conceptions of critique and their significance for the analysis of fascism, mass culture, and the politics of the artwork. We will focus on the notion of literature as a socially progressive force. We will also consider the intersections of psychoanalysis and Marxism. Authors include Kant, Friedrich Schlegel, Hegel, Marx, Büchner, Freud, Benjamin, Adorno, Celan, Heiner Müller, and Derrida. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German credit will meet in extra sessions. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 391.
Literature 391 Description

German 462 - Seminar: Franz Kafka

Full course for one semester. This course offers an in-depth analysis of the work of Franz Kafka and an introduction to different schools of literary criticism. We will explore the perplexing nature of Kafka’s texts; analyze his use of ambiguity, paradox, dream, and fantasy; and view his work in its social, political, and religious contexts. We will also consider different critical approaches to his work, including theological, philosophical, psychoanalytic, deconstructive, and new historical perspectives. Primary readings are from Kafka’s diaries, letters, short fiction, and novels (Der Prozess, Das Schloss). Readings in German, discussion and papers in German and English. Prerequisite: German 311 or consent of the instructor. Not offered 2008-09.

German 470 - Thesis

One-half or full course for one year.

German 481 - Independent Study

One-half or full course for one semester. Prerequisite: approval of instructor and division.




Top of Page