Literature & Culture Courses
SAS Core Goal Courses:
Intermediate German I 01:470:131
Intermediate German II 01:470:132
Fairy Tales Then and Now 01:470:225
Advanced German II 01:470:232
Psy Fi: Literature and Psychoanalysis 01:470:247
Avant-Garde: Dada to Punk Rocl 01:470:277
Introduction to Literary and Cultural Analysis 01:470:302
Marx, Nietzsche, Freud 01:470:371
The Language of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud
Other Courses taught by German Program faculty
Elementary German 101 (4 cr)
MWTh3 11:30am-12:50pm, Murray Hall 112
M6 4:30pm-5:50pm, Scott Hall 101
W67 4:30pm-7:30pm, Scott Hall 203
This course will introduce students to the language and culture of German-speaking countries, using both prepared and authentic materials with theme-related vocabulary and grammatical structures. Students will have the opportunity to practice listening, reading, writing, and speaking in German through in-class activities and homework assignments. The program of the course corresponds to the Level A1 (Beginner) of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), a widely accepted European standard for language proficiency.
By the end of the semester students will be able to:
- understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type
- introduce themselves and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people they know and things they have
- interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.More specifically, students will be able to:
- talk about themselves, their families, and their origins
- talk about weather and clothing
- order food and drinks in a restaurant or a café, discuss food and cooking, use cooking recipes
- discuss different living situations, talk about houses, rooms, etc.
- talk about their time and make appointments
- orient themselves in a German-speaking urban setting and ask for directions
- talk about things that happened in the past;
- talk about professions, job, study, recreation, and daily life
- talk about some major landmarks and places of interest of the German-speaking countries
- talk about health and health issues
- express their intentions, obligations and necessities.
No prerequisites. This course is taught in German with some explanation of grammar points in English. Not open for credit to students who have had two or more years of secondary school German. Students of 101 are strongly encouraged to enroll in Elementary German Lab 103.
Elementary German 102 (4 cr)
MWTh3 11:30am-12:50pm, Scott Hall 203
Not open for credit to students who have had two or more years of high-school German. Such students should enroll in German 121, unless they have placed into a higher-level German course.
This course will continue introducing students to the language and culture of German-speaking countries, using both prepared and authentic materials with theme-related vocabulary and grammatical structures. Students will have the opportunity to practice listening, reading, writing, and speaking in German through in-class activities and homework assignments. The program of the course corresponds to the Level A2 (Elementary) of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), a widely accepted European standard for language proficiency.By the end of the semester students will be able to:
- understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
- communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
- describe in simple terms aspects of their background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.More specifically, students will be able to:
- understand non-fiction texts on some topics, including classified ads
- talk about migration, backgrounds, and languages, compare cities and countries
- talk about families and everyday life, about city and country life
- describe people
- talk about travel
- talk about leisure, hobbies and interests, as well as holidays and traditions
- talk about media
- talk about inventions, products and goods
- organize a trip to a theater, etc.
- talk about professional life
- leave a message on the phone
- express emotions and react to them using language
The course is taught in German with some explanation of grammar points in English. Students of 102 are strongly encouraged to enroll in Elementary German Lab 104.
Elementary German Language Lab: German Conversation (1 cr)
Th4 1:10pm-2:30pm, Scott Hall 201
This course will introduce students to the language and culture of German-speaking countries focusing on the language competencies particularly relevant for oral communication in everyday situations.By the end of the semester students will be able to:
- speak about themselves;
- ask basic questions;
- share basic information about their families and relatives;
- speak about their studies;
- speak about objects relevant to everyday situations;
- speak about the weather;
- express likes and dislikes.The course is taught in German with some explanation of grammar points and cultural references in English.
German Intensive Review (4 cr)
MTTh3 11:30am-12:50pm, Scott Hall 203
Meets with 01:470:102:01
(121 is for students with two or more years of high-school German who do not place into German 131.)
Not open to students who have taken 01:470:101-102.
An intermediate reinforcement course. Practice in speaking, reading, and writing German; extensive grammar review; cultural topics. Prepares students to take German 131.
Intermediate German I (3 cr)
TTh7 6:10pm-7:30pm, Scott Hall 220
Prerequisite: 01:470:102, 01:470:108, 01:470:121, or placement.
