Current Courses - Spring 2018

German Department

Course Descriptions

Spring 2018

(Check SIS for room assignments)


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

                             1:00-1:50 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 3220 (3)  German Play  

                              6:00-8:00  MW                                   Ms. Schenberg

GERM 3220 provides the unique opportunity for students to immerse themselves fully in a work of German literature by reading it, discussing it, and most importantly– performing it. At the end of the semester there will be two public performances, which each student must take part in. Every production has its own technical requirements; therefore some actresses/actors may have to double as costume designers, stage architects, prop builders, and/or sound engineers. Any expertise in these areas will prove useful but is not required. Please also note that previous acting experience is great, but not necessary. During our ongoing analysis and performance of the play, students will benefit from the chance to improve in every aspect of their German language skills.

Expectations: Attendance of regular class sessions is essential. Students should also expect to attend some extra rehearsals, especially in the weeks leading up to the performance(s). Short written assignments will develop writing skills and encourage students to reflect on the play, the progress of our production, and introductory

theoretical texts on performance. This will be a truly rewarding experience that will help improve your German skills in a fun and constructive environment!

Prerequisite: GERM 2020 or permission of instructor.


GERM 3240 (3) Interm Composition & Conversation II

                           9:30-10:45 TR                                           Mr. McDonald

Designed to expand  German writing skills, this course employs Internet mentor texts as writing templates. Student assignments focus  on contemporary issues related to the culture of German-speaking lands. Regular conversation practice. No textbook; no final examination. Prerequisite: GERM 3230 or Instructor Permission.



GERM 3290 (3) Conversation                                             Ms. Neuhaus                                 

                          5:00-6:00 W                          

This course aims at improving students’ German language skills and conversational fluency, as well as broadening their understanding of German culture through the discussion of current topics in German politics, culture, and society. Each student will research and present on two topics dealing with either current events or specific aspects of German culture. Presentations will be followed by student-led discussions.


 GERM 3510 (3) Journalism in Action 

                            2:00-3:15  TR                                           Ms. Riedle


How can the world be accurately represented? The journalist’s task is to portray reality, but what does this mean and how can it be achieved?

In this course, taught by the journalist and writer Gabriele Riedle, students will explore a variety of journalistic forms (news, background, reportage, commentary). Informed by Riedle’s extensive experience reporting from around the globe, the course will offer a look into the world of professional journalism. How do newsrooms and publishing houses work? How are editing decisions made? And what is “fake news”? Students will read exemplary texts by contemporary German reporters and consider the fine line between well-crafted reporting and literary prose. Eventually, students will compose their own texts based on research around Charlottesville. 

Requirements include regular attendance and preparation, participation, writing assignments, and a final project.


GERM 3526 (3) Business German

                           10:00-10:50  MWF                                          Ms. Parker

Germany has a lively startup scene and its mid-sized manufacturers, collectively known as Mittelstand, are thriving. This class prepares students to communicate effectively in the world’s fourth largest economy by focusing on the process of starting a new business on a basic level. Necessary language tools and cultural information will be acquired while developing ideas, marketing strategies and other steps in this process. The language of instruction and of all course materials is German. Requirements include regular attendance, project presentation and a portfolio. No final exam.


 GERM 4450 (3) Advanced Conversation and Comp

                           11:00-12:15  TR                                    Mr. McDonald

Using Internet mentor texts as writing templates, students refine writing and speaking skills. This is a student-driven class in which participants select the material to be adapted and mastered. No textbook; no final examination. Prerequisite: GERM 3240 or Instructor Permission.


GERM 4600 (3) Fourth Year Seminar  

                           2:00-3:15  MW                                      Mr. Bennett

The seminar is designed to give maximum freedom to the students in pursuing their own interests.  The central topic will be decided in discussion involving the whole group, me and all of the students who will take the seminar.  The purpose of the topic will be to focus seminar discussion and to bring out fruitful interrelationships among the students’ specific interests.

*The seminar schedule, the number and times of meetings per week, will also be decided in discussion, so that all students’ schedules may be accommodated.

