German Studies

GERM 101 - Elementary German I

Emphasizing the active use of the language, this course focuses on vocabulary and structural acquisition as a way to develop elementary proficiency in speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension. Students both develop facility with German in highly structured contexts through work with authentic texts and become familiar with a variety of contemporary German-speaking cultures. Students will work with an open educational resource for this course: an interactive, online, and free textbook designed to meet the learning needs of Macalester students. For beginning students with no previous German language instruction. Three hours per week plus laboratory conversation hour.

Frequency: Every fall.


GERM 102 - Elementary German II

This course continues the development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, with increasing emphasis on the practice of reading and writing. Students develop creativity and facility with the language using concrete vocabulary within meaningful contexts. Students also continue to explore contemporary German-speaking cultures. Students will work with an open educational resource for this course: an interactive, online, and free textbook designed to meet the learning needs of Macalester students. Three hours per week plus laboratory conversation hour.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s): GERM 101 with a grade of C- or better, or permission of instructor.


GERM 110 - Accelerated Elementary German

A five-credit accelerated course which covers the content and proficiency development normally covered in GERM 101 and GERM 102. The course, with a separate curriculum for easy independent work, is for students with prior experience with German who need a concentrated review or for students with previous other foreign language background who wish to work at an accelerated pace. Three hours per week plus two conversation laboratory hours. During Spring semester there will be an optional reading and translation lab.

Frequency: Every semester.


GERM 174 - Vampires - from Monsters to Superheroes

Vampires are cyclical. Just a few years ago you ran into them anytime you walked into a bookstore or turned on the TV-just like in Victorian times when Bram Stoker's famous work emerged from a vampire craze. Vampires have always been popular fodder and will continue to be so, even if and as the image of the vampire shifts dramatically over time. The popularity of vampires has waxed and waned for over a hundred years, partially because vampirism can be used as a metaphor for almost anything-from the plague to sexuality to addiction. We will juxtapose classic tales of vampires as monsters with the more recent generation of vampires. What happened to change our imagination of vampires from monsters into hip, outsider superheroes? And what can the examination of vampires tell us about the context in which they were created?

Frequency: Occasionally offered.


GERM 194 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

GERM 203 - Intermediate German I

This course is designed to help students increase their proficiency in the German language while emphasizing authentic cultural contexts. Through exposure to a variety of texts and text types, students develop oral and written proficiency in description and narration and develop tools and discourse strategies for culturally authentic interaction with native speakers. Cultural topics are expanded and deepened. Three hours per week plus conversation laboratory hour.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): GERM 102 or GERM 110 with a grade of C- or better, or placement test, or consent of the instructor.


GERM 204 - Intermediate German II

The course aims to help students attain a comfort level with extended discourse in German within culturally appropriate contexts. Students develop the ability to comprehend authentic spoken German on a variety of topics at length. They develop effective strategies for comprehending a variety of texts and text types. They gain increased facility with extended discourse, such as narrating and describing. Writing in German is also developed so that students can write extensively about familiar topics. Three hours per week plus laboratory conversation hour.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): GERM 203 with a grade of C- or better, or placement test, or consent of the instructor.


GERM 277 - Metaphysics in Secular Thought

A widespread tendency in contemporary Western societies is to associate metaphysics with religion, if not with what is often dismissively called the "irrational." This course will dismantle this myth by reading closely European philosophy and political theory, mostly since the seventeenth century, in their relation to theology and their reception by twentieth-century critical theory. This will allow us to examine the ways in which secular thought emerges not as an alternative to metaphysics-something which thought cannot supersede anyway-but rather as a different way of dealing with the very same metaphysical questions and issues that concern religion, from the meaning of life to the imminence of death, and from (actual or imagined) guilt to the hope for redemption. We shall endeavor to identify the similarities and differences between the 'secular' and the 'religious' ways, including their respective relations to rationality. Readings will include: Aristotle, Talal Asad, George Bataille, Walter Benjamin, Kenneth Burke, Richard Dienst, Emile Durkheim, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Peter Harrison, Jacques Lacan, Karl Marx, Marcel Mauss, Carl Schmitt, Baruch Spinoza, Alberto Toscano, Max Weber, Slavoj Zizek.

Frequency: Occasionally.

Prerequisite(s): All readings in English. No pre-knowledge required.

Cross-Listed as: POLI 277 and RELI 277


GERM 279 - Value: The Bad, the Ugly, and the Cheap

For thousands of years value has been scrutinized in philosophy, art history, and economic analysis, as it cuts across three constitutive aspects of social, cultural, and political life: economy, aesthetics, and ethics. Not only do we have and impose on the world our moral, aesthetic, and exchange values, but these three fields often become difficult to distinguish, as is evident in the slippery flexibility of words that allow us to say as much "this painting is bad or worthless" as "I think this person is bad or worthless," or "this is a bad, or worthless, remark" and "this is a bad or worthless check." This course will focus primarily on influential accounts of value in aesthetic theory, while also examining the ways in which aesthetic value demarcates itself from or implicates its moral and economic counterparts, and what the interplays among the three fields entail for aesthetic value. Our readings will focus on the impact of primarily German thought on the formation of modern aesthetic theory-from the early eighteenth century through the Enlightenment and Romanticism to high modernism and the Frankfurt School. Class and readings in English.

