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Department of German


Michael W. Jennings 

Acting Chair

Nikolaus Wegmann (fall)

Departmental Representative

Thomas Y. Levin

Director of Graduate Studies

Sara S. Poor


Michael W. Jennings

Nikolaus Wegmann

Visiting Professor

Joseph W. Vogl

Sigrid Weigel

Associate Professor

Brigid Doherty, also Art and Archaeology

Thomas Y. Levin

Sara S. Poor

Assistant Professor

Devin A. Fore

Christiane Frey

Sarah M. Pourciau

Senior Lecturer

James W. Rankin


Brian E. Hanrahan

Associated Faculty

Scott G. Burnham, Music

Hal Foster, Art and Archaeology

Daniel Heller-Roazen, Comparative Literature

Alexander Nehamas, Philosophy, Comparative Literature, Council of the Humanities

Anson G. Rabinbach, History

Peter Schäfer, Religion

Information and Departmental Plan of Study

Advanced Placement

A student with a minimum SAT Subject Test score in German of 760 or an Advanced Placement Examination score of 5 will be considered to have satisfied the A.B. foreign language requirement and be eligible for placement in 200- or 300-level courses, as well as participation in the Summer Work Program and the Berlin Consortium. Students with some knowledge of German but without SAT Subject or AP test scores must have their proficiency measured by a placement test during orientation week. Sophomores and upperclass students may take the test as well, but should notify the departmental office well in advance.


The requirement for admission to the German department is a satisfactory working knowledge of German demonstrated by the completion of 107, an SAT Subject Test score of 760, or a 5 on the Advanced Placement test.

Early Concentration

Qualified students may begin departmental work in the sophomore year under the following plan:

1. Recommended introductory courses: 207, 208, 209, 210, or 211;

2. Independent work beginning in the second sophomore term;

3. Meetings with the departmental adviser for individual discussion of the student's independent work.

This plan permits students to devote themselves to their major interest before their junior year. They can advance when ready and as swiftly as possible. An early start gives students a wider choice of courses and seminars in their senior year and enables them to start work on the senior thesis before their final year at Princeton.

Program of Study

The department offers six areas of concentration:

1. German Literature. This program focuses on the major periods and forms of German literature with emphasis on literary and historical analysis. Students will satisfy the general University requirement of eight departmental courses by taking a minimum of five courses in the department (usually no more than one course at the 200 level) and a maximum of three cognate courses in related humanities departments and other disciplines such as philosophy and religion.

2. German Philosophy and Intellectual History. This program concentrates on philosophy, political and cultural theory, particular intellectual movements, and epochs in German-speaking contexts. Students in this track are required to take a minimum of five courses in the German department (at least three of which should be 300 level courses) and three relevant cognate courses in history, European cultural studies, or philosophy.

3. Media and Aesthetics. This program is designed for students who wish to focus on art, film, music, sound technology, and/or media theory broadly conceived. Students take a minimum of five courses in the German department, at least three of which should be 300 level courses, and three relevant cognate courses in art and archaeology, music, philosophy, European cultural studies, and the Program in Visual Arts.

4. Germanic Linguistics. This program concentrates on the history and structure of the German language. Majors who select this program are required to take the following courses: LIN 213 Introduction to Language and Linguistics, LIN 214 Historical Linguistics, or another course in linguistics, and two graduate seminars GER 505 History of the German Language and GER 506 Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy. In addition, such students will take at least three courses in German literature and culture as well as one cognate course.

5. The Study of Two Literatures. This plan of study normally consists of five upper-level courses in the German department and three upper-level courses in a second literature. Students who have not completed the language preparation for the second literature may engage in the program provided that they satisfy that language requirement during the junior year.

