German and German Studies

Students may complete a major or minor in German and German Studies.

Faculty

Azade Seyhan, Fairbank Professor in the Humanities and Chair and Professor of German and Comparative Literature

Qinna Shen, Assistant Professor of German

The Bryn Mawr Department of German offers a fully coordinated program of courses with the Haverford College Department of German. By drawing upon the expertise of the German faculty at both colleges, the Department has established a broadly conceived German Studies program, incorporating a variety of courses and major options. The purpose of the major in German and German Studies is to lay the foundation for a critical understanding of German culture in its contemporary global context and its larger political, social, and intellectual history. To this end we encourage a thorough and comparative study of the German language and culture through its linguistic and literary history, systems of thought, institutions, political configurations, and arts and sciences.

The German program aims, by means of various methodological approaches to the study of another language, to foster critical thinking, expository writing skills, understanding of the diversity of culture(s), and the ability to respond creatively to the challenges posed by cultural difference in an increasingly global world. Course offerings are intended to serve both students with particular interests in German literature and literary theory and criticism, and those interested in a German Studies concentration that covers German and German-speaking cultures from multiple perspectives, including those of history, history of ideas, history of art and architecture, history of religion, institutions, linguistics, mass media, philosophy, politics, and urban anthropology.

A thorough knowledge of German is a goal for both major concentrations. The objective of our language instruction is to teach students communicative skills that enable them to function effectively in authentic conditions of language use and to speak and write in idiomatic German. A major component of all German courses is the examination of issues that underline the cosmopolitanism as well as the specificity and complexity of contemporary German culture. German majors can and are encouraged to take courses in interdisciplinary areas, such as comparative literature, film, gender and sexuality studies, growth and structure of cities, history, history of art, music, philosophy, and political science, where they read works of criticism in these areas in the original German. Courses relating to any aspect of German culture, history, and politics given in other departments can count toward requirements for the major or minor.

College Foreign Language Requirement

The College’s foreign language requirement may be satisfied by the completion of two courses in German with an average grade of at least 2.0.

Major Requirements

The Department of German offers a two-track system for the completion of a major in German or in German Studies. Both major tracks consist of 10 units. After the completion of the German 101-102 sequence (or its equivalent) the German language and literature concentration normally follows the sequence 201 and/or 202; 209 or 212, or 213; plus additional courses to complete the 10 units, two of them at the 300 level; and finally one semester of Senior Conference or either an additional 300 level seminar in German or German 403 (Supervised Work) for double majors. A German Studies major normally includes 223 or 245; one 200- and one 300-level course in German literature; three courses (at least one at the 300 level) in subjects central to aspects of German culture, history, or politics; and one semester of GERM 321 (Advanced Topics in German Cultural Studies). Within each concentration, courses need to be selected so as to achieve a reasonable breadth, but also a degree of disciplinary coherence. Within departmental offerings, GERM 201 and 202 (Advanced Training) strongly emphasize the development of conversational, writing, and interpretive skills. German majors are encouraged, when possible, to take work in at least one foreign language other than German.

The Department of German and German Studies offers Writing Attentive and Writing Intensive courses. Majors are required to take two Writing Attentive courses to help them develop critical writing skills and the ability to analyze literary texts in their historical and cultural contexts.

Senior Thesis Project

All of our majors are required to write a senior thesis in German, or--if they are double majors--to produce a thesis in a related discipline that has significant overlap with their work in German. They typically take a 300-level seminar in fall and write a research term paper which often becomes the foundation for their senior project.

Learning Goals

In writing the senior thesis, the student should demonstrate a) the capacity to conceive a theoretically informed and well designed research project b) the language skills to research and evaluate primary and secondary materials and to effectively synthesize these, and c) the analytical and methodological skills to produce an innovative and critically astute thesis.

Assessment of Senior Thesis

The quality of the thesis is evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Originality of topic
  • Mastery of analysis
  • Familiarity with primary and secondary literature
  • Creative application of relevant theoretical discourses
  • Clarity of writing

Honors

Any student whose grade point average in the major at the end of the senior year is 3.8 or higher qualifies for departmental honors. Students who have completed a thesis and whose major grade point average at the end of the senior year is 3.6 or higher, but not 3.8, are eligible to be discussed as candidates for departmental honors. A student in this range of eligibility must be sponsored by at least one faculty member with whom she has done coursework, and at least one other faculty member must read some of the student’s advanced work and agree on the excellence of the work in order for departmental honors to be awarded. If there is a sharp difference of opinion, additional readers will serve as needed.