The first semester of Intermediate German further develops students' German language skills with an emphasis on conversation and composition based on everyday situations, aspects of culture, contemporary German short stories, and review of major grammatical points. Students will strengthen their listening, reading, and writing skills, as well as cultural competency by discussing a variety of cultural topics and themes in the German-speaking world, including personal and community life, media, travel, and art. Fulfills SAS core goal AH q.
Intermediate German II (3 cr)
TTh7 6:10pm-7:30pm, Scott Hall 105
Prerequisite: 01:470:131 or placement.
In this course students will further develop their competencies in German language and culture of the German-speaking countries on the intermediate level, using both prepared and authentic materials with theme-related vocabulary and grammatical structures. Students will have the opportunity to practice listening, reading, writing, and speaking in German through various in-class activities and homework assignments. Using a variety of media, such as written texts, video, and audio clips, students will explore the course’s five major themes: Climate and Environment; Social Behaviors; Generations; Migration; Europe.
The program of the course corresponds to the Level B1.2, which is the first half of Level B1 (Intermediate) of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), a widely accepted European standard for language proficiency. By the end of the course sequence, students will be able to understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.; deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken; produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest; describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
The course is taught in German with some explanation of grammar points in English.
Fulfills SAS core goal AH q.• Understanding the nature of human languages and their speakers.
Advanced German II (3 cr)
MTh2 9:50am-11:10am, Honors College S126
This course is designed to further students’ German-language proficiency at an advanced level. It focuses on increasing students’ ability to express their own ideas precisely and convincingly. Through extensive conversation and composition exercises, the course further develops the students’ reading, writing, speaking, and listening abilities at the advanced level. Using a variety of media, such as texts, still images, video and audio, and looking at a variety of genres, such as short stories, poems, non-fiction articles, documentary shows and reportages, students explore the course’s major themes. Students will have the opportunity to practice and improve their spoken and written German skills through class discussions, essays, homework assignments, creative project and oral presentations, as well as in-class grammar reviews. Fulfills SAS core goal WCD(t).
Literature and Culture Courses
Fairy Tales Then and Now (3 cr)
01:470:225:01 (1st year section)
01:470:225:02 (Sophomore section)
01:470:225:03 (Junior section)
01:470:225:04 (Senior section)
01:470:225:H1 (Honors Section)
Cross-listed with Comparative Literature 01:195:246:01
MW5 2:50pm-4:10pm, Academic Building East Wing 2225
In English. No prerequisites.
This course analyzes the structure, meaning, and function of fairy tales and their enduring influence on literature and popular culture. While we will concentrate on the German context, and in particular the works of the Brothers Grimm, we will also consider fairy tales drawn from a number of different national traditions and historical periods, including the American present. Various strategies for interpreting fairy tales will be examined, including methodologies derived from structuralism, folklore studies, gender studies, and psychoanalysis. We will explore pedagogical and political uses and abuses of fairy tales. We will investigate the evolution of specific tale types and trace their transformations in various media from oral storytelling through print to film, television, and the stage. Finally, we will consider potential strategies for the reinterpretation and rewriting of fairy tales. Fulfills SAS core goal AH p, WC d.
Introduction to German Literature (3 cr)
TTh5 2:50pm-4:10pm, Scott Hall 114
In German. Prerequisite: 01:470:132
This course is an interdisciplinary inquiry into seminal literary, artistic, social, political, and intellectual developments in the history of German-language cultures and thought from around 1900 to the present day. The course invites all students who seek, as part of a well-rounded liberal arts education, basic familiarity with the rich and often vexed history of things German and their impact on Europe and the world. The topics include: European politics and world wars; German split and reunification; literary representation of history; modern music, visual arts and poetry; German science and research; and others. By studying different genres of literature, film, music, and art in relation to the general intellectual development of the period, students will gain insights into ideas, trends and discourses that have shaped contemporary German culture. As a learning outcome of the course, students will develop their ability to approach texts and works of art both analytically and synthetically, exploring the connections between the historical period and its cultural representation in critical and creative ways.
The course is conducted in German. All course materials, discussions, and readings are in German.