6. Joint Program in German Culture and Politics. In cooperation with the Department of Politics, students may combine a concentration in German literature and culture with German/European politics and political theory. In this program, four courses will be taken in the German department and four cognate courses will be taken in the Department of Politics (at least two of them on the 300 level). One semester of junior independent work will be done in each department. Recommended departmental courses are GER 207, 208, 211, 306, 307, 309, and 324. Recommended cognates in politics include POL 210, 230, 231, 240, 306, 372, 373, and 385. The senior thesis will be supervised in the German department, but it may deal with any political topic acceptable to both departmental representatives. Upon completion of this program, the two departments will issue a letter certifying completion of a program in German cultural studies with a concentration in politics.

Language Requirements

For areas 1 to 5, at least three, and for area 6, at least two of the departmentals should be courses taught in German. For areas 2 and 3, one of these three may be a course taught in English for which there is an appropriate German-language component. This option is available for all courses taught in the German department, but also for some courses in other departments. Students should consult with the course instructor regarding the German-language component at the beginning of the semester and submit the agreed-upon plan to the German departmental representative for approval.

Independent Work

Independent reading, the junior year essays, and the senior thesis constitute the student's total independent work, which is spread over the four upperclass terms. These elements can be profitably linked with departmental courses. Students will consult with the departmental representative under whose guidance they will develop their own program. During the first term of the junior year, students are required to write an essay of approximately 4,000 words on a subject in German philosophy, art, media, linguistics, literature, or politics. During the second term of the junior year, students will present a longer essay (of approximately 8,000 words). These essays, as well as the senior thesis, may be written in German or English. Early in May students should discuss plans for their senior theses with their departmental representative.

During senior year students will write a thesis on a subject approved by the adviser. By the end of the fourth week of the first senior term students will submit to their advisers a tentative outline of the proposed thesis. Further progress reports (as announced by the department) are required. Five weeks before the departmental examination students must deliver to the departmental office two spiral-bound readers' copies (signed). After the departmental exam and upon approval of the thesis, students must submit one bound copy for the department archive and one unbound copy for the library. Readers' copies will be returned to the student with comments in advance of the departmental exam. The title page must show the student's name and class numerals, the department in which the student is enrolled, the name of the adviser, and the month and year of presentation.

Senior Departmental Examination

The departmental examination will be oral, based on the thesis and the student's course of study. More specific information, such as time and arrangement, will be announced by the department each year.

Study and Work Abroad

It is strongly recommended that students spend some time in a German-speaking country. This could be done through the Berlin Consortium for German Studies (see below) or the department's Summer Work Program. The following opportunities are available to students who wish to spend time in Germany in order to gain fluency and accuracy in the German language, to pursue further study, and to participate in German life.

Berlin Study Abroad Program. Through the Berlin Consortium for German Studies, of which Princeton University is a member, Princeton undergraduates are eligible to spend either one semester or an entire academic year studying abroad at the Freie Universität Berlin for full Princeton academic credit. Students will pay normal Princeton tuition, and those on financial aid will continue to receive aid during their study abroad. Departmental students wishing to enroll in this or any other foreign study program may do so, provided they present an acceptable plan of study that includes fulfillment of the departmental requirements for independent work and their application is approved by the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing. Early consultation with the departmental representative is strongly encouraged. Applications for the Berlin program are due in early October for the spring term and in early March for the following academic year. For application forms and additional information, contact the departmental representative or the Office of International Programs at (609) 258-5524.

Munich Study Abroad Program. Students enrolled in 102, 102-5, or 105 have the opportunity to receive credit for 105 or 107 with a special month-long summer course at the Goethe-Institut in Munich (105G and 107G), which is partially subsidized by the University and the German department. Successful completion of 107G in Munich satisfies the University's language requirement and qualifies students for upper-level courses in German, the Summer Work Program, and the Berlin Consortium. Interested students should consult with Professor James Rankin at

The Summer Work Abroad Program. The department places students in paid internships in Germany and Switzerland in fields such as banking, newspaper and book publishing, radio, healthcare, and computing. Salaries generally cover living expenses, and scholarship funds are available to help with transportation to and from the job where needed.

