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German & Scandinavian Studies, Deparment of Languages and Literatures

Courses

German | Scandinavian | Swedish

German

German 110, Elementary German I
This course is designed to develop proficiency in the four language skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing) in a cultural context. At the end of this course you’ll be able to communicate in German about everyday life, including your daily routines, studying, leisure time, food, travel, your interests, friends and family. You should be able to use spoken German to describe familiar people, places and objects, use German in travel situations, write complete sentences and short paragraphs, understand spoken German used for classroom purposes as well as simple conversations and messages on audio and video recordings, and read short cultural texts. Course materials from a variety of media will introduce you to the cultures, traditions and institutions of the German-speaking world.

German 120, Elementary German II
This course continues the goals of Elementary German I. It is designed to develop proficiency in the four language skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing) in a cultural context. At the end of this course you’ll be able to communicate in German about everyday life, including holidays, clothes and fashion, domestic life, the four seasons, travelling, means of transportation, technology and media. You should be able to write complete sentences and short paragraphs on these subjects, understand spoken German used for classroom purposes as well as simple conversations and messages on audio and video recordings, and read short cultural texts. Course materials from a variety of media will introduce you to the cultures, traditions and institutions of the German-speaking world.

126 Intensive Elementary German (6 cred)
Accelerated, one semester language course for students who want intensive practice in grammar and acquiring basic speaking skills and who have had no previous training in German. Vocabulary quizzes, chapter tests, final. Equivalent of German 110 and 120.

230, 240 Intermediate German (both sem)
Literary and expository texts as well as audio-visual materials prepare students to read and discuss German fiction and non-fiction with understanding and enjoyment. Review of the chief aspects of German grammar. Stresses improvement of reading facility and vocabulary with continued practice in speaking and writing. Prerequisite for 230, German 120 or equivalent; for 240, German 230 or equivalent. German 240 fulfills the Humanities and Fine Arts Language requirement.

246 Intensive Intermediate German (6 cred)
A thorough review of grammar, reading and discussion of texts; emphasis on the cultural background of German-speaking countries. Equivalent of German 230 and 240. German 246 fulfills the Humanities and Fine Arts Language requirement.

285 Language Suite Conversation (both sem) (2 cred, with additional 1-cred Honors option)
Designed as part of the living-learning community in Thatcher Language House. Improves knowledge of the German language with emphasis on oral skills. Builds vocabulary, develops ability to understand and communicate more freely by focusing on social and cultural issues. (Fall 2009 Course Site: http://blogs.umass.edu/lktaylor/)

297A Crusades and the Image of Islam
The medieval Crusades and the image of Muslims and Islam in 11th- and 12th-century historiography, theology, and literature, such as The Song of Roland, St. Bernard, and Muslim accounts. How European views of Islam and the East contributed to European expansionism and self-definition.  Conducted in English.

304 German Film: From Berlin to Hollywood (Gen. Ed.: AT)
A survey of prewar German cinema, including works of great directors who emigrated to the U.S., such as Lang, Murnau, and Lubitsch, followed by the Nazi cinema, post-war cinema in both German states, and in the international media context since German reunification. Conducted in English.

310, 320 Advanced German I, II
Expansion of vocabulary and extensive practice in speaking and writing, grammar review as needed. Prerequisite for 310, German 240 or equivalent; for 320, German 310 or equivalent.

311 Reading German Culture
Introductory course to increase reading comprehension and fluency. Selected literary texts, mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries. Prerequisite: German 240 or equivalent.

323 Modern German History (Gen. Ed.: HS)
This course surveys the troubled history of the modern German nation-state.  It traces how the loose federation of German monarchies and duchies coalesced in the late nineteenth century into a European powerhouse.  It also investigates how the monarchy, the aristocracy, the middle class, and the world’s largest and best organized workers’ movement shaped its subsequent development.   Topics include absolutism, the old regime, the Enlightenment, the Napoleonic occupation, the 1848 revolution, unification and rule under Bismarck, German Jews before 1914, mass politics under Wilhelm II, the First World War, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi dictatorship, the Second World War and the Holocaust, the divided Germanys, and the Federal Republic since 1989.  4 credits.  Taught in English. 

