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.

Spring 2023 Courses taught in German

GE 43000 Imagined Futures German Sci-Fi (CJ Jones)

What will money look like when our society is fully cashless? How will we pay for services, and what will we exchange? How will we work - or will we work at all - when most tasks are automated, and how will we earn a living? When AIs develop self-awareness, could they get baptized? And what on earth are we going to do with all of our trash? In this course, students explore questions like these through recent science-fiction short stories. The course examines the ways in which German-language authors are imagining the world of the (fairly) near future. Taught in German. 3 credits. Counts for WKLC

Spring 2023 Courses taught in English

GE 30109 Jews and other "Others" in the European Middle Ages (Kristin Skottki)

According to the stereotype of Medieval Europe this was a uniform, purely Christian society, but of course the reality was much more complex. During the 1,000 years of history under consideration, ‘Europe’ needs to be reframed as part of the ‘Eufrasian world zone’, as at least Europe, Western Asia and North Africa were closely connected through migrations, trade and expansions. For example: We know for sure that Jewish people from Israel/Palestine already migrated to cities in the Western part of the Roman Empire in the first and second centuries A.D., but it is unclear whether these communities persisted throughout the so-called Barbarian Invasions north of the Pyrenees or Alps, respectively. From the 11th century onwards, Jewish life is well attested in most parts of the Euro-Mediterranean area. In this seminar we will mainly investigate the history of Jewish people living under Christian rule in Western Europe as well as under Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula and in the Eastern Mediterranean. Most written source materials, which are still extant today, were produced by Christians (or Muslims respectively) who either ruled over their Jewish subjects or who most likely recorded atrocities against their heterodox neighbors. Very often these sources are distorted through an inversion of perpetrators and victims. They therefore need to be read with greatest attention and care. It is one aim of the seminar to enable students to deconstruct these distortions and reconstruct the real power relations which shaped the events and their recordings. This of course also holds true for other individuals and groups which were presented as ‘others’ to the respective mainstream society. As religion played an important role as a marker of identity and group formation throughout this period, we will also address the portrayal of alleged heretics and so-called ‘pagans’ in Christian sources. But we will of course also listen to medieval Jewish voices and scrutinize their portrayal of the surrounding societies and their actions. We will use these medieval examples to critically analyze and discuss how these societies dealt with individuals and groups which they perceived and constructed as ‘other’. Finally, we will also discuss if certain forms and phenomena of anti-Jewish discrimination and violence might justly be understood as premodern forms of Anti-Semitism.  3 credits. Counts for WKHI

GE 30214 The Holocaust and its Legacies (Mark Kettler)

In the wake of the Holocaust, the German author Gunther Grass concluded that we now finally knew ourselves. The Holocaust changed everything. Nazi Germany murdered more than six million men, women, and children in a systematic effort to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Its shocking and spectacular barbarism shattered comfortable ideas about European civilization and called into question the essential goodness of humanity. It compelled scholars to search for new ideas about evil, new words like “genocide” simply to place and comprehend the scale of the slaughter and devastation. Politics, art, culture, and even religions would be fundamentally and irrevocably transformed by the Holocaust. This course will investigate why Nazi Germany attempted to systematically exterminate the Jews of Europe, explore why so many Germans either participated in or accepted this act of mass violence, and consider why other Europeans so often assisted them. It will investigate the legacies of the Holocaust; how survivors and their families attempted to rebuild their lives in the wake of horror, how Germans variously struggled to come to terms with what they, their countrymen, or their ancestors had done, and how various understandings of the Holocaust have shaped political, cultural, and social discourses around the world. Along the way, students will practice the skills of historical literacy. They will digest, analyze, and criticize scholarship (secondary literature). They will discern the relevance of particular interpretations for important debates. They will use sustained analysis of primary sources to develop, articulate, and defend their own historical interpretations and arguments. 3 credits. Counts for WKHI.

GE 33023 Medieval German Epic (Christopher Miller)

The epic narrative poems produced in Middle High German around the beginning of the thirteenth century stand amongst the greatest literary monuments of the Middle Ages. These tales have served as the inspiration for countless great works across the centuries, including the great operas of Richard Wagner, the films of Fritz Lang. What is more, the rediscovery of these narratives during the 18th and 19th centuries played a crucial role in the development of modern Philology and Medieval Studies as academic disciplines. Even divorced from their later legacy, these tales have lost little of their narrative power as entertainment and continue to be read for enjoyment to the present day. 3 credits. Counts for WKAL.