This page contains synopses of Spring 2019 course offerings. For a schedule and more detailed descriptions of these courses, please visit the full list of classes here.
GERM-001 Introductory German: Contemporary Germany (Astrid Weigert)
Part I of Level I. The two-course sequence of Level I introduces students to various aspects of the German-speaking world as a way of enabling them to begin building communicative abilities in German in all four language modalities: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Instruction proceeds from guided to more creative and independent work. The courses incorporate a variety of activities that are based on a range of topics, text types, and different socio-cultural situations. Through diverse collaborative and individual tasks, students begin to find personal forms of expression that are based on these materials. Students learn basic strategies for reading, listening, and writing, and for participating in every-day conversations. In the process they become familiar with and learn to use with some confidence the major sentence patterns and grammatical features of German as well as high-frequency vocabulary of everyday life. Integration of current technology (e.g., the Internet, e-mail, video) familiarizes students with the German-speaking world while at the same time enhancing language learning.
GERM-002 Introductory German: Contemporary Germany
Part II of Level I. The two-course sequence of Level I introduces students to various aspects of the German-speaking world as a way of enabling them to begin building communicative abilities in German in all four language modalities: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Instruction proceeds from guided to more creative and independent work. The courses incorporate a variety of activities that are based on a range of topics, text types, and different socio-cultural situations. Through diverse collaborative and individual tasks, students begin to find personal forms of expression that are based on these materials. Students learn basic strategies for reading, listening, and writing, and for participating in every-day conversations. In the process they become familiar with and learn to use with some confidence the major sentence patterns and grammatical features of German as well as high-frequency vocabulary of everyday life. Integration of current technology (e.g., the Internet, e-mail, video) familiarizes students with the German-speaking world while at the same time enhancing language learning.
GERM-011 Intensive Basic German: Contemporary Germany (Anja Banchoff)
In the intensive track, the two-course sequence of Level I is taught in one semester. The course introduces students to various aspects of the German-speaking world as a way of enabling them to begin building communicative abilities in German in all four language modalities: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Instruction proceeds from guided to more creative and independent work. The course incorporate a variety of activities that are based on a range of topics, text types, and different socio-cultural situations. Through diverse collaborative and individual tasks, students begin to find personal forms of expression that are based on these materials. Students learn basic strategies for reading, listening, and writing, and for participating in every-day conversations. In the process they become familiar with and learn to use with some confidence the major sentence patterns and grammatical features of German as well as high-frequency vocabulary of everyday life. Integration of current technology (e.g., the Internet, e-mail, video) familiarizes students with the German-speaking world while at the same time enhancing language learning.
GERM-022 Intermediate German: Experiencing the German-Speaking World
This course is the second half of the two-part course sequence at Level II. The course is organized topically to familiarize students with contemporary life in the German-speaking world. In Intensive Intermediate, students explore the following themes:
• Nature, people, environment
• Fairy tales
• The German-speaking world from a view of a foreigner
The primary text type that is used at this level to explore each theme is the story, — personal, public and literary stories. Students typically encounter each text first in class and then engage it further out of class in preparation for subsequent in-depth thematic discussions in class. Class discussions often involve role play and/or group work as a way to enhance conversational and negotiating abilities. The course’s emphasis on improving students’ ability to narrate, compare and contrast, express opinions, and establish causal relationships in speaking and writing lays the groundwork for the historical treatment of stories and histories in Level III.
GERM-102 Advanced German II: Stories and Histories (Willi Barthold)
This course is the second half of the two-part course sequence at Level III. The course is designed to provide students thorough exposure to contemporary historical and social issues in Germany from 1945 to the present. In Advanced II, the students explore the following two themes:
• Fall of the wall and its consequences
• Germany: en route to a multi-cultural society
Drawing on the dual meaning of the German word Geschichte (i.e., history and story), the theme-oriented instructional units in Level III emphasize personal and public stories in German history, while connecting oral narratives with written narratives. Students improve their ability to narrate, compare and contrast and establish causal relationships in speaking and writing. Through the integration of all modalities, this course promotes accuracy, fluency and complexity in language use. The development of advanced reading and writing is considered the primary means for expanding students' language abilities at this level of language instruction.