331 Medieval German literature (Gen. Ed.: AL)
An introduction to and survey of medieval German literature, including the story of Siegfried and Kriemhild (Nibelungenlied), the visionary Hildegard of Bingen and the mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg, and the stories of the Grail (Wolfram's Parzival) and Tristan and Isolde (Gottfried).  While the primary focus of the course will be on literature itself, we will try to see it in its cultural, historical, and social context.  Language of instruction and all texts in English.

341 Early German Culture (Gen. Ed.: HS)
A broad survey of medieval German social and cultural history, literature, music, art, and architecture, from Tacitus's first-century description of the Germanic tribes to Charlemagne ad the Franks and the 12th-century renaissance and courtly culture.  Works read include the Lay of Hildebrand, the Nibelungenlied, and Hildegard von Bingen's 'songs.”  Language of instruction and all texts in English. 

363 Witches: Myth and Reality (Gen. Ed.: G, I) 4 credits
This course focuses on various aspects of witches/witchcraft in order to examine the historical construction of the witch in the context of the social realities of the women (and men) labeled as witches. The main areas covered are: European pagan religions and the spread of Christianity; the “Burning Times” in early modern Europe, with an emphasis on the German situation; 17th-century New England and the Salem witch trials; the images of witches in folk lore, fairy tales, movies, and other media in the context of the historical persecutions; and contemporary Wiccan/ witch practices in their historical context. Readings are drawn from documentary records of the witch persecutions and witch trials, literary and cinematic representations, scholarly analyses of witch-related phenomena, and essays examining witches, witchcraft, and the witch persecutions. The lectures will be supplemented by related material taken from current events in addition to visual material (videos, slides) drawn from art history, early modern witch literature, popular culture, and documentary sources.

365 Berlin: Global City (Gen. Ed.: G) 4 credits
Berlin has long been a hub of musical, filmic, and literary activity. Since the fall of the Wall and Berlin’s reinstatement as the German capital, the city has led efforts to shape a new national identity and culture. Ongoing discussions about Germany’s ‘Leitkultur’—its so-called hegemonic culture—emanate in large measure from the metropolitan center. And yet, Berlin is also home to the country’s largest migrant population, and remains what it has long been: a city of varied cultural influences. In this course, we will examine how these cultural influences manifest themselves in the arts. In particular, we will focus on how Berlin is represented as a global city with connections to other cultural contexts, concentrating primarily on the city’s migrant and minority voices since the postwar period, specifically the last two decades. Course materials cover short stories, poems, and novel excerpts by Emine Sevgi ÷zdamar, Wladimir Kaminer, and May Ayim, rap, jazz, and soul songs by Miss Platnum, Orientation, and Aziza-A, and documentary films such as Neukˆlln Unlimited. Furthermore, we will engage with festivals and art projects, like Placemaking, Carnival of Cultures and 1989 Global Histories. Finally, secondary sources from various disciplines–historical overviews and essays on migration, multiculturalism, globalization and transnationalism as well as theoretical texts on key concepts such as ethnicity, race, and national identity–will also be incorporated. In addition to becoming familiar with Berlin’s broad variety of cultural productions, students will—with Berlin as a case study—investigate the relationship between culture and society in general.

370 19th-Century German Thought “Radical Subjectivity” (Gen. Ed.: I) 4 credits
An introduction in English to major German-language philosopher and writers of the “long nineteenth century” (Enlightenment through WW1), focusing on history and subjectivity. Readings from Kant, Goethe, Novalis, Hegel, Heine, Stirner, Marx.

376 Holocaust (Gen. Ed.: HS) 4 credits
This course explores the causes and consequences of what was arguably the most horrific event in all of history.  Topics include both the long-term origins of the Holocaust in European racism and anti-Semitism and the more immediate origins in the dynamics of the Nazi state and the war against the Soviet Union.  Particular attention will be given to debates and controversies, including the motivations of German and non-German perpetrators, bystanders, and collaborations; the place of the Jews and non-Jews in Holocaust historiography; the continuities of racism and genocide and their comparability; and the consequences of the Holocaust for memory and world politics.  4 credits.  Taught in English. 

