German Studies

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German Studies’ mission is to enhance students’ ability to speak, understand, read, and write German; to function well in a German-speaking environment; and to become enlightened, knowledgeable students of the culture of the German-speaking world.

German serves as a solid basis for a broad liberal education and proficiency in the language can provide research opportunities in many scientific fields and further careers in government, international relations, music, drama, commerce, or the fine arts.

Russell Berman, Director of German Studies at Stanford University, writes that “German programs [in the United States] carry a double mission of instructing American students in German language while also cultivating an interest in German intellectual life” (97). He continues, “Contemporary undergraduate programs are conceived less as an insular study of a limited set of canonic literary masterpieces, more as an interdisciplinary inquiry into the various questions that concern the field and that interact with scholarship on German society and culture in other disciplines” (105). (See: Russell A. Berman, “The Undergraduate Program,” German Studies in the United States: A Historical Handbook, ed. Peter Uwe Hohendahl [New York: MLA, 2003]: 97-106.)


The German Program's two main goals

1. To develop proficiency in German to the advanced level in (a) writing and (b) speaking and the superior level in (c) reading and (d) listening for German majors
2. To expose students who enroll in all levels of the German curriculum to (a) a wide variety of materials that make up German culture through history and in the contemporary world, with a specific emphasis on (b) literature and the development of skills in literary comprehension, analysis, and interpretation


The German Program is designed for three main groups of students

1. We want to provide all students the opportunity and structure to acquire basic linguistic proficiency in German.
2. We want to extend linguistic proficiency towards fluency for students who need German for their academic or professional goals in fields such as international studies, art history, music, economics, or history.
3. We want to provide majors, minors and other interested students opportunities for the in-depth study of German literature, film, art, music, and culture while continuing to develop language skills in writing, reading, speaking, and listening, and skills in cultural analysis in spoken and written forms.


The three main levels of German at Centre

1. GER 110, 120 German Culture and Language (4 credits each)
2. GER 210 Images of Daily Life and Geography and GER 220 Images of History and Civilization (3 credits each)
3. Advanced courses numbered 300 and higher (usually 3 credits); there is also a one-credit Senior Colloquium required for all majors.


Major or minor in German

The program in German Studies offers all students the ability to meet their language proficiency requirement (whether they need two or three semesters) by offering GER 110 and 210 during the fall term and GER 120 during the spring term. GER 220 is offered every spring too, so international studies or art history majors can easily complete their majors’ language requirement with German.


GER 110, 120

GER 110, 120 is the introductory level of German at Centre. Each course is 4 credits and meets 4 times a week. The courses employ a communicative method of language instruction in which constant use of the target language and learning through example is emphasized. The textbook Deutsch: Na klar! is used in this course with its supporting materials, and internet activities are used when appropriate. We also begin engagement with German literature at this level, often with the short works of Franz Kafka.
There is no prerequisite for GER 110; GER 120 requires successful completion of GER 110 or placement.


GER 210, 220

GER 210, 220 is the intermediate level of German at Centre. Each course is 3 credits and meets 3 times a week. The courses build upon skills from GER 110 and 120. Increased emphasis is placed on developing more advanced speaking, reading and writing skills while extending knowledge of the culture of German-speaking countries. GER 210 Images of Daily Life and Geography, emphasizes contemporary life in Central Europe. GER 220 Images of History and Civilization, continues the work done in GER 210 but concentrates on the history of Central Europe, examining periods of continuity and disruption.

Instruction is discussion-based. Although there are often anthologies of texts used in these courses, additional materials including film, art, and music are emphasized as well. The building of a varied vocabulary, the development of reading strategies, the refinement of grammar, and work on writing in German serve as the bases for the courses.

Although we recommend that students take GER 210 and then GER 220, the prerequisite for both is successful completion of GER 120 or placement.


German Courses numbered 300 or above

Courses numbered 300 and above form the advanced level of German at Centre. Normally each course is 3 credits and meets 3 times a week. The courses build upon skills from GER 210 and 220. Increased emphasis is placed on speaking about complex issues, understanding historical and literary movements and trends, reading more independently, and writing analytically in German. Each course tends to follow a single theme through diverse materials and across centuries. Time is also spent maintaining understanding of advanced grammar concepts, current events and aspects of cultural theory, and aesthetics.

Instruction is discussion-based. Although the courses work largely with literary texts, additional material including film, art and music are emphasized as well.

Advanced courses taught during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years include GER 360 Advanced German Grammar; GER 325 German Film; GER 350 German Cultural Geography; GER 370 Issues in Contemporary German Culture; and GER 320 Nature, Volk, Lore.

Other commonly taught courses include GER 420 The Theme of Love in German Culture; GER 410 The German Stage; and GER 340 Vaterland und Muttersprache.

Successful completion of GER 210 or GER 220 or placement is required for all advanced courses in German.


Requirements for majoring in German Studies

1. Successful completion of GER 210 and 220 or equivalent (such as placement; successful completion of GER 110 and 120 or placement out of these courses is implicit)
2. Successful completion of six (6) German courses numbered 300 or above
3. Successful completion of GER 500 Senior Colloquium
4. Completion of an immersion stay in a German-speaking country (participation in a German homestay during the Centre-in-Strasbourg program counts toward this requirement or equivalent experience prior to study at Centre may be counted at the discretion of the German Studies Program Committee)


Requirements for minoring in German Studies

Many German students at Centre choose to double major. English and international studies are the most common second majors for our students, though others have included anthropology/sociology, art, biology, chemistry, computer science, dramatic arts, economics, English, French, history, international studies, music, philosophy, politics, psychology, and religion. At least one German major was also pre-med.
1. Successful completion of GER 210 and 220 or equivalent (such as placement; successful completion of GER 110 and 120 or placement out of these courses is implicit)
2. Successful completion of three (3) German courses numbered 300 or above


German minors at Centre have majored in fields such as anthropology/sociology, biology, dramatic arts, English, economics, French, history, international studies, music, physics, politics, psychology, and Spanish. At least one minor was also pre-dentistry. Adding a minor in German would necessitate only three additional courses for an international studies major, and students hoping to pursue graduate degrees in history, philosophy, music, religion, art history, and sociology would be particularly well served by minoring in German.


Some students may have to enroll in GER 400 Directed Study or GER 401 Independent Study to complete their major or minor.


Senior Colloquium in German Studies

All students majoring in German Studies must enroll in GER 500 Senior Colloquium, normally during the spring semester of their senior year. This one-credit course focuses on independent projects designed together by students and faculty members to fill out students’ education in German Studies. Another important component of GER 500 is reflection on students’ study of German and German Studies at Centre.


Directed and Independent Study in German Studies

Some students may have to enroll in GER 400 Directed Study or GER 401 Independent Study to complete their major or minor. Ordinarily these courses are offered only for those who would not otherwise be able to complete a major or a minor. Examples include students who wish to complete a major but begin studying German at Centre with GER 110.

When taking GER 400 or 401 becomes necessary, students should speak with the faculty member they wish to work with. Students are best served when they have thought about a possible topic for their independent study before meeting with the faculty member. If he or she is willing to work with the student, the student and faculty member will jointly work out a plan for the course and the faculty member will assist the student in completing the Directed or Independent Study form from the registrar’s office.

Read about the GERMAN STUDIES program:

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Your Major Took You Where?

A Sampling of Recent Centre Graduates



Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) AmeriCorps Wake Forest University (M.A., English)
Fulbright U.S. Student Program (Vienna) University of Kentucky (M.A.)
Purnell School Columbia University (M.A., anthropology)