The Department of German Studies is a vibrant intellectual community with strong ties to the full range of critical inquiry that characterizes the humanities at Brown. It focuses its research and teaching on German literature, culture, and critical thought (from German Idealism and Romanticism to the Frankfurt School and beyond), with a comparative and transdisciplinary orientation. It offers both the B.A. and the Ph.D. in German Studies, affording its students – from beginning language learner to advanced doctoral researcher – the opportunity to combine their interests in the literary, cultural, and intellectual production of the German-speaking countries with a wide variety of complementary pursuits, including philosophy, aesthetics, history, music, cultural theory, psychoanalysis, and film, among others. The Department encourages this approach through its flexible yet rigorous curriculum; intense research and teaching collaboration with faculty in related Brown departments and from partner institutions in Europe; rich and varied course offerings in both German and English; as well as attractive study abroad opportunities in Berlin and Tübingen.
For additional information, please visit the department's website: https://www.brown.edu/academics/german-studies/
GRMN 0100. Beginning German.
A course to learn the German language and about the culture of German-speaking countries. For students interested in gaining a deeper understanding of German history, philosophy, literature, art, music and business through knowledge of the German language. Helps prepare for internships and study abroad, may introduce you to the language of your heritage or to a totally new language, positions you well for further language study, research or other opportunities. 4 hours per week. No previous knowledge of German required.
GRMN 0110. Intensive Beginning German.
An intensive, double-credit language course that meets three days a week and focuses on speaking, listening, reading and writing skills and the cultures of the German-speaking countries. At the end of the semester, students will be able to communicate successfully about everyday topics relating to the university, jobs, daily life and traveling. Ideal for undergraduate students interested in learning German for study abroad or for concentration requirements and for graduate students interested in starting their foreign language requirements. The course is designed for new students of German, regardless of any previous experience with German.
GRMN 0120. German for Reading.
This course prepares students to read and understand German texts from a variety of disciplines and in various genres. This intensive introduction to German grammar and syntax is for students without prior knowledge of German, but also for those students with some background in German who wish to review and master German grammar. The student who successfully completes this course will have the necessary foundation for reading and translating texts from German into English.
GRMN 0121. German for Reading.
This course prepares students to read and understand German texts and to translate these German texts from a variety of disciplines and in various genres into English. This intensive introduction to German grammar and syntax is for students without prior knowledge of German, but also for those students with some background in German who wish to review and master German grammar. The student who successfully completes this course will have the necessary foundation for reading and translating texts from German into English. Course is open to undergraduates. Graduate students must email Jane_Sokolosky@brown.edu to enroll. May be taken for a grade or S/NC but students may NOT enroll as audit.
GRMN 0200. Beginning German.
A course in the language and cultures of German-speaking countries. Four hours per week plus regular computer and listening comprehension work. At the end of the year, students will be able to communicate about everyday topics and participate in the annual film festival. This is the second half of a year-long course. Students must have taken GRMN 0100 to receive credit for this course. The final grade for this course will become the final grade for GRMN 0100.
GRMN 0300. Intermediate German I.
Focuses on deepening students' understanding of modern German culture by reading texts and viewing films pertinent to Germany today. Intended to provide a thorough review of German grammar and help students develop their writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills. Recommended prerequisite: GRMN 0200.
GRMN 0400. Intermediate German II.
An intermediate German course that stresses improvement of the four language skills. Students read short stories and a novel; screen one film; maintain a blog in German. Topics include German art, history, and literature. Frequent writing assignments. Grammar review as needed. Four hours per week. Recommended prerequisite: GRMN 0300.
GRMN 0450. Intensive Intermediate German.
Open to students participating in Brown in Berlin or Tübingen, this is an intensive intermediate course which meets 20 hours per week for one month in Berlin. Students work on all four language skills through daily reading, writing and speaking assignments. The course introduces students to contemporary German literature, culture and politics. Prerequisite: GRMN 0300 or equivalent. May not be taken for credit by students who have completed GRMN 0400.
GRMN 0500A. Cold War Germanys and the Aftermath.
The year 1990 unifies Germany and divides two decades in German history. The course investigates how self identification and the experience of present time were depicted in German literature and film in East and West in the 80s and 90s. Oral and written skills in German are furthered while deepening participants' understanding of Germany's cultural and social situation. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0400 or permission.
GRMN 0500B. From Zero Hour to the Wende.
