Chair: Nicole Simek, Foreign Languages and Literatures
Dennis Crockett, Art History and Visual Culture Studies
Courtney Fitzsimmons, Religion
Patrick Frierson, Philosophy (on Sabbatical, 2013-14)
Julia Ireland, Philosophy
Paul Luongo, Music
Lynn Sharp, History
Walter Wyman, Religion
German studies is an interdisciplinary major that allows students to gain a comprehensive understanding of German culture by examining it from a broad range of academic perspectives. In consultation with their adviser, students design a course of study that may include, in addition to advanced language study, selections from multiple disciplines such as German language and literature, art history and visual culture studies, history, music history, philosophy, religion, or world literature. Coursework may include courses taught in German, courses taught in English, and courses taught in English but cross-listed with German studies (which require students to complete a portion of the work in German).
Placement in language courses: Students with previous foreign language experience should consult the statement on placement in language courses in the Foreign Languages and Literatures section of this catalog.
The major in German Studies will consist of 36 credits, including four credits in senior thesis, four credits in German 370 and another 12 credits (three courses) in German at the 300 level or above. Of the remaining 16 credits, up to (but no more than) eight may be in German at the 200 level and up to (but no more than) 12 may be in approved German studies courses at the 200 level or above. Additional coursework in German beyond the 300 level may also be applied to the remaining 16 credits. Regularly approved courses in German studies are available in history, music, philosophy, religion, art history and visual culture studies, and world literature (see below). Other courses, including those taken abroad, may be accepted as German studies with consent of the faculty in German studies.
Typically, the student entering Whitman with little or no German would include in his or her major: second-year German, third-year German, two German literature courses, two additional courses, either in German literature or in German studies, and a senior thesis.
The student who was able to take third-year German as a first-year student would have more flexibility and would typically take third-year German, three additional German literature courses, three additional courses either in German literature or in German studies, plus a thesis.
The thesis is written in English, but students must work with texts in the original German. Because these theses are so interdisciplinary in nature, we require an outside reader whose area of academic specialization can enhance the development and assessment of the thesis. The outside reader is not necessarily from the affiliated faculty, but rather the person on the Whitman faculty who has the most expertise in the student’s subject matter and is willing to serve.
The Final Comprehensive Exercise consists of the oral defense of the thesis. Prior to the defense of the thesis, students will be asked to prepare presentations on a significant text in German literature and an important scholarly analysis of German culture, chosen by the faculty. During this oral examination, students also will be asked to discuss these texts as well as their own thesis. In the course of the examination, students will need to demonstrate a broad knowledge of German literature, history, and culture.
The minor in German Studies will consist of 20 credits: 12 credits in German at the 300 level or above; at least four of which must be from a course numbered higher than 306 and taken at Whitman College; eight additional credits in German at the 200 level or above or in an approved course in German studies at the 200 level or above; no independent studies count toward the minor. Courses that count for other majors may be used for the minor.
Note: Courses taken P-D-F prior to the declaration of a language major or minor will satisfy course and credit requirements for the major or minor. Courses taken P-D-F may not be used to satisfy course and credit requirements for the major or minor after the major or minor has been declared.
Students who major in German studies may choose among the following courses for their required area courses and electives:
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 355 German Visual Culture: 1871-1933
History 278 Twentieth Century Europe
History 277 Nineteenth Century Europe, 1815-1914
History 339 Modern Germany: Imagining a Nation?
Music 298 Music History II: Classical and Romantic Periods
Philosophy 215 German Moral Thought
Philosophy 318 Hannah Arendt as Political Thinker
Philosophy 322 Kant’s Moral Philosophy
Philosophy 338B Introduction to German Philosophy
Philosophy 351 What is the Human Being?
