Spring 2024 Courses

Spring Quarter 2024


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Not sure where to start with German?

Take a placement test in the Davis Language Center in Olson 53. The Center administers walk-in placement exams on the computer during regular business hours. The test takes about 20 minutes, and you get the results immediately. https://ucdlc.ucdavis.edu/

If the test places you into GER 22, or into a class we don’t offer in that quarter, email the Language Program Coordinator for advice at kharjes@ucdavis.edu.

CEFR (European reference scale) equivalence:

A2 = Successful completion of 1st year German at UC Davis

B2 = Successful completion of 2nd year German at UC Davis

Course definitions:

Elementary German = 1st year

GER 001: Basic grammar, vocabulary, and conversation for absolute beginners. Grammar concepts are taught in authentic cultural contexts whenever possible. Not open to heritage speakers or those who took German classes in high school.

GER 002: Continuation of basic language and culture instruction. Prerequisite: GER 001 or consent of Language Program Coordinator.

GER 003: Conclusion of elementary German. Prerequisite: GER 002 or consent of Language Program Coordinator.

Intermediate German = 2nd year

GER 020: First course in intermediate German reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension. Introduction to longer authentic fiction and non-fiction texts and basic text analysis vocabulary. Practice of higher-level communicative strategies. Review of 1st year grammar concepts.

Prerequisite: GER 003 or consent of Language Program Coordinator.

GER 021: Continuation of intermediate German, and review of 1st year grammar concepts.

Prerequisite: GER 020 or consent of Language Program Coordinator.

GER 022: Conclusion of intermediate German. The curriculum is designed around a special topic chosen by the instructor.

Prerequisite: GER 021 or consent of Language Program Coordinator.

Undergraduate Courses


GER 001, 003 Elementary German

GER 022 Intermediate German

Upper Division

GER 112 Topics in German Literature
Ilija Trojanow

"What’s in a Sentence?"

In this course, we will take a microscopic look at literature, focusing on the bricks of poetic and reflexive writing. How do sentences work? What makes a memorable sentence? To what extent is reading skipping from sentence to sentence? How about the art of the sentence in aphorisms, advertising and propaganda? Are there substantial linguistic differences in the construction of sentences? Among the writers we will analyze are two masters of the aphorism, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg and Stanisław Jerzy Lec, both freely available on the internet in English and German. The course will be conducted in English with German as a language of choice.

GER 118A Vienna 1900 - Vienna at the Turn of the 20th Century (The End of the Habsburg Empire)
Sven-Erik Rose


This course explores the explosion of modern(ist) culture in Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century, both before World War One, when Vienna was the capital of the multinational Habsburg empire, and in the early post-WWI (and post-imperial) years. We will study innovations in literature (e.g., Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Robert Musil, Arthur Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig), architecture (Adolf Loos), painting (Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele), psychoanalysis (Sigmund Freud), and music (Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schönberg). Recurrent themes of the course will include theories and representations of gender roles in the context of increasingly commodified modernity (especially men depicting women); tensions between an aesthetic of ornamentation and a spare, functional aesthetic; the dialectic of surface and depth; and social ferment amid mass migration, cosmopolitanism, and increasingly racialized ways of defining national groups. Can be taken for credit toward the minor in Jewish Studies. 

The language of instruction and readings will be ENGLISH; however, interested students will have the option of reading some or all the course texts, and of writing papers, in German.

Graduate Courses

Section 1 Jaimey Fisher
GER297 National vs Transnational: European Co-Productions in the EU Era

