Spring 2014 Courses

German Department

Course Descriptions

Spring 2014


GETR 3372/  German Jewish Culture and History

HIEU 3372      12:30-1:45 TR                                                                          Mr. Grossman

RELG 3372                                                                                                        Mr. Finder

This course provides a wide-ranging exploration of the history and culture of German speaking) Jewry from 1750 to 1939 and beyond.  It focuses especially on the Jewish response to modernity in Central Europe, a response that proved highly productive, giving rise to a range of lasting transformations in Jewish life in Europe and later in North America, in particular, and in European society and culture, more generally.

Until the mid-eighteenth century, Jewish self-definition was relatively stable. From that point on, it became increasingly contingent and open-ended.  Before the rise of Nazism in 1933, German Jewish life was characterized by a plethora of emerging possibilities. This course explores the possibilities and the processes of change they unleashed. It traces the emergence of new forms of Jewish experience and shows their unfolding in a series of lively and poignant dramas of tradition and transformation, division and integration, dreams and nightmares. The course seeks to grasp this world through the lenses of history and culture, and to explore the different ways in which these disciplines illuminate the past. We will discuss the process of Jewish emancipation, the entry of Jews into European culture and society, Jewish acculturation (vs. assimilation). We will aslo explore the impact of newly released energies on Jewish and German life, more generally. Topics to be covered are: the “Wissenschaft des Judentums” (the “science” or “academic study” of Judaism), the rise of the reform, conservative and modern Orthodox movements as responses to modernity; the rise of the literary salons in Berlin and Vienna, run by Rahel Levin Varnhagen and Henrietta Herz, among others; the writers Heinrich Heine and Franz Kafka; Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis; the industrialist and writer Walter Rathenau; Weimar Culture; the politics of modernity, and, ultimatly the Jewish response to Nazism and the fate of German and Austrian Jews during the Holocaust. Finally, we will explore the rebuilding of Jewish life in Germany and Austria after the Holocaust.This course assumes no prior training in German or Jewish culture and history. Class meetings will combine lecture and discussion. Requirements: two short essays and a 10-page term paper. Readings are drawn from central figures in German-speaking Jewry, including Heinrich Heine, Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka, and Gershom Scholem, as well as critical works like Amos Elon’s history of German Jewry, The Pity of it All.

This course fulfills the second writing requirement.



GETR 3390/  Nazi Germany

HIEU 3390      9:30-10:45 TR                                                                         Ms. Achilles

This course examines the historical origins, political structures, cultural dynamics, and everyday practices of the Nazi Third Reich. All readings and discussions are in English. Requirements include regular attendance, one in-class presentation, short reading responses, and two five-page essays. There will be no mid-term or final examinations. The course fulfills the second writing requirement; no prerequisites.


GETR 3462/  Neighbors and Enemies in Modern Germany

HIEU 3462      12:30-1:45 TR                                                                         Ms. Achilles

A biblical injunction, first articulated in Leviticus and then elaborated in the Christian teachings, stipulates that one should love one’s neighbor as oneself. This course explores the friend/enemy nexus in German history, literature and culture. Of particular interest is the figure of the neighbor as both an imagined extension of the self, and as an object of fear or even hatred. We will examine the vulnerability and anxiety generated by Germany’s unstable and shifting territorial borders, as well as the role that fantasies of foreign infiltration played in defining German national identity. We will also examine the racial and sexual politics manifested in Germany’s real or imagined encounters with various foreign “others.” Most importantly, this course investigates the tensions in German history and culture between a chauvinist belief in German racial or cultural superiority and moments of genuine openness to strangers. In the concluding part of this course, we will examine the changing meanings of friendship and hospitality in a globalizing world. All readings and discussions are in English. Requirements include regular attendance, one in-class presentation, and three five-page essays. There will be no mid-term or final examinations. No prerequisites.


GETR 3563/ (3) Spiritual Journeys in Young Adult Fiction

CPLT 3590              2:00-3:15 WF                                                                 Mr. Alexander

This comparative inquiry into young adult fiction invites you to explore the topic of the spiritual journey both academically and personally. Different disciplinary perspectives such as religious studies, gender studies, history, psychology, and literary studies, will help us shed light on our private reading experiences and deepen our exploration of such themes as: religiosity vs. spirituality, experiencing divine presence and absence, becoming a hero, confronting evil, being different, achieving autonomy, faith and doubt, and the magical and the miraculous. Our hope is that, over the course of the semester, you will develop a personal vocabulary in which you can express your thoughts on spiritual journeys in young adult fiction as well as articulate the relationships between your own quest and your academic pursuits.