Psy Fi: Literature and Psychoanalysis (3 cr)
01:470:247:01 [formerly 01:470:356]
Cross-listed with Comparative Literature 01:195:247:01
TTh6 4:30pm-5:50pm, Scott Hall 220
In English. No prerequisites.
Origins and major concepts of psychoanalysis explored through a close analysis of Freud’s writings with a particular focus on their literary dimension. The course seeks not simply to apply Freud to literature but moreover to see how psychoanalytic thinking itself might be enriched and expanded by our approaching it through works of art, literature and cinema. Thus, in addition to readings of Freud’s writings on dreams, infantile sexuality, trauma, and the unconscious, we will also study films by Hitchcock, a wide range of literary texts from German, French, Anglo-American and Latin American traditions, and critical essays by Zizek, Bronfen, Felman, Weber, Ronell and others. In English. Fulfills SAS Core goals AHo and AHp.
Deleuze, Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty in Venus in Furs ISBN 9780942299557
Freud and Gay, Freud Reader ISBN 9780393314038
Muller and Richardson, The Purloined Poe ISBN 978-0801832932
Bechdel, Are You my Mother? ISBN 9780618982509
Shakespeare, Hamlet ISBN 9780743477123
Critchley and Webster, Stay, Illusion! ISBN 9780307950482
Bettelheim, Freud and Man’s Soul ISBN 9780394710365
Avant-Garde: Dada to Punk Rock (3 cr)
Cross-listed with Comparative Literature 01:195:277:01
MW5, 2:50pm-4:10pm, Frelinghuysen Hall B5
In English. No prerequisites.
This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the European avant-garde movements at the beginning of the 20th century. We will consider innovations in art, music, film, and literature, beginning with German Expressionism, followed by Italian Futurism, Dada, and French Surrealism through its late expressions in American Pop Art of the 1960s and Punk Rock of the 1970s. We will look at the various ways in which these movements discover the irrational, the pathological, the unconscious, the precarious and the abandoned as revolutionary and subversive gesture with the utopian potential of changing the world. Readings include literary works by Frank Wedekind and Karl Kraus, poems and manifestos by Jakob van Hoddis, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Gottfried Benn, Emmy Hennings, Hugo Ball, Guillaume Apollinaire, André Breton; artworks by Marcel Duchamp, Hannah Höch, Max Ernst, John Heartfield et. al.; films by Robert Wiene (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), Lewis Milestone (All Quiet on the Western Front); Hans Richter (Ghosts Before Breakfast), Luis Buñuel (An Andalusian Dog), and Andy Warhol (The Chelsea Girls); music by The Sex Pistols, The Misfits, David Bowie, and others.
Assignments: Class participation and blog posts (15%); 3 response essays, 4pp. each (45%); short presentation (15%); final paper, 10pp. (25%)
This course satisfies SAS Core Curriculum Requirements AHo and AHp.
Contemporary German Media & Society (1.5 cr)
T8 7:40pm-9:00pm, Academic Building West Wing2150
Prerequisite: 01:470:102 or 01:470:121, or higher.
In German. If taken twice, 470:299 may be counted for three credits towards the major or minor.
The main goal of this course is to increase the students' cultural awareness through the study of the various media and their role in contemporary German society, while furthering the students' German language skills through consistent speaking, listening, reading, and writing. In this course, students will explore the traditional, modernized, and news media and the role they play in different realms of contemporary German society. Chosen topics of the course are crucial to understanding the modern German-speaking world and include themes such as social structure, politics, culture, and everyday life. Special attention is paid to cultural comparisons between Germany and the United States.
Introduction to Literary and Cultural Analysis: Adaptations (3 cr)
TTh4, 1:10pm-2:30pm, Scott Hall 205
Prerequisite: 01:470:232 (Student who are performing well may also enroll simultaneously in 231-232 and 301-302.)
Please note: 470:302 may be repeated for credit when topics vary!