Applications for this program are due in early November. Prerequisite for acceptance is a satisfactory speaking knowledge of German; that is, at least a C+ grade in German 107 or its equivalent. Further information may be obtained from the program office.

Certificate in Language and Culture

The Department of German offers students an opportunity to do sustained work in German language, philosophy, art, and media while concentrating in another department, leading to a certificate in German language and culture.

Program Requirements. The program is open to undergraduates in all departments. Students should consult the departmental representative by the middle of the sophomore year to plan a program of study. Ordinarily, students concentrating in language and literature departments, including comparative literature, will be eligible for the certificate in language and culture provided that: (a) the linguistic base for the language and culture certificate is different from the linguistic base of the concentration; and (b) the work required for the language and culture certificate does not duplicate the requirements of the major. Students pursuing area studies certificates may earn the certificate in language and culture provided that: (a) the courses they elect to satisfy the requirements of the area studies program are different from those they elect to satisfy the requirements of the language and culture certificate program; and (b) they submit a piece of independent work in addition to the independent work that satisfies the requirements of the area studies program and the home department.

In addition to meeting the departmental requirements below, students' work should involve aspects of German culture in one or more disciplines outside the Department of German, for example, relevant courses or independent work in history, politics, culture, literature, music, media, and so on that deal in part with German-speaking countries. The requirements for work done in the Department of German are:

1. Four courses at the 200 level or higher. Two of these four must be at the 300 level or above, and three of these four must be courses that are taught in the German language.

2. As independent work, a substantial paper (20 pages) growing out of one of the four courses taken to fulfill the certificate requirement. This paper will be in addition to the work required in the course. The paper may be written in either German or English. If written in English, it must be accompanied by a two-page German abstract.

Preparation for Graduate Study

Departmental students who intend to pursue graduate studies in German are reminded that most graduate schools require a reading knowledge of a second modern foreign language, and possibly Latin. Students are therefore advised to prepare themselves as undergraduates to meet these requirements.

The Language Program. The normal program for beginners consists of 101, 102, 105, and 107. Students with a grade of A in 101 may combine 102 and 105 in a special second-term course, 102-5.

It is possible to start the study of German at Princeton and fulfill the language requirement in one year through the Munich study abroad program (see above): 101 (fall term), 102-5 (spring term), 107G (summer study immediately following 102-5). German 105G is also offered through the Munich program.

Successful completion of 107, 107G, or immediate assignment to a higher course satisfies the degree requirement and qualifies the student for all advanced courses, for departmental concentration, and for participation in the Berlin Consortium and the Summer Work Program. All questions concerning placement, course changes, failures, summer study, or other matters related to any of the department's undergraduate courses should be referred to the departmental representative.

Note: Normally students electing a beginner's course in any language will receive credit only if two terms are completed.

Areas of Study. The department offers courses in:

1. German language: 101, 102, 102-5, 103, 105, 105G, 107,107G, 207, 208;
2. German literature:  209, 301, 303, 305, 321, 323, 324, 325, 340, 362;
3. German philosophy and intellectual history: 210, 302, 306, 307, 309, 332;
4. Media and aesthetics (lectures/seminars are in English unless otherwise noted): 211, 308, 337, 370, 371, 373;
5. Germanic and European literatures in translation: 320;
6. Germanic linguistics: for relevant graduate courses open to undergraduates by permission, consult the German department's listing online.