Minor Requirements

A minor in German and German Studies consists of six units of work. To earn a minor, students are normally required to take GERM 201 or 202 or their equivalents, and four additional units covering a reasonable range of study topics, of which at least one unit is at the 300 level. Additional upper-level courses in the broader area of German Studies may be counted toward the six units with the approval of the department.

Study Abroad

Students majoring in German are encouraged to spend some time in German-speaking countries in the course of their undergraduate studies. Various possibilities are available: summer work programs, DAAD (German Academic Exchange) scholarships for summer courses at German universities, and selected JYA (Junior Year Abroad) Programs.

COURSES

GERM B101 Intermediate German

Thorough review of grammar, exercises in composition and conversation. Enforcement of correct grammatical patterns and idiomatic use of language. Study of selected literary and cultural texts and films from German-speaking countries. Prerequisite: Completion of GERM 002 or its equivalent as decided by the department and/or placement test.
Approach: Course does not meet an Approach
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Seyhan,A.
(Fall 2016)

GERM B102 Intermediate German

This course is the continuation of GERM 101 (Intermediate German). We will concentrate on all four language skills--speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension. We will build on the knowledge that students gained in the elementary-level courses and then honed in GERM 101. This course will also provide students with an introduction to selected aspects of German culture. Prerequisite: GERM 101 or its equivalent as decided by the department
Approach: Course does not meet an Approach
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Shen,Q.
(Spring 2017)

GERM B202 Introduction to German Studies

In this course, we will concentrate on all four language skills – speaking, reading, writing and listening comprehension. However, special emphasis will be placed on reading and writing skills. In addition, students will be introduced to different literary and non-literary texts and practice writing in different genres. Through newspaper articles, film reviews, short stories, poetry, and selected film screenings, this course also offers an introduction to some of the most compelling debates about multiculturalism in Germany and exemplary representations of cultural diversity in contemporary German life. Course taught in German.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Critical Interpretation (CI)
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Intensive
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Seyhan,A.
(Spring 2017)

GERM B212 Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and the Rhetoric of Modernity

This course examines selected writings by Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud as pre-texts for a critique of cultural reason and underlines their contribution to questions of language, representation, history, ethics, and art. These three visionaries of modernity have translated the abstract metaphysics of “the history of the subject” into a concrete analysis of human experience. Their work has been a major influence on the Frankfurt School of critical theory and has also led to a revolutionary shift in the understanding and writing of history and literature now associated with the work of modern French philosophers Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva, and Jacques Lacan. Our readings will, therefore, also include short selections from these philosophers in order to analyze the contested history of modernity and its intellectual and moral consequences. Special attention will be paid to the relation between rhetoric and philosophy and the narrative forms of “the philosophical discourse(s) of modernity” (e.g., sermon and myth in Marx; aphorism and oratory in Nietzsche, myth, fairy tale, case hi/story in Freud). Course is taught in English. One additional hour will be added for those students wanting German credit. Cross-listed with Philosophy 204.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Attentive
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

GERM B223 Topics in German Cultural Studies

This is a topics course. Course content varies. Recent topics include Remembered Violence, Global Masculinities, and Crime and Detection in German. The current topic will be taught in English with an additional meeting for students taking the class as a German course. Current topic is Remembered Violence. Description: As Germany was rebuilding from two world war wars and the Holocaust, its history was being redefined in an international context where non-Germans were also confronting the legacy of violent conflict with Germany. We will explore the conditions that raise the question of a central feature of memory in the modern era: does a common sense of history emerge from this international dialogue or does the cultural legacy of violence come out of an ongoing contest over divergent memories?
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Critical Interpretation (CI)
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

GERM B231 Cultural Profiles in Modern Exile

This course investigates the anthropological, philosophical, psychological, cultural, and literary aspects of modern exile. It studies exile as experience and metaphor in the context of modernity, and examines the structure of the relationship between imagined/remembered homelands and transnational identities, and the dialectics of language loss and bi- and multi-lingualism. Particular attention is given to the psychocultural dimensions of linguistic exclusion and loss. Readings of works by Felipe Alfau, Julia Alvarez, Sigmund Freud, Eva Hoffman, Maxine Hong Kingston, Milan Kundera, Friedrich Nietzsche, Salman Rushdie, W. G. Sebald, and others.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Critical Interpretation (CI)
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Attentive
Counts towards: Latin American, Iberian and Latina/o Studies; International Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Seyhan,A.
(Spring 2017)

GERM B245 Interdisciplinary Approaches to German Literature and Culture

This is a topics course. Taught in English. Course content varies. Previous topics include, Women’s Narratives on Modern Migrancy, Exile, and Diasporas; Nation and Identity in Post-War Austria.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Gender and Sexuality Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

GERM B320 Topics in German Literature and Culture

This is a topics course. Course content varies. Previous topics include: Romantic Literary Theory and Literary Modernity; Configurations of Femininity in German Literature; Nietzsche and Modern Cultural Criticism; Contemporary German Fiction; No Child Left Behind: Education in German Literature and Culture, German Literary Culture in Exile (1933-1945). Taught in English. Students wanting German credit will meet for additional hour per week.
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Attentive
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Shen,Q., Seyhan,A.

