Current Courses - Fall 2017

German Department

Course Descriptions

Fall 2017

(Check SIS for room assignments)



GERM 1015 (3) German For Reading Knowledge

                           1:00-1:50  MWF                                                                 Ms. Schenberg

This course is intended for graduate students and advanced undergraduates who need to develop the skills necessary for reading and translating scholarly German and/or to pass the graduate reading exam. Nightly homework assignments from the textbook, combined in the later part of the course with readings and translation of texts from students’ chosen fields of study, will help students attain their desired research skills in German.  For graduate students, this is a no-credit course; graduates should register either as auditors or for Credit/No credit. Those registering for Credit/No credit are expected to attend class, turn in homework assignments regularly, and take all tests and quizzes, in order to receive Credit. Those not wishing to meet these requirements should register as auditors. Undergraduates may take the course for a letter grade, for CR/NC, or as auditors. Please note that GERM 1015 does not count toward the language requirement.

Course Requirements: Written: tests, quizzes, nightly homework assignments, midterm, final exam. Participation: attend and participate in class regularly.


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

                             12:00-12:50 MWF                                                            Ms. Gutterman

This course builds on the first year and second year German courses and seeks to increase the students' level of competence in both grammar and vocabulary. In this class, students are expected to produce more accurate and complex language, a broader range of vocabulary and begin to discuss issues from a diverse thematical syllabus. These might include political, social, cultural and educational issues as well as everyday life topics and current events in the German speaking countries. Students learn to participate in discussions of such issues creating group presentations and arguing a stance. Depending on competence levels, students can venture into a broad range of topics that they are interested in. A variety of grammatical issues will be reviewed on the basis of the topics discussed. Grammatical accuracy will be a central focus but also register appropriacy, and fluency. Prerequisite is GERM 2020.  The Textbook for this course is: Anne Buscha, Susanne Raven & Gisela Linthout. 2009. Erkundungen C1. Leipzig: Schubert Verlag.


GERM 3010 (3)  Texts and Interpretations

                             10:00-10:50 MWF                                                              Mr. Dobryden

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 - 20th and 21st Literature

                           1:00-1:50  MW                                                                    Ms. Gutterman

This course focuses on texts by German-speaking authors of the 20th and 21st century. We will discuss different literary forms and genres – short stories, novels, plays, poems, as well as autobiographic writings – and we will address the relationship of these texts to German history, culture, and literary movements. Our discussion will begin with turn-of-the-century writers in Vienna, such as Schnitzler and Hofmannsthal, followed by Benjamin, Brecht and Kafka. Postwar literature will include Ruth Klüger and Ingeborg Bachmann. We will also discuss contemporary literature and pay special attention to the current literary scene in Germany, with readings ranging from Sebald’s Die Ausgewanderten to Shida Bazyar’s Nachts ist es leise in Teheran. Grading will be based on class participation, three short essays, and a final paper. All work will be conducted in German.


GERM 3230 (3) Composition & Conversation

                           3:30-4:45 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 3290 (1)  German House Conversation                                             TBA                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

This course is mandatory for the residents of the German House but open to other students as well.


GETR 3330 (3)  Introduction to German Culture: Problems and Perspectives

                            3:30-4:45  MW                                                                        Mr. Kaiser

This course introduces its students to significant documents and materials from various areas of German culture (history and politics, the arts, the humanities, “high” and “mass” culture etc.) between 1800 and the present. Its major objective is probe the constructive and critical role of culture in (German) society and to create sensitivity for the diversity, multiplicity and historicity of culture in general and German culture in particular. To this end we will read texts, documents and treatises from various authors and disciplines (such as history, politics, sociology, literature, cultural studies etc.), watch and analyze four films (directed by Fritz Lang, Leni Riefenstahl, Wim Wenders and Margarete von Trotta), and follow recurring controversies and attempts in German cultural and political history to reflect upon the question “What is German (culture)?” We will read texts from Adorno, Arendt, Brecht, Celan, Freud, Marx, Simmel, Weiss, Luxemburg, Zetkin and others.

The course has no prerequisites and is recommended for all German majors and minors. It strongly encourages the active participation of its students, which is reflected in its grading policy. It invites students to give at least one presentation (15-20 minutes) in class (15% of the final grade), rewards overall participation (15%), and will determine the rest of the grade by a take-home midterm (35%) and an in-class final examination (35%). 