An exploration of postwar German culture through the study of literary and film texts. Oral and written skills in German are furthered while deepening participants' understanding of the prehistory of contemporary Germany. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0400 or permission.
GRMN 0500E. The Presence of the Past: German Literature and Film (1945-present day).
Exploration of ways in which the German past, through cultural materials, including literature and film, played a role in the construction and deconstruction of the Berlin Wall, the two Germanys, and contemporary Germany. German oral/written skills are furthered while deepening participants' understanding of present-day Germany. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0400 or permission.
GRMN 0500F. Twentieth-Century German Culture.
A broad exploration of twentieth-century German culture using many kinds of written and visual texts (e.g. literature, journalism, film, art). While continuing to work on all four language skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing) students will gain more intensive knowledge about German culture, society, and history. In German. Recommended prerequisite: GRMN 0400.
GRMN 0600B. Was ist Deutsch?.
In this course we will examine some of the ideas and myths that became entangled with the emerging notion of a "German" identity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some of the terms that we will discuss include 'Kultur,' 'Bildung', 'Freiheit' and 'Gesellschaft,' all of which have rich semantic histories. Conducted in German. Recommended prerequisite: one course in the GRMN 0500 series.
GRMN 0600C. From Faust to Freud: Germany’s Long 19th Century.
In the 19th century, a fundamental renegotiation took place about what it means to be German. Literary, aesthetic, and philosophical discourses played a decisive role in these deliberations on German identity. We will study seminal texts from these fields and discuss how they shaped German self-understanding in the 20th century and beyond. Readings by Goethe, Büchner, Stifter, Wagner, Nietzsche, Raabe, Fontane, George, Freud, among others. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0500.
GRMN 0750A. Faust and the Faust Legend.
Variations on the Faust theme focus on the role of knowledge in modern society. How do we define what we know? How do we accommodate knowledge with belief? What are the limits of human knowledge and can they satisfy us? Texts from the Reformation to the present: Marlowe, Calderon, Goethe, Turgenev, Mann, Bulgakov, Kerouac, Havel. In English. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.
GRMN 0750B. Tales of Vampirism and the Uncanny.
This course compares literary texts of horror and haunting in English and German Romanticism. The psychoanalytic foundations of vampirism are discussed to enable students to boldly go beyond mere fandom and engage these texts on a more sophisticated level. Readings by Walpole, Coleridge, Poe, Tieck, E.T.A. Hoffmann and others. In English. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.
GRMN 0750C. Crime Fiction: The Global Hyper-Genre.
Twenty-five percent of all new literary books worldwide are crime fiction. As a means of a society to reflect upon itself, crime fiction reflects how certain cultures deal with the dialectics of threatening and securing civic order, how they depict mentalities, traditions, topographies, or cultural chance. In English.
GRMN 0750D. The Poetics of Murder: Crime Fiction from Poe to the Present.
In this course, we will trace the literary and cinematic depiction of mystery and mayhem from the earliest manifestations of the genre to the present. Texts will include examples from the "Golden Age," the hard-boiled mode, the police procedural, and historical crime fiction. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.
GRMN 0750E. Reading Film: An Introduction to German Cinema.
What is it that fascinates us about cinema? What desires and drives have held us in thrall to the moving image? This seminar introduces you to writing about film, not just within the specific field of media studies but within the humanities as a whole. We will examine 12 filmic examples (ranging from early silent film to contemporary popular cinema) alongside a selection of theoretical and historical readings. The course will impart the basic skills needed to write in a critical, reflective, and rigorous way about film. For those interested in film in the context of any humanities field. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.
GRMN 0750F. Historical Crime Fiction.
There is almost no time period that has not been covered by historical crime fiction. From ancient Egypt and Rome to 18th century China, historical crime fiction has complemented and contested our knowledge of history. In this seminar, we will do some extensive time travel and explore how crime fiction explores the past and challenges our understanding of bygone times. Readings of texts by Ellis Peters, Umberto Eco, Peter Tremayne, Lindsey Davis, Alan Gordon, Robert van Gulik, Laura Rowland, among others.
GRMN 0750G. On the Ego and the Echo.
There is more than mere resonance between the first-person singular, “ego,” and the word for those "echoes” which may rebound from any number of sources, for self-consciousness would be unconscious of itself without reflection. This dependency of the self upon reflection also implies, however, that the ego could never have simply been one with itself, but remains open at its core to alterity and plurality: to echoes of unknown provenance. This course will pursue the subject(s) of self, speech, and reflection, with readings of theoretical and literary texts from antiquity to the present.