Philosophy 422 Heidegger’s Being and Time
Religion 228 Modern Western Religious Thought I: Crisis and Renewal
Religion 229 Modern Western Religious Thought II: The Twentieth Century
Religion 240 Modern Jewish Thought
105, 106 Elementary German
4, 4 Fall: Jones; Spring: Babilon
This beginning German course will provide students with the skills to communicate in basic German. Grammar is taught with an emphasis on its use in oral and written communication. Reading skills and cultural topics are introduced as well. Four periods per week. Prerequisite for 106: German 105.
200 Topics in Applied German Studies
A course meeting once per week, designed to provide students with supplementary language practice. May be offered in conjunction with an English-language course on a German cultural topic or as a stand-alone course. One-two credits, depending on course requirements. Prerequisite: German 205. Distribution area: humanities or cultural pluralism. Any current offerings follow.
200 ST: German Theater Club
1, x Babilon
Students will develop oral communication skills in German through exercises in theatrical improvisation. Class activities will blend traditional theater sports and scene work from existing texts. Since the goal is improvement of conversational skills in German, there will be no public performances. No theater background is assumed. Course meets for one hour each week, with approximately one hour per week of homework. Prerequisite: German 205 or equivalent. Distribution area: humanities or cultural pluralism.
200 ST: Philosophie auf Deutsch
x, 1-2 Ireland
Reading philosophical texts in the original requires careful attention to the way language expresses itself. Students will develop in German by examining key passages of philosophical texts, exploring the implications of individual words and specific formulations when they are used to communicate philosophical insight. Background in philosophy is not required, though textual selections for the course are taken from Philosophy 215, "German Moral Thought," and will include Kant, Nietzsche, Arendt, Jaspers, and Sebald. Interested students are encouraged to take both Philosophy 215 and this course, though enrollment in Philosophy 215 is not a co-requisite. Course meets for one hour each week, with approximately one hour per week of homework. Students may opt to take the course for either one or two credits; two credits require a final translation project which may be done collaboratively. Prerequisite: German 205 or equivalent. Distribution area: humanities or cultural pluralism.
205, 206 Intermediate German
4, 4 Babilon
Intermediate German provides a comprehensive review of German, focusing on all four language skills — speaking, aural comprehension, reading, and writing. While grammar will be reviewed and expanded upon, emphasis is on communication and German cultural knowledge. German is used extensively in classroom. Four periods per week. Students who have not taken German at Whitman previously are required to take a departmental placement exam for entrance. Prerequisite for 205: German 106. Prerequisite for 206: German 205.
228 Modern Western Religious Thought I: Crisis and Renewal
4, x Wyman
This is a course in Christian theology which begins with the Reformation of the 16th century. What were the religious ideas of the Protestant Reformers that lead to the break with Roman Catholicism? Next the course will turn to the rise of religious skepticism in the Enlightenment: How did modern science in the 17th century, and modern philosophy in the 18th, lead to a crisis in religious belief? The course will conclude with 19th century attempts to respond to atheism and skepticism, and to reconstruct theology on a modern basis: “What is it reasonable to believe in the modern world?” Not open to first-year students. Students enrolled in German 228 must meet the German prerequisites and will be expected to complete some reading and writing assignments in German. May be elected as Religion 228. Prerequisite: any 300-level German course, placement exam, or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.
229 Modern Western Religious Thought II: The Twentieth Century
4, not offered 2013-14
This course is a continuation of Religion 228, focusing on how 20th century religious thinkers have answered the question, “What is it reasonable to believe in the modern world?” How have 20th century religious thinkers, both conservative and liberal, Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish, responded to the challenges to the religious traditions of the West presented by the modern world? Topics vary, but may include: responses to skepticism and atheism; the pluralism of religions and the problem of religious truth; God and the problem of evil; liberation and feminist theologies; contemporary interpretations of Jesus of Nazareth; Jewish responses to the Holocaust. Students enrolled in German 229 must meet the German prerequisites and will be expected to complete some reading and writing assignments in German. May be taken independently of Religion 228. Not open to first-year students. May be elected as Religion 229. Prerequisite: any 300-level German course, placement exam, or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.