The main work for the course will be a single substantial paper (20-25pp.).  The topic of the paper, for each student, will be settled by the end of the second week, and the rest of the semester will be devoted to completing the project, with the benefit of advice, guidance, and criticism from the rest of the group.  Group members, including me, will get to know each other and each other’s thinking very well as the course develops; and even the student who has never written a large paper will find the process not only feasible and rewarding in the present instance, but also useful for other writing projects in the future.

Seminar meetings will be of two types:  discussions conducted by me on texts or other materials of common interest; and discussions conducted by individual students on topics and materials having to do with their work on their essays.  Unless the number of students is surprisingly large, each student should get to conduct at least two such sessions.  These sessions are extremely important.  There is no better way of clarifying one’s thought than to deal with the problem of presenting it cogently to an audience.

In any case, every student will get plenty of feedback on his or her work in the course of the semester, from other students in discussion and from me in my comments on preliminary partial drafts of the essay.  Two such drafts, one before the midterm break, one after, will be required.

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GETR 3372/ (3) Jewish History and Culture                          

HIEU 3372/         12:30-1:45 TR                                              Mr. Finder

RELJ 3372                                                                              Mr. Grossman

This course provides a wide-ranging exploration of the history and culture of German (-speaking) Jewry from 1750 to 1945 and beyond.  It focuses especially on the Jewish response to modernity in Central Europe, a response that proved highly productive, giving rise to a range of lasting transformations in Jewish life in Europe and later in North America, in particular, and in European society and culture, more generally. 

Until the mid-eighteenth century, Jewish self-definition was relatively stable. From that point on, it became increasingly contingent and open-ended.  Before the rise of Nazism in 1933, German Jewish life was characterized by a plethora of emerging possibilities. This course explores this vibrant and dynamic process of change and self-definition. It traces the emergence of new forms of Jewish experience, and it shows their unfolding in a series of lively and poignant dramas of tradition and transformation, division and integration, dreams and nightmares. The course seeks to grasp this world through the lenses of history and culture, and to explore the different ways in which these disciplines illuminate the past and provide potential insights into the present and future.

This course is intended to acquaint students with the study of German (-speaking) Jewish history and culture and assumes no prior training in the subject. Class meetings will combine lecture and discussion. Course requirements will include two 5-page response papers and a 10-page research paper. Conscientious participation in class discussion is essential.  Readings will be drawn from both primary and secondary literature. Represented in the primary reading will be central figures in the annals of German-speaking Jewry, including Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Heinrich Heine, Arthur Schnitzler, Gershom Scholem, Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, and Ruth Klüger.

This course fulfills the Second Writing Requirement.


GETR 3390/ (3) Nazi Germany                                  

HIEU 3390         10:00-10:50 MW                                             Ms. Achilles

This course examines the historical origins, political structures, cultural dynamics, and everyday practices of the Nazi Third Reich. Requirements include regular attendance, active participation, two five-page essays, mid-term and final examinations. All readings and discussions are in English. No prerequisites.


GETR 3420  (3)  German Intellectual History II

                             1:00-1:50  MWF                                            Mr. Kaiser

This course addresses all students, who work in the humanities, in particular students in language and literature departments, but also students in philosophy, history, religious studies, politics and the social sciences. The seminar will give an overview and also take a closer look at the impressive legacy of German intellectual history, starting with readings from Hegel and Marx, continuing with Nietzsche, Thomas Mann, Kafka, Freud, Luxemburg, Lukacs, Marcuse, Husserl, Heidegger, Arendt, Hamburger, Elias, the intellectuals of the Frankfurt School (Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin), ending with contemporary scholars like Weigel, Habermas and Sloterdijk. The texts and essays under investigation will not only introduce students to these influential writers of the German intellectual tradition, but also to significant contributions of this tradition to our contemporary fields of textual analysis, cultural studies and literary criticism. Hence the focus of the seminar is the question: How do these thinkers and their writings enable us to understand and interpret the various texts and contexts of the culture(s) in which we live?

Requirements: Regular attendance and active participation in class discussions; one short presentation in class (this can also be performed by groups of students); one term paper (12-15 pages for undergraduates; 20-25 pages for graduates).