GRMN 0750H. Classics of Crime Fiction.
This course will provide an overview of crime fiction from its beginnings in the 19th century to more recent postmodern manifestations of the genre. We will read classic examples of the detective story, golden age and hard-boiled crime fiction, the police procedural, the psychological thriller, the spy novel, and metaphysical crime fiction. In addition to the history of the genre, students will also be introduced to relevant theoretical concepts of reading crime fiction. Reading and Discussions of texts by Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, Eric Ambler, among others. Taught in English.
GRMN 0900B. Great Works from Germany.
Cultural and historical analysis of some of the most significant German texts from the past two centuries. Writers: Lessing, Thomas Mann, Günter Grass, Christa Wolf. Philosophers: Kant, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud. Sections: Enlightenment and its limits, liberation and oppression, and love and death. Students will give one presentation in class and write a final essay. In English.
GRMN 0900C. Introduction to German Literature.
This survey course will give a historical overview of the main periods and genres of literature in German from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. We will also consider how literature relates and contributes to the cultural, intellectual, and political history of Germany. In English.
GRMN 0900D. History of the Holocaust (JUDS 0902).
Interested students must register for JUDS 0902.
GRMN 0990B. The German Novel in the 19th and 20th Century.
The modern and postmodern German novel provides some of the most intriguing reading in the history of Western culture. From 19th century realism to 20th century postmodernism, these authors have commented on political events, provided historical hindsight, analyzed the German psyche, and initiated literary innovations that would have a profound impact on world literature and captivate readers worlwide. Works by Fontane, Kafka, Hesse, Mann, Grass, and Sebald, among others. In English.
GRMN 0990C. Introduction to Scandinavian Literature.
An introduction to major works of Scandinavian writers, painters and filmmakers over the past 150 years. Figures include Kierkegaard, Ibsen, Strindberg, Munch, Hamsun, Josephson, Sodergran, Lagerkvist, Vesaas, Cronqvist, August and Vinterberg, as well as children's books by Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson. In English.
GRMN 0990D. The German Novel From Classicism to Realism.
What is a novel, and how did it emerge as such a dominant genre in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries? This course introduces some of the most important German prose works prior to the 20th century, including texts by Goethe, Novalis, Hoffmann, Droste-Hülshoff, and Stifter. We will begin with the novel's earliest classical forms, follow its development in tandem with genres such as the fantastic tale and the novella, and end with a discussion of realism. All readings and discussions in English; no German language proficiency required.
GRMN 0990E. The Rhine River: An Aesthetic, Environmental, and Political History.
From Hölderlin to Hugo, cannonballs to canalization, this course examines representations of Europe's most important waterway in the modern period. Although it has long been seen as a "natural" border between France and Germany, the Rhine River has been anything but undisputed. Both the French and German nationalist movements claimed the river as their own, spawning a bi-lingual catalogue of songs, poems, and historical legends. We will approach the Rhine from an interdisciplinary perspective, with readings from economists, environmentalists, historians, and cultural studies scholars. We will be aided by a vast array of primary source material. Taught in English.
GRMN 0999M. Marx and Money in Modern Germany.
No critique of capitalism has been more enduring than Karl Marx's nineteenth-century account of European finance and industry. We will engage Marx's work alongside a close reading of the societies Marx sought to critique. We will also contextualize the work of Marx's contemporaries and successors, including Engels, Simmel, Sombart, as well as look at the continuation of the "capitalism debate" in Weimar and Nazi Germany. Our focus on the societies in which these writings emerged, allows for a less obstructed view onto these economic and social ideas. Issues of religion, gender, politics, militarism, and globalism will be considered. In English.
GRMN 1090. Advanced Written and Spoken German.
Designed to increase the range, fluency, and accuracy of idiomatic expression through written and oral practice, and to improve students' reading skills of progressively more difficult authentic texts from a variety of subject areas. Discussions, group projects, and oral reports. Review of selected grammar topics, systematic vocabulary building. Not to forget: "Deutsch macht Spass!" In German. Recommended prerequisite: one course in the GRMN 0600 series.
GRMN 1200C. Nietzsche - The Good European.
