German Studies

HAILI KONG, Professor and Chair
ELEONORE BAGINSKI, Administrative Coordinator
BETHANNE SEUFERT, Administrative Assistant

German Studies
Core Faculty
SUNKA SIMON, Professor
TESSA WEGENER, Visiting Assistant Professor

Affiliated Faculty
Peter Baumann, Professor (Philosophy)
Richard Eldridge, Professor (Philosophy)
Tamsin Lorraine, Professor (Philosophy)
Braulio Muñoz, Professor (Sociology and Anthropology)
Robert Weinberg, Professor (History)
Thomas Whitman, Associate Professor (Music)

Language Resource Center
MICHAEL JONES, Language Resource Center Director
ALEXANDER SAVOTH, Language Resource Center Technologist


3 Absent on leave, 2014–2015.

German Studies

The German Studies Program offers students a wide variety of courses in language, literature, film, and culture taught in German, as well as classes in anthropology and sociology, history, music, philosophy, and political science. Stressing the interrelatedness of linguistic competency and broad cultural literacy, German studies classes cover a wide range of literary periods, intellectual history, and film and visual culture. The diverse approaches to German culture(s) prepare students for graduate work in several academic disciplines, as well as for a variety of international careers. German studies can be pursued as course major or minor or as a major and minor in the Honors Program.

Majors are expected to be sufficiently proficient in German when they graduate. To this end, we strongly advise students to spend an academic semester—preferably spring semester—in a German-speaking country before their senior year.

The Academic Program

Not all advanced courses or seminars are offered every year. Students wishing to major or minor in German studies should plan their program in consultation with the program coordinator. All German courses numbered 50 and above are open to students after GMST 008 or 020. Seminars in German are taught in fall semesters only and are open to students with advanced skills in reading and writing German. For seminar enrollment in our affiliated departments, please consult the guidelines and German studies adviser of those departments (art, history, music, philosophy, political science, religion, sociology and anthropology).

Course Major : Options, Requirements, and Acceptance Criteria

  • Completion of a minimum of 8 credits in courses numbered 003 and above.
  • Majors in course are required to take GMST 091: Special Topics, and enroll in at least one seminar taught in German in their junior or senior year. (See the note on enrolling in seminars)
  • Three of the 8 credits may be taken in English from among the courses relevant to German studies listed in the catalog under literature in translation (e.g., LITR 054G or LITR 066G) or from courses listed as eligible for German studies (see list below).
  • Comprehensive requirement: Seniors in course are required to submit a bibliography of 20 works to form the basis of a discussion and an extended, integrative paper (approximately 15 double-spaced pages in length) on a topic agreed to by the program coordinator. This paper, due before the date for the comprehensive examination, is complemented by a discussion of the paper with members of the program, in German.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to spend a semester in Germany or at least participate in a summer program in a German-speaking country. Of the classes taken abroad, a maximum of 2 credits will normally count toward the major. In cases of double majors, this number might be increased in consultation with the German studies chair. After studying abroad, majors must take two additional German studies classes.

Typical Course of Study:

Minimum of 5 credits in German above GMST 001 and 002:

GMST 003

GMST 008

GMST 020

GMST 091

GMST Seminar (104 and above, 2 credits)

Maximum of 3 credits taught in English from LITR, such as:

LITR 020: Expressions of Infinite Longing. German Romanticism and its Discontents

LITR 051G: European Cinema

LITR 054G: German Cinema

LITR 066G: History of German Drama

Or the equivalent, taught in English, and from List of Courses eligible for German Studies (taught in English in other departments, e.g. HIST 035 and PHL 049 or SOAN 101)

Course Minor: Options, Requirements, and Acceptance Criteria

  • Students must complete a minimum of 5 credits in courses and seminars, at least 3 of which are taught in German and numbered 003 or above. Of these courses, GMST 008, 020 and GMST 091: Special Topics are required.
  • Up to two credits can come from courses eligible for German studies numbered 008 or above.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to spend a semester in Germany or at least participate in a summer program in a German-speaking country. Of the classes taken abroad, a maximum of 2 credits will normally count toward the minor. In case of double majors, this number can be increased in consultation with the German Studies coordinator.

Typical Course of Study:

GMST 003

GMST 008

GMST 020

GMST 091

1-2 advanced courses or 1 seminar taught in German or in English from the list of courses eligible for German studies (from LITR or from an affiliated department, e.g. HIST 036 and MUSI 035 or PHL 137)

Honors Major and Minor in German Studies

Majors and minors in the Honors Program are expected to fulfill the minimum requirements for course majors above and be sufficiently proficient in spoken and written German to complete all their work in the language. All majors and minors in honors are strongly advised to spend at least one semester of study in a German-speaking country. Candidates are expected to have a B average in coursework both in the department and at the College.