GERM-152 Text in Context: Reading Germany (Joe Cunningham)
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 (Peter C. Pfeiffer)
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-173 Business in Germany (Anja Banchoff)
This course has 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-257 Alles Theater! (Astrid Weigert)
Theater – as an institution and aesthetic experience - has been a dominant force in German culture and has greatly influenced the concept of Germany as a Kulturnation. This course links a socio-historical perspective on the German theater landscape with readings of plays from the late 18th-century to our 21st century and in-class performances of short scenes.
Topics to be explored include:
- theater and nation
- theater and social issues
- theater and gender
We will draw on plays by a variety of playwrights from various periods– male, female, canonical, non-canonical – such as Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Georg Büchner, Elsa Bernstein, Berthold Brecht, and Maxi Obexer.
In addition to the plays themselves, our texts will include select socio-historical overviews, playbills, reviews, videos of performances, (auto)biographies (excerpts), and secondary literature.
GERM-430 Literature and Culture in the Weimar Republic (Peter C. Pfeiffer) (upper/under)
This seminar-style course explores the incredible artistic and intellectual vitality of the Weimar Republic, the time between the end of World War I and the rise of National Socialism in Germany. Many of the works of architecture, art, literature, film, and philosophical thought that were created back then remain a standard for us today.
We will read literature and essays, view films and consider artistic developments within the context of three interlocking spheres of experiences that characterize the Weimar Republic. First, we will look at the immediate post-war and revolutionary period with its often messianic understanding of future possibilities and pragmatic approaches to building a republic. Then we will look at the experience of socio-economic upheaval and instability caused by both hyper-inflation and mass unemployment. Finally, we will focus on political radicalization and increasingly violent conflicts within the political system.
GERM-042 Women and Nazi Culture (Doria Killian)
This course focuses on women’s relationship to Nazi culture historically (focusing on Germany, but also including references to Austria and Italy) and by examining connections to present day American politics and culture. These contemporary meanings seem to revolve around paradoxical assumptions about women’s nature: while some assert that Nazi societies made women in to passive breeding machines, reducing them to a biological function, others claim that Nazi societies deformed female citizens into unnatural, violent killers. Societies that defined themselves as opposed to Nazism thus concluded, equally paradoxically, that Nazism was the epitome of patriarchy and should be combatted by alternative notions of the family, or that Nazism posed the opposite of the traditional patriarchal family, which must therefore be strengthened in order to produce properly democratic citizens. Readings are drawn from literature, historical scholarship, and social theory; we will also look at films and visual art about Nazi culture and women’s victimization and resistance. (Taught in English, HALC)
GERM-043 Witches in History, Myth and Fiction (Noelle Rettig)
The course investigates what is clearly one of the most disturbing and inexplicable occurrences in human history. Unlike the Holocaust, to which the witch hunts are frequently compared, the persecution of witches cannot be viewed as a relatively brief and unusually violent historical anomaly, since it continued over several hundred years; the witch hunts cannot be explained in the context of national specificity since they spanned almost the entire European continent and migrated to early America; nor can these events be blamed on any single "madman." As a historical phenomenon, the witch persecution defies simplistic explanations and thus lends itself particularly well to the kinds of investigation this course intends. (Taught in English, HALC)
The following list contains samples of Level IV and V courses from recent semesters.
GERM-166 Murder, Mystery, Madness (Anja Banchoff)
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 styles.
GERM-167 Liebe, Lust und Leidenschaft (Mary Helen Dupree)
“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 in selected German-language texts from the 18th century to the present. Based on these texts, we will discuss the class and gender-specific implications of the changing notions of "love" both for the individual and for society.
