Learning German can connect students with 120 million native speakers around the globe. As one of the official languages of Switzerland and Luxembourg, and the official language of Austria and Liechtenstein, as well as Germany, the world’s second largest exporter, German is the language with the largest number of native speakers in the European Union. It is the native language of a significant portion of the population in northern Italy, eastern Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, eastern France, and parts of Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia, and Romania. It is the second-most commonly used scientific language and the most widely spoken language in Europe. In a radius of 1000 kilometers (625 miles), Germany lies at the center of a European population of 300 million people, taking a decisive role in the political, economic, and educational dynamics of the continent.
Studying German offers students access to a culture of scientists and innovators, philosophers and theologians, writers, artists, and composers. German is the language of Gutenberg and Hertz, Fahrenheit and Einstein, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, of Luther, Goethe, Kafka, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Mahler.
The German Department offers courses on-campus and abroad in German language and culture, including literature, history, and film for both majors and non-majors. A pivotal component of German language study at St. Olaf is study abroad. In keeping with a German tradition dating back to medieval times, German universities today have opened their doors to students from around the world, sharing their research in science and technology, their specialized training in the fine arts, and their rich archival collections in the humanities. St. Olaf students may study for a semester or a full year at the University of Konstanz, the Humboldt University in Berlin, or the University of Flensburg.
Beyond the classroom, students may also participate in the weekly German conversation table (Stammtisch), film series, German choir, and events in Deutsches Haus, an honor house where St. Olaf students live together in a German community with an exchange student from Konstanz.
Overview of the Major
In courses for the major, students gain an understanding of German culture, literature, and civilization as they develop analytical and communication skills in the spoken and written language.
Students need not be German majors to take level II and level III courses or to study abroad. After completing GERM 232 or the equivalent, they may spend a semester or a year studying in Germany. Courses taken in Germany may satisfy general education requirements as well as requirements for the German and/or other majors, with approval from the department chair. See Special Programs.
Overview of the Concentration
The German studies concentration provides students the opportunity to explore the cultures of German-speaking countries from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students combine coursework in the German language with a selection of courses with appropriate cultural content in consultation with the program director. Students are encouraged to participate in study abroad programs in Germany or Austria. Two courses from a study abroad program may count toward the concentration. One course may be taken S/U.
See Academic Honors
The German Department offers a variety of opportunities to study in Germany or Austria, both during interim and during the fall and spring semesters. Programs are available in both German and English. For more information see International and Domestic Off-Campus Studies.
A four-week intensive pre-semester language and orientation course is offered to all St. Olaf students at their chosen university in Germany. During this time, students choose university courses from a three-tiered system corresponding to St. Olaf’s level I, II, III course system, beginning with Vorlesung (lecture) courses, followed by Proseminar, designed as an introduction to research, and then Seminar, designed for graduate-level research.
Upon successful completion of an approved semester-long program of study in Germany, students normally receive up to 4 credits on the St. Olaf transcript. One of those credits will be a pre-semester language course. If a student takes an Interim course that year, it must be a St. Olaf Interim course (on or off campus) that is separate from the Germany semester study abroad program. Up to 3 credits from semester study abroad normally count toward the St. Olaf German major, excluding the level III course requirement, which must be completed at St. Olaf. Up to 2 credits may count toward a German studies concentration. With approval, the other credits may apply to another major, general education, or electives.
Upon successful completion of an approved full-year program of study in Germany, a student normally receives up to 9 credits plus 1 credit for Interim on the St. Olaf transcript. Up to 4 credits normally count toward the St. Olaf German major, excluding the level III course requirement, which must be completed at St. Olaf. Up to 2 credits may count toward a German studies concentration. With approval, the other credits may apply to another major, general education, or electives.
Credits toward other majors across the sciences and humanities usually must be pre-arranged with department chairs. Students should know that specific courses might not be offered during their time at the target university and discuss this possibility with their advisors and chairs. Grades earned for all courses taken are recorded on the St. Olaf transcript but not calculated into the Grade Point Average.
