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 230 - Green Germany

Germany is famous today as a worldwide leader in discussions about environmental sustainability, green politics, and renewable energy. The term "sustainability" is in fact the translation of the much older German word "Nachhaltigkeit." In this course, we will explore the development of ecological consciousness in the German-speaking world, with a focus on the relationship between environmental movements and broader cultural and intellectual traditions of thinking about nature. Through the study of visual art, literature, film, scientific texts, and philosophical writings, we will discuss topics such as: the political and theoretical underpinnings of eco-activism in Germany; the specter of disaster in the German environmental imaginary; influential scientific, literary, and philosophical attempts to challenge the division between the human and the nonhuman; and eco-architecture and related efforts to envision and create alternative modes of human-nonhuman coexistence. Taught in English. No previous knowledge required.

Frequency: Offered occasionally.

Cross-Listed as: ENVI 230


GERM 271 - "Dead White Men" in the Era of Antiracism

All readings and class taught in English; no pre-knowledge required. Commenting on the relation between Africa and European philosophy and culture, Kwame Anthony Appiah maintains that the temptation for Africa "to forget Europe is to suppress the conflicts that have shaped our identities; since it is too late for us to escape each other, we might instead seek to turn to our advantage the mutual interdependencies history has thrust upon us." Appiah's interracial approach is equally recommendable for the epistemological relation between the European philosophical tradition and contemporary culture-a culture that understands itself as post-ideological and declares any truth to be constructed (except for the inexorable laws of the market). In this culture, we can hear the question: Why should we bother with "dead white men"-who harbored universal truths and a universal self-conscious rational (male and white) subject-now that we understand that truth depends on historical context, that the self is decentered by the unconscious, that identity is constituted by factors such as class, race, and gender, and that truth is interlaced with imagination, ideology, and power? The faultiness of this question consists in presuming a clear-cut distinction or even break between philosophical tradition and contemporary culture, as if the latter had emerged autonomously and had not been shaped in relation and in conflict with this tradition. To gain insight into these mutual interdependencies, both epistemological and racial, in this course we shall pursue a double movement. On the one hand, we shall read closely texts by various "dead white men" as the unconscious (i.e., repressed and, for that matter, possibly all the more powerful) undercurrent of contemporary culture. And on the other hand, we shall read critiques of "dead white men" that point to the racialist unconscious that undergirds their argumentations. Emphasis may be placed on one or several main figures of any period since the early modernity (17th century) (e.g., Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Sartre, Lacan, Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida) and on their commentators and critics. The course may be offered in different iterations, and under different topics this course may be taken more than once for credit.

Frequency: Offered occasionally.

Cross-Listed as: MCST 271


GERM 273 - German-French Dialogues in Critical Theory: Marx-Freud-Sartre-Lacan

All readings and class taught in English; no pre-knowledge required. This course focuses on the dialogue and mutual influence between the German- and French-speaking traditions of political economy and philosophical and theoretical thought, as it becomes evident in the relations among German Idealism, Phenomenology, Existentialism, Psychoanalysis, (post-)Structuralism, and their productive interconnections in the development of Critical and Political Theory. While becoming familiar with the work of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Jacque Lacan, as well as the work of relevant thinkers who influenced their thought, we shall be examining the structural and conceptual homologies and differences among political economy, abstract thought, and human subjectivity. The dialogue will include the voices of race and feminist theory (e.g., Simone de Beauvoir, Franz Fanon, Julia Kristeva, Jacqueline Rose). The last part of the course will focus on the relation between these interconnections (among economy, ideas, culture, and the constitution of identities) and the exercise of power in the era of global capitalism, as theorized by thinkers who draw on this German-French-speaking line of thought. French majors and minors may read the French texts in the original and do some writing in French.

Frequency: Offered occasionally.

Cross-Listed as: MCST 273


GERM 274 - Spinoza's Eco-Society: Contractless Society and Its Ecology

All readings and class taught in English; no pre-knowledge required. Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) has been called the "savage anomaly" of the Enlightenment because his philosophy enables an alternative or 'hidden' modernity based on the interdependence of beings rather than their hierarchy. Ever more political theorists, environmentalists, and ecologists are turning to Spinoza's vision of a nonhierarchical union of nature and society that rejects anthropocentrism as the promise for a more equitable and sustainable life. In this course we shall focus on the foundation of Spinoza's unconventional thesis: his intertwined conceptions of the human being as part of nature-as opposed to the prevailing notion of the human as an autonomous "imperium" in, yet above, nature-and of society as a continuation of nature-as opposed to the dominant theories of the "social contract" that ground society on its break with, or repression of, nature (Grotius, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant). We shall examine Spinoza's entailed radical revision in understanding both the "political" and the "environment." Beyond Spinoza's Ethics and his Theologico-Political and Political treatises, we shall read major commentators on Spinoza's ethical and political theory and on his role in environmental ethics and Deep Ecology.

Frequency: Offered occasionally.

Cross-Listed as: ENVI 274 and POLI 274


GERM 275 - Theoretical Approaches to European and American Cinema

All readings and class taught in English; no pre-knowledge required. In this course we shall approach films as a medium that, through all of its means (from dialogue to more formal aspects, such as camera angle or editing), raises and attempts to negotiate philosophical, ideological, and political issues and conflicts. We shall be exposed to different methodologies of film analysis while examining: (a) a few representative films of three influential European film movements (German expressionism, Italian Neo-Realism, French nouvelle-vague), as a means of tracing the itinerary of European cinema from an action-oriented to a reflection-oriented practice; (b) the British and later American work of Alfred Hitchcock, as a mode of cinematography that employs the "gaze" as a principle of structural organization; and (c), American films of the 1970's - 1990's, as attempts to represent the world of late capitalism.

