Germanic Languages and Literatures offers a diverse and challenging program of study in the language, literature and culture of the German-speaking countries. In this program, students engage in intensive study of the German language and explore German literature and culture, from the Middle Ages to the present. They also have the opportunity to learn business German and to study the politics and culture of contemporary Germany.
Beginning students are taught German through a combination of main classes and subsections, rapidly acquiring speaking skills through intensive interactive classroom activities. Intermediate German combines a three-hour main class with a subsection to enable students to work steadily on speaking, writing, listening and reading skills. In advanced language courses, students refine their core skills, acquire new knowledge of complex grammatical structures, and improve their ability to express sophisticated ideas orally and in writing.
In Washington University's German program, students take courses from internationally recognized faculty members who are leaders in their fields and who have been recognized for their expertise in undergraduate teaching. Faculty areas of interest include medieval through 21st-century literature, history, film and media, translation, German-Jewish studies, music and sound studies, narrative theory, second language acquisition, and gender studies. All German classes are small, thus facilitating lively faculty-student interaction. Our collection of contemporary German literature, housed in Olin Library, is the largest in North America and attracts many visiting scholars to our campus.
Students of German can choose among several study abroad programs, and they can take advantage of an array of co-curricular activities including film series, the national German honor society Delta Phi Alpha, lectures by guest speakers, and readings by visiting authors. Many German students also elect to share their interest in German with the next generation of students by assisting with our annual German Day, hosted for high school students from Missouri and Illinois.
A degree in German prepares students for a wide range of future pursuits, including graduate study in such fields as German Studies, language education, comparative literature, and art history. Students frequently combine a degree in German with another major in the college and upon graduation earn advanced degrees in law, medicine, economics, business, engineering, environmental studies, and international and area studies. Our graduates pursue work in diverse fields, from academia to international banking, from diplomacy to publishing.
|Contact:||Professor Christian Schneider or Cecily Stewart Hawksworth|
The Major in Germanic Languages and Literatures
Total units required: 24
German 340C and its 1-unit discussion section German 340D or German 341 and its 1-unit discussion section German 341D and the senior assessment (undertaken in conjunction with a 400-level seminar) are required of all majors. German 340C/340D or German 341/341D are required for admission to all 400-level courses except German 402, German 403D, German 404, and German 408D. Admission to 400-level courses (except German 402, German 403D, German 404, and German 408D) without completion of German 340C or German 341 is by departmental permission only.
Students interested in studying German may declare German as their major or second major. Majors or second majors are required to complete 24 credit hours of upper-level courses (300 and 400), at least 12 of which are on the 400 level. If students begin German at Washington University and follow the regular sequence of courses (German 101D–German 102D–German 210D), they will be ready to begin the German major after three semesters. With the exception of German 340C or German 341, only courses taught in German will count toward the major. Students who wish to receive honors in German are required to write an honors thesis and must register for German 497/German 498 (with departmental permission) in addition to the 24 credits required for the major (for a total of 30 credit hours). All majors and second majors are required to participate in the senior assessment interview during their senior year.
Applications for admission to the honors program must be submitted by the first week of classes in the student's final year of study. Forms are available on the department website.
Please note: For both majors and minors, at least half of the courses on the 300 level and above must have been acquired either in residence at Washington University or in overseas programs affiliated with Washington University.
Study abroad: German majors or minors are encouraged to participate in one of the overseas study programs. The German department sponsors a semester and a year abroad at the University of Tübingen, Germany. To participate in the Tübingen program, students must complete German 301D (for the semester program) and German 302D (for the year program), or the equivalent, by the time the program begins. Upon returning to campus, German majors are required to take at least one 400-level course (other than German 497–German 498) during their senior year.
Washington University sponsors an eight-week summer program in Göttingen, Germany. Students who have taken at least one semester of German may be eligible for this intensive language program. Students interested in business are encouraged to apply for the Webster University International Business Internship or for the business internship in Koblenz, Germany, arranged by Washington University's Olin Business School.