Courses in English for General Education Credit
German courses in English translation (GERM 147, GERM 249, GERM 263, and GERM 266) carry general education credit and are open to majors and non-majors alike. Examining key aspects of German history and culture, they are taught in English and require no previous knowledge of German. Some are offered with a German Foreign Languages Across the Curriculum component.
German majors and students motivated to be part of a German living community may apply to live for a semester or a year in Deutsches Haus, a co-educational honor house. Each year a native German student is selected from the University of Konstanz to live in Deutsches Haus to speak German and organize cultural events with the other house residents.
Recommendations for Graduate Study
Students planning on graduate study in German should take the graduation major plus additional courses to be planned with the student’s academic advisor. In recent years, St. Olaf German majors have been accepted for graduate study at the Universities of Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
Requirements for the German Majors/Teaching Licensure
A student must complete nine (9) courses beyond GERM 231, including at least one level III course. One course with a focus on the culture of a German-speaking country may be taken in English. This course must be chosen in consultation with the chair and can be at any level. One course may be taken S/U. For further information regarding credits from St. Olaf study abroad opportunities in Germany, see the Special Programs section.
Requirements for a German major with K-12 Teaching License
A student must complete the German major, including a semester/year of study in Germany or the equivalent experience, plus EDUC 353 and other courses required for certification.
Requirements for the German Studies Concentration
The German studies concentration consists of a minimum of five courses with cultural content from one or more German-speaking countries:
- Two courses must be in German at the level of 232 or above.
- The other three courses may be taken in either the German or English language and may be chosen from offerings in the St. Olaf German department as well as other departments, including art history, history, music, political science, philosophy, and religion.
- At least two courses must be taken from the St. Olaf German department.
- At least two courses must be from outside the St. Olaf German department. At least one of these must be from a field outside the discipline of German language/literature (whether taken from another department at St. Olaf or abroad).
- A maximum of two courses from study abroad programs in Germany or Austria may be counted toward the concentration.
- The student's proposed concentration must be approved by the director of the German studies concentration.
- One course may be taken S/U.
German Studies Courses
Courses taught in English
|GERM 147||Fairy Tales and Folklore (in English)||1.00|
|GERM 249||German Cinema (in English)||1.00|
|GERM 263||Topics in German Arts (in English)||1.00|
|GERM 266||Urbanization in Germany (in English)||1.00|
Examples of courses outside the department (with major focus on German cultural content)
|ART 252||Art 1880-1945 "The Shock of the New"||1.00|
|ART 271||Gothic Art||1.00|
|HIST 224||Modern Germany||1.00|
|MUSIC 342||Music of the Baroque Era||1.00|
|MUSIC 343||Music Of The Classical And Romantic Eras||1.00|
|PHIL 260||Kant's Moral Theory in Literature and Film||1.00|
|PHIL 261||Freud and the Study of Human Behavior||1.00|
|PSCI 283||European Social Democracy||1.00|
|PSCI 285||International Law||1.00|
|PHIL 374||Seminar in the History of Philosophy||1.00|
|REL 213||Lutheran Heritage||1.00|
|REL 214||Reformation Theology||1.00|
|REL 262||Catholic Rome, Lutheran Wittenberg (abroad)||1.00|
|REL 303||History of Christian Thought II||1.00|
|REL 304||History of Christian Thought III||1.00|
GERM 111: Beginning German I
Students begin to learn German through listening, speaking, reading, and writing about situations familiar to them including their personal biographies, families, daily life, studies, travels, and hobbies. Regular writing assignments help students learn vocabulary, check spelling, and form thoughts with German sentence structure. Regular speaking activities aid in acquiring good pronunciation and listening skills. Offered annually in the fall semester.