Nietzsche prided himself on his transnational identity. He loved German literature and was himself a writer of the first rank. Yet he was critical of the culture and the politics of his nation and he loved the literatures and cultures of many other nations. We will study his philosophical works with a view to his criticisms of Deutschtum and his affirmation of other traditions—starting with the Greeks, for by profession he was a classicist. We will also study Nietzsche's journeys—for he was convinced that the places in which he thought and wrote were essential to his thinking and writing. Enrollment limited to 40.
GRMN 1200D. Repetition: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Freud.
A study of the concept and the textual practices of repetition. We will consider the relation between repetition and transcendence, history, memory, and art. The course will focus on how the category and the event of repetition problematize identity, interpretation, and expression. Issues include religion and aesthetics of repetition (Kierkegaard); history and the eternal return (Nietzsche); repetition compulsion and the death drive (Freud). We will especially be interested in how the theme of repetition informs the way these thinkers write and what problems this poses to interpretation and understanding. In English.
GRMN 1200H. Writers in Exile: Addressing Fascism in America.
Having fled Nazi Germany, Ernst Bloch wrote of fascism: “The masks of the Ku Klux Klan were thus the first fascist uniform.” He was among many diverse writers in exile to be reminded of the political and social formations s/he was seeking to escape, from Bertolt Brecht to Thomas Mann, the erstwhile White House guest and bourgeois advocate of American democracy, who eventually aroused the suspicions of the FBI and came to view in Cold War politics tendencies towards a “fascist dictatorship.” In this course, we will closely read texts that emerged from German exiles with a view to their implications regarding fascism and America.
GRMN 1200I. Show Trials: The Aesthetics of Law in Literature and Film.
J’accuse! Zola’s public denunciation of the French President, accusing him of anti-Semitism and unlawful imprisonment, has become emblematic for theatrical politics and dramatized trials. Even though their outcomes were decided in advance, the performance of show trials – from the Dreyfus affair to the Auschwitz trials and the prosecution of Saddam Hussein – have been indispensable for the political formation of society. In this course, we will analyze the literary, cinematic, and philosophical reception of such performative trials, ranging from Kafka’s Trial and Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem to Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc and Kramer’s Judgment at Nuremberg.
GRMN 1200L. Geräuschkulissen / Background Noises.
The distinction between noise and voice and speech is porous. This porosity challenges the very definition of human beings who alone, as political beings, according to Aristotle, dispose of articulated speech–lógos-, although sharing voice–phonè–with other animals. The Latin writer Varro holds that children uttering first words do not yet speak; they resemble crows and ravens more than human beings. Their speech borders on sheer noise.
Texts to be read include a section from Aristotle’s History of animals; Echo and Narcissus in Ovid’s Metamorphoses; Poe’s poem The Raven; a chapter from Melville’s Moby Dick; short stories by Kleist, Hebel and Kafka; The Mathematical Theory of Communication by Shannon/Weaver. The seminar opens with two sentences from Clarice Lispector’s novel A hora da estrela: “She was quiet (not having anything to say) but she liked noises. They were life”. –– Taught in English.
GRMN 1320A. German Aesthetics from Lessing to Heidegger.
A survey of some of the most important German-language contributions to theories of art. Authors include Lessing, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Adorno, and Heidegger. Emphasis will be on how aesthetics intersects with literary theory and the idea of critique, and also how it contributes to discussions about knowledge, subjectivity, and power. All readings in English translation.
GRMN 1320C. Goethe’s Children.
The name “Goethe” looms large over modern German literature, but what are founding figures without the daughters and sons that question and challenge their authority? This course offers a broad introduction to Goethe’s life and works, focusing on themes and questions of youth and childhood in his writings. Readings include canonical works such as The Sorrows of Young Werther, Iphigenia in Tauris, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, Faust, and Elective Affinities. We will also examine Goethe’s legacy by looking at musical, theatrical, and philosophical responses to images of youth and childhood in his works. [Taught in German; all students welcome.]
GRMN 1320D. Goethe.
Selected readings of Goethe's theater plays, novels, and poetry. Explores the meaning of reading Goethe today, at the 250th anniversary of his year of birth, and investigates the activities around the celebration of this anniversary. Time permitting, we consider versions of Goethe's texts in film and other media. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1320E. Classical German Literature: Goethe und die Klassik.
The anthropology and aesthetics of Weimar Classicism. Readings of major works by Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, with discussion of selected texts by Herder, Humboldt, and Kant. In German. Pre-requisite: GRMN0600 or placement. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1320F. Eighteenth-Century German Aesthetics.
