German Curriculum

The study of German at New College begins with a two-year, four-course sequence (four full-semester courses: Elementary German I & II and Intermediate German I & II). For students who have either completed the above sequence or who can demonstrate the appropriate proficiency in German, faculty regularly offer advanced-level courses such as Advanced German: Die deutsche Lyrik, German Culture: The New Germany, German Culture: Berlin and the New Germany and Advanced German: Kulturgeschichte der Bundesrepublik, as well as individual and group tutorials in advanced language skills, German literature in the original and cultural topics.

In addition to the curriculum in German in the original, there is usually one course each semester on a German Studies topic that is accessible to students who have no previous background in the language. Students also routinely undertake January Independent Study Projects (ISPs) involving month-long immersion  through German language programs at various branches of Goethe Institute in Germany and by utilizing the National Student Exchange either full year or semester-long programs at the Universitat Kassel. Two recent German majors utilized Wayne State University’s Junior Year in Munich program for a semester of study at the Universtat Munchen, and a student with a dual major in German and Art History spent her spring semester conducting independent thesis research and auditing two art history courses at the Humboldt Universitat in Berlin.

As with all New College programs, a senior thesis approved by faculty within the discipline is required in order to graduate.

Here’s a list of recent course offerings in German:
The list below is just a sample of courses offered in German Studies. For a complete list of courses, click here.

German Language Courses
Elementary German I
This is the first part of a one-year introduction to the German language. Using Moeller/Adolph/Hoecherl-Alden’s Deutsch heute Eighth Edition as text and the accompanying workbook, CD program, and online exercises, students will gain a fundamental knowledge of German grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. Since emphasis will be on the acquisition of both active and passive language skills, German will be the primary language used in the classroom, and participation in weekly conversational and review sessions with our German language teaching assistant is a requirement. During Term I we will cover the introduction and first six chapters of Deutsch heute. There will be frequent written and online assignments (Ace tests), and chapter quizzes, as well as comprehensive midterm and final examinations.

Elementary German II
In this second half of the one-year introduction to the German language, we will cover the last six chapters of Deutsch heute, and students will begin writing short German compositions and dialogs. Prerequisite: Elementary German I or demonstration of sufficient German proficiency on the placement exam.

Intermediate German I
In this course, we review grammatical structures covered in Elementary German and introduce more complex structures, while continuing to focus on reading, speaking, listening and writing skills. Students are expected to apply grammatical structures and vocabulary in their writing and speaking assignments.  The final exam will test oral proficiency.

Intermediate German II
This course is a continuation of Intermediate German I.  In the first module, we will complete the textbook. In addition to grammar and vocabulary, students will be expected to continue developing their skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, culture, and geography.  In the second module, we will focus on Berlin in text and film. We will read Erich Kästner’s 1929 novel, Emil und die Detektive and screen Gerhard Lamprecht’s 1931, Robert Stemmle’s 1954 and Franziska Buch’s 2001 film adaptations and make comparisons between text and films focusing specifically on both content changes and changes to Berlin’s cityscape.  The final project for the course is a Power Point presentation and paper on the development of the Berlin cityscape focusing on a topic of architecture and urban design.

German Conversation
In this course, students learn vocabulary for practical situations when traveling and living in Germany. These situations include: at the airport, on the airplane, at the train station, at the hotel, making a telephone call, asking for directions, at the bank, at the post office, shopping, at the restaurant, at the theater and cinema, at home, and at the doctor. Once per week, students perform a role play based on the topic of the week and are tested on vocabulary and idiomatic usage. For the final project, each student prepares a Power Point presentation on a topic of his/her choice related to travel to Germany. This course is required for German AOC students and students applying for a Fulbright Scholarship to Germany.

Courses on German Literature and Culture Taught in German
German Culture: The New Germany
This course covers history, geography, education, legal, political and social systems, economics, the European Union, culture, festivals, and daily life. Issues such as: reunification, unemployment, xenophobia, and current events will be covered. The course will use texts, films, internet resources, newspaper and magazine articles. Taught in German. Prerequisite: four semesters of college-level German or the equivalent.

