German

Jessica Thomas, Tomson 331
507-786-3230

wp.stolaf.edu/german

Studying German at St. Olaf is both fun and enriching. You will not only develop the ability to converse with classmates, with German majors, with professors, and with the native speakers we welcome to campus each year. You will also use your new language skills to explore the German-speaking world of yesterday and today. You will examine fascinating and complex histories and cultures that are constantly evolving. You will learn to make connections among diverse texts, including poetry and film, literature, news media, political discussions, as well as music, art, and architecture. You will encounter social, cultural, artistic, political, and economic phenomena that have shaped German-speaking communities over time and that continue to influence their evolution today.

The German Department offers courses in German that treat language and culture together. The department also offers courses in English on cultural topics like fairy tales and German film. Both majors and non-majors are welcome in our courses. A key objective of studying German at St. Olaf is to prepare you for study abroad. Our programs in Germany are open to any St. Olaf student who has completed GERM 232 (fourth semester). In addition to intensive language study and immersion, these programs offer upper-level coursework in a full array of university disciplines.

Beyond the classroom, you 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-speaking cultures past and present while building intercultural competence, developing analytical and communication skills, and refining their oral and written German.

Level II courses are divided into three sequences:

  • GERM 231 and GERM 232 are topically organized content-based courses, with lexical and grammatical work integrated into the study and discussion of a wide range of texts. GERM 231 focuses on questions of identity and belonging in relation to nation, memory, cultural diversity, and migration in Germany. In GERM 232, students explore the evolving significance of past events, movements, and figures for the wider German-speaking world;
  • 250-level courses prepare students to engage in informed conversations at a high level of discourse about core cultural narratives of the German-speaking world. GERM 251 focuses on the interaction of history and memory for the construction of narratives. Students analyze literary and filmic narratives as they develop advanced writing skills. GERM 252 explores contemporary issues in a global context through the study of numerous short texts and filmic works; projects include oral presentations in a variety of genres and registers.
  • 270-level courses introduce students to various ways of knowing: critical historiography, media literacy, and socially engaged scholarship. Students continue to refine their German language skills through tasks that emphasize reading against the grain and speaking to an audience beyond the classroom. Student products include web projects, research blogs, research presentations, community engagement projects, and interviews.

Level III courses are capstone seminars which require in-depth engagement with phenomena and discourses of German-speaking cultures, past and present. Students engage in original research that is presented publicly. Language work focuses on writing and speaking in a scholarly register. 

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.  Two courses from a study abroad program may count toward the concentration.  One course may be taken S/U.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Major

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Concentration

Distinction

See Academic Honors

Special Programs

Study Abroad

The German Department offers two regular opportunities to study in Germany for students who have completed GERM 232 or above. Students can study at the University of Mainz for the fall semester plus Interim or for a full year. Students can study at the University of Konstanz for the spring semester or for a full year. Both programs offer courses in German and in English. For more information see International and Domestic Off-Campus Studies.

Both programs begin with an intensive pre-semester language and orientation course. During this time, students choose university courses they will take during the regular university semester. Upon successful completion of the fall plus Interim program at the University of Mainz, students normally receive up to 5 credits on the St. Olaf transcript. Upon successful completion of the spring program at the University of Konstanz, students normally receive up to 4 credits on the St. Olaf transcript. For both programs, one of the St. Olaf credits may be the pre-semester language course. Students may receive up to 3 credits from semester study abroad toward the St. Olaf German major, provided those courses are taught in German. Students may receive 2 credits toward a German studies concentration; one of those courses must be taught in German, the other may be taught in English. With pre-approval from the German study abroad advisor, credits taken abroad may be counted toward general education or as electives. Students wishing to apply credits to another major must get pre-approval from the appropriate department chair.