GERM 112: Beginning German II
Students continue to develop basic language skills with emphasis on expanding vocabulary and on writing assignments that aid in the practical application of grammatical concepts. Communicating in German about familiar personal topics, students acquire vocabulary about sports, food, holidays, school, the environment, and life in German speaking cultures.
Prerequisite: GERM 111 or placement by test.
GERM 231: Intermediate German I
Students explore life in the German-speaking countries through reading, discussing, and retelling narrative texts. The course emphasizes vocabulary building, a thorough review of German grammar, and the composition of short narratives to develop writing skills for paragraph-length discourse. Taught in German with some grammar explanations in English.
Prerequisite: GERM 112 or placement by test.
GERM 232: Intermediate German II
Students continue to explore life in German-speaking countries, using cultural readings, films, and other authentic materials to develop vocabulary and composition skills. Drafting short reports enables students to practice writing skills for paragraph-length discourse. Selected grammar topics are reviewed as needed. Open to first-year students. Taught in German. May be counted toward the German major or German studies concentration.
Prerequisite: GERM 231 or placement.
GERM 251: Understanding Narratives
Students examine narrative texts, such as short stories, novel excerpts, and other fictional works, including film, with respect to plot and characters, relationships and themes, narrative strategies and structures. Weekly writing assignments offer practice in narration, extended description, as well as expressing and supporting an opinion about the texts and the ways they engage their respective times. The course is designed to teach writing strategies and includes basic and advanced grammar review, as needed. The final project is a short paper written in German. Taught in German. May be counted toward German major or German studies concentration.
Prerequisite: GERM 232 or equivalent.
GERM 252: Exploring Non-Fiction
Students examine expository texts such as (auto)biographical writings, journalistic articles, German websites, and critical essays, with an eye to understanding the strategic organization of the text, the information presented, and the various layers of critical voices in a text. Coursework includes weekly writing assignments on the analysis of structure, style, argumentation, evidence, and perspective in a text. The course is designed to teach students writing strategies and the final project is a short paper written in German. Taught in German. Counts toward German major, German studies concentration, and management studies concentration.
Prerequisite: GERM 232 or equivalent.
GERM 271: Topics in German Literature
Students encounter German literature and develop skills and strategies for reading and interpreting literary texts in their historical and cultural contexts. Interpreting the texts, students practice writing and oral communication individually and in small groups. The specific topic may vary and may be broadly or narrowly defined to include a survey, genre, theme, period, or the literature of one German-speaking country. Taught in German. May be counted toward German major or German studies concentration.
Prerequisite: GERM 251 or GERM 252.
GERM 272: Turning Points in German History
Students examine a major period of German history and its impact on the institutional, intellectual, and artistic heritage of Europe. This course involves close reading and analysis of primary sourcesas well as critical evaluations of the period and focus on history as an interpretive reconstructionof the past. Sample periods include: the Reformation, Weimar Classicism, the German revolutionof 1848, post-1945 Germany, and post-unification.The course emphasizes strategies for writing papers in German. Taught in German. May be counted toward German major or German studies concentration. May be repeated if topic is different.
Prerequisite: GERM 251 or GERM 252.
GERM 273: Contemporary Germany as Seen Through the Media
This course is designed to teach media literacy in the German context with emphasis on ideological, cultural, aesthetic, and ethical perspectives. Students examine current issues, events, culture, politics, education, entertainment, advertising, and other non-literary topics as treated in contemporary German print and electronic media, including press, television, film, internet, and radio. Students compare and contrast presentations by different German media and by German versus U.S. media. The course emphasizes strategies for writing papers in German. Taught in German. Counts toward German major, German studies concentration, and management studies concentration.
Prerequisite: GERM 251 or GERM 252.
GERM 294: Academic Internship (abroad)
Students spend four weeks during Interim or summer in an individually selected German or Austrian workplace. Opportunities include work in health care, communications, and manufacturing as well as non-profit organizations, libraries, businesses, laboratories, offices, and churches. Assignment of position varies with availability in host institutions. Maybe counted toward German major or German studies concentration.