There are no prerequisites for this course. It fulfills both the Second Writing Requirement and the Historical Studies Requirement. All texts are available in English translation. Essays will be made available on the collab-site for this course. Books can be purchased via the UVa-Bookstore.


GETR 3462/ (3) Neighbors and Enemies                               

HIEU 3462         2:00-3:15 MW                                                     Ms. Achilles

A biblical injunction, first articulated in Leviticus and then elaborated in the Christian teachings, stipulates that one should love one's neighbor as oneself. This course explores the friend/enemy nexus in German history, literature and culture. Of particular interest is the figure of the neighbor as both an imagined extension of the self, and as an object of fear or even hatred. We will examine the vulnerability and anxiety generated by Germany's unstable and shifting territorial borders, as well as the role that fantasies of foreign infiltration played in defining German national identity. We will also investigate the racial and sexual politics manifested in Germany's real or imagined encounters with various foreign "others." Most importantly, this course will study the tensions in German history and culture between a chauvinist belief in German racial or cultural superiority and moments of genuine openness to strangers. In the concluding part of this course, we will consider the changing meanings of friendship and hospitality in a globalizing world. Requirements include regular attendance, active participation, one in-class presentation, and three short essays (5 pages each). There will be no mid-term or final examinations. This course fulfills the second writing requirement; no prerequisites.


GETR 3470  (3)  Literature of the Holocaust 

                            3:30-4:45 TR                                                         Ms. Slodounik

How are memories of the Holocaust transmitted to today’s reader 70 years later?  This introductory course will explore literary responses to the Holocaust through texts that include fiction and autobiography.  All readings will be in English.  You will learn how to identify and analyze literary responses to the Holocaust by an analysis of canonical texts of Holocaust literature, ranging from memoirs published immediately after the Holocaust to texts written in the twenty-first century.  Texts include Primo Levi’s memoir Survival in Auschwitz, Art Spiegelman’s widely acclaimed graphic novel Maus I and II, and Markus Zusak’s novel The Book Thief.  By the end of the course, you will be able to think critically about future texts that respond to issues of Holocaust representation.  Requirements include paragraph response essays, a midterm paper, and a final exam.  For students interested in fulfilling the second writing requirement, this course can be adapted to do so.  No prerequisites.


GETR 3559/  (3)  Screening Nature  

MDST 3559          3:00-4:45  MW                                                        Mr. Dobryden

Your experience of the natural world has been shaped decisively by the media you’ve consumed. Images claiming to represent nature raise a series of thorny questions, however, that quickly lead us to matters of history, philosophy, and art. We might ask: what aspects of nature does a given media representation depict? What does it mean to ‘know’ nature through film and images? To whom does it want to appeal and why, and how does it do this? And what is ‘nature’ in the first place?

To investigate these questions, we will explore a range of moving image media from the early 20th century until the present, focusing in particular on films from Germany. Topics addressed will include: how cinema translates broader aesthetic categories such as landscape and the sublime; the function of nature in political ideologies; relationships between nature and technology; and dystopian visions of natural disaster and environmental collapse. Selected films: Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World? (1932), The Serengeti Shall Not Die (1959), The Day after Tomorrow (2004), Grizzly Man (2005).

Toward this end you will not just watch and read, but discuss, research, and write, in the process developing your ability to analyze films closely and place them into dialogue with big historical, philosophical, and aesthetic questions. Furthermore, you will build connections to representations of nature you’ve encountered in the past and present.


GETR 3559/ (3)    National Identity, Transnatioal Otherness:          Mr. Gilboa

MEST 3559          Refugees and Migrants in Israel and Germany

                               5:00-6:15  TR


Since its outbreak in 2011, the Syrian Civil War has not only resulted in the death of more than 465,000 Syrian citizens and displacement of more than 6 million people, but has also shaken the political and social climates in both Europe and the Middle East.  

Providing a shelter to almost a million people from Syria as well as other regions of conflict, Germany has been at the forefront of humanitarian help at the European Union. In Israel, the southern border with Egypt has been the sought destination of many refugees from Africa who are often arrested and sent to the Holot internment facility in the middle of the Negev desert. Nonetheless, many of them manage to reach the Tel-Aviv area where they (illegally) live, work, and form communities. In its northern border with Syria, Israel has created a method of providing humanitarian aid to Syrian villages despite the prolonged conflict between the two countries.