GER 101 Beginner's German I   Fall

Lays the foundation for functional acquisition of German, with a goal of proficiency in oral and written interaction. Class time is devoted to language tasks that will foster communicative competence, stressing listening and reading strategies, vocabulary acquisition, authentic input, and oral production. Five hours per week. J. Rankin

GER 102 Beginner's German II   Spring

Continuation of 101, with added emphasis on reading ability, communicative writing strategies, and listening comprehension. Five hours per week. J. Rankin

GER 103 Beginner's German in Review   Fall

The course provides students who have some background in German a brief review of material covered in 101, and then works on speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills at the level of 102. Five hours. Prerequisite: scores from placement/proficiency test administered during fall orientation and consultation with instructor. Staff

GER 105 Intermediate German   Fall, Spring

Aims toward further proficiency in functional communication, with more emphasis on reading and writing. Class time is devoted to a task-based approach to vocabulary building, grammar acquisition, production strategies, and discussion of texts. Prerequisite: SAT Subject Test score of 570 and demonstrated oral competence, or successful completion of 102. To be followed by 107 to satisfy the A.B. language requirement. Four hours per week. Staff

GER 105G Intermediate German in Munich  

A special offering of third-semester German taught during the summer in Munich, Germany. Students take part in a four-week intensive language course at the Goethe-Institut, as well as a precept with a Princeton faculty member that covers the literary component of 105. Students are chosen by application from 102 in the spring. Five three-hour classes, two preceptorials. M. Jennings

GER 107 Advanced German   Fall, Spring

Further acquisition of proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing using newspapers, mass media, and literary texts as a basis for class discussion. Prerequisite: SAT Subject Test score of 650 and demonstrated oral competence, or successful completion of 105. Satisfies the A.B. language requirement. Three hours per week. C. Frey

GER 107G Advanced German in Munich  

A special offering of fourth-semester German taught during the summer in Munich, Germany. Students take part in a four-week intensive language course at the Goethe-Institut, as well as a precept with a Princeton faculty member that covers the literary component of 107. Students are chosen by application from 102-5 and 105 in the spring. Five three-hour classes, two preceptorials. M. Jennings

GER 207 Studies in German Language and Style: Society, Politics, and Culture in Germany, 1890-1945   Fall

Discussions of exemplary texts from modern German society and culture, including essays, speeches, autobiographies, works of literature, art, and film. The course offers an introduction to important issues in modern Germany: the Kaiserreich to the end of monarchy, Berlin as a modern metropolis, World War I, the democratic experiment of the Weimar Republic, and the rise and structures of National Socialism. Intensive practice in spoken and written German with emphasis on vocabulary acquisition and complex syntactical forms. Two 90-minute seminars. Prerequisite:107 or instructor's permission. A. Wedemeyer

GER 208 Studies in German Language and Style: Contemporary Society, Politics, and Culture   Spring

Continuation of 207 (which is not, however, a prerequisite). Discussions of social, political, and cultural aspects of contemporary Germany. Basis of discussions are essays, literary texts, and films. Individual assignments to develop oral and written expression. Particularly recommended to students contemplating study or work in Germany. Two 90-minute seminars. Prerequisite: 107 or instructor's permission. A. Wedemeyer

GER 209 Introduction to German Literature after 1700   Fall LA

The main periods of German literature from Lessing to the present studied through texts chosen to help the student acquire fluency in reading German and in the principles of literary interpretation. Two classes. D. Fore

GER 210 Introduction to German Philosophy   Spring EC

Covers German intellectual history from the Enlightenment to the present by focusing on the theoretical texts of its major authors (Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Weber, Heidegger, Arendt, Habermas). In addition to addressing the core discipline of philosophy, this course focuses on aesthetics, social, and political thought as well. All readings in English. Two lectures, one preceptorial. S. Pourciau

GER 211 Introduction to Media Theory   Spring EC

Traces the development of critical reflection on media through careful readings of a wide range of media theoretical texts from the late 19th to the early 21st century. Topics range from the birth of single-point perspective to photography, from gramophones to radio, from pre-cinematic optical devices to film and television, and from telephony and typewriters to cyberspace. Covers the relationship between representation and technology, the historicity of perception, the interplay of aesthetics, techniques, and politics, and transformations of reigning notions of imagination, literacy, communication, reality, and truth. Two 90-minute seminars. T. Levin