GETR 3559/ (3) Yiddish Literature in Translation                  

RUTR 3559/         2:00-3:15 TR                                                                       Ms. Sanford

JWST 3559

This course is designed to introduce students to the masterpieces of modern Yiddish Literature. From its foundations in Eastern Europe to its more modern roots in America, this course spans not only centuries, but also continents. Students will become acquainted with the most famous works of the three founders of Yiddish literature: Mendele Moykher Sforim (“Mendele the Book Peddler”), Sholem Aleichem, and I. L. Peretz. During this portion of the course, we will hold a screening of the 1971 classic American film “Fiddler on the Roof” and compare it with its literary basis, Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman. The course will also include a study of New York City’s Sweatshop Poets of the turn of the century as well as various Soviet-based propagandistic and rebellious short stories beginning with the Russian Revolution of 1917.  Additionally, the students will read Holocaust poetry as well as trial transcripts from August 12, 1952, that infamous day in history, which became known as “The Night of the Murdered Poets.” The course will end with the revealing short stories of Isaac Bashevis-Singer, the only Yiddish writer to date awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (1978), as well as a discussion of whether or not Yiddish literature is dying, if it’s worth preserving, and if so, how to expose the world to Yiddish literature and culture. All works will be read in English translation. This course counts as a second-writing requirement.

Requirements for this course will include a small group presentation as well as two 5-page response papers and a 10-page research paper. The final grade will be determined on the basis of the assignments, with substantial weight given to the research paper, and class participation.



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

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

Who was Adolf Hitler and how did he become the genocidal "leader" of a nation that was not unfamiliar with democracy. 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 representational regimes and affective logics that shape our understanding of the past. Requirements include regular attendance, active participation, one oral presentation, and short written assignments. There will be no midterm or final examinations.


GETR 3562  (3)  New German Cinema

                            2:00-3:15  MW                                                                      Mr. Dobryden

This course examines German art cinema of the 1960s-1980s. Often grouped under the rubric of “New German Cinema,” filmmakers such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Helke Sander, Alexander Kluge, and Margarethe von Trotta articulated the cultural upheavals of this period in striking images and experimental narratives, inventing new cinematic forms while appropriating and subverting popular genres such as noir, melodrama, and science fiction. Their formal experimentation went hand-in-hand with critical reflection about Germany’s fascist history, political violence, student protest, immigration, and globalization. Films will be screened weekly (attendance not required), 20-30 pages of reading per week. Assignments include weekly responses, presentations, and analytical essays (around 15 pages total). No previous experience with film analysis required.


GETR 3590 (3)  Over the River and Through the Woods: Fairy Tales

                           9:30-10:45 TR                                                                   Ms. Slodounik

How do the fairy tales we know in our culture today—Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Cinderella, and Hansel and Gretel—change and evolve from their original forms?  This introductory course will explore the genre of fairy tales and the insights that this genre provides into German language, literature, and culture.  All readings will be in English.  You will learn how to analyze adaptations of fairy tales and to examine how these changes reflect social and national identity.  Texts include excerpts from Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s collection The Original Folk and Fairy Tales as well as their most famous collection published 45 years later, Children’s and Household Tales, and Disney’s Into the Woods.  By the end of the course, you will be able to think critically about the fairy tales we encounter from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first century.  Requirements include short response essays, a midterm paper, and a final exam.  No prerequisites.


GETR 3590 (3)  Nietzsche

                              3:30-4:45  TR                                                                       Mr. Kaiser

This course will introduce students to the work of one of the most outstanding writers and thinkers in the German philosophical, aesthetic and literary tradition, namely Friedrich Nietzsche. We will read the most influential and significant texts of Nietzsche’s oeuvre, from The Birth of Tragedy via Thus spoke Zarathustra to The Genealogy of Morals and, ultimately, to the aphorisms entitled The Will to Power. Special attention will be given to the central concepts of Nietzsche’s thought, i.e. the eternal recurrence of the same and the so-called Űbermensch and their relation to each other. We will also look at the traces which Nietzsche left in the literature and philosophy of the 20th century, including the German, modernist (Thomas Mann, Rilke, Brecht, Kafka, Benjamin, Benn et. al.) and the French, postmodernist (Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, de Man, Kofman, Irigaray et. al.) reception. Fulfills the second writing requirement. No prerequisites.