Frequency: Occasionally.

Prerequisite(s): No pre-knowledge required. This course is appropriate for all level students.

Cross-Listed as: MCST 279


GERM 294 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

GERM 308 - German Cultural History I: Making Modern Germany

This course prepares students with advanced intermediate German language skills for upper-level courses in German Studies through advanced language instruction combined with a critical investigation of important political, social and aesthetic topics in German cultural history from 1815-1933. Such topics include the tension between the German Kulturnation and the political nation, the revolutionary impact of industrialization, the economics and philosophical critique offered by socialism, imperialism as discourse and political tool, and the aesthetic revolution of modernism in the arts. In addition to historical sources, students read literary and autobiographical texts, view films, and investigate examples of material culture from a variety of periods. Conducted in German. Three hours per week plus one hour of intensive language practice.

Frequency: Fall semester.

Prerequisite(s): GERM 204 or permission of instructor.


GERM 309 - German Cultural History II: Ruptures and Remakings of Modern Germany

This course prepares students with advanced intermediate German language skills for upper-level courses in German Studies through advanced language instruction combined with a critical investigation of important political, social and aesthetic topics in German cultural history from 1933 to the present. Such topics include the debacle of fascism, WWII and the Holocaust, the tension between consumer culture and Vergangenheitsbewältigung in the West Germany of the 1950s, the theory and practice of collectivism in East Germany, the significance of the Wall, political upheaval and terrorism in West Germany, German unification, multiculturalism, environmentalism, and sustainability. In addition to historical sources, students read literary and autobiographical texts, view films, and investigate examples of material culture from a variety of periods. Conducted in German. Three hours per week plus one hour of intensive language practice.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s): GERM 204 or permission of instructor.


GERM 314 - Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud

What happens when God dies? And what if he's always already been dead? Few authors have pursued the consequences of secular modernity as persistently as Nietzsche and Freud, both of whom were reacting to Darwin's discovery of natural selection, which did away with nature as proof of God. Focusing on the related domains of ethics, subjectivity, aesthetics, and cultural value, we will explore how modern thought tries, and just as frequently fails, to overcome its religious past. Discussion topics include: the loss of "truth" as a meaningful term; ethics beyond good and evil; alienation, ideology, and false consciousness; art as ersatz-God; mourning, trauma, and transience. Readings include all or parts of: Nietzsche, Daybreak, The Gay Science and The Genealogy of Morals; Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, and Totem and Taboo. Requirements: Readings, three papers, weekly reading responses.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s): Not open to entering first-year students.

Cross-Listed as: PHIL 214


GERM 337 - Dead White Men

Today we often hear people dismiss the Western (mostly European) philosophical tradition as a bunch of "dead white men." In other words, the argument goes, these thinkers harbored such passe notions as universal truths, a universal subject, and an individual in total control of itself and endowed with a pure reason unadulterated by rhetoric, imagination, fiction, and politics. Why should we bother with "dead white men" now that we understand that truth depends on historical context, that the self is decentered by the unconscious, that identity is constituted by gender, race, class, and other cultural factors, that truth is linked to power, and that ideology is omnipresent? Unfortunately, this all-too-familiar attitude overlooks its own faulty presupposition: it presumes a clear-cut break between philosophical tradition and contemporary thought, as if contemporary thought had no tradition out of which it emerged and could, therefore, merely discard what preceded it. Hence the popularity of phrases like "philosophy is dead." It is all the more ironic to see this attitude prevail in the West at the very moment that multiculturalism has become our cause celebre : all cultural traditions are supposed to be "respected," except the West's own tradition. (Perhaps as a new way for the West to reinstate surreptitiously its superiority as the sole culture with no tradition?) This course pursues a close reading of texts by various "dead white men" as the unconscious (i.e., repressed and, for that matter, all the more powerful) undercurrent of contemporary thought. Assigned texts will include: Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Pascal, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Marx, as well as texts by twentieth-century thinkers that stress the dependence of contemporary thought on philosophy. No pre-knowledge required; all readings in English. With different reading lists this course may be taken more than once for credit .

Frequency: Alternate years.

