Past Courses

The following list contains samples of Level IV and V courses from recent semesters.


GERM-152 Text in Context: Reading Germany (Peter C. Pfeiffer)

This course aims to familiarize students with academic forms of discourse in all modalities, particularly reading, writing, and speaking. It is a required course for German majors and strongly recommended for students who are planning to study abroad or are otherwise interested in using German in a professional environment (e.g., the business world, banking, non-governmental agencies, think tanks). Themes addressed in the course are likely to include some of the following topics: the role of German past in the German society today, the higher education scene in the German-speaking countries, the role of Germany in the European Union, environment protection, issues of migration and identity, political movements, etc.

Students will be guided to attain a level of accuracy, fluency, and complexity in German that should enable them to interact competently and comfortably in private as well as some public settings where they begin to address a range of issues in contemporary German public life. Accordingly, the course places particular emphasis on language use in public settings, referring to various socio-cultural and political issues or addressing how historical events and interpretations shape contemporary sensibilities and policies. Its particular focus is on language use in academic settings, so that students can perform the kinds of tasks that define academic work, in listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It emphasizes individual progress since students are likely to have different language and learner profiles and therefore different needs.

GERM-161 Issues and Trends (Marianna Pankova)

This three-credit Level IV course aims to develop the advanced literacy abilities of summarizing, interpreting and questioning, and presenting and substantiating arguments in professional and academic settings, primarily in speaking but also in writing, through the in-depth exploration of current political, social, and cultural issues in Germany as they are portrayed and discussed in major media outlets. This semester the course will focus on the following three contemporary issues (there might be adjustments):

– Nationale Identität und Fußballpatriotismus: Redefinition of national identity in the post-war period and its expression in the context of soccer.
– Demographischer Wandel: The changing demographics in Germany, particularly the ongoing debate regarding the declining birth rate;
– Die Stationierung deutscher Streitkräfte im Ausland: Controversy concerning the role of German armed forces abroad, with particular focus on Afghanistan.

In order to develop students’ ability to discuss these issues at an advanced level, the language used in public to debate the issues will be examined and will serve as a model for student appropriation and eventual production. As with all Level IV courses in the Georgetown German Department, students’ language production moves from a primarily narrative focus to a more analytical and interpretive focus. Because of this framework and its emphases, this course in particular is seen as helpful preparation for the SFS oral proficiency exam.

GERM-166 Mysteries, Madness, Murder (Heidi Byrnes)

This course examines stories of crime, murder, and madness in 19th and 20th-century German literature and film as expressions of the increasingly complex relationship among individuals and between the individual and the social order. It considers how German artists have used the medium of crime novellas, dramas, fiction, and film to explore the depths of human motivations and consciousness, of the quest for love, justice, and truth, as well as the desire for vengeance, manipulative power, and destruction. How rationality and madness, the mysterious and the evil are understood and depicted at different times will allow us a view into moral dilemmas and moral truths, as well as forms of complicity, culpability, and exoneration.

The reading material includes texts from diverse genres (novels, plays, film/tv, essays) and literary periods (Romanticism, Realism, and the postmodernism of the post-war period). In sum, we will get to know some terrifically suspenseful, eerie, and unusual texts by well-known German-speaking authors of the 19th and 20th century, acquaint ourselves with some of the persistent philosophical questions they have raised, and learn about important literary periods and

GERM-167 Liebe, Lust, Leidenschaft (Friederike Eigler)

‘Love’ in all of its manifestations might well be the most popular topic of literature throughout all cultures and historical periods. Yet despite this universal appeal, notions and representations of love have changed (and continue to change) quite dramatically over time and across various cultures and subcultures.

This course explores the literary (and visual) discourses on love and its manifestations in romantic relationships by looking at selected texts (and films) from 18th century Germany to the present. Based on these texts, we will discuss the class specific and gender specific implications of the changing notions of ‘love’ both for the individual and for society.

GERM-173: Business in Germany (Anja Banchoff)

This course is a Level IV undergraduate course with a content focus on
economic and business issues as related to today’s Germany. With all
topics, emphasis is placed on cross-cultural comparisons between the U.S. and Germany. The content foci are explored through exposure to a variety of genres and close analysis of discursive practices prevalent in formal, business-oriented German. Students are guided towards acquisition of advanced language abilities as they examine textual organization features and expand their repertoire of specific technical vocabulary and grammatical structures necessary for making meaning in a business domain.


GERM-201 Love and Warfare in Three Medieval Epics (G. Ronald Murphy)

The purpose of this course is to study the changing dynamic between human love and conflict as presented in three of the world’s greatest epics: the Nibelungenlied, Wolfram’s Parzival, and Gottfried’s Tristan and Isolde. The focus in the Nibelungenlied will be on the pivotal role of Kriemhild her love of Sigfried and her vengeance on Hagen, in Parzival on the role of Condwiramurs and the Grail mystery versus the anti-Muslim crusades, and in Tristan on the ambiguous nature of the Hero’s knightly combat versus his and his ambiguous love for the two Isoldes.