Pertaining not only to a nation's perceived cultural and religious identities, but also to its economic priorities and social fabric, questions regarding the place of migrants in society, the best ways to help refugees once they have arrived in a country, and whether or not they should be allowed to enter one's country in the first place, have been divisive and highly contentious in both Israel and Germany for more than five years now. In this course, we will be pursuing these questions by looking at the discourses that had emerged first in Israel and Germany, then in neighboring states yet with respect to the two countries. Taking a comparative approach to a diverse host of primary and secondary materials, we will consequently use our newly gained knowledge of the above discourses as a tool to understand cultural inclusion and societal exclusion not only in contemporary Germany and Israel, but also in our immediate surrounding.


GETR 3590  (3)  The Uncanny: Literature, Psychoanalysis, Film   

                             3:30-6:00  M                                                                Mr. Kaiser

In this seminar we will explore the relationship between literature, the various phenomena of the uncanny in literature (phobic figures like the double, the alien, death, technology etc.), and the traces which it left in the field of literary criticism.  When Freud published his famous essay on “The Uncanny” in 1919, he was not only able to draw on a series of uncanny texts from the 19th century, but he was also writing under the impression of the haunting, traumatic effects of the catastrophic first World War, thus giving a historical index to the phenomenon of the uncanny.  Using Freud as a pivotal analytical figure, we will first read texts from the 19th century (authors include Poe, Stoker, Wilde, ETA Hoffmann, Gotthelf, Nietzsche and others) and then contemplate upon the trajectory of the uncanny in 20th century art, film (among others Coppola’s “Dracula” and Lynch’s “Blue Velvet”), and criticism. If time permits, we can also explore the role of ghosts, specters and the uncanny in certain writings of Karl Marx, in particular in the 18th Brumaire.

There are no prerequisites for this course. Regular attendance is required. Students will give class presentations (group work is encouraged) and write two papers (8-10 pages


GETR 3590  (3)  Reporters at War  

                             11:00-12:15  TR                                                          Ms. Riedle

It is crucial that journalists continue to report on global crises, from places where daily life can be complicated, difficult, and dangerous. With the journalist and writer Gabriele Riedle, students will explore a variety of texts, photographs, and documentary films—from Ernest Hemingway’s reports from the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s to the Magnum Photo Agency’s ongoing documentation of conflicts.

Informed by Riedle’s extensive experience reporting from crisis regions, the course will grapple with the practical, ethical, and representational questions raised by such journalism: What is life like for journalists “in the field”? How can they continue to work while staying safe? What different genres and media are available to cover wars, armed

conflicts, and humanitarian or political crises? Is objectivity possible, especially in cases when a reporter is embedded with an army? How can journalists avoid sensationalizing crisis or portraying themselves as heroes?

Requirements include regular attendance and preparation, participation, writing assignments, and a final project.


GETR 3590  (3)  Crime Pays: In Literature, Film, and Reality  

CPLT 3590          11:00-11:50  MWF                                                               Ms. Bennett

Modern societies cannot exist without crime, because crime—as a violation of true social norms, not merely acknowledged norms—serves both to mark exactly where those norms are and to make possible any real social change (the more extreme the crime, the more radical the possible change).  Intellectuals imagine themselves capable of understanding and eventually changing society, but only criminals carry out that work in reality.  A number of important texts, in German, British, American, and Russian literature, from the nineteenth century to the present, will be read with a view to understanding the social operation of crime.  Authors will include E.T.A. Hoffmann, Heinrich von Kleist, Bertolt Brecht, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Joseph Conrad, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Margery Allingham, Herman Melville, and Dashiell Hammett.  The tradition of crime films from Rififi will

also be discussed.  Examinations will be used only to check up on the reading.  Grading will be based mainly on the two written exercises (one short essay at midterm, one longer final paper) and on participation in class discussion.


