Modern Languages

Course Offerings- German Studies


Beginner/Intermediate Courses

101, 102. Elementary German

Designed to develop basic proficiency in aural comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Authentic cultural materials (videos, slides, and cassettes) and computer-aided instruction enrich the students’ knowledge and understanding of German-speaking countries. A native German-speaking assistant serves as tutor for the course. Three class meetings and one or two laboratory sessions per week at the discretion of the instructor.                           

201, 202. Intermediate German

Review and intensified practice of language skills. German literary texts, newspapers, magazines, and television shows provide the basis for discussion of a wide range of contemporary social, political, and cultural topics. Class projects allow students to explore issues of their particular interest. A native German-speaking assistant serves as tutor for the course. Three class meetings and one or two laboratory sessions per week at the discretion of the instructor. Prerequisite: German 102, appropriate placement score, or permission of the instructor.


300 Level Courses

301, 302. Advanced German Proficiency

Students enhance their language skills and build their vocabulary through instructional units involving contemporary texts and literature. Topics include: “The Modernization of the ‘Märchen’,” “German Perception of America through American Film,” “Contemporary Short Stories by Women,” “‘Der kleine Vampir’, a Children’s Book.” Texts and assignments are chosen to fit the particular needs, interests and proficiency level of students. Multi-media classroom instruction includes use of video, cd’s and the Internet. Prerequisite: German 202 or permission of the instructor.            

304. German Civilization

A survey of German history, politics, and art from their beginnings to the present with special emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In addition, this course will focus on a close study of the geography and social structures of German-speaking countries. Use will be made of authentic sources. Students will continue to develop language skills, especially reading strategies and vocabulary building. Prerequisite: German 202 or permission of the instructor.           

305. Introduction to German Literature

This course provides students with the analytic tools that will facilitate the reading and interpretation of German literature. Specific artistic accomplishments are discussed against the background of historical and social contexts. Brief selections reach from the writings of Martin Luther to works by contemporary women. Particular emphasis will be placed on authors of the twentieth century. Students will continue to develop language skills, especially reading strategies and vocabulary building. Prerequisite: German 202 or permission of the instructor.


400 Level Courses

411. The Classical Age

Largely prevented from taking an active political role in the society of their day, late eighteenth-century German authors and intellectuals began what amounted to an artistic revolution—a revolution in thought and expression whose effects are still felt today. Focusing on key works by Kant, Goethe, Schiller, Mozart, Beethoven, and others, this course explores and critiques central concerns of the German Classical Age (e.g., enlightenment, tolerance, harmony, human perfectibility, progress, etc.)          

412. Romantic Germany

Set against the backdrop of French/European revolution, German Romantic thought manifested two distinct but related modes. On the one hand, many romantics broke with traditional commonplaces about art, nature, and humanity, embracing forms of philosophical idealism, pantheism, and “Romantic Irony.” On the other hand, however, a number of artists and intellectuals also longed for a return to the past—to an “organic” society in which divisive religious and political conflicts were as yet unknown. The course examines these and related trends as manifested in the literature, philosophy, painting, and music of the era.            

413. The Birth of Modern Germany

In many respects, modern German history may be said to have begun with the failed bourgeois revolution of 1848. With the shattering of its democratic hopes, the German middle class largely turned away from political concerns, focusing instead on the pleasures of family life, the private accumulation of wealth, and the advancement of science and industry. At the same time, the German bourgeoisie also came to accept the autocratic state authority with which it would ever afterwards be associated. This course traces the often ambivalent artistic responses to German “modernity,” focusing on figures such as Fontane, Hauptmann, Nietzsche, Wagner, and Rilke, and the movements with which they are associated (Realism, Naturalism, Symbolism, and Expressionism.)          

417. Democratic and Totalitarian Germany

Few eras continue to fascinate as do those of Germany’s Weimar Republic (1918-1933) and Third Reich (1933-1945). In the former, we find a fragile new democracy characterized at once by anxiety, inflation, and the destruction of values, as well as an explosion of creative energies in literature, film, music, the visual arts, and architecture. In the latter, by contrast, Germany’s “Golden Twenties” come crashing to a halt; post-war anxieties, uncertainties, and freedoms are exchanged for the reactionary nationalism of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Drawing on key cultural artifacts from the periods in question, this course considers the troubled relationship between democracy and totalitarianism in German history. The course then concludes with an analysis of the divided Germany as it developed after 1945.           

418. The Culture of the Open Society

With the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, Germany’s permanent separation seemed assured. In the east, the German Democratic Republic sought to realize a socialist state founded upon the principles of Marxism-Leninism. In the west, the Federal Republic of Germany embraced the model of a capitalist and politically “open” (pluralistic) society. This seminar focuses on the trials and triumphs of the latter, tracing social, cultural, and political developments from 1961 to the present. Topics of discussion will include Germany’s “economic miracle” and “affluent society,” the social market economy, student, peace, and women’s movements, terrorism, and German Reunification.


Additional Courses

194, 294, 394, 494. Special Topics in German Studies

The intensive study of a selected author, movement, genre, or theme in German culture studies.                                                         

190, 290, 390, 490. Internship


195, 295, 395, 495. On-campus Research


196, 296, 396, 496. Off-campus Research


197, 297, 397, 497. Independent Study


SCE. Senior Capstone Experience in German Studies

The senior capstone seminar is required for graduation and is devoted to the completion of a thesis or other project or to preparation for a comprehensive examination in the field of German Studies. Senior German Studies majors register for this course in the last semester in which they have full-time status at the College. While much of the work is done by each student independently in consultation with a faculty advisor, there are occasional group meetings in which those students writing theses or developing other projects report on the progress of their work and in which students preparing for the comprehensive examination discuss the texts and other materials they are studying. All students will give a formal oral presentation in the target language before their peers and the faculty at the end of the seminar. Thesis students will present their research. Students who are taking the comprehensive examination will choose a topic for their presentation in consultation with the faculty advisor. The Senior Capstone Experiencewill be graded Pass, Fail or Honors.

After consultation with the faculty in the German Program, students can take up to two 300- or 400-level courses from outside the German Program for credit toward a major, one such course toward a minor, in German studies if these courses contain substantial work done in German under the supervision of the German faculty. The following courses are recommended. This list is not exclusive.

  • ART 315. Northern Renaissance and Baroque Art
  • ECN 410. International Economics
  • HIS 354. Renaissance and Reformation
  • HIS 360. Twentieth Century Germany
  • HIS 362. Europe Since 1945
  • MUS 308. Classic Music
  • MUS 312. Romantic Music
  • PHL 414. The Philosophy of Marxism
  • POL 315. Comparative Government Western Europe