GERM-240 Postwar Contemporary Literature (Peter C. Pfeiffer)

This seminar-style course is designed to familiarize students with various aspects of contemporary German literature since 1945, focusing on the relationship between literary form and social/historical context. In addition to the pleasure of reading some outstanding examples of post-war German-language literature, we will also look at a number of essays that try to assess the importance of literature beyond the confines of literary debate. Thus, the course provides an introduction to the literary tradition as it is part of the educated discourse in German-speaking societies today.

GERM-276 Persistence of Evil: German Novella (G. Ronald Murphy)

The aim of this course is to study and contrast the curiously different realizations of the storytellers of the German Novella concerning the persistence of evil — evil’s origins, its manner of extending itself, its disguises in both shocking and everyday forms, above all, its haunting ability, whether concealed or overt, to remain. Through a mixture of close reading and contemplative imaging of the narratives of the novellas, students will explore the poetic insights of this unique and highly appealing genre and its continuing and mysterious appropriateness for expressing the persistence of evil.

GERM-326 Berlin: Kulturhauptstadt (Hans-Michael Speier)

As a modern city, Berlin holds a special position in terms of its fractured history that cannot easily be compared to any other German metropolis. In this course, we will discuss a number of major cultural periods in Berlin. Selected themes include expressionism in literature as well as the visual arts; the so-called “Golden Twenties” with its clubs and cabarets; Berlin as a major film center; Jewish life in Berlin; Berlin under Nazism; the art centers of the city (including Prenzlauerberg and Kreuzberg); the building and fall of the Berlin wall; reunification and its cultural repercussions; the “Neue Mitte” and the cultural profile of Berlin today; and changing depictions of the city in contemporary texts. Authors will include v. Hoddis, Benn, Brecht, Döblin, Kästner, Tucholsky, Zuckmayer, Feuchtwanger, Kirsch, Grass, Hochhuth, Dückers, Parei, Treichel, and Falkner, among others. Additionally, we will draw on examples from the visual arts, music, and film.

GERM-331 From Luther to Freud (Heidi Byrnes)

This one-semester survey of German Civilization spans the period from approximately 1500 AD, the Reformation, to about 1900. Its aim is to familiarize students with general trends and some unique characteristics of German culture through the writings of major cultural actors, male and female, who can be taken to represent their era. German cultural activity is seen within its political, economic, religious, and social context and is related to developments in European culture/Western Civilization. Pervasive developments which, in many cases, span the centuries and have contemporary echoes will be explored.

GERM-369 Two Spiritualities: Rilke, Brecht (G. Ronald Murphy)

I realized some time ago that these two greatest of 20th century writers whom I really like, have amazingly different poetics and spiritualities of the meaning of being a poet and a mortal human being. I thought it would be extremely rewarding to contrast their differing theories of what poetry and story are supposed to do and be; Rilke seeing the poet as transcendental mediator between “the things” as the world of the spirit, Brecht seeing the poet-dramatist as the revealer of the poor human being’s dependency on money and help. Both are compassionate in their own way. Primary works to be read: in Rilke: the Stundenbuch; selections from the Buch der Bilder and from the Duineser Elegien. In Brecht: selections from his poetry, Baal, Mahagonny, Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder, scenes from Galilei, the Augsburger Kreidekreis.

GERM-379 Tradition und Moderne: D-A-CH (Astrid Weigert)

German-speaking Europe continues to exhibit a fascinating array of diverse regional cultures that reflect often quite profound differences in such areas as language variation, geography, climate, religion, history, literature, music, and food. This Level V course will explore representative regional cultures in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland with an emphasis on tracing the origins of regional traditions and observing their changes in practice, meaning, and reception into the 21st century. Course materials will include films, literary texts, historical texts, biographies, visual materials, and journalistic articles. Course content is closely linked with genres and language features that are prevalent in German academic settings.

GERM-445  Literacy and FL Teaching (Marianna Pankova)

This graduate-level seminar focuses on developing requisite foundational knowledge and critical awareness of various practical approaches to foreign language instruction in the American educational context, particularly at the college level (e.g., communicative, task-based, ecological-semiotic, etc.). Students become informed about (1) cognitive, socio-cultural, linguistic, and affective factors influencing the principles and processes of learning, particularly instructed second language learning; (2) the historical, educational, institutional, and curricular context within which instruction takes place; (3) pedagogical approaches to developing adult learners’ second language ability; and (4) the roles they could and should take on as teachers in order to enhance student learning. Special emphasis in the course is on the integration of language and content instruction in a college environment that lies at the heart of the curricular reform called for by the FL professionals today (e.g., MLA 2007 report). Students explore ways of transcending the language/content divide and developing curricula and courses where it becomes possible to address various thematic areas and at the same time explicitly attend to advanced language development. To that end, students analyze discourses of textual and media genres (e.g., personal and public narratives, appeal, speech, exposition, recipe, catastrophe film, political poster, etc.), and genre-based tasks as materials that facilitate adult second language acquisition.