Fall 2016: German Lit as World Lit This course investigates the connection of modern German Literature from the 18th century onward with world literatures through literary trends, cultural networks, and translational contracts. The study of these sources illustrates how German literary trends have crossed linguistic and cultural boundaries and interacted with other cultural worlds. Readings range from the works of German Romanticism to postwar German writing and contemporary German–based trans-cultural and linguistic texts. Current topic description: The major focus of this course is the spatialization of memory and history in exemplary novels and films on Berlin. These works analyze the palimpsestic sites of the city as a mini archive of political upheavals, public life, fine arts, the star-crossed German-Jewish symbiosis, World War II, and the cultures of the two German post-war states.

Spring 2017: Berlin in Literature and Film. The major focus of this course is the spatialization of memory and history in exemplary novels and films on Berlin. These works analyze the palimpsestic sites of the city as a mini archive of political upheavals, public life, fine arts, the star-crossed German-Jewish symbiosis, World War II, and the cultures of the two German post-war states.

GERM B321 Advanced Topics in German Cultural Studies

This is a topics course. Course content varies.
Counts towards: Gender and Sexuality Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Shen,Q.

Fall 2016: Representing Diversity in German Cinema. This course examines a wide-ranging repertoire of transnational films produced in contemporary Germany. It presents an introduction to modern German cinema through a close analysis of visual material and identity construction in the worlds of the real and the reel.

GERM B399 Senior Seminar

Senior Seminar. Students are required to write a long research paper with an annotated bibliography.
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Seyhan,A.
(Spring 2017)

GERM B403 Supervised Work

Units: 1.0
(Fall 2016, Spring 2017)

GERM B421 German for Reading Knowledge

This course will provide graduate and undergraduate students with the skills to read and translate challenging academic texts from German into English. We will quickly cover the essentials of German grammar and focus on vocabulary and constructions that one can encounter in scholarly writing from a variety of disciplines. Does not fulfill the Language Requirement.
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

COML B225 Censorship: Historical Contexts, Local Practices and Global Resonance

The course is in English. It examines the ban on books and art in a global context through a study of the historical and sociopolitical conditions of censorship practices. The course raises such questions as how censorship is used to fortify political power, how it is practiced locally and globally, who censors, what are the categories of censorship, how censorship succeeds and fails, and how writers and artists write and create against and within censorship. The last question leads to an analysis of rhetorical strategies that writers and artists employ to translate the expression of repression, trauma, and torture into idioms of resistance. German majors/minors can get German Studies credit. Prerequisite: EMLY B001 or a 100-level intensive writing course.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Latin American, Iberian and Latina/o Studies; Middle Eastern Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Seyhan,A.
(Fall 2016)

FREN B213 Theory in Practice:Critical Discourses in the Humanities

An examination in English of leading theories of interpretation from Classical Tradition to Modern and Post-Modern Time. This is a topics course. Course content varies. Prerequisites: FREN 102 or 105.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Sanquer,M.

Fall 2016: Critic Approaches to the World. This course will be taught in English and focus on works of French feminist, postcolonial and post-structuralist theory. While our primary critical texts will draw from a particular linguistic tradition (namely French), and more or less distinctly circumscribed fields, we will also look at the broader transcultural and translinguistic influences that brought these “schools” into being and, most importantly, what fields of thinking they have subsequently inspired across language traditions.

GERM B001 Elementary German

Meets five hours a week with the individual class instructor, two hours with student drill instructors. Strong emphasis on communicative competence both in spoken and written German in a larger cultural context.
Approach: Course does not meet an Approach
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Shen,Q.
(Fall 2016)

GERM B002 Elementary German

Meets five hours a week with the individual class instructor, two hours with student drill instructors. Strong emphasis on communicative competence both in spoken and written German in a larger cultural context. Prerequisite: GERM 001 or its equivalent or permission of instructor
Approach: Course does not meet an Approach
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Shen,Q.
(Spring 2017)

ITAL B213 Theory in Practice:Critical Discourses in the Humanities

An examination in English of leading theories of interpretation from Classical Tradition to Modern and Post-Modern Time. This is a topics course. Course content varies.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)