German

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As the official language of the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, and portions of several other European countries—and with linguistic enclaves in the Americas and Africa—German is today the native tongue of close to 120 million people. For advanced-degree programs in fields such as art history, music history, philosophy, and European history, German is still a required language. And whether the motivation for study is business, culture, travel, friendship, or heritage, a knowledge of German can add inestimable depth to a student’s landscape of thought and feeling.

Students should ideally plan to study German for at least two years. First- and second-year German courses aim to teach students how to communicate in German and acquire grammatical competency through exercises that demand accuracy and also encourage free expression. While conference work in Beginning German consists of intensive grammar work with the German assistant (both group and individual conferences), intermediate-level students work on their cultural competency by reading German literature (fairy tales, novellas, poems) and working on class, group, or individual research projects (e.g., writing a short story or screenplay in German, exploring German cities online, reading newspaper articles on current events). Advanced German is a cultural studies seminar. Students solidify their cultural competency by studying German history and culture from the late 18th century to the present. A special emphasis is placed on 20th-century German history and culture, including contemporary German literature and film.

Many students of German spend a semester or year studying in Germany. Students have the opportunity to take a 5-week summer seminar in Berlin (6 credits), where they will take a German Cultural Studies seminar with an emphasis on the history and culture of Berlin and a class in art/architecture, dance, or the German language (taught at Neue Schule in Berlin).

2017-2018 Courses

German

Beginning German

Open , Seminar—Year

This course concentrates on the study of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation in order to secure the basic tools of the German language. Through grammar exercises in class, dialogues, and short compositions, students will learn the fundamental skills to speak, read, and write in German. This class will meet three times (90 minutes) per week: twice with Mr. Dollinger and once with Ms. Mizelle, who will also meet with students individually or in small groups for an extra conference. Course materials include the textbook, Neue Horizonte, along with a workbook and a graded German reader that will allow students to start reading in German after the first week. We will cover at least 12 chapters from the textbook—all of the basic grammar and vocabulary that students will need to know in order to advance to the next level. There will be short written tests at the end of each chapter. Students will also learn basic facts about Germany today.

Faculty

Intermediate German

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

Prerequisite: Beginning German at Sarah Lawrence College or another institution of higher learning or at least four semesters of German in high school.

This course stresses speaking, reading, and writing German and a thorough review of German grammar. Its aim is to give students more fluency and to prepare them for a possible junior year in Germany. Readings in the fall will consist of fairy tales, short stories, poems, and three novellas by the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. Students will give several oral presentations (on a fairy tale, on a German city, on a German artist or intellectual). In the spring semester, we will use Im Spiegel der Literatur, a collection of short stories written by some of the most famous German writers such as Thomas Mann and Bertolt Brecht. A solid grammar review, based on the book German Grammar in Review, will help students improve their speaking and writing skills. Regular conferences with Ms. Mizelle will supplement class work.

Faculty

Modern German Literature and Film From 1871 to the Present

Open , Seminar—Year

In this course, students will learn about the major cultural and historical developments in Germany since the late 19th century through an in-depth analysis of many masterpieces of modern German literature (novels, stories, plays) and film. Germany has seen five different political systems since its modern inception as a nation state in 1871: an aristocracy ruled by the German emperor, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi dictatorship, a divided Germany with a Socialist government in the East, and the creation of a reunified Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990. While this is NOT a history course, students will be required to accompany their analyses of German literary and cinematic masterworks with a reading of primary and secondary historical and philosophical sources. In the fall semester, we will cover the period between 1871 and 1945; in the spring semester, the emphasis will be on postwar German literature and film since 1945. This seminar is open to all students, and no expertise in German history or literature is required; however, students will be asked to read a novel or play every week, some of which may be several-hundred pages long. You must be a dedicated reader! The preliminary reading list includes the following works of literature and film for the fall of 2017: Florian Illies: 1913; Theodor Fontane: On Tangled Paths; Rilke: The Diary of Malte Laurids Brigge; Hermann Hesse: Siddartha; Thomas Mann: Death in Venice and Other Stories; Franz Kafka: The Judgment, The Hunger Artist; Alfred Döblin: Berlin Alexanderplatz; Ernst Jünger: excerpts from Storm of Steel; Remarque: All Quiet on the Western Front; Irmgard Keun: The Artificial Silk Girl; Berthold Brecht: The Three Penny Opera; Anna Seghers: The Seventh Cross. In the spring semester, the seminar will focus on postwar German literature after 1945 and, especially, the question of how writers and intellectuals have dealt with the Holocaust, the National Socialist and Communist dictatorships, and German reunification since 1990. Films such as The Murderers Are Among Us, Sophie Scholl, Germany Pale Mother, The Lives of the Others, and Good-bye Lenin will give students visual representations of the most important cultural and historical issues in Germany since 1945. Novels and plays include: Heinrich Böll: Group Portrait With Lady; Günther Grass: Crabwalk; Wolfgang Borchert: The Man Outside; Max Frisch: Andorra; Jurek Becker: Jacob the Liar; Monika Maron: Pavel’s Letters; Schlink: The Reader; Sebald: Austerlitz; Jenny Erpenbeck: Go, Went, Gone; Antje Ravic Strubel: Under Snow. German-speaking students may read some of these works in the original German and will meet with the German assistant, Nike Mizelle, once a week to improve their speaking and writing skills in German. Their conferences will also be conducted in German.

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