This discussion based, reading-intensive seminar is cross-listed in the Comparative Literature and German departments and most texts come from the Western tradition. The sessions will be held in English. We encourage all students to participate actively in discussion, to engage the readings and each other critically and compassionately, to develop a regular reflective writing practice, and to work collaboratively in small learning teams.

We warmly invite students from a variety of academic backgrounds and with diverse interests in the topic to apply. If you are interested in the course, please read visit http://pages.shanti.virginia.edu/Spritual_Journeys_To_Be/

Prerequisites: None


GETR  3590/ (3) Women and War

CPLT 3559          12:00-12:50 MWF                                                                Mr. Bennett

(Section 1)

Beginning with Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, the course will first examine the structure and complications of a world in which men wage war and women wage sex.  It will then move on to the discussion of ways in which this world-view is challenged or overturned, including:  the collision of war and sex in the figure of Judith (plays of Hebbel and Giraudoux); the virgin warrior Joan of Arc (Voltaire, Schiller, Anouilh, Shaw); Amazons ancient and modern (Kleist, Wittig); women at the intersection of war and business (Brecht).  Space will be left in the schedule to accommodate one or two texts suggested by students.  At least one paper will be required, perhaps two, depending on the size of the class.


GETR 3590 / (3) Human Dignity: On the Sources and Uses of a Concept

RELG 3559         2:00-3:15 MW                                                                    Mr. Wellmon

(Section 2)

Appeals to human dignity are ubiquitous in daily speech, as well as religious, ethical, legal, political, and philosophical discourse. And yet, when people invoke human dignity are they talking about the same thing? And what are the ramifications––ethically, politically, and legally––if they are not? This course considers both the history of the term, from concepts of the imago dei to recent legal formulations, and contemporary ethical debates including human rights, marriage, and torture. Readings will include philosophical, theological, political, and legal texts from a number of traditions. Expectations include close reading of assigned texts, class participation, and two take-home essay exams. All readings and discussions are in English. No German knowledge required.


GETR 3590 / (3) Jewish Lit. of the Middle Ages

GERM 5500         3:30-6:00 T                                                                      Mr. McDonald

(Section 3)

Survey of the main authors and genres of the Jewish Middle Ages, including Maimonides,   Kabbalah,  Arthurian literature, and the Jewish poets of Spain.  Regular  reading assignments. Two short interpretive papers and a final term paper. Students are expected to participate actively in discussion and interpretation.


GETR 3590 (3) Jewish Humor

(Section 4)         9:30-10:45  TR                                                                   Mr. Finder


Are Jews funny? Many people think so. Humor has certainly played an important role in Jewish life. This course examines the character and function of Jewish humor in Germany and the rest of Europe, the United States, and Israel. One goal of the course is to show how humor has been used in these Jewish communities to highlight the desires, needs, and frustrations of ordinary Jews.

Our basic text for the course is the recently published book No Joke: Making Jewish Humor, by Ruth R. Wisse. The theoretical starting point of our exploration of Jewish humor will be Sigmund Freud’s famous treatise The Joke and its Relation to the Unconscious (1905), which is chock-full of Jewish jokes. From there we will not only read a number of comic novels by Jewish writers but also listen to and watch Jewish comedians perform and view comic films with Jewish themes (e.g. Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, Danny Levi’s Alles auf Zucker)—all in an effort to discern common features in Jewish humor while making note of its chronological, geographical, and personal distinctiveness and eccentricities. Anticipated are plenty of opportunities to crack a smile if not laugh out loud!

Requirements in this course will include two short papers and a term paper. Active class participation is expected.


GETR  3730/ (3) Rilke, Valéry, and Stevens

CPLT 3730         11:00-12:15 TR                                                                     Ms. Martens


Studies in the poetry and prose of these three modernist poets, with emphasis on their theories of artistic creation.  The original as well as a translation will be made available for Rilke's and Valéry's poetry.  Their prose works will be read in English translation.  Requirements:  Three 6-7-page papers (one on each poet); participation in seminar discussion, including oral presentations on poems; final exam.



