Courses

This page contains synopses of Fall 2017 course offerings. For a schedule and more detailed descriptions of these courses, please visit the full list of classes here.

LEVEL I

GERM-001 Introductory German: Contemporary Germany 

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-011 Intensive Basic German: Contemporary Germany (Aleksandra Starcevic)

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.

LEVEL II

GERM-021 Intermediate German: Experiencing the German-Speaking World

This course is the first 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 Intermediate I, students explore the following themes:

• Where home is: What does “Heimat” mean?

• National pride – a German debate

• From art to kitsch: the cultural city of Vienna

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-032 Intensive Intermediate German: Experiencing the German-Speaking World (Anja Banchoff)

In the intensive track, the two-course sequence of Level II is taught in one semester. The course is organized topically to familiarize students with contemporary life in the German-speaking world. In Intensive Intermediate, students explore the following themes:

• Theme 1: Where home is: What does “Heimat” mean?

• Theme 2: National pride – a German debate

• Theme 3: From art to kitsch: the cultural city of Vienna

• Theme 4: Nature, people, environment

• Theme 5: Fairy tales

• Theme 6: 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.

 

LEVEL III

GERM-101 Advanced German I: Stories and Histories 

This course is the first 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 I, the students explore the following two themes:

• Germany after 1945: end of war, division of Germany, rebuilding the country 

• Two German states (1949-1989) 

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-111 Intensive Advanced German: Stories and Histories (Astrid Weigert)

In the intensive track, the two-course sequence of Level III is taught in one semester. The course is designed to provide students thorough exposure to contemporary historical and social issues in Germany from 1945 to the present. In Intensive Advanced, the students explore the following four themes:

• Germany after 1945: end of war, division of Germany, rebuilding the country

• Two German states (1949-1989)

• 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.

 

LEVEL IV

GERM-152 Text in Context: Reading Germany (Mary Helen Dupree)

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 (Katrin Sieg)

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. 

 

LEVEL V

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, the 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 the Tatort and that has to pay close attention to a mainstream television audience. Unlike other police series, the 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 the 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-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-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.

 

Additional Courses

 

GERM-024 The Germanic Christian Hero (G. Ronald Murphy)

The twin purpose of this course is to study the long historical relationship between Germanic and Christian values and imaginations as constitutive both of the dynamic fantasy of German story and of the notion of a hero, as well as to encourage good writing about those stories based on the students’ and the authors’ personal realizations – as derived from engagement in detail with the text. Each work will be studied in the context of its historical and cultural environment. The underlying theme, which is the title of the course, will be examined in the many transformations which it undergoes with the passage of time, the changing of poetic style, and the differing personal realizations of the poets – and readers. (Taught in English.)

GERM-043 Witches in History, Myth and Fiction (Emily Sieg)

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.)

 

Past Courses

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

LEVEL IV

GERM-166 Mysteries, Murder, 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 (Astrid Weigert)

“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. 

LEVEL V

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 NibelungenliedParzival, 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-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-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-263 Weimar Literature and Culture (Peter C. Pfeiffer)

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. 

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-307 German Mythology & Fairy Tales (G. Ronald Murphy)

This undergraduate course provides an overview of the genre that is perhaps most commonly associated with German literature. It includes some of the best known fairytales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Students read and discuss these fairytales from the standpoint of major interpretative frameworks, trace their origins and historical development, consider their echoes and subversions in contemporary writing, and examine their significance in German cultural history. As a Level V course, Grim(m) Fairytales continues to target upper-level language abilities, particularly critical reading of complex academic texts, formal presentation of findings, writing of descriptive and interpretive precis pertaining to some of these texts, leading discussions, and creative writing.

GERM-325 Dramatic Voices: Myth and Conflict in German Drama Today (Maxi Obexer)

From its very beginnings in ancient Greek tragedy, European drama has explored the often intractable conflict between individual, society, and higher powers. These enduring myths  are taken up, adapted and reconfigured in modern German drama. Through the creative use of monologue, dialogue, and chorus, modern playwrights continue to give voice to the characters involved in new dramatic conflicts. It is these voices, their analysis and interpretation, that form the core of this course. Students read, analyze, and interpret plays from the 19th century to the present day. Texts include Georg Büchner’s “Woyzeck” (1836), Felicia Zeller’s “Kaspar Häuser Meer” (2009), Peter Handke’s “Immer noch Sturm” (2010), as well as plays by the instructor Maxi Obexer, an acclaimed contemporary dramatist from Berlin. Under her expert guidance, students also have the unique opportunity to try their hand at creative writing assignments.

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-327 Radio Voices (Christian Sieg)

Radio broadcasting played a crucial part in postwar German culture. Whereas other cultural institutions such as theaters had to be rebuilt after the war, most German radio stations could immediately start broadcasting.

Public broadcasters influenced postwar German literature considerably, since they financed many of the emerging postwar authors. Therefore, we can draw on several radio plays (and actual recordings) by seminal postwar authors such as Alfred Andersch, Ingeborg Bachmann, Heinrich Böll, Wolfgang Borchert, Günter Eich and Max Frisch. In addition to analyzing plays and features by these authors, we will survey discourses on media and culture. German radio broadcasting was an intellectual force which engaged in heated exchanges over the most interesting aspects of postwar culture. Topics which were discussed on air include: The attempts the come to terms with the National Socialist past, consumer culture and modern conformism, rock 'n' roll and youth rebellion as well as the role of art in postwar German culture.

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-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-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-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.