Advanced German: Integration, Cultural Clash, and the New Germany
Parallel to the development of the new Germany after reunification in 1990, we will consider the history and problems surrounding German integration of foreigners or immigrants, particularly Turks and Muslims, within a traditionally white Christian society and discuss relevant terms such as Integration, Multikulti, Leitkultur, Islamismus/Islamisierung, Ausländer vs. Immigrant, Ausländerfeindlichkeit, Staatsangehörigkeit, Zwangsheirat, Kopftuch, Ehrenmord, etc. and the tensions imbedded in these terms.  In addition to newspaper articles, we will read selections from various contemporary writers on the issues of integration.  These include: Necla Kelek’s Die fremde Braut: Ein Bericht aus dem Inneren des türkischen Lebens in Deutschland; Seyran Ates’ Der Multikulti-Irrtum: Wie wir in Deutschland besser zusammenleben können; Alice Schwarzer’s Die große Verschleierung: Für Integration, gegen Islamismus, and selections from Thilo Sarrazin’s Deutschland schafft sich ab: Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen. This course is taught in German. Prerequisite: Intermediate German II or the equivalent. This is a reading, writing, and speaking intensive course.

Advanced German: Berlin History, Architecture, and Cityscape
This course provides an in-depth introduction to the history of Germany’s capital from its medieval beginnings to the present. Using architecture, urban design, and city planning, we trace the development and evolution of the cityscape. Themes include: the medieval center, the various Berlin walls, 17th- and 18th-century expansions of the city, Groß-Berlin expansion in the 1920s, the destruction from the Second World War and post-war reconstruction, the building and fall of the Berlin Wall, the significance of empty spaces in the dealing with the past, the evolution of the Berlin Palace and Potsdamer Platz, the Bezirke, waterways, and forests. Students will also become familiar with architects and rulers associated with the expansion of the city. Finally, students will also screen several films from the Weimar Republic to the present depicting Berlin at various stages of its history. The course is taught in German. Prerequisite is Intermediate German II or the equivalent. This course is reading, writing, and speaking intensive.

Advanced German: Tales of the Brothers Grimm in Text and Defa Film
This course focuses on the study and analysis of Grimm’s fairy tales and their Defa film adaptations, films from the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). We will concentrate on language, form, and themes of texts as well as the corresponding social messages of both the Grimm’s construction of “German” values and GDR socialism and the construction of “German” values. This course is taught in German and is speaking and writing intensive.

Advanced German: Deutsche Kulturgeschichte 1945-2007
Participants in this advanced-level German course will work with a variety of cultural materials in the German original, which will include poetry, prose, such as Peter Schneider’s Der Mauerspringer, radio plays, and films, in addition to materials from the Internet that shed light on German cultural history since 1945. Our focus will include the immediate postwar period and the division of German territory, the confrontation with Fascism’s legacy, reconstruction, the GDR period and the fall of the Berlin Wall, reunification, issues of multiculturalism in contemporary Germany, and “Ostalgie.” These texts will be the basis of oral and written reports, in-class discussions, and group projects designed to expand students’ working vocabulary and command of German grammar and stylistics. As part of the revisions of writing assignments, there will some review of advanced grammar and stylistics, but the major emphasis will be the application of students’ active and passive German skills. Prerequisite: two years of college-level German or its equivalent. Students with questions about their proficiency should contact the professor.

Advanced German: Die Deutsche Lyrik
Participants in this advanced-level German course will read in the original representative works of German poetry from the Middle Ages to the present. These texts will be the basis of oral and written reports, in-class discussions, and creative exercises designed to expand students’ working vocabulary and command of German grammar and stylistics. While some time will be spent on grammar review, the major emphasis will be the application of students’ active and passive German skills. Prerequisite: two years of college-level German or its equivalent. Students with questions about their proficiency should contact the professor.

Courses on German Literature, Film and History Taught in English
Age of Goethe
Framed by J. Habermas’ discussion of the bourgeois public sphere, the course focuses on eighteenth-century German drama and narrative. We read J. W. Goethe’s Faust I and The Sufferings of Young Werther, G. E. Lessing’s Emilia Galotti and The Jews, F. M. Klinger’s Storm and Stress, F. Schiller’s The Robbers, C. A. Fischer’s “William the Negro”, H. v. Kleist’s “Betrothal in St. Domingo”, “Earthquake in Chili”, “The Marquise von O…”, E. T. A. Hoffmann’s “The Sandman” and “The Doubles”, S. Freud’s “The Uncanny” and G. Büchner’s Woyzeck. Themes include: family, patriarchy, father-son relationship, father-daughter relationship, motherhood, role of women, class and marital match, race, racial mixing and passing, and the uncanny. We will also screen several film adaptations. This course is taught in English.

Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm
This course deals with psychological interpretations of Grimms’ fairy tales, paying close attention to family relationships, childhood development and the didactic function of the fairy tale.  Themes also include the role of witches, evil fairies and stepmothers, the significance of the absent or marginal father, the child’s separation from home, his/her journey of self-discovery and integration into a new order.  An integral part of the course will be the screening of fairy tale films, which we will compare with the Grimm’s texts. We will also discuss the ideologies depicted in the Grimm’s fairy tales by looking at how the Brothers Grimm modified the tales to depict German values and compare this to the scenic depictions of the tales in American and East German films.  You learn about the structure and recurring themes in Grimm’s fairy tales culminating in the writing of your own fairy tale. The course is taught in English.

From Caligari to Goodbye Lenin!: A Cultural History of German Cinema
This consideration of seminal films from Germany’s tumultuous 20th century will cover works from the silent era to the present. After covering the basics of film study in our first sessions, we will address the Weimar period with the help of such works as Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Murnau’s Nosferatu and The Last Laugh, Lang’s Metropolis and M, Pabst’s Joyless Street, Sternberg’s Blue Angel, Sagan’s Mädchen in Uniform. With Riefenstahl’s Blue Light serving as a transitional work, we will cover National Socialism with excerpts from her Triumph of the Will and Olympia, and Harlan’s Jud Süss, before proceeding to postwar films such as Staude’s The Murderers among Us. Our consideration of works up to 1990 will include Fassbinder’s Merchant of Four Seasons and The Marriage of Maria Braun, Schlöndorff and Trotta’s The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, Herzog’s Stroszek, and Wenders’ The American Friend and Wings of Desire, Trotta’s Marianne and Juliane, Sanders-Brahms’ Germany, Pale Mother, and Brückner’s Hunger Years. We will conclude with such recent films as Tykwer’s Run Lola Run and Becker’s Goodbye Lenin! Students are required to attend all discussion sessions, contribute to the web board, prepare in-class presentations on the works, and to write two analyses. No knowledge of German is required.

From Minnesang to Migrantenlyrik: Nine Centuries of German Poetry in English Translation:
Within the space of fourteen weeks, course participants will consider key epochs in German poetry from 1170 to the present. We will touch on representative poets from the High Middle Ages (e.g. Der von Kürenberg, Walter von der Vogelweide, the Nibelungenlied), the Baroque (Andreas Gryphius, Christian Hofmann von Hofmannswaldau), the Enlightenment (Christian Fürchtegott Gellert), Sturm und Drang (Gottfried August Bürger, Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart, J. W. von Goethe, Friedrich von Schiller), Classicism (Goethe, Schiller, Friedrich Hölderlin), Romanticism (Joseph von Eichendorff), Young Germany/19th Century (Heinrich Heine, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Theodor Storm), Neoromanticism (Stefan George, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Rainer Maria Rilke), Expressionism (Gottfried Benn, Georg Heym, Else Lasker-Schüler, Georg Trakl, and others), Weimar Germany (Walter Bauer, Johannes R. Becher, Kurt Tucholsky, Bertolt Brecht, Ina Seidel, Günter Eich), the Third Reich/Exile (Werner Bergengruen, Albrecht Haushofer, Brecht), "Point-Zero" and Holocaust Poetry (Eich, Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, Rosa Ausländer, Sarah Kirsch); "critical verses" and "Vietnam Poetry" of the 1960s and 1970s (Yaak Karsunke, Ingeborg Bachmann, Erich Fried); the GDR and feminist poetry (Wolf Biermann, Helga Novak, Verena Stefan, Inge Müller, Christa Reinig, Karin Kiwus, and others), and conclude with examples of lyrics by bilingual immigrants in contemporary Germany (e.g. Gino Chiellino, Zafer Senocak). Students are expected to contribute regularly to the course web board and class discussions, prepare presentations on selected texts, and to submit two sets of medium-length analyses. While the knowledge of German will certainly be an advantage in this course due to the inadequacies of most translations, it is not required. If sufficient students with the requisite language proficiency participate in the course, a separate class session conducted in German may be offered.