377 Politics and Culture
East and West Germany in the 1970s: Surveillance, Fear, and Terror? Democracy, Freedom, and Feminism? This course is designed as an introductory seminar to German Cultural Studies. After a brief introduction to methodology and theory and the Post WWII history and the two German states, the course will focus on the 1970s, a time described in recent political and cultural theory as a time of crisis and contradiction. Conducted in English.

379 Germany Today (Gen. Ed.: I)
In this class we will examine historical, political, social and cultural developments, movements, and transformations in Germany since reunification. We will discuss key events and topics such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, Holocaust memory and memorialization, the GDR past, reunification, environmentalism, multiculturalism, and how these are reflected upon and represented in literature, film, exhibits, memorials, and the media. In addition to the primary sources course materials will include secondary sources on German history, politics, and culture. Conducted in English.

380 Weimar Germany Society and Culture
Germany between WWI and the Nazi takeover, 1919-1933. This class presents an interdisciplinary approach drawing on secondary sources in history and urban and cultural studies, as well as primary sources of various types. Beginning with a basic historical overview, the course then looks at various aspects of Weimar society and culture, including: the aftershocks of war; the Republic as laboratory of democracy; changing social definitions: lifestyle, gender, class, work; poverty, criminality and nationalism; art in society. Conducted in English.

391D Sounds of Germany: From Mozart to Rammstein
French intellectual Jacques Attali wrote “[T]he world is  not for the beholding. It is for hearing. It is not legible, but audible.” In this course we will examine the interrelation between music, culture, and society from the late 18th century until the present. Music will be studied in relation to constructions and representations of gender, ethnicity, and the nation within the German context. We will listen to and discuss musical pieces from diverse genres such as opera, Lieder, rock, rap, punk, metal and pop. In addition to the music itself, course materials will include films and theoretical texts on the cultural study of music. Conducted in English.

391G German Studies Junior Seminar (Honors section available)
This course is designed to introduce majors to a range of issues and approaches central to contemporary German and Scandinavian Studies, while focusing on upper-level writing and analytic skills. We will explore how this interdisciplinary field of study approaches events and artifacts of modern history and art. At the same time, we will develop the writing and analytic skills required to handle advanced study of complex social, historical and creative subject matter. Fulfills Junior Year Writing Requirement with one credit add-on. Conducted in English. Honors section available.

391G Twentieth Century German Thought "Art, Authenticity and the Trial"
An introduction in English to major German-language writers of the twentieth century. Readings from Kandinsky, Buber, Benjamin, Heidegger, Jaspers, Arendt, Adorno.

391K Franz Kafka
This seminar is an introduction to the short stories, novel fragments, letters and diaries of Franz Kafka, with special emphasis on the works of his "breakthrough" period. Through small-group discussion and frequent analytic writing assignments, we will also explore the major critical interpretations of Kafka's work since his death in 1924 and consider both Kafka's literary context (Austro-German high modernism, fin-de-siecle decadence, Expressionism) and the unique political and social environments of Prague and Berlin during his lifetime (Czech, German and Jewish nationalism, socialism and anarchism, sexualities and the modern city, mass-culture).

402 Goethe
In this lecture-discussion course we will read and discuss IN German some of Goethe's many late 18th and early 19th century examples of prose, poetry, and drama [excluding Faust = German 412] ranging from the 1774 European literary sensation Die Leiden des jungen Werthers to the enigmatic Novelle of 1828, with selected Sturm und Drang poems (1770-75) and the dramas "Egmont" and "Iphigenie auf Tauris" in between (1775-87).  There will be related opportunities for literary comparisons and other interdisciplinary ventures for extra credit (as Honors or Independent Study projects) on an individual basis. We will collectively treat some of these works with an 'eye' [seeing that fall 2006 is already the 5th 'anniversary' of 9-11 (2001...)] toward Goethe's lifelong fascination with all things 'middle eastern' and particularly his later interest in 'semi-reciprocal west-eastern' influences as well as his concept of 'Weltliteratur.'  All of these aspects are intriguingly manifested in the consummate poems and inter-cultural 'essays' of his "West-ˆstlicher Divan (1819)," which is also part of my own ongoing research and could provide some [modestly funded] hourly editorial work for an interested and motivated student.

