2018-2019 University Catalogue 
    Jul 14, 2024  
2018-2019 University Catalogue [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


Associate Professors Baldwin, Miller (Chair), Swensen
Max Kade Fellow  Ruckdeschel

The study of German lays the groundwork for academic inquiry into the fascinating creative and intellectual cultures of central Europe. Serving as a gateway to rich literary and artistic traditions as well as the discourses of philosophy and critical theory, German also enables students to access Germanophone Europe’s many contributions to the social and natural sciences. The department’s academic program is structured to enable students to pursue their interests in German as well as related fields: the beginning and intermediate language courses emphasize cultural knowledge about contemporary German-speaking societies and provide a strong foundation in the skills of speaking, comprehending, reading, and writing German. German 351 fosters students’ capacities for advanced study of German language, literature, and cultural history, while enabling them to conduct related academic work in German. Additional courses at the 300 level feature diverse topics in German literary and cultural studies, while seminars at the 400 level undertake intensive and focused investigations of seminal periods and genres of the German literary and cultural imagination.

The study of German can be integral to students’ academic pursuits as whole. The department encourages students to enroll in related courses in other disciplines such as philosophy, history, music, international relations, linguistics, and art history. A major in German is an excellent preparation for graduate studies in these fields as well as in literature and German studies, and can also give students a competitive edge in such fields as economics, politics, law, business, journalism, consulting, and publishing. German not only provides students with the necessary basis for a rigorous or sophisticated understanding of central European culture, but also develops in them a more profound understanding of their native language and of the relationship between language and knowledge: to speak with Goethe, “Wer fremde Sprachen nicht kennt, weiß nichts von seiner eignen” (those who don’t know foreign languages know nothing of their own).


The Valentine Piotrow German Prizes — two awards for excellence in German.

Advanced Placement and Transfer Credit

Both university and major credits are normally granted to students who achieve a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement examinations in German language and literature or a score of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate German exam. Transfer credit for courses taken at other institutions may be granted with the approval of the department chair.

Honors and High Honors

An honors project allows students to build on their knowledge to pursue independent research on a topic of their interest in close consultation with one or several faculty members. Students with a GPA of 3.30 in courses included in the major and with a cumulative GPA of 3.00 are eligible for honors in German. Students who have attained that average may apply to pursue honors by the early fall of the senior year. Each candidate must complete a thesis or its equivalent under the guidance of a faculty adviser and must discuss the thesis at an oral presentation normally scheduled in April. Research on this project begins in the fall semester of the senior year. In the spring semester candidates register for GERM 490 . This course must be taken in addition to the minimum of eight courses required for the major. The quality of the project resulting from this course, as judged by the adviser and one other faculty member, determines whether the student receives honors or a grade in GERM 491 - Independent Study .

Successful honors students whose departmental average is 3.50 or higher are eligible for high honors. For this distinction the student must fulfill all regular honors requirements and must also pass an additional oral examination based on his or her cumulative work in German courses.

Acceptance in Delta Phi Alpha (national German honor society) is possible for all students who have at least two years of college German, a minimum GPA of 3.30 in all German courses, and an overall GPA of 3.00, and who show a continued interest in the study of German language and literature.

Study Group

Every spring the department conducts a study group at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg, Germany. Majors in German are normally expected to avail themselves of this opportunity. The study group is also open to non-majors who have sufficient German language skills. For more information, see Off-Campus Study .


The Max Kade German Center in Lawrence Hall serves the department both as a seminar room and as a common room. It offers audiovisual facilities, German television broadcasts, Internet connections, a German reference library, and current German periodicals. The center is also the site of lectures, film screenings, and a weekly coffee hour.

Each year there are native speakers from the University of Freiburg in residence to assist students. In addition, the German department shares the Keck Humanities Resource Center with other arts and humanities departments. Here German audio, video, and computer resources are available for laboratory work in connection with language classes as well as for independent studies.


Majors and Minors