Reed College Catalog

Katja Garloff

Twentieth- and twenty-first-century German literature, German Jewish culture, the Holocaust, literature and history, film and media studies.

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 (www.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: Modernism in Art and Literature

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. Students who successfully complete the course will earn credit for Group D and will not be eligible for Group A credit. Prerequisite: German 311. Conference. Cross-listed with German 328 for 2017–18; see German 328 for description. Students will not be allowed to subsequently take German 328 for credit.

German 328 Description

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. Students who successfully complete the course will earn credit for Group A and will not be eligible for Group D credit. Prerequisite: German 311 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed with German 312 in 2016–17.

Not offered 2017–18.

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. Cross-listed with German 312 for 2017—18.

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; bourgeois society and prostitution; the development of sexual science and psychoanalysis and new conceptions of sexual identity; gender and war; Nazi ideology; and postwar debates about sex and gender in society. Literary works will include texts by G.E. Lessing, J.W. von Goethe, Heinrich von Kleist, Theodor Fontane, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Arthur Schnitzler, N.O. Body, Ernst Jünger, Irmgard Keun, Bertolt Brecht, and Elfriede Jelinek. 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.

Not offered 2017–18.

German 332 - Classical and Avant-Garde Theatre in Postwar Germany

Full course for one semester. This course examines postwar productions of works by “canonical” German playwrights. These include the reopening of the Deutsches Theater in Berlin in September 1945 with a production of Lessing’s plea for religious tolerance, Nathan the Wise (1779); Gustaf Gründgens’ lifelong portrayals of Mephistopheles and his 1957/60 production of Goethe’s Faust, Part One (1808); Peter Zadek’s 1966 pop-art interpretation of Schiller’s The Robbers (1781/82); productions of Büchner’s Woyzeck (1836/1879); and Heiner Müller’s engagement with Shakespeare in his postmodernist Hamletmachine (1989/1990). These productions serve as a framework to investigate postwar performance practice and theory (from Brecht to “postdramatic” theater); the complicated legacy of “classical” ideals of humanity and humanism after the Holocaust; hermeneutic paradigms of fidelity and (textual) deconstruction; the intersection of countercultures and theatrical practice (“Bremen Style” and the ’68 generation); as well as the remaking of German theatrical canons and theater as a mode of cultural politics in both East and West Germany until reunification. In addition to these works and productions, the course examines theatrical theory and criticism (Schiller, Goethe, Brecht, Artaud, Adorno, Hans-Thies Lehmann, and reviews from Theater heute), recorded stagings, and adaptations for film and television. 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 332.

Not offered 2017–18.

German 335 - Contemporary German Literature

Full course for one semester. This seminar focuses on literature written after the unification of Germany in 1990. We will explore literary reactions to unification, the reconsideration of the German past, new forms of multiculturalism, and the national and global dimensions of contemporary literature. Special attention will be paid to experimental forms of writing such as the prose poem, pop literature, the deconstruction of narrative patterns, and “the new storytelling.” Authors include Thomas Brussig, Ingo Schulze, Christian Kracht, Zafer Senocak, Barbara Honigmann, Herta Müller, Elfriede Jelinek, and Daniel Kehlmann. Conference.

Not offered 2017–18.

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.

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.

German 358 - The Holocaust in Film and Literature

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 2017–18.

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 Laurids Brigge, Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood and Arcades Project, and essays by Simmel and Krakauer. We will also explore contemporary readings representing space as the container of traumatic memory (Sebald, The Emigrants), 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 2017–18.

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.

Marx, Nietzsche, Freud
Full course for one semester. Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud have profoundly influenced our understanding of modern culture and the hidden forces that shape it. This course offers a comprehensive introduction to the models of critical analysis developed by these three thinkers: historical materialsm, critical genealogy, and psychoanalysis. Rather than following a chronological survey, we will bring their works into dialogue on matters of shared concern, including historical agency, critical aesthetics, and the very nature of meaning and interpretation. We will also explore the writings of their inheritors (such as Althusser, Foucault, and Fanon), thus connecting our discussion with contemporary debates about power, ideology, and critical theory. Prerequisite for students taking the course for German credit: German 220 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Literature 391. Not offered 2017—18.

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 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.