Introduction to Literary and Cultural Analysis will familiarize students with central concepts and methods in the analysis of literary texts and their adaptations in film and other media. Works of literature can enjoy an afterlife or even a rebirth in the adaptations based upon them. These re-envisionings have a way of tapping into unsuspected aspects of the original by translating them into a different medium. The course will explore these processes of translation and recreation by studying how literary works are adapted for the screen, set to music or reimagined as graphic novels. Among the works considered are graphic novel adaptions of Thomas Bernhard and Franz Kafka; cinematic adaptions of Heinrich von Kleist, Thomas Mann and Elfriede Jelinek; and operatic adaptations of the story of Tristan and Iseult and the Song of the Nibelungen. This course is designed for students with a solid grasp of basic German grammar and vocabulary who wish to expand their knowledge of the language and cultures of the German-speaking world through reading, discussion, and writing.
Designed for students with a solid grasp of basic German vocabulary and grammar who wish to expand their knowledge of the language and culture through reading, discussion, and writing. Taught in German. Fulfills permanent core requirements AHp, s-2/WCr, t/WCd and v. Prerequisite: 01:470:232, or simultaneous enrollment in 01:470:231 or 232. May be repeated for credit.
Marx, Nietzsche, Freud (3 cr)
Cross-listed with Comparative Literature 01:195:374:01, and Philosophy 01:730:344:01
TTh4 1:10pm-2:30pm, Academic Building, West Wing, Room 1170
In English. No prerequisites.
Exploration of the work of three German writers who revolutionized modern philosophy, theology, psychology, aesthetics, social and political science, gender studies, historiography, literature and the arts. We will be reading and discussing a selection of key writings by Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. Along with these we’ll examine a sampling of texts that were important for their work, and writings that later both reflected their influence and drew their ideas in new directions. In English. No prerequisites. (Students who have completed Introductory German 102 or the equivalent, or who have Prof. Rennie’s permission, are encouraged to enroll in the 1-credit companion module “The Language of Marx, Nietzsche and Freud” (01:556:291:L2), which will focus on the original German-language concepts and formulations in select passages relevant to the principal themes of the main course “Marx, Nietzsche, Freud.” See below for details.
Permanent Core Curriculum requirements: HST, AHo.
Ordered through the Rutgers University Store. These texts are indicated by (abbreviated) title within the list of weekly readings. Other titles are available online as pdf files at the Resources page of the course Sakai website
1. Freud, Sigmund. Moses and Monotheism [ISBN: 9780394700144].
2. --. The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud (Psychopathology of Everyday Life, The Interpretation of Dreams, and Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex) [ISBN: 9780679601661]
3. Marx, Karl, Friedrich Engels. The Marx-Engels Reader [ISBN: 9780393090406]
4. Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Nietzsche Reader [ISBN: 9780631226543]
The Language of Marx, Nietzsche and Freud (1 credit)
Thomas Wallerberger and Nicholas Rennie
Class Hours (on CAC) to be arranged in the first week of classes
Focus on the original German-language concepts and formulations in select passages relevant to the principal themes of the main course “Marx, Nietzsche, Freud.” Attention will be given to issues of translation as these influence — and historically have influenced — the understanding of these writers and their thought. The classes themselves are taught in English, but students must have elementary ability to navigate texts in German -- with help, of course, from their dictionary and their instructor!
Objectives: This module aims to help students learn about the cultural dimension and relevance of language in general, and of German in particular. More specifically, over the course of the semester, students will become attuned to linguistic issues both as they affect the formulation and understanding of philosophical writing, as they have specifically influenced understanding of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, and as linguistic issues are themselves foregrounded thematically and through formal means in the texts of these writers.
Requirements and schedule: Students will be expected to have the texts required for the course “Marx, Nietzsche, Freud.” Additional materials — e.g. German-language texts — will be made available on the course website. Class will meet 9 times over the course of the semester, for 80 minutes each time, beginning in the first week of classes. Each hour of class time requires approximately two hours of preparation. The ninth class, which includes a final discussion, will be two hours rather than 80 minutes long.
Topics in German Literature and Civilization: Literature and Media Art (3 cr)
Cross-listed with Comparative Literature 01:195:396:01
Distinguished Visiting Craig Professor Claudia Benthien
MW4 1:10pm-2:30pm, Scott Hall 205
In English. No prerequisites.
