Requirements & Courses

We are committed to building a dynamic curriculum that connects German to your academic and career goals. Through innovative course design and the use of computer-based and multimedia materials, we deliver high-quality, engaged teaching and establish high expectations for student performance. Our courses are built around cultural study of Germany’s past and present. You’ll learn language through culture, right from the very beginning—developing your language skills in a context that really matters.

You might also want to take a look at a sample four year plan that shows one possible way to progress through the program.

Courses in German Culture and Language

German 121 and 122: Introduction to German Language and Culture
German courses at the 100 level introduce students to German culture as a way of achieving basic competency in German, both listening/speaking and reading/writing. Topics of cultural study may include: stereotypes about the Germans; daily life, leisure, and travel; shopping and commerce; likes and dislikes; geography and cities;  housing and modes of living. We use a culturally-centered, project-based learning approach. Examples of projects include: audio dialogs, digital stories, and movie scripts using editing software in our language media center; poster presentations; and written work in various genres (letters, essays, encyclopedia entries, news columns). Courses consistently connect German study to students’ academic and career goals. Students may therefore select projects that advance those goals, such as writing a résumé in German.

German 122 is the minimum requirement for summer study abroad in Heidelberg.

German 221 and 222: Experiencing the German-Speaking World
German courses at the 200 level familiarize students with contemporary life in Germany, as a means of achieving greater cultural understanding and developing intermediate abilities in listening/speaking and reading/writing. Topics of cultural study may include: recent German history; famous sites and symbols; recent film and short stories; the design and function of cities; human relationships; foreigners and immigrants in Germany; current topics in the news. In the 200-level courses we deepen our culturally-centered, project-based learning approach. In addition to the type of projects employed in the 100-level courses, projects in German 221 and 222 may include: cross-disciplinary work connected to students’ other courses; additional genres of written work (news columns, opinion pieces, travel brochures); additional projects that connect students’ German study to their academic and career goals.

German 222 is the minimum requirement for semester study abroad in Heidelberg and the dual-degree Business program in Reutlingen.

German 321: Germany Between Empire and Nazism
Germany’s transition from empire to democracy took more than three decades and included two devastating world wars. This course examines the turbulent era between the wars, beginning with the fall of the emperor in 1919 and culminating in the opening shots of World War II in 1939. Events and trends to be studied include: the cultural scene in 1920s Germany (film, Expressionism, cabaret, jazz); the crisis of modernity; the Great Depression; the Nazi rise to power.

German 321 is offered every other fall, in rotation with German 323.

German 322: Germany During and After World War II
This course examines the transition from dictatorship to a stable democracy (1939-1949), with a specific focus on the post-war period. Events and trends to be studied: the ruin and devastation of the mid-1940s; the division into two states in 1949; the rebuilding period of the 1950s; the Nuremberg and Auschwitz war-crimes trials. Students with a specific interest in the Nazi era should also consider relevant courses in the History department.

German 322 is offered every other spring, in rotation with German 324.

German 323: Divided Germany, 1949-89
This course examines the separation of Germany into two countries in 1949 and the separate paths for West and East Germany that ensued, including the development of specific West and East German identities. Special emphasis on the former communist state known as the Democratic Republic of Germany (East Germany), its political development, positive aspects (community, unity), and human rights abuses (surveillance, Stasi, secret prisons).

German 323 is offered every other fall, in rotation with German 321.

German 324: Germany in the New Millennium
This course examines Germany’s changing identity, politics, and values in the new millennium. An in-depth look at current events shaping Germany is grounded in a study how key figures and moments in German history—from the medieval era to the 20th century—continue to influence the people, politics, and institutions of Germany today. Topics of study may include: questions of Heimat; issues of migration and identity (immigrants, Turkish-Germans, religion, multiculturalism); medievalism; genius and inspiration (Nietzsche, Wagner, Beethoven, the Gesamtkunstwerk); the role of Germany in the European Union and the world. The course makes use of news broadcasts and news websites, contemporary film, short fiction, and other cultural products.

German 324 is offered every other spring, in rotation with German 322

German 391: Business German track / German for the Professions track
Offered in conjunction with regular German coursework, such as German 121, 122, 221, etc. This two-hour course features specialized modules focused on business-specific language and culture, along with twice-monthly labs to work on a semester project. Must be enrolled simultaneously in a standard four-hour German course.

Interdisciplinary Courses Taught by German Faculty

IDS 218: Kafka and the Kafkaesque
Offered in English, this course fulfills General Studies requirements and counts towards the German Studies minor. We engage Kafka’s The Trial and related works by other artists in various genres. Students work on a semester-long project to locate the Kafkaesque in a single work of any genre: film, visual art, literature, graphic novel, drama, etc.

IDS 227: Holocaust Perpetrators

Imagine your country has just committed one of history’s worst crimes. Those responsible go on trial, and the world starts asking how representative the criminals are of their fellow countrymen—including you. That question has been the focus of divisive debate ever since Germany’s capitulation in 1945, a debate that has involved artists, intellectuals, politicians, and the general public in Germany and abroad. Should Holocaust perpetrators be seen as normal people? If so, does that trivialize their crimes? Or should they be seen as monsters, members of a corrupt elite… and doesn’t that portrayal relieve everyone else of responsibility? In this course, we won’t try to answer the question so much as analyze attempts to answer it, looking at the ways Holocaust perpetrators are portrayed. The central issue we’ll wrestle with, then, is the intersection of representation and representativeness: how the strategies used to represent Holocaust perpetrators affect our perception of how representative they are.

IDS 287: German Film

Students in this course will examine topics of political, artistic, and social relevance in Germany as expressed in film. The central concern will be the intersection of film with national and individual identity, examining how films express, reflect, or project a particular understanding of the individual and the nation. Specific topics might include immigration, the lingering aftereffects of Nazism, Expressionist explorations of the psyche and the human mind, the role of women, or other political, social, or human concerns. Films in German with English subtitles.

German 491: Independent Study
Offered based on student demand and instructor availability.

German 499: Independent Research
Offered after a formal application process in conjunction with a university-approved research program. Recent projects have included an Elon College Fellows thesis on Holocaust literature; a Communications and German Studies project on the portrayal of Germans in social media; a co-authored article on the 1961 film Judgment at Nuremberg; and an exploration of novelist Günter Grass's 2006 memoir Beim Häuten der Zwiebel (Peeling the Onion).

Courses in other departments