GETR 3695/ (3)  The Holocaust and the Law

HIEU 3695           9:30-10:45 TR                                                                        Mr. Finder

This course explores the pursuit of justice after the Holocaust. We will study legal responses to the Nazi genocide of Europe’s Jews from 1945 to the 1960s through the lens of pivotal post-Holocaust trials, including the 1945-1946 Nuremberg Trial, conducted by the US, the UK, the USSR, and France in Nuremberg; the 1961 Eichmann Trial, conducted by the Israelis in Jerusalem; and the 1963-1965 Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, conducted by the Germans. We will further study recent German attempts to adapt the German legal system to try the last living perpetrators of the Holocaust. We will also discuss how Jewish survivors of the Holocaust helped to bring Nazis and their collaborators before the bar of justice. Mindful of the postwar historical context, we will pose the question whether these trials and others served justice on the perpetrators and delivered justice to not only the victims but also history and memory.  In this vein, we will ask how the pursuit of legal justice after the Holocaust affects our understanding of the legal process.

Requirements for this course will include two short response papers and a 15-page research paper. The final grade will be determined on the basis of the written assignments, with substantial weight given to the research paper, and class participation.

Books for this course may include Lawrence Douglas, The Memory of Judgment: Making Law and History in Trials of the Holocaust; Michael Marrus, The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, 1945-46; Deborah Lipstadt, The Eichmann Trial; Devin Pendas, The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, 1963-1965; Lawrence Douglas, The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial; and Laura Jockusch and Gabriel Finder, eds. Jewish Honor Courts: Revenge, Retribution, and Reconciliation in Europe and Israel after the Holocaust.

This course fulfills the Second Writing Requirement.


GETR 3750/ (3)      Women, Childhood, Autobiography 

CPLT 3750/             11:00-12:15 TR                                                                      Ms. Martens

WGS 3750

Women everywhere have been raised differently from men.  They have had different childhoods, their lives have fallen into different patterns, and from the perspective of their lives they have looked back on their childhoods differently.  This course aims to introduce students to what women have written about their childhoods cross-culturally.  The purpose is to acquaint them with the variety of women's childhood experience and also with the different ways in which women have looked back on their experience as adults. This is a literature course.  It will not focus on contrasting the upbringing of women in different societies (that would be the task of anthropology or sociology), but, rather, will consider how adult women reflect back on their childhood experience and write about it.  In every instance we are given not a childhood but a reading of a childhood:  an analysis, or the story of a childhood, a childhood that has been transformed into a story.  Especially the professional writers among the authors present their stories not in a straightforward, chronological manner, but go out of their way to choose an artistic form of presentation (including fictionalization) that adds to what they say about their childhood in so many words.  Thus we will not just read "for the plot," but employ skills in literary analysis in order to discern the "how" as well as the "what" of the narratives.  We will read works by Doris Lessing, Lucy Larcom, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Marie Audoux, Christa Wolf, Natalie Sarraute, Maxine Hong Kingston, Arundhati Roy, Jamaica Kincaid, and Fatima Mernissi.  Students should be actively interested in the subjects of women's childhood experience and autobiographical writing and be willing to contribute to discussion.  They should expect to do a lot of reading - a book a week.   Requirements:  regular attendance and active participation in class discussion; autobiographical writing; two 5-page papers; final examination. 


GETR 3760/ (3)   Ways of Telling Stories: Eighteenth-Century Fiction    

CPLT 3760          2:00-3:15  TR                                                                   Ms. Martens


 Comparative studies in the European novel.  We will look at three dominant eighteenth-century novel types:  the fictional memoir, the novel in letters, and the comic "history."  By reading one or two examples of each, we will investigate why authors cast their stories in these forms.  The stories themselves are by turns gripping, thought-provoking, and entertaining:  they range from explorations of the enigma of the feminine mind to psychological dramas where idealistic souls grapple with adversity to a comedy where a scheming fortune hunter, a blustering father, a wily lady, and others of their ilk nearly contrive to keep lovers apart.  Readings include Defoe, ­Moll Flanders; Prevost, Manon Lescaut; Richardson, Clarissa; Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther; Fielding, Tom Jones; E.T.A. Hoffmann, "The Sandman"; some narrative theory.  Requirements:  this is a seminar, so students are expected to participate actively in discussion; three short papers (1250-1500 words); final exam.