Senior Thesis in German, Departmental Distinction in German, and Latin Honors in German: Students who wish to be eligible for Distinction in German must write a senior thesis in German in their final year at Washington University. Students receiving Distinction in German may additionally qualify for Latin Honors in German. The student chooses a thesis topic with the help of a faculty thesis adviser from the department. Upon acceptance of the thesis proposal (usually in the fall of the senior year), the student registers for the German 497–German 498 sequence. They present the senior thesis to their thesis adviser and a second reader approximately six weeks before the conclusion of their final semester at the university.
The Minor in Germanic Languages and Literatures
Units required: 15
Required courses: Students who intend to minor in German must complete 15 upper-level credit courses taught in German (300- and 400-level). With the exception of German 340C or German 341, only courses taught in German will count toward the major. At least 3 of these units must be at the 400 level.
Please note: For both majors and minors, at least half of the courses at the 300 level and above must have been acquired either in residence at Washington University or in overseas programs affiliated with Washington University.
We strongly encourage minors to take German 340C German Literature and the Modern Era with discussion section (German 340D) or German 341 German Thought and the Modern Era with discussion section (German 341D) because either course serves as a prerequisite for all 400-level courses except German 402, German 403D, German 404 and German 408D. Any credits obtained at the 300 or 400 level during the summer institute program in Göttingen may count toward the minor.
Visit online course listings to view semester offerings for L21 German.
L21 German 100D Continuing German for Students with High School German
Builds on students' previous knowledge of German language and culture, reviewing and reinforcing the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in cultural contexts with special emphasis on communicative competence. In addition to the regular class meetings, students sign up after the semester begins for a once-weekly subsection (time to be arranged). Prerequisites: placement by examination and at least two years of high school German, or permission of instructor. Students who complete this course successfully may enter German 102D or 290D.
Credit 3 units. BU: HUM, IS
L21 German 101D Basic German: Core Course I
Introductory program; no previous German required. Students will develop their competence in listening, speaking, reading, and writing German by means of interpersonal, interpretive and presentational communicative practice. This first course serves as an introduction to German grammar and culture; goals range from developing the communicative skills necessary to find an apartment to being able to read modern German poetry. Students will learn how to apply their knowledge of basic cases and tenses in order to hold a conversation or write a letter describing their interests, family, goals, routines, etc., and to discover personal information about others. Students who complete this course successfully should enter German 102D.
L21 German 102D Basic German: Core Course II
Continuation of German 100D or 101D. In preparation for more advanced academic study in German, this second course will further introduce students to fundamental German grammar, culture and history. It comprises a combination of situational lessons and tasks that will challenge students' critical thinking abilities. Students in German 102 will familiarize themselves with the language necessary to understand and give directions, apply for a job, and speak with a doctor; students will also read more advanced content such as Grimm's fairy tales and a text from Franz Kafka. Prerequisite: German 100D, 101D, the equivalent, or placement by examination. Students who complete this course successfully should enter German 210D.
L21 German 1113 Beginning Swedish Conversation
Introductory practice in speaking, and vocabulary development in cultural contexts. May be repeated for credit.
Same as U93 Scan 113
Credit 1 unit.
L21 German 210D Intermediate German: Core Course III
Continuation of German 102D. Reading and discussion in German of short literary and nonliterary texts combined with an intensive grammar review. Students will further develop their writing skills. In addition to the regular class meetings, students sign up after the semester begins for a subsection (time to be arranged). Prerequisite: German 102D, equivalent, or placement by examination. Students who complete this course successfully should enter German 301D or 313.
L21 German 301D Advanced German: Core Course IV
Discussion of literary and nonliterary texts combined with an intensive grammar review. Systematic introduction to the expressive functions of German with an emphasis on spoken and written communication. In addition to the regular class meetings, students should sign up for a twice-weekly subsection. Prerequisite: German 210D, the equivalent or placement by examination. Students who complete this course successfully should enter German 302D.
