Knowledge of German opens another window on the human scene, making possible an expanded perspective not available to those whose powers of comprehension and expression are confined to a single language. Students taking German develop an awareness of other modes of thinking about and interpreting human experience. Whether through the acquisition of a second language or the immersion in a new culture, students of German increase their sensitivity to their own linguistic and cultural practices, habits, and assumptions. Encounters with the cultures of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland help students develop a critical understanding of Western civilization. In a liberal arts setting, the study of German can be its own reward, while also leading students to a greater appreciation of the arts, the sciences, politics, and the past. German is valuable for students contemplating graduate study in numerous fields, planning careers in government service, joining businesses engaged in international trade, communicating with activists committed to global change, or embarking on a lifelong journey of continued intellectual, cultural, and personal enrichment.
Technology is integral to work in all courses in the Department of German. Films, recordings, and digital media supplement class instruction at all levels. A weekly dinner meeting at the German Table provides opportunity for students and faculty to speak German in an informal setting. A departmental assistant who is native to a German-speaking country acts as an informal resource person and tutor. A German writer is in residence for half of spring semester.
The 100-level courses introduce students to the language and contemporary culture, the 200-level courses further develop reading and speaking skills through analysis and discussion of modern German texts, and the 300-level courses cover the development of German culture from its beginnings to recent times.
Independent study is encouraged for those who wish to pursue intensive study of individual authors or special topics. Qualified students have the option of doing some reading in German to supplement designated German courses.
Students majoring in German should broaden their understanding of literature, film, theatre, and other modes of cultural expression by taking courses in other languages and literatures, as well as in fine arts and social studies. German courses completed in approved off-campus programs are counted toward the major in German at Grinnell.
Two tracks are offered. Proficiency in the German language is fundamental to both. For both tracks, we strongly encourage students to study for at least a semester in a German-speaking culture.
- The German Literature and Culture track has as its focus the study and analysis of German literary and other cultural texts. A minimum of 32 credits. At least 20 credits from 300-level (or higher) German courses, 14 credits of which must be taken within the Department of German at Grinnell. Required are German 302, 303, 372 (for 2 credits), and 495. Related courses in humanities and social studies and a reading knowledge of a second foreign language are strongly recommended. Courses numbered 101, 102, 121, and 212 do not count toward the major. With permission, up to 8 of the 32 credits may be taken in related studies outside the department.
- The German Studies track allows students to pursue interdisciplinary interests in German by doing coursework outside the Department of German. A minimum of 32 credits. Required are German 302, 303, and 495. At least 12 credits from approved courses at the 200 level or above in departments outside the Department of German are required. Courses numbered 101, 102, 121, and 212 do not count toward the major.
The following is a partial list of approved courses:
Art 231 Modern Art in Europe, 1900–1940
Economics 225 Marxian Economics
History 238 The Making of Modern Germany
Music 262 Western Music from 1750 to the Present
Philosophy 234 19th-Century Continental Philosophy
Philosophy 268 Cultural Critique: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Beyond
Philosophy 391 Advanced Studies in Continental Philosophy
Philosophy 394 Advanced Studies in Theories of Value
Some courses not listed may also be counted toward the German Studies track.
Please consult the Department of German about courses not listed.
To be considered for honors in German, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must demonstrate superior performance in their coursework in the major and make contributions to the department outside the classroom.
Acquisition of German language skills through listening, speaking, reading, and study of grammar. Students will develop communication skills such as the ability to talk about themselves and their interests. Practice of oral skills with a native German-speaking assistant.
Continuation and completion of oral-aural study of grammatical structures. Increased emphasis on developing oral fluency. Introduction to the literature and culture of Germany through reading and analysis of modern short stories and expository prose. Practice of oral skills with a native German-speaking assistant.
Intensive oral/aural study of German and focus on developing proficiency. This course is the equivalent of 101 and 102. Designed for students who want to progress quickly in their German. Not open to students who have taken German 102.
Focus on development of conversation skills. Discussion based on a variety of cultural topics. May be repeated once for credit. S/D/F Only. Does not count toward major.
Review of selected topics in German grammar, accompanied and followed by continued practice in speaking, reading, and writing.
Reading and discussion of literary works of intermediate difficulty. Reading content designed to acquaint students with important aspects of recent German culture and to develop skill in the analysis and comprehension of modern German prose.
Also listed as General Literary Studies 227. Texts selected from a wide variety of literary (and some nonliterary) texts by German-speaking authors. Topics are announced each time the course is offered. Readings and discussion in English. May be repeated once for credit when content changes.
Also listed as General Literary Studies 233. Readings and discussions in English. Seminal readings from film theory combined with a survey of German cinema from its inception to the present. Variable thematic concerns include the aesthetics of power, the real and the imaginary, representations of subjectivity, and the construction of national identity. German majors write in German.
Conducted in German. Study of German literature, history, and culture from 1750 to 1871 through literary and historical texts, documentaries, and films.
Conducted in German. Study of German literature, history, and culture from 1871 to the present through literary and historical texts, documentaries, and films.
Advanced language course with special emphasis on oral and written proficiency in German. Pertinent cultural and sociopolitical issues of German-speaking countries are used as a basis for short essays and discussions. Predominantly non-literary texts are chosen.
Conducted in German. An introduction to German culture from the Germanic tribes to the Enlightenment. Topics to be examined include political organizations, gender issues, and religion, with readings from the pre-middle ages, the medieval period, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Storm and Stress movement. All readings in modern German.
Conducted in German. A study of literature and thought from the late 18th century through 1880. Literary texts will be placed within the philosophical, historical, and socio-linguistic context. Variable topics.
Conducted in German. An exploration of German-speaking identities through their formulations and contestations in literature, architecture, cinema, music, cabaret, and political culture. Tracing the artistic epochs from Naturalism to Postmodernism, the course will examine ideologies of self and Other as they relate to ethnicity, race, class, gender, and geography.
Conducted in German. A study of responses in literary and other texts to historical, political, and social events such as World War I, the Weimar Republic, World War II, postwar reconstruction, the German Democratic Republic, and unification. Variable topics.
Close reading and analysis of recent German works from a contemporary cultural perspective. Conducted by the German writer in residence. All readings and discussion in German. May be repeated once for credit.
Critical reading and close analysis of selected texts in German literature and culture for students with a solid background in the study of German. Topics vary, and texts include both primary and secondary sources. Course may be repeated once for credit when content changes.
- College Catalog