GETR 3590 (3)  Medieval Stories of Love and Adventure

                              2:00-3:15  TR                                                                    Mr. McDonald

Joseph Campbell––and more! Trace the origin of The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and Game of Thrones: Encounter the stories that inspired Richard Wagner. Follow the hero and heroines of medieval fiction through the steps of the heroic quest: the call to adventure, meeting the mentor, tests and trials, symbolic death and rebirth, the road back, and return with a societal boon. Among the stories read are Parzival and Tristan and Isolde. Grade is based on classroom discussion, oral reports, and a final paper. No final examination. No textbook required.  


GETR 3600/ (3) Faust                                  

HIEU 3600         12:30-1:45  TR                                                                       Mr. Grossman

Goethe's Faust has been called an “atlas of European modernity” and “one of the most recent columns for that bridge of spirit spanning the swamping of world history. ” It is, given its genealogy, also perhaps the quintessential transnational work of European literature. Describing Goethe’s Faust “as a sexual nightmare of erotic fantasy,” literary theorist Harold Bloom argues that it “has no rival, and one understands why the shocked Coleridge declined to translate the poem. It is certainly a work about what, if anything, will suffice, and Goethe finds myriad ways of showing us that sexuality by itself will not.  Even more obsessively, Faust teaches that, without an active sexuality, absolutely nothing will suffice.” 

Taking Goethe's Faust as its point of departure, this course will trace the emergence and various transformations of the Faust legend over the last 400 hundred years.  We will explore precursors of Goethe's Faust in the form of the English Faust Book, Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, and possibly one of the various other popular re-workings of the text.  We will then read Goethe's Faust in its entirety.  Although now central to the European canon, Goethe sought in Faust to radically challenge many aspects of European culture, politics and society, while transforming the Faust legend itself. Beyond Goethe, we will consider one or more of the following: Byron's Manfred; Thomas Mann's response to Nazism in Doctor Faustus; Mikhail Bulgakow's magical realist response to Stalinism in The Master and Margharita.

Our aim will be to ask why writers repeatedly returned to the Faust legend and how, in re-working Faust, they sought to confront the political, social and cultural problems of their own times.  Requirements:  one short paper (5 pages), one long paper (10-12 pages), active class participation.


GETR 3692/ (3)  The Holocaust

HIEU 3692           12:30-1:45 TR

                             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 Alon Confino, 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

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 3740/ (3)  Narratives of Childhood

CPLT 3740          2:00-3:15  TR                                                                             Ms. Martens

How is childhood remembered?  This course examines writers’ representations of their childhood memories. Whether for the sheer pleasure of revisiting their childhood, or because they believed that childhood experiences are constitutive of identity, many modern writers have turned to childhood autobiography, which has flourished as a genre over the course of the past two hundred years.  We will begin by writing some of our own childhood memories, as an exercise.  Then we will read representative works—autobiographies of childhood, the childhood parts of longer autobiographies, and fiction involving childhood memories—by William Wordsworth, Marcel Proust, Rainer Maria Rilke, Walter Benjamin, Nathalie Sarraute, Richard Wright, Maxine Hong Kingston, and others.  We will consider the factors that the authors regard as formative influences:  parents, social class, racial or ethnic identity, sex, places, books.  Childhood autobiography raises issues of memory. While writers have listened to psychologists, notably Freud, they have also theorized the subject of memory themselves.  Thus, what triggers remembrance?  What kinds of events are remembered? Is the memory of childhood events trustworthy? Can we speak of fixed memories, or are we constantly rewriting memories in our imagination?  Moreover, authors can treat their raw material in different ways, e.g. by changing or embellishing fact or even writing “fiction,” by substituting stories told by other people for the classic first-person narrative, or by addressing a fictive listener.  In particular, we will examine the adult narrator’s attitude toward his or her past (sympathetic?  critical?  learning and discovering?  authoritative?), the point of view he or she adopts (the child’s?  the adult’s?), and the stylistic and formal devices he or she uses to achieve these effects.  Students should be actively interested in the subject of childhood memory and willing to contribute to discussion.  Requirements:  regular attendance and lively participation in class discussion; portfolio of responses; autobiographical writing; two 5-page papers; final examination.  Fulfills second writing requirement.  INSTRUCTOR CONSENT REQUIRED.   SEE SIS ENTRY FOR INSTRUCTIONS.