413 Romanticism
The literature of German Romanticism in the context of German society and culture at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries.

425 Advanced Composition, Translation, and Conversation
Continuation of 310 and 320. This is a writing-intensive course focusing on your writing, reading, and conversation skills. You will expand and improve your writing, reading and oral proficiency by engaging with a variety of “texts,” ranging from a selection of 20th and 21st century German-language poems, novel excerpts, films, essays, and songs. Your engagement with these sources will include different writing genres, as for example reviews, in-depth analyses, and creative writing, as well as various in-class activities ranging from close reading, discussion, to formal and linguistic analyses. Conducted in German.

432 Brecht and Modern Drama
Twentieth-century drama in German, concentrating on Bertolt Brecht, his principal plays and theory (epic theater, estrangement). Post-World-War-II dramatists mainly in relation to tradition created by Brecht: Friedrich D¸rrenmatt, Peter Weiss, and some works from East Germany (e.g. Heiner M¸ller). Prerequisites: German 311 and 310, or equivalent.

433 20th-Century Prose
In this seminar, students explore how different media engage with the situation of young people growing up in contemporary urban Germany. They encounter cultural products such as the novel Knallhart by Gregor Tessnow and its film adaptation by Detlev Buck, the film comedy Kebab Connection, and episodes from the TV series T¸rkisch f¸r Anf‰nger. In order to connect the fictional representations with contemporary experiences of adolesents in Germany, students research the internet for reports in the media and materials available on institutional websites. In class discussions and assignments, students examine these media with respect to the treatment of German-Turkish relations, conflicts within the family, gender roles, school and gang violence, and drug abuse. We will regularly review key grammar points as needed.  Outside of class, students contribute to an online discussion forum on readings and viewings. The main (and final) project for this course consists of an online virtual exhibit in form of a Moodle wiki, designed by each student.

597A Old Norse
This course is a basic introduction to the language of the Vikings and of the Old Norse sagas and Eddas. By the end of the semester, students will have acquired a basic reading knowledge of Old Norse. No prior knowledge of Old Norse or of modern Icelandic is required.

584 The German Language
The origins and history of the German language, its relation to the Indo-European language family, particularly in relation to English. Prerequisite: German 240 or equivalent.

Scandinavian

265 Scandinavian Mythology (Gen. Ed.: AL) 4 credits
The evolution from primitive, shamanistic ritual to the sophisticated, multifaceted cosmology of the Vikings. Emphasis on the various aspects of mythology during the first millennium A.D. The myths and legends associated with members of the Nordic pantheon through written sources, archaeological evidence, and findings in the field of comparative mythology. Conducted in English.

297G: Trolls, Giants and Dwarves: German and Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales
Students will read and discuss a selection of traditional folk tales from Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland. Conducted in English.

297A Hans Christian Andersen
A representative sampling from Andersen's tales. Some of the author's lesser-known poems, plays, novels, travel books. All readings and discussion in English.

376 Vikings and Their Stories: Saga Literature (Gen. Ed.: AL) 4 credits
Readings (in translation) of selected Old Icelandic sagas, whose content and energized style emerged during the first European expansion toward the west. These early "westerns" are excitingly told and will be discussed as regards the stories themselves and in their historical and cultural framework. Conducted in English.

397A Tales for a Dark Winter Night
Who killed the hated Latin teacher? How does chronic hunger affect the mind? Why was the dwarf so intent on murder? What did the birds say? – The answers to these, and many other, intriguing questions are found in the novels of Scandinavia’s master spinners of tales of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Knut Hamsun, P‰r Lagerkvist, Halldor Laxness, Hans Scherfig and more. Conducted in English.