Upon successful completion of an approved full-year program of study in Germany, a student normally receives up to 9 credits, including 1 credit for Interim, on the St. Olaf transcript. Up to 4 credits may be counted toward the St. Olaf German major, provided those courses are taught in German. Students may receive 2 credits toward a German studies concentration; one of those courses must be taught in German, the other may be taught in English. With pre-approval from the German study abroad advisor, credits may be counted toward general education or as electives. Students wishing to apply credits to another major must get pre-approval from the appropriate department chair.

Students should know that specific courses may not be offered during their time at the target university and discuss this possibility with their academic advisor and major department chair. Grades earned for all courses taken abroad are recorded on the St. Olaf transcript but are not calculated into the Grade Point Average. However, should a student decide to apply for professional or graduate school after graduation, that institution may recalculate the Grade Point Average to include grades earned abroad.

Courses in English for General Education Credit

German courses in English translation (GERM 247GERM 249, and GERM 263) 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 House

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

Graduation Major Requirements 

The graduation major in German consists of a minimum of eight (8) courses*:

Two 250-level courses, at least one of which must be taught by a St. Olaf instructor2.00
Two 270-level courses, at least one of which must be taught by a St. Olaf instructor2.00
One 300-level course, which must be taken on campus with a St. Olaf instructor and preferably in the student's senior year1.00
Three additional courses relevant to German language, culture, or history (may include GERM 231, GERM 232, a German Interim abroad, and a maximum of one course in English with a significant German focus taught by a St. Olaf instructor)3.00
Total Credits8

Students may count a maximum of two (2) courses from a semester abroad or four (4) courses from a full year abroad toward the major. In order to count toward the major, courses taken abroad in Germany must be taken in German. For further information regarding credits from St. Olaf study abroad opportunities in Germany, see the Special Programs section.  

In exceptional cases, students may request to have alternate courses approved by the department chair.

*One course may be taken S/U. 

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 (available to all students)

The German studies concentration consists of a minimum of five (5) courses*:

Three (3) courses in German at the level of German 232 and above, at least two of which must be taught by a St. Olaf instructor3.00
Two (2) additional courses relevant to German studies (arts, culture, economics, history, politics, etc.) taken at St. Olaf or abroad, in German or English2.00
Total Credits5

Students may count toward the concentration a maximum of two (2) courses taken in a St. Olaf-sponsored study abroad program, at least one of which must be taken in German.

If necessary, students may request to have alternate courses approved by the department chair.

The student's proposed concentration must be approved by the chair of the German Department.

*One course may be taken S/U.

Requirements for the German Studies Concentration (available only to students entering before fall 2018)

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 above2.00
Three courses taken in either the German or English language and chosen from offerings in the St. Olaf German department as well as other departments, including art history, history, music, political science, philosophy, and religion3.00
Total Credits5

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 chair of the German Department.

*One course may be taken S/U.

German Studies Courses

German Department courses taught in English

GERM 247Fairy Tales and Folklore (in English)1.00
GERM 249German Cinema (in English)1.00
GERM 263Topics in German Arts (in English)1.00

Recent examples of courses outside the department (with major focus on German cultural content)

ART 252Art 1880-1945 "The Shock of the New"1.00
EDUC 346Who is My Neighbor? Ethics of Refugee and Immigrant Education1.00
GCON 218The Tradition in Crisis: Dissenters and Defenders1.00
HIST 191Europe from the Reformation to Modern Times1.00
MUSIC 241History and Literature of Music I1.00
PHIL 260Kant's Moral Theory in Literature and Film1.00
PHIL 261Freud and the Study of Human Behavior1.00
PHIL 374Seminar in the History of Philosophy1.00
PSCI 113Introduction to Political Theory1.00
PSCI 283European Social Democracy1.00
PSCI 285International Law1.00
REL 213Lutheran Heritage1.00
REL 214Reformation Theology1.00
REL 303History of Christian Thought II1.00
REL 304History of Christian Thought III1.00

Language Courses

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 accurate pronunciation and listening skills. Offered annually in the fall semester. Does not count toward German major or concentration.