Cross-Listed as: MCST 337


GERM 363 - Cyborgs, Puppets and Borderline Humans

"We are all cyborgs," Donna Haraway tells us: fabricated hybrids of machine and organism, and increasingly so in the digital age. In this course, we will explore the porous boundary between the human and the parahuman in literature, film, and popular culture. Robots and androids, puppets and marionettes, living statues and Doppelgänger, prosthetic devices from artificial limbs to canes and eyeglasses are just some of the phenomena that inhabit and traverse the border between wo/man and machine, the natural and the artificial. How does culture figure the border between the human and its others? How does this border shift through history? How are parahumans gendered? How natural and how artificial is gender? Texts by Goethe, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Tieck, and Heine; films and television series by Fritz Lang, Rainer Maria Fassbinder, and others. Taught in German

Frequency: Offered fall term of even-numbered years.

Prerequisite(s): GERM 308 GERM 309, or study abroad, or permission of the instructor.


GERM 364 - Migration, Then and Now

Like few other countries, Germany exemplifies how the migrant is the political figure of our time (Thomas Nail), exploding our image of "national" culture and putting flight and movement, rather than citizens and the state, in the focus of cultural scholarship. In this course, we will explore the political reality and the cultural imaginary of migration both to and from Germany and Austria in the 20th- and 21st centuries. Topics may include: refugees from National Socialism; Hannah Arendt and the figure of the exile; flight from the GDR; guest workers during the post-war economic boom; "second generation" immigrants in contemporary society, culture, and politics; reactions to and depictions of the refugee crisis in 2015 and its aftermath. Taught in German.

Frequency: Alternate fall semesters.

Prerequisite(s): GERM 308 or GERM 309, or study abroad, or permission of instructor.


GERM 365 - A Kafkaesque Century

Taught in English, with an optional German component for those who want to have the course count toward their German-taught courses. In this case, students must do the reading and writing assignments in German and participate in extra discussion sessions in German (format and frequency to be determined with the instructor).What does the internationally (mis)used word "kafkaesque" actually mean? This course approaches Kafka's work both as a case for literary analysis and as one that offers insights into modernism. In one way or another, Kafka sheds light on massive industrialization, bureaucratization, the commodification of art, the destabilization of patriarchy, and the development of technology and media, as well as on the question: what is literature itself. In addition to a selection of Kafka's fiction, we shall read Crumb and Mairowitz's graphic version of his life and work, allowing students to produce their own graphic group project.

Frequency: Alternate spring semesters.

Prerequisite(s): For the optional German component: GERM 308 or GERM 309, or study abroad, or permission of instructor.

Cross-Listed as: ENGL 235


GERM 366 - Cinema Studies

Taught in English, with an optional German component for those who want to have the course count toward their German-taught courses. In this case, students must do the reading and writing assignments in German and participate in extra discussion sessions in German (format and frequency to be determined with the instructor).Cinema Studies is a film course with a special emphasis on some aspect of German culture relating to cinema, such as German film production, film adaptations of German literary texts, or the representation of German history in world cinema. While familiarizing students with the methodologies of film analysis, the course focus may vary from a historical or genre survey to a particular concept (such as representations of gender, race, nationality) to a cross-section between film and other texts. Students will gain insight into film as an aesthetic, ideological, and political medium, and into specifics of German history and culture. Students may register more than once in this course, provided a different topic is offered.

Frequency: Alternate spring semesters.

Prerequisite(s): For the optional German component: GERM 308 or GERM 309, or study abroad, or permission of instructor.

Cross-Listed as: MCST 266


GERM 394 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

GERM 488 - Senior Seminar

Designed as a capstone experience in German studies, the seminar brings together fundamental questions engaged by the field of German studies, and enhances students' understanding of the theories and methodologies informing contemporary scholarship. Part of the seminar will be devoted to study of an aspect of German studies; students will then conduct independent research, which will serve as the basis of class discussions during the latter part of the semester. Changing topics may include: Constructing National Identity; Radicalism and Conservatism in Modernism; Goethe's Faust ; Centrality and Marginality in German Culture; Translingual Interventions: Migration and Cultural Identity in Contemporary Germany, Stardom and Charisma. Taught in German.

Frequency: Every year.

Prerequisite(s): GERM 308.


GERM 494 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

GERM 601 - Tutorial

Limit to be applied toward the major or will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


GERM 602 - Tutorial

Limit to be applied toward the major or will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


GERM 603 - Tutorial

Limit to be applied toward the major or will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


GERM 604 - Tutorial

Limit to be applied toward the major or will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


GERM 611 - Independent Project

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


GERM 612 - Independent Project

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


GERM 613 - Independent Project

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


GERM 614 - Independent Project

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


GERM 621 - Internship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.


GERM 622 - Internship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.


GERM 623 - Internship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.


GERM 624 - Internship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.


GERM 631 - Preceptorship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.


GERM 632 - Preceptorship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.


GERM 633 - Preceptorship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.


GERM 634 - Preceptorship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.


GERM 641 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


GERM 642 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


GERM 643 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.


GERM 644 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor and department chair.