397B Humor and Social Satire in Scandinavian Literature
Scandinavian authors have always delighted in puncturing inflated egos and in caricaturing absurdly pompous individuals. And the cradle-to-grave welfare state offers a large target at which authors take gleeful aim as they parody governmental bureaucracy. Students will sample the writings of some of the most representative of the authors who delight in exposing society’s shortcomings. Conducted in English.

397C The Dramas of Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg
Norway’s Henrik Ibsen and Sweden’s August Strindberg were modern Scandinavia’s most important dramatists. Both have profoundly influenced the course of modern drama. We will read a representative sampling of works by each author. All readings and discussions will be in English.

391P Mystery, Murder and Mayhem in Scandinavian Fiction and Film
Examines 20th- and 21st-century novels and films that deal with death and/or violence, and are mysterious in different ways. Before the 1970s violent crimes were very rare in Scandinavia, and issues raised by them were primarily individual rather than social—i.e., vengeance, guilt, reconciliation. Scandinavian society has been changing rapidly since then, and the unsolved assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme in 1986 seemed to herald an end of innocence for the region, only to be underscored by the mass shooting of teenagers by Anders Behring Breivik in 2011. Since the end of the Cold War there have been new examinations of Scandinavia’s role in World War II, the welfare state, challenges of immigration, and Scandinavian participation in international trade and crime syndicates. We look at these periods and issues, as well as at fiction and film as artistic genres, and the ways they have changed with the times.

391P Extreme Adventure: Polar Exploration and the Heroic Imagination
The quest to reach the Polar regions a century ago was inspired not only by scientific interest in the planet’s last unconquered frontiers, but by a sense of adventure and nationalist competition, in which Scandinavians were prominent players. We will examine the way early polar expeditions were planned, executed and endured. We’ll also examine the ways indigenous populations, especially in Lapland and Greenland, live in these spectacular and dangerous landscapes, which today are profoundly threatened by global warming, as different countries again compete for dominance in the Far North.

397H Viking Revival: National Romanticism and the Creation of a Nordic Ideal (Gen. Ed.: AL) 4 credits
An interdisciplinary course exploring the 19th-century revival of the Viking image, using literature, philosophy, music, and the visual arts to trace the motif as an expression of nationalism ca. 1800-1914. One course objective is to introduce major Scandinavian cultural figures such as H. C. Andersen, Kierkegaard, Ibsen, Sibelius, and Edvard Munch in their cultural contexts. Another is to reflect on what forms of Nordic identity were indigenous in Scandinavian history and culture, to what degree they did/did not resemble the ideal later appropriated by German race-mythologists, and what the differences might mean.
 

Swedish

110, 120 Elementary Swedish I, II
Introduction to Swedish for students with no previous knowledge of the language. Reading, speaking, and writing emphasized. Swedish 110 or equivalent is prerequisite for Swedish 120.

126 Accelerated Elementary Swedish
Accelerated, one semester language course for students who want intensive practice in grammar and acquiring basic speaking skills and who have had no previous training in Swedish. Vocabulary quizzes, chapter tests, final. Equivalent of Swedish 110 and 120. Students who complete this course are ready for Swedish 230 (Intermediate Swedish I) or Swedish 246 (Accelerated Intermediate Swedish).

230, 240 Intermediate Swedish I, II
Vocabulary, grammar, discussion, readings, speaking practice. Some cultural and historical background. Weekly essays in Swedish. Prerequisites: Swedish 110 and 120 for Swedish 230, or Swedish 230 for Swedish 240 or consent of instructor.

246 Accelerated Intermediate Swedish
A thorough review of grammar, reading and discussion of texts; emphasis on the cultural background of Sweden and Swedish-speaking Finland. Equivalent of Swedish 230 and 240. Swedish 246 fulfills the Humanities and Fine Arts Language requirement.

397A, 397B Advanced Swedish I, II
Expansion of vocabulary with practice especially in writing and speaking. Grammar review as needed. Introduction to Swedish literature, film, and music focusing on a theme followed through the semester. Prerequisite: Swedish 240 for 397A, or Swedish 397A for 397B, or instructor's permission.