L21 German 302D Advanced German: Core Course V
Continuation of German 301D. Refinement and expansion of German communication skills (speaking, listening, writing, reading), deepening understanding of German grammatical structures, acquisition of more sophisticated and varied vocabulary, introduction to stylistics through discussion and analysis of literary and nonliterary texts. In addition to the regular class meetings, students should sign up for a twice-weekly subsection. Prerequisite: German 301D or equivalent, or placement by examination. Students completing this course successfully may enter the 400 level. Note that German 340C/340D or German 341/341D are a prerequisite for most 400-level courses.
L21 German 313 Conversational German
Practice in speaking and vocabulary development in cultural contexts. Prerequisite: German 210D, equivalent, or placement by examination. May be repeated for credit.
L21 German 331 Topics in Holocaust Studies: Children in the Shadow of the Swastika
This course will approach the history, culture and literature of Nazism, World War II and the Holocaust by focusing on one particular aspect of the period — the experience of children. Children as a whole were drastically affected by the policies of the Nazi regime and the war it conducted in Europe, yet different groups of children experienced the period in radically different ways, depending on who they were and where they lived. By reading key texts written for and about children, we will first take a look at how the Nazis made children — both those they considered "Aryan" and those they designated "enemies" of the German people, such as Jewish children — an important focus of their politics. We will then examine literary texts and films that depict different aspects of the experience of European children during this period: daily life in the Nazi state, the trials of war and bombardment in Germany and the experience of expulsion from the East and defeat, the increasingly restrictive sphere in which Jewish children were allowed to live, the particular difficulties children faced in the Holocaust, and the experience of children in the immediate postwar period. Readings include texts by Ruth Klüger, Harry Mulisch, Imre Kertész, Miriam Katin, David Grossman and others. Course conducted entirely in English. Open to freshmen. Students must enroll in both main section and a discussion section.
L21 German 340C German Literature and the Modern Era
Introduction in English to German writers from 1750 to the present. Discussion focuses on questions like the role of outsiders in society, the human psyche, technology, war, gender, the individual and mass culture, modern and postmodern sensibilities as they are posed in predominantly literary texts and in relation to the changing political and cultural faces of Germany over the past 250 years. Readings include works in translation by some of the most influential figures of the German tradition, such as Goethe, Nietzsche, Freud, Kafka, Thomas Mann, Brecht, and Christa Wolf. Open to first-year students, non-majors and majors. Admission to 400-level courses (except 402, 403D, 404, and 408D) is contingent on completion of this course or 341/341D. The main course is conducted in English, so this will only qualify for major or minor credit when taken in conjunction with one-hour discussion section in German (L21 340D).
L21 German 340D German Literature and the Modern Era
This course must be taken concurrently with 340C for major/minor credit. The discussion section provides an introduction to critical German vocabulary and is open to students with prior knowledge of German (210D or equivalent, or placement by examination.)
Credit 1 unit.
L21 German 341 German Thought and the Modern Era
In this introduction to the intellectual history of the German-speaking world from roughly 1750 to the present, we will read English translations of works by some of the most influential figures in the German tradition, including Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Adorno, Heidegger, Arendt, Habermas, and others. Our discussions will focus on topics such as secularization, what it means to be modern, the possibility of progress, the role of art and culture in social life, the critique of mass society, and the interpretation of the Nazi past. We will consider the arguments of these thinkers both on their own terms and against the backdrop of the historical contexts in which they were written. Open to first-year students, non-majors and majors. Admission to 400-level courses (except 402, 403D, 404, and 408D) is contingent on completion of this course or 340C/340D. The main course is conducted in English, so this will only qualify for major or minor credit when taken in conjunction with one-hour discussion section in German (L21 341D).