GERM-201 Love and/vs Warfare: Three Medieval Epics (G. Ronald Murphy)
The thematic purpose of this course is to study the changing dynamic between human love and conflict as presented in the poetry of three of the medieval world’s greatest epics: The Nibelungenlied, Parzival, and Tristan and Isolde. The focus in The Nibelungenlied will be on the pivotal role of Kriemhild in her love and (self-)vengeance versus Hagen; in Parzival on the leading role of Condwiramurs to the true nature of the Grail, versus the anti-Muslim conflict of the crusader knight; and in Tristan on the ambiguous success of the hero’s fighting and the self-deceptive nature of his loving the two Isoldes. The course is open to interested Georgetown students from other fields. Class discussion in English.
GERM-230 A House Divided: Catholic/Protestant Conflict in Literature and Media (Mary Helen Dupree)
Four centuries after Luther famously nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, literary and artistic representations of the Catholic-Protestant conflicts that shook Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are more popular than ever. From Hilary Mantel’s international bestseller Wolf Hall to popular TV series such as Reign and The Tudors, dramas that chronicle the confessional conflicts of early modern Europe continue to fascinate audiences all over the world. This course will explore and compare representations of confessional and sectarian conflict in works of literature, films, and other media from the seventeenth century to the present day, focusing in particular on Germany and Central Europe, Ireland and Great Britain, and North America. (Taught in English, HALC, X-List: THEO, CATH)
GERM-250 Green Germany (Marianna Pankova)
Germany has been seen as a country famous for its strong commitment to mastering environmental challenges, promoting initiatives to fight global warning, and developing groundbreaking environmental technologies.
What are the major literary texts that help us understand how Germany became a forerunner in environmental thinking and policy construction?
How is climate change discussed in the German scientific and popular media discourse? What metaphors are used?
How are national and international political mechanisms for fighting against climate change represented in the German press?
What is the discourse of the local measures taken to foster environment protection and reduction of green gas emissions?
What are the typical ways of representing individual voices of the German citizens involved in nature protection and sustainable use of energy?
This course explores the topic of environmentalism, climate change, and environment protection initiatives in Germany after 1945 to the present by focusing on a variety of written texts and media (2 feature films and a cartoon) that address the questions raised above.
GERM-255 Isn't It Romantic? (Astrid Weigert)
Ghosts, dwarves, mermaids, and souls sold to the devil – these are only a few of the creatures found in Romantic tales. This course explores the most fascinating and multi-faceted period in German literary and cultural history – Romanticism. Students will become familiar with the biographies, works, and aesthetic ideas of some of the major as well as some of the lesser-known authors of the period. The inclusion of music and the visual arts aims to offer a well-rounded picture of this important period.
The three content areas will be closely coupled with fostering academic-level language abilities, stressing close reading and interpretation. An emphasis on genre will enable a focused and productive approach to the texts in the course. Themes of the course include Uncanny Tales, Music and the Visual Arts, and the Romantic Theorist, Writer, and Critic.
GERM-261 Revisiting Heimat in Literature and Film (Meghan O'Dea)
This level V course examines return visits to former familial homes by members of three different migrant groups settling in Germany in the 20th century: post-WWII ethnic German refugees from historical territories east of the Oder-Neisse border, Namibian migrants and asylum seekers in the former German Democratic Republic, and Turkish economic migrants entering West Germany during the Wirtschaftswunder. Through an analysis of documentary and feature films, autobiographical and fictional literary works, as well as scholarly sources and political documents, students will explore the socio-historical, experiential, and affective dimensions of migration. Return visits appear as a reoccurring theme within selected texts and link these three moments of Germany’s 20th century migration history. In particular this course examines, the meaning of Heimat, feelings of belonging, identity, revisiting as a strategy involved in maintaining linkages to former familial homes, and the meaning of familial origins to later generations. Migration is an ever-present experience in our contemporary world, and this course aims to shed light on three significant examples thereof within 20th century German society.