A survey of important aesthetic writings from the period, including some texts of Winckelmann, Lessing, Schiller, Goethe, and Hamann. Major questions to be treated include the role of imitation, the concept of form, the relationship between the beautiful and the good, and formation of aesthetic judgments. Course will conclude with selections from Kant's Critique of Judgment. In English.
GRMN 1320G. Drama and Religion.
Lessing used the stage as his "pulpit" when forbidden to publish in religious disputes. Some dramatists addressed particular religious views in tragedies or satiric comedies; others staged religious themes more generally or in metaphysical imagery. We examine the variety, nature and context of these stagings in texts by major German authors: L. Gottsched, Gellert, Lessing, Schiller, Goethe, Kleist, and Hölderlin. In English, with a German section (TBA) for those able and interested.
GRMN 1320I. What is an Image? German Aesthetics and Art from Lessing to Heidegger.
A survey of some of the most important German-language contributions to theories of art, alongside a discussion of some major art-works from the German tradition. Authors include Lessing, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Adorno, and Heidegger. Emphasis will be on how aesthetics intersects with literary theory and the idea of critique, and also how it contributes to discussions about knowledge, subjectivity, and power. All readings in English translation. In English.
GRMN 1320O. Freudian Inspirations: Psychoanalysis and the Arts.
This course engages with the central concepts and motifs of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory and how they relate to works of literature, art, and film. What do Sophocles, Ovid, and Hoffmann tell us when we read Oedipus Rex, The Metamorphoses, and The Sandman today? How does our understanding of these texts differ from or resemble Freud’s reading of them? And when we engage art that cites psychoanalytic concepts—such as Hitchcock’s Marnie or Lars von Trier’s Melancholia—do we recognize the Freud we encounter in our readings of his own texts? (In English; all students welcome)
GRMN 1320P. Friends and Adjuncts: J. P. Hebel, Kafka, Benjamin, Sebald.
He was a favorite among seminal German writers and thinkers such as Goethe, Kafka, and Walter Benjamin. Nonetheless, Johann Peter Hebel’s work remains largely unknown outside of German-speaking countries and is generally ignored by the academy. In this seminar we will read Hebel’s poetry and prose alongside some of the seminal works of those who wrote and thought with him as unexpected friends or adjuncts. In English.
GRMN 1320S. Reading Friedrich Hölderlin; An Introduction.
The course is intended as an introduction to the reading of Hölderlin as a poet, so the focus will be on close reading and on intense and detailed discussions of the texts in class. To that end it is indispensable to study the texts in the original German. Available English translations will be used in addition. Of course, linguistic difficulties in understanding the texts (which are, by the way, by no means restricted to non-German speakers) will themselves form an integral part of the seminar discussions. Critical texts will be read in English.
GRMN 1320U. Swiss Literature.
Many of Switzerland’s most well-known authors (Gottfried Keller, Robert Walser, Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, etc.) have challenged its dominant political narratives: Switzerland’s neutrality, liberal tradition, natural beauty, and economic prosperity. What makes German-Swiss literature particularly fascinating is its status as a “minor literature,” its linguistic singularity and frequent use of words in dialect and other languages. Swiss literature in German will be the focus of the seminar, but Switzerland’s multilingualism always has been—and continues to be—reflected in its literature. In our seminar discussions we will follow a trajectory from Albrecht von Haller through Keller, Spyri, Zurich Dada, and Walser to postwar and post-millennial authors. Topics include realism, the avant-garde, pedagogy, economy, the politics of dystopia, climate change, and migration. No prior knowledge of Swiss literature is required. Readings and discussions will be in German. Recommended: GRMN0600 or equivalent.
GRMN 1330A. The Individual in the Age of Industry.
This seminar discusses the second part of the 19th century, which is distinguished by nation building, industrial revolution, advance of science, realism and belief in progress but also nihilism and cultural pessimism. We investigate how the new age of pragmatism and the “technological sublime” is reflected in short stories by major German writers such as Adalbert Stifter, Karl Gutzkow, Theodor Storm, Gottfried Keller, Wilhelm Raabe, Theodor Fontane, Arno Holz and Gerhart Hauptmann. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1340A. Crime and Punishment- Introduction to German Mystery Texts and Films.