Honors Major

The honors major requirements are identical to the course major requirements. All honors majors must include GMST 020 and GMST 091 in their course of study. In addition:

  • Honors majors in German studies take three seminars, two taught in German and one taught in English from an affiliated program. In consultation with the German studies chair, two advanced courses in German studies (such as GMST 054 and a second special topics course, GMST 091) may be taken in lieu of one seminar.
  • Honors majors participate in the external examination process required of all Swarthmore honors students and the Senior Honors Study process explained below. (Total: Minimum of 8 credits, 6 credits for seminars + 1 credit for GMST 091 + 1 credit for GMST 020)

Honors Minor

The honors minor prepares for the examination in German studies by following the minimum course minor requirements. All honors minors must take one seminar taught in German for their honors preparation and complete Senior Honors Study (described below). (Total: 5 credits)

Senior Honors Study (SHS) and Mode of Examination

For SHS, students are required to present an annotated bibliography of criticism—articles or books—concerning at least five of the texts in each seminar offered for external examination. Students are required to meet with the respective instructor(s) of the seminars being examined by Feb. 15 to discuss their planned bibliography and to meet with the instructors for a second time when the approved bibliography is handed in by May 1. The annotated bibliography, which carries no credit, will be added to course syllabi in the honors portfolio. The honors examination will take the form of a 3-hour written examination based on each seminar and its SHS preparation as well as a 1-hour oral panel examination based on the three written examinations for majors or a 30- to 45-minute oral examination for minors.

Off-Campus Study

Students of German are strongly encouraged to spend at least a semester in a German-speaking country. There are several excellent opportunities to participate in an approved program, such as the Columbia Consortium Program in Berlin, Duke University in Berlin, the Macalester College German Study Program in Berlin/Vienna, or the Dickinson College Program in Bremen. Students should consider going abroad in the spring semester. This will enable them to participate fully in the semester schedule of German and Austrian Universities.

Eligible Courses in German Studies

ARTH 005. Modern Art

ARTH 019. Contemporary Art

ARTH 077. Exhibiting the Modern

ARTH 166. Avant-Gardes

GMST 008. Texts in Content: Topics in German Culture and Society from the Reformation Until Today

GMST 020. Introduction to German Studies

GMST 024. German: Teaching and Pedagogy

GMST 054. German Cinema (Cross-listed LITR054G and FMST 054)

GMST 091. Special Topics: TBA

GMST 104. Goethe und seine Zeit

GMST 108. Wien und Berlin

GMST 111. Genres

HIST 028. Nations & Nationalism–E. Europe

HIST 029. Sexuality and Society in Modern Europe

HIST 035. From Emancipation to Extermination: European Jewry’s Encounter with Modernity

HIST 036. Modern Germany

HIST 037. History and Memory; Perspectives on the Holocaust

HIST 125. Fascist Europe

LITR 016. First-Year Seminar: Transcultural Mediations: How Texts Travel

LITR 020. Expressions of Infinite Longing: German Romanticism and its Discontent

LITR 051. European Cinema (Cross-listed as FMST 051)

LITR 066G. History of German Drama

MUSI 003A. Jazz Today: USA, Europe & the African Heritage

MUSI 006B. Music of Holocaust & WW II Era

MUSI 007A. W.A. Mozart

MUSI 007B. Beethoven and the Romantic Spirit

MUSI 022. 19th-Century European Music

MUSI 034. J.S. Bach

MUSI 101. J.S. Bach

MUSI 103. Mahler and Britten

MUSI 105. Beethoven

PHIL 029. Philosophy of Modern Music

PHIL 039. Existentialism

PHIL 048. German Romanticism

PHIL 049. Marx, Nietzsche, Freud

PHIL 114. 19th-Century Philosophy

PHIL 139. Phenomenology, Existentialism, and Poststructuralism

POLS 053. The Politics of Eastern Europe: Polities in Transition

POLS 059. Contemporary Euro Politics

POLS 073A. Migration, Immigration and Globalization in Europe

POLS 107. Comparative Politics: Greater Europe

SOAN 044D. Colloquium: Critical Social Theory

SOAN 044E. Colloq: Modern Social Theory


Not all advanced courses or seminars are offered every year. Students wishing to major or minor in German should plan their program in consultation with the section. All courses numbered 050 and above are open to students after GMST 020. (See note on enrolling in seminars.)

GMST 001–002, 003. Intensive German

Students who start in the 001–002 sequence must complete 002 to receive credit for 001.
For students who begin German in college. Designed to impart an active command of the language. Combines the study of grammar with intensive oral practice, writing, and readings in expository and literary prose. See the explanatory note on language courses earlier. Normally followed by 008, or 020.
1.5 credits.