L21 German 341D German Thought and the Modern Era
This course must be taken concurrently with 341 for major/minor credit. The discussion section provides an introduction to critical German vocabulary and is open to students with prior knowledge of German (210D or equivalent, or placement by examination.)
Credit 1 unit.
L21 German 402 Advanced Grammar and Style Lab
Take your German skills to the next level! This 1-unit lab is designed for advanced students seeking to master the finer points of German grammar and style through targeted exercises and discussion. Students will learn to construct sophisticated, elegant, and accurate sentences, with the goal of improving their effectiveness as writers and speakers of German. A rotating weekly focus will cover such topics as: complex sentence structures; advanced passive and subjunctive forms; idiomatic prepositional and verb phrases; and infinitive constructions. Prerequisite: German 302 or the equivalent.
Credit 1 unit.
L21 German 403D Advanced Vocabulary and Usage
This twice-a-week workshop is designed for advanced undergraduate students wishing to improve their grasp of German vocabulary and usage. Through targeted exercises and discussion that address specific areas of difficulty for non-native speakers, students will learn to speak and write more elegantly and idiomatically. A rotating weekly focus will cover idiomatic expressions related to particular themes. Assignments will consist of homework exercises not to exceed 1.5 hours per week. Prerequisite: German 302 or the equivalent.
Credit 1 unit.
L21 German 404 Germany Today
Introduction to the history, politics, and culture of contemporary Germany (1945 to the present). Topics include the cultural construction of identity in post-unified Germany; European integration and post-wall economy; the German constitution, electoral system and current elections; current debates and controversies; political parties and leading political figures; the role of literature, film, music, the visual arts, media and popular culture; the role of universities. Discussion, readings, and papers in German. Required for candidates planning to attend the overseas program in Tübingen, Germany. Prerequisite: German 302D (may be taken concurrently with German 404), or permission of instructor.
L21 German 408D German as a Language of Business
This course introduces students to concepts and issues relevant to German business and economics and helps them to develop the language skills necessary to succeed in the German business world. We concentrate on the basic elements of the German economic system, looking at Germany as a site of production and exchange, the legal structure of German firms, the relations between labor and management, and strategies for product development and marketing in national and international contexts. Students also are introduced to specific German business practices, including forms of communication, management styles and general corporate culture. Students learn business vocabulary, writing skills for business correspondence, oral presentation techniques, and reading and comprehension strategies for German newspapers and news reports. All discussions, readings and assignments are in German. Prerequisite: German 302D.
L21 German 4100 German Literature and Culture, 1150-1750
Exploration of medieval and early modern literature and culture within sociohistorical contexts. Genres and themes vary and may include visual culture; representation; the development of fictionality and historical writing; questions of race, gender and class; courtly culture; law; magic and marvels; and medical and scientific epistemologies. Readings may include such genres as the heroic epic, drama, "Minnesang," the courtly novel, the Arthurian epic, fables, the novella, religious or devotional literature, witch tracts, pamphlets, political writings, the "Volksbuch," the picaresque novel, and the essay. Discussion, readings and papers in German. Prerequisite: Refer to Majors section.
L21 German 4101 German Literature and Culture, 1750-1830
Exploration of the literature and culture of the Enlightenment, Storm and Stress, Weimar Classicism, and Romanticism within sociohistorical contexts. Genres and themes vary and may include the representation of history, absolutism and rebellion, the formation of bourgeois society, questions of national identity, aesthetics, gender, romantic love, and the fantastic. Reading and discussion of texts by authors such as Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Kant, Novalis, Günderode, the Brothers Grimm, Kleist, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Eichendorff, Bettina von Arnim. Discussion, readings and papers in German. Prerequisite: Refer to Majors section.
