Courses

Prof Roche Observing Student With Laptop

All of the courses listed on this page count towards Notre Dame’s Globally Engaged Citizens Program. For more information, visit the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures website

Our courses are designed to help students become fluent in the German language while simultaneously developing deep expertise in the culture and history of the German-speaking world. Faculty employ their areas of specialization and personal interests to create a course of study that ranges from medieval minnesang (a type of lyric and song-writing) to issues of multiculturalism and environmental change in contemporary Germany.

Each semester, the department also offers several courses in English that are open to students without any background in the department.

Courses offered every semester

GE 10101 – Beginning German I

An introduction to spoken and written German, as well as to the culture of the German-speaking world. Aims at the acquisition of basic structures, vocabulary, and sound systems. For students with no or little previous study of the language. 4 credits; meets 3 days a week.

GE 10102 – Beginning German II

Continuation of the introductory course to spoken and written German. Open to students who have completed GE 10101 or have placed into the course via online placement exam. 4 credits; meets 3 days a week.

GE 20201 – Intermediate German I

A course that develops the communicative abilities acquired in Beginning German I and II and provides a more in-depth introduction to the culture of the German-speaking world. Open to students who have completed GE 10102 or have placed into the course via online placement exam. 3 credits.

GE 20202 – Intermediate German II

A thematic class in which students work toward greater fluency, accuracy, and complexity of expression, while simultaneously gaining an appreciation for the role of German culture in the larger world. Serves as the first course that can be counted towards a major or minor in German. Course theme chosen by the instructor. Open to students who have completed GE 20201 or have placed into the course via online placement exam. 3 credits.

Courses offered every Fall

GE 30303 – German before Germany

In this course, students will learn to challenge the easy association of ?German? with the contemporary country of Germany by considering the extraordinary diversity of what ?German? meant before the modern country was founded. Students will examine German-speaking Central Europe from the Middle Ages until the beginnings of modern Germany, focusing primarily on literary works in their historical context. The course?s historical outlook gives students the tools to critically examine today?s discourses of national identity, race, and German tradition by understanding how the meaning of ?German? has transformed over time. 3 credits.

GE 30305 – Contemporary Germany: Society, Politics, and Culture

This course introduces students to the society, politics, and culture of contemporary Germany. The main focus is on Germany after 1989, but analysis extends back as far as 1945 and includes comparisons to other German-speaking countries as well as the United States. Topics include social values, government and media, as well as issues currently in the news. Students also develop interpretative skills by applying them to recent films and literary works. Open to students who have completed GE 20202 or have placed into the course via online placement exam. 3 credits.

Courses offered every Spring

GE 20113 – German for the Business World

This course offers an overview of major developments in the literary and cultural history of the German-speaking world. The course explores significant figures and works of literature, the visual arts, music, and philosophy as well as their interrelationship and historical context. Students read, discuss, and analyze selected texts in German representing all genres, and become familiar with fundamental techniques of interpretation. Open to students who have completed GE 20202 or have placed into the course via online placement exam. 3 credits.

GE 30304 – German Literary and Cultural Tradition(s)

This course offers an overview of major developments in the literary and cultural history of the German-speaking world. The course explores significant figures and works of literature, the visual arts, music, and philosophy as well as their interrelationship and historical context. Students read, discuss, and analyze selected texts in German representing all genres, and become familiar with fundamental techniques of interpretation. Open to students who have completed GE 20202 or have placed into the course via online placement exam. 3 credits.

Fall 2022 Courses taught in German

GE 40324 Germany’s Interwar Years (Robert Norton)

The years between the First and Second World Wars in Germany, 1918-1933, was a period of tremendous cultural and social experimentation. All of the arts?literature, painting, music, film, architecture?experienced radical transformations, in which artists broke with centuries of traditions and explored new ways of expression and shaping the environment. Politically it was a time of great change as well, with competing ideologies transforming the way people thought of themselves in relation to each other and to society and the state at large. In this class, we will explore some of the major movements, works, and people that characterize this extraordinary decade and a half of transition and upheaval. Topics and figures we will consider are Expressionism, Bauhaus, New Objectivity, Atonal music, Fritz Lang, Bertolt Brecht, Klaus Mann, Irmgard Keun, Marlene Dietrich, Hermann Hesse, Christopher Isherwood, Käthe Kollwitz, Georg Grosz, Otto Dix. 