GETR 7700 (3) Cognitive Approaches to Literary Study 

                            2:00-3:15  TR                                                                         Ms. Martens

Theories of the way the mind works have always exercised a strong attraction on humanistic disciplines, including the study of literature--witness the grip of Freud, also Jung, then Lacan over the theories and practices of literary study in the twentieth century.   Today, cognitive science and neurobiology appear to offer more scientifically grounded insights about the human brain.  Many of these appear highly relevant to literary production and reception.   Since the 1980s, but more particularly in the last twenty years, literary scholars have adapted various aspects of psychological, linguistic, and neuroscientific work to literary study.  And the affair goes both ways.  Just as Freud and his progeny drew on literary models and interpreted literary texts, so have present-day cognitive scientists used literature as a resource and retheorized subjects like “metaphor” and “narrative,” in addition to performing empirical studies of reader response.  This course will focus on most or all of the following areas and their application to literary study:  conceptual metaphor, the question of self, blending, emotion, empirical studies of reader response, memory theory, and Theory of Mind.  We will read works by scientists that have found the greatest resonance in literary circles—works by Lakoff and Johnson, Damasio, and Fauconnier and Turner—in addition to work by literary scholars, such as Fludernik, Keen, Miall, and Zunshine.   Last but not least, we will consider whether the advances in cognitive science and neuroscience have given literary study something new and better, and if so, what?

By way of clarification:  the field is emergent.  Terminology is in flux.  The word “cognitive” has recently been used to include 1. emotions (initially excluded from “cognitive science” ) and  2.  the non-human,  including the digital world.  This course confines itself to the human.  Thus, emotions are included.  Digital applications, cell phones, etc., are excluded.  This is not a course in digital humanities, nor will it deal with artificial intelligence, “nonconscious. cognitive systems,” or the like. 

Open to Arts and Sciences graduate students in their second year and beyond.


 GERM 2120 (3)  Intensive Elementary German

                              1:00-1:50  MTWRF                                                         Ms. Schenberg

This is the second half of an accelerated course designed for mature and self-motivating undergraduates. Along with reviewing previously-learned grammar skills and acquiring new ones, students will read German literary and non-literary texts in their specified areas of interest, write essays and give short presentations in German, and practice speaking the language. The following options are available to students following completion of 1110/2120: any student receiving a D or lower must either re-take 2120 or enroll in GERM 2010/2020. Students receiving grades of C- through B in 2120 are required to take German 2020. Students receiving grades of B+ and above may either proceed to a 3000-level German course or consider their language requirement fulfilled. Again, please note: completion of 1110/2120 does not automatically place you in a higher-level course.


GERM 3000 (3) Grammar In Use                                                                Ms. Scholz

                          12:00-12:50  MWF

A comprehensive review of German grammar, stressing adjective endings, passive and subjunctive. A good basic knowledge (2020 level) is assumed. The goal of the course is control of German grammar, so that all the student still needs for fluency is more vocabulary. Furthermore, students will be encouraged to take advantage of the resources the internet offers to gain a broad perspective of various aspects of German, Austrian, and Swiss culture. Regularly hourly exams and a final examination.

Prerequisite: German 2020 or consent of the instructor 


GERM 3010 (3) Texts and Interpretations                                                                                                       

                           11:00-11:50 MWF                                                             Mr. Ilsemann

This seminar serves as an introductory course to the practice of reading and interpreting texts. While the focus will be on literary texts, other media may be represented as well, notably film. Participating students will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the three major literary genres (drama, poetry, and prose); the technical terms necessary to discuss and analyze literature and other kinds of texts; and various schools of interpretation, such as structuralism and psychoanalysis. Students will also improve their language proficiency, especially in the areas reading comprehension, speaking, and writing. The class will be conducted entirely in German. Requirements include active participation, regular homework assignments, a series of essays, and an oral presentation.


GERM 3220 (3)  German Play                               Ms. Pisechko

               6:00-8:00 MW                         


This course provides the unique opportunity for students to fully immerse themselves in a work of German literature by reading it, discussing it, and most importantly– performing it. The play will be Bertolt Brecht’s early drama Baal.  This selection will enable the class to delve into Brecht’s theories of performance and allow the students a great deal of creative license. At the end of the semester there will be two public performances, which each student must take part in. Every production has its own technical requirements, therefore some actresses/actors mayhave to double as costume designers, stage architects, prop builders, lighting techs, and/or sound engineers. Any expertise in these areas will prove useful but is not at all required. Please also note that previous acting experience is great, but not necessary. During our ongoing analysis and performance of the play, students will benefit from the chance to improve in every aspect of their German language skills.

Expectations: Weekly attendance of regular class sessions is essential. Students should also expect to attend some extra rehearsals, especially in the weeks leading up to the performance(s). Short written assignments will develop writing skills and encourage students to reflect on the play, the progress of our production, and introductory theoretical texts on performance and Brecht. This will be a truly rewarding experience that will help improve your German skills in a fun and constructive environment!