GERM-294 Five Decades of Tatort (Friederike Eigler)
Der Tatort, literally ‘the scene of the crime,’ is the longest running and most popular German police series; anniversaries like the screening of the 1000th Tatort last fall are widely celebrated events. Furthermore, Tatort has been credited with reflecting social and cultural changes in German society over the past five decades. This close tie between a fictional police series and social history is in part the result of the public broadcasting system (comprised of many regional stations) that produces Tatort and that has to pay close attention to a mainstream television audience. Unlike other police series, Tatort is shot in many locations throughout Germany and even Austria and Switzerland, each featuring a local pair of detectives.
The course investigates this unique lens on German society, by focusing on the following aspects:
- Introduction to the history and regional concept of Tatort, with special emphasis on the successful relaunch of the series in the early 2000s.
- Reasons for the popularity of the series across generations; fan culture; synergy effect of websites and social media.
- Introduction of new investigative methods and types of detectives: blue collar (Schimanksi), women (Odenthal and others), ethnic minorities (Baltic and others).
- Changing crime scenes, ranging from interpersonal and familial conflicts to global crime networks and terrorism.
GERM-329 Superheroes in German Literature and Culture (Max Kade writer-in-residence Christopher Kloeble)
Superheroes dominate contemporary television and film. Many of these stories are based on comics from the United States, yet the tradition of the so-called superhero spans far back into German literary history. Heroes with supernatural powers are already present in the medieval period, for instance in the world-famous Nibelungen-Saga. Just as well-known are the Grimm Fairy Tales, in which the supernatural always plays a central role. Early film is also no exception; with Gustav Meyrink’s The Golem a clay entity is brought to life in order to defend the Jewish community. Even some modern works are centered on characters who possess special abilities; in Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum, Oskar Matzerath shatters glass with his screaming, and the heroine in Michael Ende’s Momo possesses an unusual talent: she listens to people and gifts them time. In the past few years heroes with special abilities have continued to appear in German comics such as Captain Berlin by Jörg Buttgereit. These and countless other stories are considered to be timeless classics even if some of them have yet to be adapted by Hollywood.
GERM-373 From Luther to Lessing (G. Ronald Murphy)
The purpose of this course is to explore, read, and enjoy the new relationship between religion and literature which arose in German letters in the period between the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment—the baroque time of the Reformation, Humanism, Counter-Reformation, and the Thirty Years War. We will examine the mythopoetic mirror which the poets held up to give dynamic image to the persistent tension between Catholic and Protestant, Glaube and Frau Welt, heaven and earth, picture and text, seriousness and comedy, that produced the perhaps unexpected but nonetheless touching and brave image of the human being of the age—the fool, and its modern echo: Brecht’s Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder.
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-383 "Die Alpen: Image und Realität" (The Alps: Image and Reality) (Max Kade guest professor Dr. Doris Bachmann-Medick)
This course is not only meant for alpinists, mountain freaks (or “Gipfelstürmer“). It has a general aim: to explore the Alps as a special natural, social and economic environment – but also as a powerful image, a cultural stereotype, a space for discovery, adventure, collective desire and business – in literature, art, and film. All in all, at issue are the Alps as a popular site of longing and re-creation, not only for Europeans.
GERM-392 German Business Culture (Astrid Weigert)
This Level V course explores the effects of globalization on German business and society. Proceeding from the case study of a German-American business merger, students gain insights into the underlying cultural dimensions of the world of business in today's Germany. Topics include international mergers, labor relations, and entrepreneurship in Germany. Content acquisition is coupled with a theme and genre approach. Extensive reading, writing component, group presentations, and individual research projects emphasize cross-cultural awareness.