Fall 2022 Courses taught in English

GE 13186 University Seminar: War and Literature (Vittorio Hösle)

In a time characterized by increasing violence and war, the class offers an overview of three major literary works on war. We will begin with Homer's Iliad, probably the oldest work of Western literature and one of the greatest epics of all times. We will then study the Willehalm by Wolfram von Eschenbach, widely regarded as the best German poet from the Middle Ages. We will end with Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, a disillusioned account of World War I. The class will explore both the different forms wars have taken in history, the diverse moral evaluations of wars, and the literary techniques used to depict war.. 3 credits. Counts for LIT and WKLI.

GE 30010 Sinners, Saints & Sorceresses (Judith Benz)

A historical overview and critical analysis of the impact of selected, eminent women from the German-speaking world from the Middle Ages to the present including, among others, Hildegard von Bingen, Hannah Arendt, and Angela Merkel. The course analyzes how their contributions and actions have shaped cultural, political, scientific, and social discourse, structures, and institutions in Germany and beyond. While the emphasis is on German culture and society, the course work encourages students to explore and make connections to women from other cultures and societies who have shattered glass ceilings and made a mark on their world. 

GE 30011 The Fall of the Weimar Republic and the Rise of Hitler (Vittorio Hösle)

Why did one of the most cultivated European nations in a few years be transformed into probably the most murderous totalitarian system of history? Aim of the course is to study, first, several aspects of the Weimar republic that render the transition to National Socialism less enigmatic. We will read the Weimar constitution, study several of the works of the leading jurist Carl Schmitt, who both intelligently interpreted the constitution and later became a fanatic supporter of Nationalsocialism, and look at literary and filmic expressions of the slow dissolution of bourgeois morality. We will, secondly, read Joachim Fest's biography of Hitler, Hannah Arendt's classical study of totalitarianism, and Robert Paxton's Anatomy of Fascism, which offers a comparative perspective.Students will be encouraged to reflect on the question of whether a repetition of the events in 1933 is possible.

GE 30207 Intro to the Gothic Language (Tim Machan)

Gothic, the subject of this course, might be considered a distant relative of not only English but also modern German, Dutch, and the various Scandinavian languages. It is in fact the oldest recorded Germanic language, and was spoken, in one form or another, by related groups who spread southward, eastward, and westward across Europe from the first to the sixth centuries, remaking much of the political landscape but leaving a very small written record. Gothic survives primarily in a late-fourth-century translation of the New Testament, prepared by Ulfila, an Arian bishop of the Goths. This is primarily a language course, in which we will learn the grammar of Gothic and translate passages from the New Testament and the Skeireins (a fragmentary commentary on the Gospel of John). We will also ponder the peculiar purple manuscript with silver script in which Ulfila?s translation survives (the Codex argenteus), speculate on the character of the Crimean Gothic recorded over a millennium after Ulfila?s death, explore the structural relations among Gothic and the other Germanic languages, and discuss the conceptual roles the Goths have been made to play in the formation of European states, Germanic ethnicity, nationalism, horror fiction, and modern racial separatist movements. No prior knowledge of an older language is required, although, since this is a language course, curiosity and an agile mind are.

GE 32302 Coversational German (TBA)

This course is designed to teach practical and useful German conversation for everyday life. Learn how to navigate situations such as ordering a beer, shopping for food, buying concert tickets, introducing yourself to your roommate in Berlin, negotiating with a landlord, or just everyday conversational skills. We´ll invite native speakers of German from all over campus to talk about Germany, Austria, Switzerland; political and cultural issues; as well as topics concering business and economics. We´ll watch German news and discuss current events, such as the recent European refugee crisis. All levels welcome, see instructor with any concerns or questions.