Frequency: Offered occasionally.

Cross-Listed as: MCST 275


GERM 276 - Marx, the Imaginary, and Neoliberalism

All readings and class taught in English; no pre-knowledge required. Marx's contribution to the theorization of the function of the imaginary in both the constitution of subjectivity and the mechanisms of politics and economy-usually referred to as ideology-cannot be overestimated. The first part of this course traces Marx's gradual conceptualization of the imaginary throughout his work, from the Critique of German Ideology to Capital, while exploring how the imaginary enabled Marx's discovery of three further crucial concepts: structure, the unconscious, and the symptom. All these concepts became instrumental in the development of psychoanalysis and other new fields of knowledge, such as cultural analysis and the analysis of ideology. In addition to Marx's own work, we shall pursue its further development in later influential thinkers and cultural critics, such as Louis Althusser, Étienne Balibar, and Slavoj Žižek (as an example of applied cultural and film analysis). In the second part of the course, we shall address the claim that in the era of neoliberalism Marx's theory is no longer relevant. While focusing on the specific employment of the imaginary in the logic and central mechanisms of neoliberalism, we shall also examine McKenzie Wark's claim in her Capital Is Dead: Is This Something Worse? that today Marx's theory is obsolete.

Frequency: Offered occasionally.

Cross-Listed as: MCST 276, POLI 276, and RELI 276


GERM 277 - Metaphysics in Secular Thought

All readings and class taught in English; no pre-knowledge required. 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 may 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.

Cross-Listed as: POLI 277 and RELI 277


GERM 278 - Marx, Religion, and Biopolitical Race

All readings and class taught in English; no pre-knowledge required. In this course we shall examine the relation of religion to both capital and the modern forms of political power (what Michel Foucault termed biopolitics or biopower), as well as the biopolitical formations of race and racism as means for sustaining power-while discovering the enduring pertinence of Marx's work in theorizing the above issues. Biopower emerges gradually in secular capitalist modernity as a form of power that legitimizes itself not through its right to "take life" (as in traditional forms of sovereignty) but through its obligation to protect and enhance life. Yet, albeit "secular," biopower is a form of "pastoral power" (Foucault). We shall explore: the interconnectedness of modern biopower and religion; Marx's critique of the dominant (Enlightenment) critique of religion and his thesis that the secular state presupposes religion; the colonial and racial constructions of religion; racial capitalism; and the biopolitical constructions of race in its relation to social class and other forms of domination.

Frequency: Offered occasionally.

Cross-Listed as: MCST 278, POLI 278, and RELI 278


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

All readings and class taught in English; no pre-knowledge required. 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.

Frequency: Offered occasionally.

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: Uniting and Dividing Germany

This course prepares students with 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. These topics may include the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon (1813-1815), the 1848 European revolution, the impact of industrialization, the foundation of the German Reich (1870/1871), the economics and philosophical critique offered by socialism, the feminist movement, imperialism and WWI (1914-1918), the aesthetic revolution of modernism in the arts, and the beginning of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933). In the late part of the course, we shall also introduce ourselves to aspects of living on the East side of the wall dividing Berlin (1961-1989). In addition to historical sources, we shall read literary texts and view art and films relating to these topics. Taught 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 316 - Reading Marx

For Marx, "private capital" is an oxymoron - a contradiction in terms, since by its very nature capital is social. And "philosophy" is really not a thing, at least not the way it's always been defined, since the world of ideas has no existence independent of the material conditions of human existence. In this course, we will try to recover the revolutionary force of these arguments with a focus on what they show us about the illusory or fantastic character of modern life. From the early critique of alienation to the late analysis of surplus value, Marx showed over and again how the so-called rational world is not as rational as it seems: specters, fetishes, deceptive appearances, "false consciousness" are just some of the features of life under capital that Marx exposes and that continue to haunt our world (just think of how we appeal to the "magic of the market," its "invisible hand" or to "creative destruction"). We will read selections from Marx's early writings on religion and alienation through the theory of ideology, of commodity fetishism, and of primitive accumulation to his late programmatic texts in tandem with texts by 20th-century thinkers who critiqued and further developed Marx's thought (Lukacs, Gramsci, Lefort, Derrida).

Frequency: Alternate years.

Cross-Listed as: PHIL 216


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, Heinrich von Kleist, Irmgard Keun, and Yoko Tawada; films and television series from Ernst Lubitsch to Tatort; documents on artificial intelligence, transhumanist politics, and the history of toys. Taught in German.

Frequency: Offered fall term of even-numbered years.

Prerequisite(s): GERM 308 or GERM 309; or completion of Macalester's or another approved study abroad program; 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 in the 20th- and 21st centuries. In addition to working with course materials, students conduct remote interviews with professionals in Germany who work with or on migrants. Possible discussion topics include: "Gastarbeiter" in Germany since the 1960s; refugees and asylum in Germany; German immigration to the US; refugees from National Socialism; Hannah Arendt's critique of human rights; flight and expulsion of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe after WWII; so-called "second generation" immigrants in contemporary society, culture, and politics; the Willkommenskultur in 2015 and its aftermath; current initiatives in Germany for and by migrants. Taught in German.

Frequency: Offered fall term of odd-numbered years.

Prerequisite(s): GERM 308 or GERM 309; or completion of Macalester's or another approved study abroad program; or permission of instructor.


GERM 365 - A Kafkaesque Century

Taught in English; there is 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 and some of their oral presentations in German.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 Kafka's 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; there is 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 and some of their oral presentations in German.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): Requirement for those who would like to take the course as a taught-in-German course: GERM 308 or GERM 309

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): One of the following: GERM 308 or GERM 309 or GERM 363 or GERM 364 or GERM 365 or GERM 366, or Study Abroad


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.