Reed College Catalog

Jake Fraser

Eighteenth- to twentieth-century German literature, media history and media theory, literature and science, psychoanalysis.

Katja Garloff

Twentieth- and twenty-first-century German literature, German Jewish culture, the Holocaust, literature and history, film and media studies. On leave 2018–19.

Jan Mieszkowski

Romanticism, idealist philosophy, literary and cultural theory, classical political economy, military spectatorship and the aesthetics of war.

Michael Powers

Nineteenth- to twenty-first-century literature and culture, literary and critical theory, visual and media studies (painting, photography, and film).

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 conversation sessions with the language scholar. From the outset, we encourage students to explore cultural and historical materials in the original. The first year focuses on the full range of active and passive skills. In the second year, we pursue a comprehensive approach to reading, writing, and speaking through the study of selected literary and sociopolitical themes. Advanced classes in composition and conversation complete 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 offers 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 as both a residence hall and a center for extracurricular activities, including film screenings, poetry readings, lectures, and informal discussions.

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

Study Abroad
The department strongly recommends that students who wish to major in German spend a year or semester of study in Germany. Faculty-approved programs listed on the Reed web (reed.edu/ipo/International-Programs) at the University of Munich, Freie University of Berlin, and the University of Tübingen allow students to remain registered and enrolled at Reed, have their work approved in advance, and use financial aid if eligible. Students might also consider intensive language study during the summer offered at many German universities. Members of the department as well as the study abroad adviser can provide guidance.

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.
  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.
  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 courses 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 class is an introduction to reading, writing, and speaking German. Grammar instruction is supplemented with cultural materials from German-speaking countries. Classroom activities include poetry readings, film clips, and internet research. Use of the language laboratory is integral to the course. The class is reserved for students with no background in the language. Conference.

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

Full course for one year. This class is designed to enhance one's skills in reading, writing, and speaking German. Along with a systematic grammar review, we explore literary, historical, and cultural topics, drawing on a variety of texts, including films, artworks, advertisements, and newspaper articles. One hour per week is spent in small conversation workshops, and students regularly complete listening comprehension exercises online. Prerequisite: German 110 or placement by examination. Conference.

German 311 - Advanced German I: Twentieth-Century Art and Politics (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. We will discuss twentieth-century German culture and history, primarily through literary and filmic representations of Berlin. We will explore the city as the center of emergent mass culture in the early twentieth century, the capital of National Socialism, the divided capital of the Cold War era, the symbol of the united Germany, and the multicultural core of contemporary German society. Prerequisite: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

German 312 - Advanced German II

Full course for one semester. This course is designed to further students’ advanced competence in written and spoken German. Students will participate in a literature course but will write short papers in German and complete weekly grammar assignments. Prerequisite: German 311. Conference. 

Not offered 2018–19.

German 325 - Kafka and Modernism

Full course for one semester. This seminar considers the work of Franz Kafka in the context of cultural and political modernism. We will explore Kafka’s relationship to film, psychoanalysis, Judaism, imperialism, bureaucracy, and the modern city. Close attention will be paid to the stylistic features that make Kafka’s texts uniquely perplexing yet rewarding, including literalism, ambiguity, paradox, and self-reflexivity. Primary readings from Kafka’s letters, short fiction, and novels (Der Process, Der Verschollene) are supplemented by film screenings and readings from Nietzsche, Freud, Benjamin, Derrida, and others. Conducted in German. Prerequisite: German 311 or consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Not offered 2018–19.

German 328 - Modernism in Art and Literature

Full course for one semester. This seminar focuses on literature and visual art from the German-speaking world of the early twentieth century, a time of great sociopolitical and cultural upheavals. We will explore the way writers and artists responded to radical changes—increased industrialization, urbanization, new technologies—by representing “reality” in innovative and shocking ways. These modernist experiments in representation include a wide array of literary and visual works from expressionism, Dada, and New Objectivity (prose poetry, drama, film, painting, and photography) by Rilke, Benn, Lasker-Schüler, Kirchner, Schwitters, Kandinsky, Trakl, Grosz, Lang, Brecht, and Wiene, among others. Conducted in German. Prerequisite: German 311 or consent of instructor. Conference. 

Not offered 2018–19.