GMST 001. Intensive Elementary German

Fall 2014. Wegener, Schnader.

GMST 002. Intensive Elementary German

Spring 2015. Wegener, Schnader.

GMST 003. Intensive Intermediate German

Fall 2014. Wegener, Schnader.

GMST 005. German Conversation

A 0.5-credit conversation course, concentrating on the development of the students’ speaking skills.
Prerequisite: GMST 008 in a current or a previous semester or the equivalent placement test score.
0.5 credit.
Fall 2014. Schnader.

GMST 006. German Conversation

A 0.5-credit conversation course, concentrating on the development of the students’ speaking skills.
Prerequisite: GMST 008 in a current or a previous semester or the equivalent placement test score.
0.5 credit.
Spring 2015. Schnader.

GMST 008. Texts in Contexts: Topics in German Culture and Society from the Reformation until Today

GMST 008 is a 4th semester course integrating the continued work on advancing the students’ linguistic skills with the acquisition of cultural, historical, and literary content about German-speaking countries. This course is the gateway to all upper level courses in the German studies curriculum. Topics alternate every year.
Prerequisite: placement test score or GMST 003.

Topic for Spring 2015: Deutsche Popmusik – Von Gassenhauer bis Hip Hop

In this course, we will trace the development of German popular music from Weimar era street and vaudeville hits, musical films of the Third Reich and the postwar decades, to post-1968 protest songs, German Schlager, New German Wave, and Hip Hop. While fine-tuning your knowledge of German cultural history, advancing your stylistic, lexical and grammatical competency in German will be the overall goal.
1 credit.
Spring 2015. Wegener.

GMST 020. Introduction to German Studies: Topics in German Literature and Culture

This course serves as the introduction to the interdisciplinary field of German studies. What is German “culture,” how has it been defined, which narratives, theories, and events have shaped the national imaginary from the 18th century to today? Students will develop speaking and writing skills through short assignments and presentations intended to familiarize them with the vocabulary of literary and cultural analysis in German. Topics change every year.
Prerequisite: placement test score or GMST 008.

Topic for Fall 2014: Verlorene Unschuld: literarische und filmische Jugendporträts

This course will explore representations of youth and coming-of-age in literature and film of the German-speaking world. We will read both canonical and non-canonical texts beginning in the 18th century and extending into the 21st that engage with themes of love, education and crisis. What do these narratives reveal about national, cultural and individual identity formation during early stages of maturity? How are these narratives shaped by various political and historical contexts? In addition to works by authors such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Frank Wedekind, Ingeborg Bachmann, Bernhard Schlink, and Jana Hensel, we will also examine key theoretical texts and films that focus on narratives of youth.
1 credit.
Fall 2014. Wegener.

GMST 054. German Cinema

(Cross-listed as LITR 054G/FMST 054)
This course is an introduction to German cinema from its inception in the 1890s until the present. It includes an examination of early exhibition forms, expressionist and avant-garde films from the classic German cinema of the Weimar era, fascist cinema, postwar rubble films, DEFA films from East Germany, New German Cinema from the 1970s, and post 1989 heritage films. We will analyze a cross-match of popular and avant-garde films while discussing mass culture, education, propaganda, and entertainment as identity- and nation-building practices.
Eligible for FMST credit, fulfills national cinema requirement.
Writing course.
1 credit.
Not offered 2014–2015.

GMST 091. Vienna 1900/Wien 1900

In this interdisciplinary course, we will undertake a broad exploration of the rich and diverse culture of turn-of-the-century Vienna. Around 1900, this Austrian city was a cultural hub for intellectuals, artists and scientists alike. Through dynamic exchange and influence between various cultural arenas, this space became the birthplace of particular forms of modern thought and art shaped by key figures of the late Habsburg Empire. We will not only examine literature by prominent authors such as Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Robert Musil, but also engage with the works of artists, architects, composers, philosophers and psychologists living and working in Vienna around 1900. In our analyses of these works, we will consider how cultural production is shaped by and reflects its historical context. To this end, this course will also provide an in-depth look into the political and social discourses of the historical period, with a specific emphasis on the social tensions and political upheavals leading to the rise of virulent anti-Semitism and the collapse of the Habsburg Empire in 1918. This course will hopefully include a visit to the Neue Galerie in New York, which is home to the most distinguished collection of Austrian fin-de-siècle visual arts in the United States.
1 credit.

GMST 093. Directed Reading


Five German seminars are normally scheduled on a rotating basis. Preparation of topics for honors may be done by particular courses plus attachments only when seminars are not available.
Note. Students enrolling in a seminar are expected to have done the equivalent of at least one course beyond the GMST 020 level.