Prerequisite: at least one 250-level course.
GERM 298: Independent Study
GERM 371: Topics in German Literature
Students explore the form, history and theory of a particular genre or medium, including film, the novella, drama, poetry and short story, or the works of a single author or period. Coursework includes close reading, discussion, analysis and interpretation of visual and/or written texts. Taught in German. May be counted toward German major or German studies concentration. May be repeated if topic is different.
Prerequisite: at least one 270-level course.
GERM 372: Transdisciplinary Topics in German Studies
Students explore an interdisciplinary topic in language, literature, history, or culture through close reading, discussion, analysis, and interpretation of selected works, including theoretical texts. Sample topics include: the Germans in exile, the German-American heritage, the German Holocaust, Germany in the European Union, and Germanic myths. Taught in German. May be counted toward German major or German studies concentration. Counts towards medieval studies major. May be repeated if topics are different.
Prerequisite: at least one 270-level course.
GERM 394: Academic Internship (abroad)
Students spend four weeks during Interim or summer in the German or Austrian workplace. Opportunities include working in health care, communications, and manufacturing as well as non-profit organizations, libraries, businesses, laboratories, offices, and churches. Assignment of position varies with availability of host institutions. May be counted toward German major or German studies concentration.
Prerequisite: at least one 270-level course.
GERM 396: Directed Undergraduate Research
This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Offered based on department decision. May be offered as a 1.00 credit course or .50 credit course.
Prerequisite: determined by individual instructor.
GERM 398: Independent Research
May be counted toward German major or German studies concentration.
Courses in English Translation
GERM 147: Fairy Tales and Folklore (in English)
This course provides an introduction to the study of folklore and presents a spectrum of approaches to the interpretation of fairy tales. Students read and discuss writings stemming from oral traditions such as the Nibelungenlied, and chapbooks including Till Eulenspiegel, and Faust; eighteenth-century fables created on models from antiquity; fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm; and Kunstmärchen (literary fairy tales by known writers). Students explore the literary aspects of the works and their historical contexts. Counts toward German studies concentration.
GERM 249: German Cinema (in English)
A survey of German films from Caligari (1919) to The Counterfeiters (2008), this course examines 20th-century German history through the lens of Germany's most renowned films. Students develop analytical and critical skills in "reading" films as cultural products and as cinematic works of art. The course focuses on the increasing social and political importance of mass media for understanding the past. Counts toward German major and film studies, German studies, and media studies concentrations.
GERM 263: Topics in German Arts (in English)
Students examine the artistic heritage of the German-speaking countries and develop the skill of interpreting and analyzing art works in their cultural context. The specific topic may vary and may be broadly or narrowly defined to include a specific art form, theme, period, artist, or the art of the German-speaking countries. Topics include: the arts in turn-of-the-century Vienna, the Bauhaus, Weimar cinema, and German Expressionism. Taught in English. Counts toward the German major or German studies concentration. May be repeated if topic is different. Offered annually.
GERM 266: Urbanization in Germany (in English)
Students examine the transformation of Germany from a system of cottage industries to factory production in urban environments. With the industrial revolution came migration to the cities, new transportation systems, and overpopulation. While the concentration of people in these urban centers brought about the development of arts, music, theater, schools, universities, and other cultural institutions, it also created social challenges for health, labor, welfare, and education. Counts toward the German major or German studies concentration. Offered annually.
Wendy W. Allen
Professor of Romance Languages - French
contemporary France; the Maghreb; second language acquisition; intercultural education
Karen R. Achberger
Professor of German
German cinema; 20th-century German and Austrian literature; Ingeborg Bachmann; Green Germany; fin-de-siècle Vienna
Seth E. Peabody
Visiting Assistant Professor of German
Assistant Professor of German