Snow White in Text and Film
This course focuses on the study and analysis of the Grimm's tale, "Snow White", and various film adaptations of the tale. Themes include: maturation, the forest, the role and voice of the mirror, female rivalry, female beauty and vanity and their connection to youth and aging, mothers and daughters, the role of food and nurturing, mothering as masquerade, color imagery and the symbolism of whiteness. This course is taught in English.

The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht: 100 Years of German Drama
This survey of Modern German, Austrian, and Swiss theater will trace the origins of Bertolt Brecht’s concept of the non-Aristotelian or “Epic Theater” with the help of Gerhart Hauptmann’s naturalist dramas Before Daybreak and The Weavers and examples of expressionism by Reinhard Sorge and Hanns Johst. Our examination of Brecht’s development will cover Baal, The Threepenny Opera (both the Brecht/Weill “opera” and G.W. Pabst’s film adaptation), The Mother, Mother Courage and Her Children, and The Good Person of Szechwan, in addition to some of his poetry, short didactic plays (Lehrstücke), and theoretical writings. We will examine Brecht’s posthumous contribution to Western drama with respect to Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit, early works by Peter Handke, Peter Weiss’s Marat/Sade, and possibly R. W. Fassbinder's drama and film adaptation The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Special attention will be given to Brecht’s legacy in the former GDR and Heiner Müller’s The Correction, Hamletmachine, and other texts. Some of these works will only be available on reserve at the library, and supplementary materials will be on the instructor’s web site. Students will be expected to contribute regularly to a web board conference as preparation for our discussion meetings. They will write two sets of essays and give an in-class presentation, which can take the form of performance of scenes from the works under consideration. No knowledge of German is necessary.

Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, and Robert Musil and the Crisis of Identity in Early 20th Century Central Europe
Focusing on major works in prose by Thomas Mann (Germany), Robert Musil (Austria-Hungary), and Franz Kafka (Austria-Hungary/Czechoslovakia), we will trace the crisis of individual identity in modern Europe. Our scrutiny will include Mann’s novellas “Tonio Kröger,” “Little Herr Friedemann,” and “Death in Venice,” in addition to Buddenbrooks, the novel that won him the Nobel Prize in Literature. We will consider the novel Confusions of Young Törless by Mann’s contemporary and Kafka’s compatriot Robert Musil before proceeding to Kafka’s stories “The Judgment,” “Metamorphosis,” “A Country Doctor,” “In the Penal Colony,” “The Hunger Artist,” and “A Report to an Academy,” and his unfinished novel The Trial. Among other issues, our investigation of the instability of identity will address Mann’s association of artistic talent with decadence and a decline in vitality, Musil’s concept of the human personality as a fragile construct, and Kafka’s characters in confrontation with patriarchal structures and preconscious and unconscious states of being. Depending on the participants’ interest, we may also view and discuss some of the notable film adaptations of the works we are reading. Course members will be responsible for informed participation in class discussions, oral presentations on selected topics, and two medium-length analytical essays. All readings will be in English translation. This course is open to all interested students.

Women and Seduction in 18th- and 19th-Century German Drama
This course deals with the development of the German bourgeois tragedy from 1755 to 1843, and includes a comparative look at English and French domestic tragedies, which influenced the development of the genre in Germany.  Topics include: seduction, the role of women, the father-daughter relationship, bourgeois honor, the role and importance of marriage and social class, female virtue and vice, infanticide, homosocial desire, and incest.  Primary texts include: Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Miss Sara Sampson, and Emilia Galotti, Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz’ The Soldiers, and The Tutor, Heinrich Leopold Wagner’s The Childmurderess, Friedrich Schiller’s Intrigue and Love, and Friedrich Hebbel’s Maria Magdalena. We will also read English and French dramas, which influenced the development of the genre in Germany including: Thomas Heywood’s A Woman Killed with Kindness, William Congreve’s The Way of the World, and George Lillo’s The London Merchant or the History of George Barnwell and Denis Diderot’s The Father of the Family and The Natural Son.

For detailed requirements, check out our General Catalog and the German Academic Learning Compact.

[Did you know?]


New College is one of the nation's per capita leaders in terms of Fulbright Scholars. Over the years, 31 of the 75 New College students who have earned Fulbrights  have studied in Germany.

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