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. Offered annually in the spring semester. Does not count toward German major or concentration.
Prerequisite: GERM 111 or by placement 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. Offered annually in the fall semester. Does not count toward German major or concentration.
Prerequisite: GERM 112 or by placement 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. Offered annually in the spring semester.
Prerequisite: GERM 231 or by placement test.

250-Level Courses

GERM 251: History and Memory

Students examine the National Socialist period (1933-1945), its embeddedness in German cultural memory, and its implications for contemporary society. Students read, discuss, analyze, and write about a series of literary texts (including films) emerging from or reflecting on what historian Friedrich Meinecke called "the German catastrophe." The course is writing intensive and includes short weekly assignments as well as several longer, multi-step writing projects. Advanced grammar review supports analytical tasks. Taught in German. Offered annually in the fall semester.
Prerequisite: GERM 232 or by placement test.

GERM 252: Contemporary Germany in Global Context

Students examine contemporary issues in Germany such as national politics, environmental sustainability, diversity and migration, and the legacy of the GDR. They compare multiple perspectives on these issues by reading, discussing, and analyzing diverse expository texts including (auto)biographical writings, journalistic articles, and critical essays. Coursework includes writing assignments and oral presentations that emphasize textual analysis with a focus on texts' strategic organization, argumentative structure, style, content, and layers of critical voices. Advanced grammar review supports analytical tasks. Taught in German. Offered annually in the spring semester. Also counts toward management studies concentration.
Prerequisite: GERM 232 or by placement test.

GERM 253: "Gateway to the World": Global Connections/Local Identities of Hamburg

Students immerse themselves in Hamburg, Germany, one of Europe's major historical port cities recognized for its international character. Students examine social, cultural, political, and economic transformations of Europe and deepen their German language skills. They study diverse texts, conduct ethnographic fieldwork, keep a journal of cultural and linguistic observations, write short papers, and complete a research project involving internationalism in Hamburg. Taught in German. Offered alternate years during Interim. Apply through International and Off-Campus Studies.
Prerequisite: completion of FOL-G with grade of B or better or permission of the instructor.

270-Level Courses

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 sources as well as critical evaluations of the period and focus on history as an interpretive reconstruction of the past. Sample periods include: the Reformation, Weimar Classicism, the German revolution of 1848, post-1945 Germany, and post-unification.The course emphasizes strategies for writing papers in German. Taught in German. May be repeated if topic is different. Offered every three years.
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. Offered every three years. Also counts toward management studies concentration.
Prerequisite: GERM 251 or GERM 252.

GERM 276: Green Germany

Students examine Germany's successful sustainability initiatives and their roots in a long history of cultural values and scientific innovation. They study primary and secondary sources including interviews, journalistic articles, literary works, and films; these texts form the basis of students' written and oral analyses. Drawing on diverse disciplinary perspectives, students gain transferable knowledge and skills for addressing complex international environmental concerns. Offered every three years. Also counts toward environmental studies major and environmental studies and management studies concentrations.
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.
Prerequisite: at least one 250-level course.

GERM 298: Independent Study

370-Level Courses

GERM 371: Topics in German Literature

Students hone their skills of analyzing the forms and contexts of production and reception of German-language literary works of various genres. Coursework includes close reading, discussion, analysis, and interpretation of visual and/or written texts. Recent topics: authors as public intellectuals. Taught in German. May be repeated if topic is different. Offered in alternate years.
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. Recent topics: identities and boundaries of the German-speaking world. Taught in German. May be repeated if topic is different. Offered in alternate years.
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.
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 247: 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.

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. Also counts toward film 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. May be repeated if topic is different. Offered annually.

Chair, 2020-2021

Kari Lie Dorer

Associate Professor of Norwegian

Norwegian language and culture; applied linguistics; Sami studies; Nordic film.

Adrienne Merritt

Visiting Assistant Professor of German

Amanda Randall

Assistant Professor of German

intellectual history; German film; 20th- and 21st-century German literature and cultural studies

Nora Vosburg

Adjunct Assistant Professor of German