GERM 3240 (3) Composition & Conversation

              10:00-10:50 MWF                           Ms. Parker


 Using Deutsche Welle streaming-media news and cultural programming, as the mentor text,  students compose a weekly writing assignment.  This serves as the basis for conversation, as participants present their texts orally and answer questions from the class. In addition, students compose a weekly summary in German  based on Deutsche Welle radio broadcasts.  Brief grammar review, as needed. The class is conducted in German.


GERM 3250 (3) German for Professionals

                            9:30-10:45 TR                                                                    Ms. Steitz


Are you ready for the global job market? Are you thinking about using your German skills in the workplace? Maybe even interested in applying for an internship or job in Germany? In a globalizing world a positive attitude toward working in another country and communicating under different cultural conditions are important prerequisites for success. In this professional development course, you will learn how to communicate and interact appropriately and effectively in a German language environment. Readings, discussions, class activities, and assignments will focus on a variety of relevant and practical subjects, including the challenges of globalization, researching career resources,

creating an application portfolio, conducting mock job interviews, and the essentials of German business etiquette. We will also network with UVa Alumni who live(d) and work(ed) in Germany to learn about their experience and to get hands-on advice from them. Students will have the opportunity to suggest specific topics and readings for this course. This course is for everyone with basic knowledge of German (completion of GERM 2020 or instructor permission) and an interest in getting ready for the global job market. For questions please email the instructor, Kerstin Steitz: ks8fa@virginia.edu.

Requirements include:

• Regular attendance and active class participation (20%)

• Brief oral presentations (10%)

• Mock job interviews (30%)

• Creating an application portfolio on wordpress including a list of job and career resources in your field of expertise, CV, three sample cover letters (40%)


After completing this course, you will be able to

• Research job and career resources in German relevant to your field of expertise and interest

• Summarize and explain the job market situation and etiquette in your field of expertise in Germany and give relevant career advice in German

• Give presentations in German

• Conduct job interviews in German

• Manage standard business situations and conversations in German

• Compare and discuss the job market situation and business culture in your field in Germany and the U.S. in German

• Create an application portfolio including of a list of relevant job and career resources, a CV, and three sample cover letters


GERM 3290 (1)  German House Conversation

                             4:00-5:00 T German House                                               Ms. Serhat


This course is mandatory for the residents of the German House but open to other students as well.


GERM 4600(3)  Fourth Year Seminar

              2:00-3:15 TR                                                                                   Mr. McDonald

German Arthurian Literature. Students read and discuss Hartmann von Aue's Erec and Iwein,  the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach, and the Tristan of Gottfried von Strassburg.  Participants give regular oral interpretive reports and write a term paper.


GERM 5500 / (3) Jewish Lit. of the Middle Ages

GETR 3590                     3:30-6:00 T                                                          Mr. McDonald

Survey of the main authors and genres of the Jewish Middle Ages, including Maimonides,   Kabbalah,  Arthurian literature, and the Jewish poets of Spain.  Regular  reading assignments. Two short interpretive papers and a final term paper. Students are expected to participate actively in discussion and interpretation.


GERM 7400 / (3) Intellectual History: The End of Philosophy

GETR 3400           3:30-6:00  M                                                                     Mr. Wellmon

This course focuses on twenty-five years of German philosophical history around 1800 and the claims made on behalf of philosophy by some of the German tradition's most canonical figures.  A few years after the publication of his Critique of Pure Reason in 1781, Immanuel Kant made a rather bold claim: "It sounds arrogant, self-seeking, and for those who have not yet relinquished their old system, belittling to assert: that prior to the development of critical philosophy there had been no philosophy at all." And yet, that's exactly what he did. Twenty-five years later Hegel announced in a lecture course in 1806 that "herewith, this history of philosophy comes to an end." Our aim will be to understand how and why Kant and Hegel thought that the history of philosophy could be reduced to a period of twenty-five years. We shall focus on basic concepts such as philosophy, science, reason, and system. Our primary readings will be from Kant, Hegel, Schelling, Goethe, Fichte, Jacobi, Novalis, and Hölderlin. Additionally, we shall use Eckart Förster's landmark new study The Twenty-Five Years of Philosophy (2012) to guide us through the semester. This course is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates. All readings will be available in German and English. Class discussions in English.


GERM 5620 (3)  The  Dramatic Theater and Its Theory                

                          2:00-3:15  MW                                                                    Mr. Bennett                                                           

 A number of German plays from around 1800 and from the 20th century will be read and discussed in detail, along with enough material from classical antiquity and from earlier European literature to provide a comprehensive historical and theoretical context in which to situate them as representatives of their type.


GERM 8620 (3) Seminar in Language Teaching                                             Ms. Scholz

                            3:30-6:00 R TA Conference Room