277 Nineteenth Century Europe, 1815-1914
4, x Sharp
The 19th century saw massive political, social, and technological change: from monarchies to democracies, from horse to rail to automobile; from a world of much illiteracy to one of daily newspapers and even telephones. Over the course of the century much of what is familiar in the world today was constructed. This course explores events and developments in Europe from the French Revolution to the end of the century, including industrialization, democracy and socialism, religious change and the rise of feminism, the expansion of Europe through imperialism, and the rise of racism and rightist nationalism at the end of the century that helped push nations into World War I. We’ll explore these developments in terms of their impact at the time and move toward an understanding of what legacy they left for the world today. Students enrolled in German 277 must meet the German prerequisites and will be expected to complete some reading and writing assignments in German. May be elected as History 277. Prerequisite: any 300-level German course, placement exam, or consent of instructor.
305, 306 Composition and Conversation
4, 4 Babilon
For students who aim to attain a high level of proficiency in writing and speaking skills for the discussion and study of more advanced topics in German culture. Extensive daily conversation, along with weekly readings, advanced grammar review and student-led discussions on current events. Students also prepare weekly essays. Instruction entirely in German. Three classroom meetings per week, plus required conversation practice with the Native Speaker. Prerequisite: any of the following: German 206 or any 300-level German course, placement exam, or consent of instructor.
318 Hannah Arendt as Political Thinker
4; not offered 2013-14
Hannah Arendt disavowed the title of philosopher, instead describing herself as a “political thinker.” This seminar will investigate what Arendt means by this description, focusing in particular on the notions of “world,” “natality,” and what she calls the vita active. Texts will include Between Past and Future, The Human Condition, and Eichmann in Jerusalem as well as selections from Arendt’s work on Kant and aesthetics and cultural theory. Biweekly seminar papers and a final research paper will be required. May be elected as Philosophy 318. Students enrolled in German 318 must meet the German prerequisites and will be expected to complete some reading and writing assignments in German. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy 300-level or higher and any 300-level German course or placement exam. Open only to senior Philosophy majors, German Studies majors, or by consent of instructor.
335 Romantic Nature
4, x Jones
Why does nature inspire us? Where did our understanding of nature come from? We have inherited our interactions with nature from a variety of sources: The Enlightenment was marked by political, intellectual, and scientific revolution and attempted to explain the world through science. The Romantics, on the other hand, reacted by trying to restore some mystery to Nature and to acknowledge its sublime power. This Nature ideal spread throughout Europe and then on to America, where European Romanticism inspired writers like Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, and their contemporaries' nature writing, which continues to exert influence on the American understanding of the natural world. This course will look at where American Transcendentalists and Romantics found inspiration. Students will read key literary and philosophical texts of the Romantic period, focusing on Germany, England, and America and explore echoes of these movements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: How do the Romantics continue to influence the discourse of environmentalism in America and around the world? Is the Romantic impulse at work in the establishment of the national parks system? Can we see echoes of the Romantic Nature ideal in narratives of toxic, post-industrial landscapes? Taught in English. Some discussion, reading and writing assignments will be completed in German. Prerequisite: Any 300-level German Studies class or consent of instructor. May be elected as Environmental Studies 335.
339 Writing Environmental Disaster
x, 4 Jones
From natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, storms) to man-made ecological catastrophe (nuclear accidents, oil spills, the thinning ozone layer), environmental disaster inspires fear, rage, and action. This course will focus on fiction and non-fiction that meditates on these events and our reactions to them. We will examine the ways in which literature and the other arts depict disaster, how natural disaster descriptions differ from those of man-made environmental crisis, whether humans can coexist peacefully with nature or are continually pitted against it, and how literature's depiction of nature changes with the advent of the toxic, post-industrial environment. Authors discussed may include Kleist, Goethe, Atwood, Ozeki, Carson, Sebald, and others. Taught in English. Some discussion, reading and writing assignments will be completed in German. Prerequisite: Any 300-level German Studies class or consent of instructor. May be elected as Environmental Studies 339.