GER 301 Topics in German Drama and Theater   Fall LA

Exploration of specific problems in the history of German theater, drama, and dramatic theory. Topics may range from the baroque drama to the importance of Brechtian theater for modernism, and from the dramatic representation of political conflicts to contemporary theater and performance studies. Prerequisite: 107. J. Vogl

GER 302 Wagner (see MUS 337)

GER 303 Topics in Prose Fiction   Spring LA

Critical investigations of particular problems in the development of German literary prose. Topics may include love as a mode of literary self-expression, the role of utopia in the rise of the modern novel, the history of the German novella, detective fiction, and the modern short story and experimental prose. Prerequisite: 107. A. Wedemeyer

GER 305 Topics in German Poetry   Fall LA

Studies of a particular question related to the development of German-language poetry and poetics. Topics may range from readings of major German poets (Goethe, Hölderlin, George, Rilke, Benn, Celan) to the paradigmatic status of the genre for 20th-century conceptions of the avant-garde. Prerequisite: 107. A. Wedemeyer

GER 306 German Intellectual History   Fall, Spring LA

A study of major German philosophers and religious and social thinkers from the Reformation to the present. Selected works of Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, or German-Jewish thinkers will be read together with contemporary interpretations. Two 90-minute seminars. Staff

GER 307 Topics in German Culture and Society   Fall LA

Exploration of key moments in German culture in light of its history and institutions. Topics may range from Marxist aesthetics to theories of fascism to German women writers. Readings and discussion in German. A. Wedemeyer

GER 308 Topics in German Film History and Theory   Spring LA

An interdisciplinary examination of key issues in German cinema, focusing on the cultural and ideological dimensions of film production and reception, as well a variety of theoretical issues raised by the close analysis of the mass cultural and avant-garde moving image. Topics will include film-historical periods (early German cinema, Weimar cinema, Nazi cinema, "new" German cinema), German film theory and aesthetics, studies in specific genres (expressionist cinema, the "street film," "Heimatfilm"), and explorations of avant-garde cinema. T. Levin

GER 309 Literature, Philosophy, and Politics in the Weimar Republic   Spring LA

An interdisciplinary examination of continuity and change in the culture and the cultural politics of Germany between 1919 and 1933. Topics include expressionism in the visual arts and literature; Berlin Dada; the Conservative Revolution; abstract versus representational art (Thomas Mann, Neue Sachlichkeit); the Bauhaus and mass housing; montage in film and literature (Sergei Eisenstein, Walter Benjamin); the political theater (Bertolt Brecht, Erwin Piscator), and the optics of the modern metropolis (Walter Ruttmann, Alfred Döblin). Two 90-minute seminars. D. Fore

GER 320 Masterworks of European Literature: The Romantic Quest (also COM 320)   Not offered this year LA

Works central to the tradition of modern European literature, including Goethe's Faust, Byron's Don Juan, Flaubert's Sentimental Education, Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, and Mann's Doctor Faustus. Each work treats the quest for greatness; each will be examined as to its form and place in the history of ideas. Two 90-minute seminars. S. Corngold

GER 321 Topics in German Medieval Literature (also WOM 321)   Spring LA

Exploration of German medieval literature. Topics may include medieval German Arthurian literature and the relationship between gender and power in the medieval epics. S. Poor

GER 323 Fairy Tales: The Brothers Grimm and Beyond   Spring LA

What do fairy tales do? More than children's entertainment, they instruct, amuse, warn, initiate, and enlighten. Throughout history, they have functioned to humanize and conquer the bestial and barbaric forces that terrorize us. They have also disguised social anxieties about gender and sex. The history and social function of fairy tales will be explored in the context of Germany in the 18th-20th centuries. Texts include selections from the Grimms' Häusmarchen, as well as from the literature of the Romantic, Weimar, and postwar periods. Prerequisite: 107. Two 90-minute seminars. S. Poor

GER 324 Topics in Germanic Literatures (also COM 317)   Spring LA

Critical investigation of German language literature from 800 to the present. Topics may include medieval German Arthurian literature, the Austrian literary avant-garde, love stories, as well as focused studies of selected authors. Two 90-minute seminars. C. Frey

