Reed College Catalog


Katja Garloff

Nineteenth- to twenty-first-century German literature, German Jewish culture, critical theory, literature and history, film. On sabbatical 2012–13.

Ülker Gökberk

Nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, the novel, Thomas Mann, literary and cultural theory, the German philosophical tradition.

Jan Mieszkowski

Romanticism; idealist philosophy; literary and cultural theory; the relations between aesthetics, economics, and politics.

Michael Thomas Taylor

The Enlightenment; intellectual history; literature, theater, and the visual arts; gender and sexuality.

The German department’s curriculum provides a critical engagement with Germany’s intellectual and artistic legacy. All language courses are taught in German and include work in the language lab and tutorials with the language scholar. From the outset, we encourage students to explore cultural and historical materials in the original. The first year focuses on all four language skills. In the second year, we pursue a comprehensive approach to reading, writing, and speaking through the study of selected literary and sociopolitical themes. The advanced class in composition and conversation completes the language track in the third year.

Upper-level courses in the department are organized thematically and historically, often emphasizing interdisciplinary study. A flexible two-track program for majors explores a variety of perspectives on the analysis of texts. Students who select the concentration in literature may focus their thesis work on a particular author, period, or paradigm. They are also encouraged to consider broader questions about the nature of interpretation and criticism. The culture studies concentration gives students the opportunity to explore the German intellectual tradition through the methodological perspectives of a variety of fields, including philosophy, history, anthropology, and sociology. Students who pursue this track can take two of their required courses in other departments. In their thesis they may combine literary and nonliterary analyses or write on exclusively nonliterary problems. With both concentrations, it may be possible for students to work on particular areas of interest in an independent study. Details of the requirements for each track are listed below.

German House
The German House on campus functions not only as a residence hall, but as the center of a variety of extracurricular activities, including film evenings, poetry and drama readings, lectures, and social gatherings.

Language Scholar
The language scholar from the University of Munich, a yearly appointment, provides students with contact with a native speaker and assists the department in academic and cultural matters.

Study Abroad
The department recommends strongly that students who wish to major in German literature spend a study year in Germany or a summer in a language school. Students are encouraged to participate in the college-sponsored programs at the University of Munich (yearlong), Freie University in Berlin (year or semester), the University of Tübingen (year or semester), or in a summer program at the University of Freiburg. Students who major in culture studies are strongly encouraged to avail themselves of Reed's program in Munich. Detailed information on these programs is available through the German department and the international programs office.

Prerequisites
Students with a background in German may take a placement test to determine if they are prepared for second- or third-year classes. Placement tests are offered during orientation week and (online) over the summer.

Requirements for the Major


Concentration in Literature

  1. First- and second-year German (German 110, German 220), or the equivalent.
  2. German 311 or the equivalent in the Munich program.
  3. Six German literature courses in German at the 300 or 400 level. German 311 will not be accepted as one of the six courses. At least four of the six courses must be taken at Reed.
  4. Thesis (470).
  5. At least one semester or summer institute in Germany.

Recommended but not required:

  1. German or modern European history.
  2. German philosophy.
  3. Humanities 220.

Concentration in Culture Studies

  1. First- and second-year German (German 110, German 220) or the equivalent.
  2. German 311 or the equivalent in the Munich program.
  3. Six upper-division courses in the German department and related disciplines. (German 311 will not be accepted as one of these six courses.) Four of these must be upper-division offerings in the German department. Two of the selected courses must be taken in German. The remaining two courses can be selected from departments related to the German culture studies program, such as history, art history, and philosophy.
  4. One course in German or modern European history.
  5. Humanities 220.
  6. Thesis (470).
  7. One year of study abroad at the University of Munich program or another approved institution is strongly advised.

German 110 - First-Year German: A Foundation

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 integral to 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. This 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 placement by examination. Conference.

German 311 - Advanced German: Literary Berlin

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 short novels, prose texts, and films dealing with representations of Berlin, past and present. We will explore Berlin as the center of the emerging mass culture in the early twentieth century, the capital of National Socialism, the divided city of the Cold War era, the symbol of the united Germany, and the multicultural core of German society. Prerequisite: German 220 or placement by examination. Conference.

German 321 - Modernism

Full course for one semester. By the end of the nineteenth 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 nineteenth and early twentieth 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. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet in extra sessions. Prerequisite for students taking the course for German credit: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 321.
Not offered 2012–13.

Modernism II: Turn-of-the-Century Vienna and Prague, 1890–1918
This course explores the cultural transformation in Central Europe at the turn of the twentieth 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); and music (Schoenberg); to the fine arts (Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka). Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet in extra sessions. Prerequisite for students taking the course for German credit: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 321. Not offered 2012–13.

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 twentieth 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, and Benjamin. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet in extra sessions. Prerequisite for students taking the course for German credit: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 325.

Not offered 2012-13.