L21 German 4102 German Literature and Culture, 1830-1914
Exploration of 19th-century literature and culture within sociohistorical contexts. Genres and themes vary and may include the representation of history, liberalism and restoration, nationalism, industrialization, colonialism, class, race and gender conflicts, materialism, secularization and fin-de-siècle. Reading and discussion of texts by authors such as Büchner, Heine, Marx, Storm, Keller, Meyer, Fontane, Droste-Hülshoff, Nietzsche, Ebner-Eschenbach, Schnitzler, Rilke. Discussion, readings and papers in German. Prerequisite: Refer to Majors section.
L21 German 4103 German Literature and Culture, 1914 to the Present
Exploration of modern and contemporary literature within sociohistorical contexts. Genres and themes vary and may include the representation of history, the crisis of modernity, the two World Wars, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, generational conflicts, the women's movement and postmodern society. Reading and discussion of texts by authors such as Wedekind, Freud, Mann, Kafka, Brecht, Seghers, Böll, Bachmann, Grass, Wolf. Discussion, readings and papers in German. Prerequisite: Refer to Majors section.
L21 German 4104 Studies in Genre
Exploration of the definition, style, form and content that characterize a specific genre. Investigation of the social, cultural, political and economic forces that lead to the formation and transformation of a particular genre. Examination of generic differences and of the effectiveness of a given genre in articulating the concerns of a writer or period. Topics and periods vary from semester to semester. Discussion, readings and papers in German; some theoretical readings in English. Prerequisite: Refer to Majors section.
L21 German 4105 Topics in German Studies
Focus on particular cultural forms such as literature, film, historiography, social institutions, philosophy, the arts, or on relationships between them. Course examines how cultural meanings are produced, interpreted, and employed. Topics vary and may include national identity, anti-Semitism, cultural diversity, construction of values, questions of tradition, the magical, the erotic, symbolic narrative, and the city. Course may address issues across a narrow or broad time frame. Discussion, readings and papers in German. Prerequisite: Refer to Majors section.
L21 German 4106 Studies in Gender
Investigation of the constructions of gender in literary and other texts and their sociohistorical contexts. Particular attention to the gendered conditions of writing and reading, engendering of the subject, and indicators of gender. Topics and periods vary from semester to semester and include gender and genre, education, religion, politics, cultural and state institutions, science, sexuality, and human reproduction. Discussion, readings, and papers in German; some theoretical readings in English. May be repeated with different content. Prerequisite: Refer to Majors section.
L21 German 4381 Contemporary German Literature
Taught by the Max Kade writer and critic in residence, the course deals with the most recent trends and developments in contemporary German literature, including its multicultural, feminist, and postcolonial aspects. In all, the writer and critic will deal with approximately eight literary texts during the semester. The writers generally include a work of their own and give an idea of their personal poetics. Prerequisite: permission of the department required for undergraduates.
L21 German 493 The Task of the Translator
This course offers an introduction to the theory and practice of translation, consisting of three main components. First, students have the opportunity to translate a wide range of fiction and nonfiction texts from a variety of genres (short stories, philosophy, journalism, academic prose). The focus is on translation from German to English, but we also translate from English to German. Next, we read selections from key works on the theory of translation, from Martin Luther's 16th-century treatise on his Bible translation to 20th-century essays by philosophers such as Walter Benjamin. Finally, we read and discuss excerpts from some of the most celebrated literary and philosophical translations of the past 200 years, including German translations of authors ranging from Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling as well as English translations of authors such as Goethe and Kafka. The course aims to give students a sense of the challenges and rewards of translation as well as a deeper understanding of the relationship between language, thought and culture.
L21 German 497 Independent Work for Senior Honors
Research for an Honors thesis, on a topic chosen in conjunction with the adviser. Emphasis on independent study and writing. Open to students with previous course work in German at the 400 level, an overall 3.0 grade point average, and at least a B+ average in advanced work in German. Prerequisites: senior standing and permission of the undergraduate adviser.
Credit 3 units.
L21 German 498 Independent Work for Senior Honors
Continuation of German 497. Completion of thesis. Quality of the thesis determines whether the student receives credit only or Honors in German. Prerequisite: German 497.
Credit 3 units.