GMST 104. Goethe und seine Zeit

This seminar familiarizes students with arguably the greatest German writer whose literary works revolutionized German poetry, drama, and the novel. Often regarded as the founder of German classicism, Goethe’s literary writings, spanning over six decades, defy easy categorization. Texts read in the seminar include the early drama Götz von Berlichingen and the influential epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, the classical drama Iphigenie auf Tauris, the novels Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre and Die Wahlverwandtschaften, early essays on Shakespeare and Gothic architecture, poetry from all periods of his life, and, of course, Faust. We will also look at Goethe’s scientific ideas (morphology of plants and theory of optics) and his philosophical and economic worldview.
2 credits.
Not offered 2014–2015.

GMST 105. Die deutsche Romantik

Romanticism as the dominant movement in German literature, thought, and the arts from the 1790s through the first third of the 19th century. Focus on Romantic aesthetics and poetics, including the influence of German Idealism.
2 credits.
Not offered 2014–2015.

GMST 108. Wien und Berlin

Between 1871 and 1933, Vienna and Berlin were two cultural magnets drawing such diverse figures as Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Gustav Klimt, Gustav Mahler, Leon Trotsky, Gerhard Hauptman, Käthe Kollwitz, Rainer Maria Rilke, Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Tucholsky, Else Lasker-Schüler, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schönberg, and Adolf Hitler. This course will examine the multiple tensions that characterized “fin-de-siècle” Vienna and Berlin, such as the connection between gender and the urban landscape, the pursuit of pleasure and the attempt to scientifically explore human sexuality, and the conflict between avant-garde experimentation and the disintegration of political liberalism.

2 credits.
Not offered 2014–2015.

GMST 110. German Literature After World War II

The aim of the seminar is to acquaint students with literary developments in the German-speaking countries after the end of World War II. The survey of texts will address questions of “Vergangenheitsbewältigung” and social critique in the 1950s, the politicization of literature in the 1960s, the “Neue Innerlichkeit” of the 1970s, and literary postmodernity of the 1980s. We will also study the literature of the German Democratic Republic and texts dealing with post-wall, unified Germany. Authors included are Böll, Eich, Grass, Frisch, Bachmann, Handke, Bernhard, Jelinek, Strauss, Wolf, Delius, Plenzdorf, Süskind, and Menasse.
2 credits.
Not offered 2014–2015.

GMST 111. Genres

This seminar will explore in depth a particular genre of literary and media production.
Scheduled topics include the following:

  • Deutsche Lyrik
  • Populärliteratur
  • Der deutsche Film
  • Das deutsche Drama
  • Das deutsche Roman

1 credit.
Fall 2014. Simon.

GMST 111: Medienkultur – German Media Culture

German Media Culture, beginning with the first Western book printed in movable type in the 1450s (Gutenberg’s Bible), is a rich source of inquiry for historical, political, sociological, philosophical, technological, and aesthetic reasons. In this interdisciplinary senior seminar, we will not only read, view and listen to primary media sources in their specific historical contexts, but we will also investigate and analyze media theories by Freud, Marx, Benjamin, Heidegger, Adorno, Brecht, Enzensberger, Habermas, Kracauer, and Kittler (among others) that develop alongside and in reaction to the rapidly changing mediascapes of 19th–21st century German-speaking countries. From print and popular press culture, letters and postcards, to radio, film, television and digital media, the seminar will devote two weeks to each major medium with authentic material made available on a course website and on reserve. Students are responsible for one oral presentation (submitted in written form a week later) and researching, composing and constructing a detailed analytical project in digital form in German, which they will present as a poster session at a German Studies event in early December.
2 credits.
Fall 2014. Simon.

GMST 112. German Short Fiction (Erzählungen, Novellen, Gerschichten)

When the Austrian writer Hugo von Hoffmannsthal, himself an accomplished writer of stories (Erzählungen), published a collection of 19th-century German Erzählungen, he stated that he only needed to remember the most moving reading experiences of his youth to establish a long list of indelible stories written by the greatest writers of the century. The popular genre of German (short) prose fiction, characterized by thematic diversity and narrative innovation, has been flourishing in various literary movements from Goethe to the present time. In this seminar, we will read a great variety of prose fiction (Erzählungen, Geschichten, Novellen), from the late 18th century onward, and examine the changing narrative forms and thematic preoccupations found in these texts. Authors include: Goethe, Tieck, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Arnim, Eichendorff, Kleist, Büchner, Keller, Gotthelf, Droste-Hülshoff, Stifter, Hebbel, Grillparzer, Schnitzler, Rilke, Hofmannsthal, Kafka, Langgässer, Kaschnitz, Koeppen, Lenz, Bachmann, Hildesheimer, Böll, Aichinger, Lenz, Wohmann, Handke, und Hein.
2 credits.
Not offered 2014–2015.

GMST 199. Senior Honors Study