 This seminar will examine a special case of post-1990 European cinema, namely, efforts at art-cinema co-productions undertaken by two or more countries. European nations have long sought to find a niche in the global film market by producing art-cinema films related to various national cinemas (as in Italian neorealism, French New Wave, New German Cinema, Romanian New Wave, etc.), but there has also been a group of films, many funded in part by the EU (e.g., via its MEDIA program) or by other cross-border schemes like ARTE that foreground, even thematize, their co-production status. Part of their goal is produce films that will be of interest in global film markets, but, often, they also seek to highlight how identities can and often do transcend national borders, not least via images underscoring themes of mobility, migration, and diaspora/refuge – indeed, a “European” or cosmopolitan identity is a complex term and notion, but often the goal of these kinds of films. The course will examine the history of such cross-border co-productions, including works by directors like Krzysztof Kieslowski, the Dardennes brothers, Fatih Akin, Michael Haneke, Jessica Hausner, Mati Diop, Christian Petzold, Céline Sciamma, and Claire Denis. In addressing these films, the seminar will consider the dominant genres that have emerged for this kind of cinema aiming to carve out a niche in the world film market, including neorealist melodrama, urban thrillers, (quasi) horror films, and historical costume drama.


GER 297 section 2- Special Topics in German Literature-The most democratic of spaces: Utopia

Ilija Trojanow

What is a democratic space? The town square? The bus lane? The bicycle lane? The communal assembly or the regional parliament? Hyde Park Corner or Zuccotti Park? Parts of the internet? Pockets of resistance? Or maybe Utopia? This sounds like a contradiction in terms since u-topos in Greek means non-place, no-where, a fascinating paradox, and thus we are off to the races …

It is impossible to “tell the sun to leave the sky,” to quote an old evergreen, unless you can privatize the sun. It seemed impossible to abolish slavery and to allow women to vote. Is progress the futile effort of Sisyphus, is it “a dream deferred” or a utopian vision come true? Does utopian thinking imagine alternatives into existence by envisaging new and differing realities? Is this what Robert Musil famously meant by Möglichkeitssinn (difficult to translate, but not impossible). Is it no more than a Luftschloss, a castle in the air, a mirage, a daydream? Or, to quote Ernst Bloch’s famous definition “Träume von einem besseren Leben voller utopischer Hoffnung und Möglichkeiten” (dreams of a better life full of utopian hope and possibility)? Is Utopia a blueprint, the construction plan of a weird architect, or the sharing of a larger horizon, the liberation of the future from the shackles of the established social, political and economic order?

We will start off with the most canonical of texts, Thomas More’s “Utopia”. Then move on to a chapter from Musil’s “Mann ohne Eigenschaften” and Bloch’s “Das Prinzip Hoffnung,” thus establishing a theoretical and philosophical framework for our discourse, before reading two novels from very different eras and backgrounds, Alexander Bogdanov’s “The Red Star” and Ursula Le Guin’s “The Dispossessed.” Finally, we will take a close look at a recent addition to Utopian literature, Ilija Trojanow’s “Tausend und ein Morgen.” Since the author is at hand, we can delve into the creative process and the dynamics of acknowledging genre traditions and redefining them at the same time.

We will discuss the intersection of utopian and dystopian ideas (why is the apocalyptic narrative the flavor of the day?), the heavy hand of dogma and the lightness of imagination, the strategies of utopian storytelling (a turning of the tables, a jump into the unknown, an idealscape, an aspirational space) and the challenge of conceiving an appropriate language. We will address influential criticism of “Utopian thinking,” repeatedly made responsible for the horrors of the 20th Century (Karl Popper: “every utopia is a totalitarian concept that seeks to exterminate any other competing vision”). And we will reflect on the necessity of the aesthetical imagination in political transformation.

At the end, we might see clearer into the fragile future. Will it be possible to redefine our modes of planetary existence without utopian imagination? Is utopia the art of the impossible or the rational of the necessary?

The seminar will be held in English, knowledge of German is helpful, but not necessary, knowledge of Russian and Houyhnhnms a welcome boon.

Thomas More: Utopia. Freely available on the internet
Ernst Bloch: Das Prinzip Hoffnung (one chapter, made available in German/English)
Robert Musil: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (one chapter, made available in German/English)
Alexander Bogdanov: The Red Star (a pdf of the English translation can be made available, alternatively there is a Russian original and a German translation)
Ursula Le Guin: The Dispossessed (easily available in paperback)
Benjamin Kunkel: Utopia or Bust (one chapter, in English)
Ilija Trojanow: Tausend und ein Morgen (in German, only excerpts available in English)
Ilija Trojanow: Mosse Lecture : The Utopian Prerogative - YouTube