In the early 20th century, Russian literary scholars set out to spread a new understanding of what constituted the nature of literature. Now known as Russian formalism, the movement coined the notion of “literariness” to account for the qualities of literary language, distinct from its habitualized uses. It envisioned literature to renew a perception that had become numbed by automatization. To describe the ways in which literature deviates from conventionalized norms of language use, they referred to the notion of “making strange.”
The seminar is based on the observation that aesthetic features attributed to literature can also be valid for other forms of artistic expression. Literary elements and genres play a significant role in many media artworks by renowned artists such as Mona Hatoum, Gary Hill, Jenny Holzer, William Kentridge, Nalini Malani, or Bruce Nauman. It will also look at media art adaptations of literary texts. This seminar will offer students of literature a focused introduction into the analysis of media art and students of media studies, performance studies, or art history an unusual insight into literary aesthetics. It will be structured according the book publication The Literariness of Media Art (Benthien, Lau, and Marxsen, 2019).
Other Courses Taught by German Program Faculty
Byrne Seminar: Knowledge, Language and Cognition
M3 11:30 - 12:50pm
What is the nature of knowledge? What is language? How are they connected? Does our knowledge control our language or does our language determine how we think and what we know? These and many other questions will be addressed in this Byrne seminar, which is designed to engage students in a discussion focusing on the connections between philosophy, culture, and linguistics. The seminar will include an exploration of some general theoretical questions about the nature of language, including questions of what language is, how it relates to cognition, how it is acquired by children and adults. We will examine Saussure’s structural approach to language, Skinner’s behaviorist theory, and Chomsky’s Universal Grammar, as well as discuss some linguistic universalia and cultural phenomena connected to language and knowledge.
Honors Seminar: Animal Spirits
MTh2 9:50 - 11:10am, HC-S124
This course serves as an introduction to pertinent works of the German literary and visual tradition by investigating the depiction of animals in relation to the human: How do writers and artists explore the demarcation between the human and the animal? How do they challenge the denigration of the animal in Western philosophy? What defines an animal? Can the animal speak, can it suffer, can it be understood? What does it mean to be looked at by an animal? What happens when we love a pet? In what way does the animal challenge our thinking of ethics, gender, and identity? We will trace the paths of wolves, horses, cats, dogs, mice, rats, and snakes who destabilize and reconfigure literary texts, theories of knowledge, Western anthropocentrism and biopolitics.
Readings include fairy tales by the Grimm brothers, poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, Gottfried Benn, Georg Heym, Bertolt Brecht, and Patti Smith, short stories by Edgar Allen Poe and Franz Kafka, and Frank Wedekind’s Lulu plays. These texts will be accompanied by the Expressionist art group The Blue Rider and filmic examples such as Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, Werner Herzog’s documentary Grizzly Man and Ulrich Seidel’s Animal Love, together with theoretical reflections on the status of the animal by Hélène Cixous, Gilles Deleuze/Felix Guattari, Jacques Derrida, Sigmund Freud, Donna Haraway, Vicki Hearne, Martin Heidegger, Michel Serres, and Marc Shell.
SAS Core Goal WcD (Writing in the Discipline)
Taught in English.
Honors Seminar: Languages and Linguistic Theories
T 34 11:30 - 1:30pm, SC 205
What are human languages? How did they originate? What are their functions? Why are there many languages spoken by humans? How different are human languages from animal or technological communication systems? How are languages classified? What is a language and what is a dialect? How do people study languages? What theories of language are most prominent in the history of human thought? How is language theorized now?
These and many other questions will be addressed in this course, which is designed to engage students in the discussion and development of writing skills focusing on the connections between history, culture, and linguistics. It is intended for all students interested in languages, language theories, as well as their history and their present state.
We will first examine Saussure’s structural approach to language, Skinner’s behaviorist theory, as well as Chomsky’s Universal Grammar in application to European Languages as well as discuss some linguistic universalia. In the second part of the seminar we will trace the history of some languages and see how and why they have developed to what they look like now. Here, we will approach the languages comparatively. In this part we will also look into different writing systems of these languages.
As a learning outcome of the seminar, students will develop their abilities to approach language both analytically and synthetically, exploring the connection between structure, history, and politics in critical and creative ways. As a practical outcome, the students will develop important skills in working with language facts by practicing oral and written interpretation, which will advance their ability to speak and write. All readings for the course will be available on Sakai.