German 346 - Introduction to Media Studies

Full course for one semester. Since Marshall McLuhan’s pronouncement that “the medium is the message,” scholars have studied the ways in which media technologies—from the printing press and the postal service to electric lighting and WiFi—support and transform our lives. This course offers and introduction to major theorists and debates in media studies through close analyses of films, literature, and theoretical texts. In keeping with McLuhan’s dictum, our focus will be not so much on understanding individual media, but on understanding from the perspective of media. Questions that will concern us include: What is (and isn’t) a medium? What do media do? To what extent do we create media, and to what extent do media create us? Readings from Plato, McLuhan, Kittler, Benjamin, Adorno, Heidegger, and Donna Haraway; art by Antonioni, Lang, Kafka, Hitchcock, Hoffman, H.D., Gertrude Stein, and Spike Jonze. 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 346 and Art 346.

German 348 - Literature and Photography

Full course for one semester. Since its invention in the early nineteenth century, photography has been intricately linked to writing, as its name suggests: photo-graphy is light-writing. In this course, we will trace the cultural, artistic, and theoretical history of photography with a focus on the conceptual relation between photography and writing. Through engagement with works by photographers, critics, and literary authors, we will address selected issues and ongoing debates such as: What differentiates photography from other visual (and literary) media? What does it mean to “read” a photograph? And how does the photographic image relate to history, memory, and truth? We will analyze a range of literary and visual works (including short fiction, poetry, novels, photo-books, film, and critical essays) to explore how photography and writing supplement, unsettle, or illuminate each other. Course materials include works by Talbot, Baudelaire, Benjamin, Kracauer, Renger-Patzsch, Brecht, Tucholsky, Heartfield, Höch, Barthes, Sontag, and Sebald, among others. 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 equivalent or consent of instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 348.

Not offered 2018–19.

German 355 - Twentieth-Century Jewish Literature

Full course for one semester. This course offers a comparative approach to the works of Jewish writers from American, German, and Eastern European backgrounds, with a special emphasis on modernism and the postwar period. We will read literary texts as reflections on the Jewish experience in the twentieth century, including migration and assimilation, religious tradition and secular society, rising anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust. Throughout the course, we will be asking what exactly marks a literary text as “Jewish”—the author's identity, intended audience, thematic concerns, or stylistic choices?—and discuss critical concepts such as “ethnic,” “diaspora,” and “minority” literature. Literary readings will be drawn from Arthur Schnitzler, Joseph Roth, Franz Kafka, Else Lasker-Schüler, Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Mary Antin, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Art Spiegelman. Alongside the literary texts, we will read theoretical essays by Walter Benjamin, Dan Miron, Robert Alter, and others. Conducted in English. Students taking the course for German credit will meet in extra sessions. Prerequisite for German credit: German 220 or equivalent or consent of instructor. Prerequisite for English credit: two English or literature courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as English and Literature 355.

Not offered 2018–19.

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, memoirs, novels, poetry, drama, comics, and feature films. In the final weeks of the semester, we will discuss how memories of the Holocaust relate to other instances of historical trauma and violence, especially American slavery and its aftermath. Primary sources will include works by Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi, Charlotte Delbo, Imre Kertész, Cynthia Ozick, Tadeusz Borowski, Joshua Sobol, Paul Celan, Art Spiegelman, Steven Spielberg, 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 2018–19.

German 391 - 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, Schlegel, Hegel, Marx, Büchner, Freud, Benjamin, Adorno, Arendt, Celan, Müller, Derrida, and Kristeva. 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 2018–19.

The Languages of War
Full course for one semester. Although it is routinely condemned as quintessentially inhuman, war has played a role in every culture in history. In this seminar, we will ask why no single approach to war—anthropological, psychological, philosophical—can explain the full range of its complexities. We will be interested in the ways in which war has been understood in aesthetic terms and in the idea that language is inherently a paradigm of violence. We will also consider how the concepts of fantasy and fiction have proven crucial to the conceptualization of war. 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.

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. Not offered 2018–19.

Ways of Seeing: From Kant to Foucault
Full course for one semester. Philosophers and artists have long debated the nature of visual perception, throwing into question both sight’s ability to illuminate the world around us and the power dynamics and politics that structure different acts of seeing. This course offers an introduction to the philosophy of the gaze in modernity through an exploration of key issues in visual theory and culture. How does sight relate to the other bodily senses? What do we actually see when we look? And, conversely, what happens when we are looked at, when we become the object of another’s gaze, or a subject of surveillance? Through a combination of theoretical essays, literary writings, films, photographs, and paintings, we will explore the various ways (ethical, political, phenomenological) that vision has been conceived, depicted, and performed by thinkers and writers who challenge us to see differently. Authors include Kant, Goethe, Kleist, Marx, Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, de Man, Kracauer, Sontag, Levinas, and Foucault, among others. 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 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.