German 330 - Gender and Sexuality in German Literature

Full course for one semester. This course combines readings of canonical literary works from the German tradition with important scholarship in the history and theory of gender and sexuality in western Europe and North America. Key areas of focus include patriarchy since the Reformation; the Enlightenment and the French Revolution; nineteenth-century norms and ideals of marriage and the family together with stigmatized and criminalized practices such as prostitution; the development of sexual science and psychoanalysis together with new norms and conceptions of sexual identity; and finally, twentieth-century conceptions of femininity and masculinity: ideals of motherhood, of the soldier, and of the “new woman,” as well as Nazi ideology and postwar debates about sex and gender in society. Throughout all of these topics, the intersection of gender and sexuality with other categories of identity will be one guiding theme, while another will be the relationships between sexual identity, gender, and discourses of eugenics, public health, and nationalist population policies. Literary works we will read include texts by G.E. Lessing, J.W. von Goethe, Heinrich Kleist, Theodor Fontane, Leopold von Sacher Masoch, Arthur Schnitzler, N.O. Body, Ernst Jünger, Irmgard Keun, and Bertolt Brecht. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet in extra sessions. Prerequisite for students taking the course for German credit: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 330.

German 331 - Alterity: Theoretical and Literary Configurations

Full course for one semester. The concepts of “selfhood” and “otherness” occupy a central place in the discourse of identity in various academic disciplines. This course investigates the ramification of these concepts in the German intellectual and literary traditions. We will trace representations of “das Fremde,” the subject of seminal philosophical and literary works, from romanticism to the present. The class will explore multiple definitions of alterity through texts by Hegel, Tieck, Kleist, Nietzsche, Simmel, Freud, Heidegger, Levinas, Gadamer, and Bhaba. We will complement this theoretical focus by a wide range of readings from contemporary Germany, where “Alterität” and “das Fremde” have become once again a major concern. Recent constructions of cultural identities by German authors (G. Wallraff, S. Lenz, H. Fichte, H.M. Enzensberger) and by those of non-German origin (Turkish-German authors, such as E.S. Özdamar, Z. Şenocak, and F. Zaimoglu) will be discussed. Conducted in German. Prerequisite: German 311 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

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, postfeminist writing, and contemporary myths. Authors include Thomas Brussig, Ingo Schulze, Christian Kracht, Zafer Senocak, Barbara Honigmann, W.G. Sebald, Judith Hermann, Herta Müller, and Elfriede Jelinek. Conference.

Not offered 2012-13.

German 340 - Exile Literature

Full course for one semester. This course explores multifaceted experiences of exile represented in twentieth-century literature and theory. A small selection of film screenings complements textual analyses. Varying definitions of exile will be discussed, ranging from catastrophe to a new state of freedom. We will examine the transformation of lived experience into literary themes and techniques. While emphasizing the heterogeneity of the approaches, we will also aim to establish 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 in extra sessions. Prerequisite for students taking the course for German credit: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 340.

Not offered 2012-13.

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. Conducted in German. Prerequisite: German 311 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2012-13.

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, and Claude Lanzmann. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet in extra sessions. Prerequisite for students taking the course for German credit: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 358.

Not offered 2012-13.

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 counterpublics" (postcolonialism). Theories on memory are examined through Freud, Bergson, and Ricoeur. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet in extra sessions. Prerequisite for students taking the course for German credit: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 365.

Not offered 2012-13.

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. Conducted in German. Prerequisite: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2012-13.

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 the mid-nineteenth century, such as the rise of nationalism and liberalism, Junges Deutschland, and the revolution of 1848. Conducted in German. Prerequisite: German 311 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2012-13.

German 391 - German Theory I: Ideology and Imagination

Full course for one semester.  This class explores romantic conceptions of poetic imagination and their importance for twentieth- and twenty-first-century debates about art and politics. We will focus on the relationship between literary and philosophical argument and on the implications of literary theory for Marxist discussion of ideology. Authors include Kant, Schlegel, Kleist, Marx, Freud, Benjamin, Adorno, and Zizek. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet in extra sessions. Prerequisite for students taking the course for German credit: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 391.

Not offered 2012-13.

German 392 - German Theory II: Revolutions in Poetic Language

Full course for one semester. Between 1750 and 1850, virtually every assumption about poetry’s forms, powers, and goals underwent a series of radical transformations that would shape the modern understanding of art and literature. Reading lyric, dramatic, and prose works, as well as critical and philosophical essays, we will concentrate on developing skills in interpreting texts and formalizing the theoretical challenges they present. Authors will include Arnold, Büchner, Dickinson, Goethe, Hegel, Kleist, Lessing, Poe, Rousseau, and Schlegel. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet in extra sessions. Prerequisite for students taking the course for German credit: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 392.

German 395 - Kleist and Kafka

Full course for one semester. This seminar offers an introduction to two of the most enigmatic authors in the German canon. We will focus on the unique challenges their work presents for ideas about what literature is and how it acquires historical or political significance. We will also look at how several major critics have tried to come to terms with these maverick writers. Conducted in German. Prerequisite: German 311 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2012-13.

German 462 - Seminar

Readings in Thomas Mann
Full course for one semester. The course explores Thomas Mann’s early fiction (1890–1914) and two of his major novels, The Magic Mountain and Doktor Faustus, in light of the critical literature on these works. We will trace the continuity and change of themes and techniques, beginning with the stories from the Wilhelmine Era and ending with Mann’s experimental reconstruction of the Faust myth during the Third Reich. Selected readings by authors such as Friedrich Schlegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Adorno will provide the philosophical background. Students will acquaint themselves with major trends in Thomas Mann scholarship, including the recent emphasis on constructions of gender and sexuality. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German literature credit will meet in extra sessions. Prerequisite for students taking the course for German credit: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 462.

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.