351 What is the Human Being?
4; not offered 2013-14
In a set of lectures to his students, Kant claimed that all of philosophy could be reduced to the question, “What is the Human Being?” This course focuses on that question. Almost half of the course will be spent exploring Kant’s answer to the question, which also will provide an opportunity to explore Kant’s philosophy as a whole. The rest of the course will look at several contemporary approaches to the problem (including, for example, scientific —especially evolutionary — accounts of human beings and existentialism). Students enrolled in German 351 must meet the German prerequisites and will be expected to complete some reading and writing assignments in German. May be elected as Philosophy 351. Prerequisite: any 300-level German course or consent of instructor.
355 German Visual Culture: 1871-1933
4; not offered 2013-14
A seminar focused on visual production during the Wilhelmine Empire and the Weimar Republic. Extensive reading of primary sources and recent scholarship that address the ideological factors (e.g., prussianization, socialism, nationalism, cultural pessimism) behind such material issues as the creation of monuments, the transformation of interior design, the craft revival, and the origins of large-scale, suburban public housing. The course is based on student presentations and discussion, with various written assignments. Students enrolled in German 355 must meet the German prerequisites and will be expected to complete some reading and writing assignments in German. May be elected as Art History 355. Prerequisite: any 300-level German course or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.
370 Advanced Topics in German Studies
Intensive study of a particular topic, theme, or author in German. Any current offerings follow.
370 ST: Berlin: Evolution of a Metropolis
x, 4 Jones
Just as Paris was "the capital of the nineteenth century," Berlin has emerged as the capital of the twentieth century. Students in this course will study the origins of the great city and discuss essential issues of memory, identity, and history. We will study literature, art and film from the nineteenth century to the present. In addition, special attention will be paid to architectural landmarks (buildings, squares, monuments) that will act as case studies in how the city's government and people process the past. This course will give students a solid grounding in twentieth century German history and literature while introducing theoretical concepts from Benjamin, Foucault, Kracauer, Simmel, and others. Class discussion, presentations, most readings, and all written work will be done in German. Prerequisite: German 305, 306, or consent of instructor. Distribution area: humanities or cultural pluralism.
387, 388 Special Studies
Designed to permit close study of one or more authors, a movement, or a genre in German literature. Conducted in German or English, at the discretion of the instructor. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Any current offerings follow. Distribution: humanities or cultural pluralism.
391, 392 Independent Study
1-3, 1-3 Staff
Directed reading and preparation of a critical paper or papers on a topic suggested by the student. The project must be approved by the staff. The number of students accepted for the course will depend on the availability of the staff. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
422 Heidegger’s Being and Time
4, x Ireland
Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time (1927) is arguably one of the most groundbreaking works of philosophy published in the 20th century. This seminar is an intensive exploration of Heidegger’s most important conceptual innovations in that work. These innovations include the relationship between Dasein, care, and world; the analysis of being-toward-death, anxiety, and the call of conscience; and the “destructuring” of the Western philosophical tradition. The seminar will be focused on the close reading of Being and Time supplemented by other primary and secondary sources intended to facilitate the understanding of basic terms and concepts. The course is writing intensive, and will include biweekly papers and responses, a final seminar presentation, and a final paper. Students enrolled in German 422 must meet the German prerequisites and will be expected to complete some reading and writing assignments in German. May be elected as Philosophy 422. Prerequisite: any 300-level German course or consent of instructor.
492 Senior Thesis
4, 4 Staff
In-depth research concluding in the preparation of an undergraduate senior thesis on a specific topic in German literature or German studies. Required of German studies and German literature majors.
498 Honors Thesis
4, 4 Staff
Designed to further independent research or project leading to the preparation of an undergraduate thesis or a project report. Required of and limited to senior honors candidates in German. Prerequisite: admission to honors candidacy.
The program in German Studies also includes courses in world literature. These classes are listed in the World Literature section of the catalog.