GERM-393 Writing Our Selves, Writing Our Times (Friederike Eigler)
This course focuses on autobiographical writings in the three distinct genres of diaries, letters, and reflective essays, both through readings and through creative writing in these genres. All three genres have a particularly rich tradition in German culture in the 19th and 20th century. By selecting topics representative of a particular period, by including writers who pursued diverse intellectual and professional pursuits, and by providing multiple perspectives on a range of social, ethical, and artistic issues, the course aims to provide a richly textured understanding of a person and his or her time. (Authors include the philosopher Hannah Arendt, the writer Franz Kafka, and the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, among others.) At the same time, students will gain awareness of the complex dialogic nature of autobiographical writings. The course fosters this insight through careful textual analysis, the discussion of pertinent scholarship on autobiographical genres, and through engaging students in their own creative writing with the goal of helping them to develop a voice of their own in German.
GERM-394 Images of Childhood (Mary Helen Dupree)
Ever since the Grimm brothers published their famous collection of Kinder- und Hausmärchen in 1812, images of childhood have been a crucial part of the literature and culture of the German-speaking world. Drawing on this tradition, German and Austrian writers, artists, and filmmakers have used children to represent innocence and morality as well as brutality and horror. For writers such as Frank Wedekind and Walter Benjamin, childhood offers an outsider’s perspective from which to examine and critique society. Similarly, coming-of-age narratives about children and adolescents form the basis of much literature of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Meanwhile, youth culture, in part imported from America, has played an enormous role in shaping postwar German and Austrian culture.
GERM-403 Ich und die Welt (Peter C. Pfeiffer)
The course investigates the particular contribution of the German literary tradition to the exploration of the self. In contrast to other European traditions, German literature can be viewed as focusing more pointedly on the experience of the individual rather than on depicting society at large. It is this perspective embedded in Germany’s cultural tradition that will guide the readings in this course which are drawn exclusively from canonical works of modern German literature.
The course provides students with a traditional literary historical perspective to provide students with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with canonical works in the German tradition and with some of Germany’s major underlying cultural traditions. The goal is to hone interpretive skills within a historical and systematic context and to have students develop the necessary written and spoken German to communicate such interpretation and their contexts in a convincing and appropriately complex style.
This is a seminar-style, reading intensive course that will focus its classroom activities on structured discussions of the texts while developing a broader historical/aesthetic framework for such readings. Frequent presentations by students on particular issues — such as comparisons between aspects of two works, introduction of additional works with reference to the ones read in class etc. — will provide additional starting points for student engagement.
GERM-455 Scandalous Tales: The German Novella (Mary Helen Dupree)
In German novellas of the 18th through the 20th centuries, authors have found a space to explore and dramatize what Goethe once termed "unheard-of events" (unerhörte Begebenheiten), from war stories to murder mysteries to Gothic and fantastic narratives. Eschewing the lengthy psychological studies and extended dialogues typical of its close cousin, the German Roman, the German novella delights and confounds its readers with condensed accounts of mysterious and scandalous events. In fact, the word "novella" (German Novelle) is etymologically related to the word for "news" in many Romance languages. So, in a sense, novellas are the original "fake news!" In this course for graduate students and advanced undergraduates, we will analyze and compare novellas by German, Swiss, and Austrian authors from the 18th through the 20th centuries. Our discussions will focus on formal and experimental as well as thematic aspects of the novella: what sets it apart from other prose genres, such as the generally much lengthier novel (Roman), the less specific Erzählung and the more idiosyncratic Märchen? Particular emphasis will be placed on how novellas approach the question of difference, as figured for example in depictions of outsiders, "exotic" settings, women, and the uncanny. We will also discuss how these texts depict disruptions to the social order and their resolution, and how they advance concepts of "world literature" and the cosmopolitan.
GERM-461 Contemporary German 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. The focus will be the pleasure of reading some outstanding examples of post-war German-language literature and the interpretive frameworks literature provides for readers. Thus, the course is a first encounter with the literary tradition as it is part of the educated discourse in German-speaking societies today. The topical focus of the course is supported by the development and honing of writing and presentational skills through regular short papers on the readings and presentations on additional books.