GER 325 Nietzsche and Modern European Literature   Not offered this year LA

The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche as an important progenitor of the European modernist culture that arose in the period of urban capitalist modernity, roughly 1870-1930. Particular emphasis will be placed on a series of textual encounters between Nietzsche and such authors as Gide, Mann, Lawrence, Rilke, Yeats, Musil, and Malraux; their readings and rewritings of Nietzsche lent decisive impulses to the formal and thematic concerns of modernism. Two 90-minute seminars. M. Jennings

GER 332 The Cultural Theory of the Frankfurt School   Spring EC

An examination of the work of the Frankfurt School of critical social theory on questions of modern culture. The course will focus on the textual debates among Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer, and Siegfried Kracauer on the complex relationship of aesthetics and politics. These often polemical socio-philosophical texts attempt to map a contemporary cultural landscape reconfigured by the "culture industry," transformations in perception, the emergence of the mass, and new technologies of reproduction such as radio, cinema, and television. One three-hour seminar. M. Jennings

GER 337 Court, Cloister, and City: Art and Architecture in Central and Eastern Europe (see ART 337)

GER 340 German Literature in the Age of Revolution   Not offered this year LA

The major works of the classical period in German literature. Texts by Goethe, Schiller, Hölderlin, and Kleist in relation to European historical, social, and philosophical change. Two 90-minute seminars. N. Wegmann

GER 362 Contemporary German Literature   Spring LA

An introduction to the poetry, drama, and prose of postwar Germany in the East and West. Emphasis on the political and social context of the major literary works from the '50s to the present. Two 90-minute seminars. A. Wedemeyer

GER 370 Weimar Germany: Painting, Photography, Film (also ART 331/ECS 370)   Not offered this year LA

The visual arts in Germany during the Weimar Republic (1918-1933). Works of art, cinema, and literature in historical context. Topics include: modernism and modernity; Expressionism, Dada, New Objectivity in painting, photography, cinema, and literature; historical conditions of bodily experience and visual perception; emergence of new artistic and technological media; expansion of mass culture; place of politics in art; experience and representation of metropolitan life; changes in the conceptualization and representation of individuality, collectivity, embodiment, race, class, gender, sexuality. Two 90-minute seminars, one film screening. B. Doherty

GER 371 Art in Germany Since 1960 (also ART 391)   Spring LA

The production and reception of art in the Federal Republic of Germany from c. 1960 to now, situating episodes in the history of painting, sculpture, and photography in relation to developments in literature and cinema.Topics include the problem of coming to terms with the past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung); the West German economic miracle (Wirtschaftswunder) and the functions and meanings of art in consumer society; violence, politics, and representation; abstraction and figuration in painting, sculpture, and photography; history, memory, and artistic tradition; art as a vehicle of socio-political critique.Two 90-minute classes. B. Doherty

GER 373 Modernist Colloquies: Photography and Literature (also ART 390)   Not offered this year LA

Exemplary encounters between photography and literature in the 20th century. After providing students with a basis in the theory of photography, the course focuses on intersections between literary and photographic forms, producers, and movements. Topics will include modernism in New York (Williams, Strand, and Sheeler) and Mexico City (Lawrence, Bravo, Weston, Modotti), the New Photography and the photo essay in Germany (Benjamin, Moholy-Nagy, Renger-Patzsch, Sander), social criticism (Evans and Agee), surrealism (Breton), and the American road (Kerouac and Frank). Two 90-minute seminars. M. Jennings

GER 1025 Intensive Intermediate German   Spring

Intensive training in German, building on 101 and covering the acquisitional goals of 102 and 105: communicative proficiency, mastery of discourse skills and reading strategies to interpret and discuss contemporary German short stories and drama. Limited to students with a grade of A in 101. Nine hours per week. J. Rankin