Winter 2022

GER 002 Elementary German 

GER 003 Elementary German

GER 021 Intermediate German

GER 022 Intermediate German

GER 048  “Myth and Saga in the Germanic Cultures”

Professor Kirsten Harjes

4 units, taught in English, no prerequisites, GE credits AH, WC, VL, WE

The course is designed to encourage an appreciation of Germanic myths not only as a historical curiosity and a set of highly evocative symbols, but as powerful places from which to rethink our interpretations of the natural world, the human mind, power and gender, sexuality, and the nature of knowledge and power.

Beginning with the Bronze Age around 1500 BCE, European mythologies and paganism co-existed and co-mingled with the eventual advent of monotheistic religious beliefs such as the Judeo-Christian and later also the Islamic tradition. This course provides an introduction to Northern European myths up to their very fertile absorption into what had largely become Roman Catholic Europe by the end of the first millenium. We will trace stories and cultures of people who were part of these Germanic belief systems, culminating in the myths’ most recent and vibrant manifestations during the Viking Age around 700 – 1100 CE. Our sources include every attempt made to record stories that had only existed in oral traditions: archeological findings, tapestries, rune stones, famous Old Icelandic texts in translation such as Snorri Sturluson’s prose and poetic Edda, the Icelandic Sagas, middle Eastern merchants’ travellogues, and accounts by Christian monks.

This course will also give students an idea of the “history on the ground”, the social history during what is commonly called the Long Middle Ages: tribal migration patterns, trade routes, slavery and indentured servitude, political organizations, networks between Europe and the Middle East, early educational institutions, and various technological developments, from paper-making to longboat-construction.

GER 101B German Literature, 1800-Present

GER 112 (Topics in German Literature): Forms of Interaction between Jews and Non-Jews in Social Memory

Visiting Professor Klaus Hödl

Until just before the turn of the 21st century, scholars overwhelmingly described the relationship between Jews and non-Jews over the course of history as primarily tense, hostile, and often violent. But when scholars began to set aside “grand” historical narratives and studies of social structures and institutions in favor of small-scale analyses and research into everyday life, this previously prevailing assessment regarding contacts between Jews and non-Jews began to shift. It has become increasingly clear that the everyday life of Jews and non-Jews was characterized not only by conflict—which indeed existed—but also by forms of coexistence in which the boundaries between Jews and non-Jews were sometimes of little significance or even negligible. In any case, the relationship between Jews and non-Jews has emerged as far more complex than had long been assumed.

This course examines representations of interactions between Jews and non-Jews in literary works, films, plays, and other sources drawn primarily from Central and Eastern Europe, but also from North America, from the 19th century to the present. The question we will explore is to what extent these representations have shaped our ideas about Jewish / non-Jewish interactions over the course of history and to what extent they correspond to new historical findings.

This course will be conducted in English, but can be taken for German credit by arrangement with the Professor.

German 141: The Holocaust and its Literary Representation

Professor Sven-Erik Rose

The Holocaust—the Nazi genocide of European Jews during World War II—has inspired a large, varied and ever-growing body of textual and visual representations. These works of literature, cinema and art have been accompanied by, and indeed often themselves been preoccupied with, profound questions about the ethical complexity—and even the very possibility—of representing such extreme mass violence. While some works of Holocaust literature (e.g. Anne Frank's diary, or the memoirs by Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel) and film (e.g. Steven Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster Schindler's List) have achieved iconic status and reached large audiences, we will be focusing in this course on equally crucial but less widely read works of Holocaust literature. Our readings will include the diary of Hélène Berr, a Parisian Jewish college student; the diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, a teenager writing in the Lodz ghetto; and various short prose texts, poems, and diaries written by other Jews confined to Nazi ghettos in Warsaw, Lodz, and Vilna. Most of the authors did not survive, but much of what they wrote did—often by being buried and dug up after the war. We will even read one text, by Zalmen Gradowski, that was written and buried at the extermination camp Auschwitz. These powerful works will enrich your knowledge of the diverse ways in which the victims of the Nazi genocide responded to their personal and collective horror with courage and creativity. The course will also address Holocaust literature written after the war by American authors including Yiddish poets Kadja Molodowsky and Jacob Glatstein, and the Nobel Prize-winning Yiddish prose author I. B. Singer. We’ll end the course with the groundbreaking two-volume comic book Maus that Art Spiegelman created about the memory and legacy of his parents’ experience as survivors of the Holocaust.

 4 Units

GE (Old): Arts & Humanities and Writing Experience.
GE (New): Arts & Humanities, World Cultures and Writing Experience.

Graduate Courses

GER 297: Special Topics in German Lit
Prof. Chunjie Zhang


This graduate seminar will survey imperialism and colonialism and their relationship to (primarily German-language) literature and culture from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Major themes include scientific expedition, theory of race, the exhibition of empire, world literature, and migration. Theoretical readings include works by John Locke, Johann Gottfried Herder, Edmund Burke, Charles Darwin, Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Aamir Mufti, Linda Smith, and Achille Mbembe. Literary works include Karl May, Joseph Conrad, Franz Kafka, Peter Altenberg, and Ilija Trojanow.  

GER 297: Special Topics in German Lit
Visiting Prof. Klaus Hoedl

Jewish Experience as Reflected in Ego Documents

“Ego documents” is an umbrella term for writings in which the experience of the author plays an important role, including, but not limited to, diaries, travel accounts, letters, memoirs and autobiographies. Such ego documents long played only a scant role in scholarship seeking to reconstruct the (Jewish) past. Scholars, in particular historians, have often considered ego documents, primarily autobiographies and memoirs, to be too subjective to offer a reliable understanding of the past. But by the beginning of the 21st century, this view underwent fundamental revision and reconsideration. Since then, ego documents have functioned as important sources for tracing the past, especially where emotional states, attitudes, perceptions, and sentiments of individuals living at a particular time are concerned.

In this course, we will read and discuss a variety of Jewish ego documents, which will allow us to gather insights about the world of Jewish experience from the early modern period until the present. As we explore writings from Central and Eastern Europe, North America, the Sephardic diaspora, and Israel, we will consider issues that include, but are not limited to, differences between fictional texts and ego documents as primary sources for interpreting the past; the interplay between ego documents and collective/cultural memory; and their contribution to prevailing historical narratives.

This graduate seminar will be conducted in English

GER 390B: Teaching of German in College
Kirsten Harjes

Theoretical instruction in modern teaching methods and demonstration of their practical application. Required of new teaching assistants. (S/U grading only.)