This course provides an exploration of German crime, detective and mystery texts and films ranging from the early 19th century to contemporary fiction. In addition to exercising hermeneutic skills, this course aims at improving proficiency in oral and reading comprehension, as well as speaking and writing skills, with an emphasis on vocabulary expansion, advanced Grammar review and stylistic development. This course is recommended for students interested in a combined introduction to literature and high-level language learning. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1340B. Guilt Management: Postwar German Culture.
The central theme of postwar German Culture, from the so-called "Zero-Hour" in 1945 to postunification, was dealing with the Nazi past. We discuss how writers, filmmakers, and critics tried to establish a public discourse on guilt. Films and readings by Mitscherlich, Syberberg, Reitz, Müller, Grass, Christa Wolf, Sichrovsky, Biller, Chaim Noll, and others. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1340C. Jahrhundertwende 1900.
Modernism and its discontents in German literature around 1900. Examines naturalism, Jugendstil, Dada, and early expressionism. Poetry, fiction, and drama by Nietzsche, Th. Mann, Stefan George, Rilke, Kafka, Wedekind, Hofmannsthal, Schnitzler, Hauptmann, and others. Operas by Wagner and R. Strauss. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1340D. Modern German Prose, 1978-1998.
Since the end of the 1970s, East and West German prose has tended to concentrate more on everyday life than on the overbearing questions of memory that were so central to immediate postwar authors. The changing function of literature in Germany is explored by reading representative prose fiction by major authors such as Becker, Delius, Hein, Strauss, and Walser. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1340I. Turn of the Century.
The most important issues in literature around 1900 will be discussed: the critique of language, media, psychoanalysis, urbanization, technical progress, the construction of the subject and a growing sense of isolation. Texts by Hofmannsthal, Rike, Schnitzler, Robert Walser, Georg Simmel, Freud, Nietzsche, Hermann Bahr and others. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1340J. The Works of Franz Kafka.
We will read a selection of texts by Kafka (including short stories, a novel, and journal entries) in order to explore his importance for the aesthetics of modernity. Topics include: representation of the law, literature and religion, the role of the paternal, and guilt. Frequent short papers based on close reading of texts, and a longer final paper. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1340K. Unmittelbar nach 1945: Literatur und Film in Deutschland.
Often called "Zero Hour," the period immediately following the end of the Second World War was one of turmoil and uncertainty in Germany. An enormous cultural production sprang up under extremely difficult conditions. Texts and films by Heinrich Böll, Wolfgang Borchert, Alfred Andersch, Wolfgang Staudte, Helmut Käutner, and others. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1340L. The Modern Period.
Explores the fascinating flowering of modernity in Germany, including the period around 1900 (adolescent Angst and the new Broadway version), Weimar culture (revolution, women's emancipation), Nazi culture, and exile literature in socio-historical context; including examples from film, art, and popular culture. Authors may include: Wedekind, Brecht, Kafka, T. Mann, Toller, Keun. In German. Recommended prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or equivalent.
GRMN 1340M. Kafka's Writing.
Writing--vocation or duty, gift or curse, poison or antidote? This course provides an introduction to Kafka's stories, novels, journal entries, and letters, with a focus on his complicated, tortured relationship to the idea and practice of writing. We will explore how the difficulties of this relationship generate an enigmatic, tragi-comic oscillation between hope and despair that continues to fascinate readers today. This is a writing-intensive course, and the frequent short assignments will involve drafts, revisions, and individual consultations, with the aim of getting you to think critically about your own relationship to writing about literature. In English. Enrollment limited to 40. First year students require instructor permission.
GRMN 1340Q. Vergangenheitsbewältigung: German Literature of Memory.
This course will examine one of the most loaded terms in German Studies, "the coming to terms with the past" or rather "the mastering of the past", which concerns German strategies of dealing with the atrocities of World War II and the Holocaust. Thus, this course will focus on the literary engagements with issues of trauma, memory, and remembrance. Authors include Adorno, Celan, Klüger, Grass, Weiss, Wolf, Müller, Timm, Kluge, and Sebald. The course will also have a closer look at contemporary debates regarding "Vergangenheitsbewältigung" and the culture of memory in Germany itself. In German. Prerequisite GRMN 0600.
GRMN 1340V. Mis(s)Education: Feminist Undoings of the Bildungsroman.
Declared central to Western history and culture by Freud, the Oedipal complex survived in manifold literary reiterations– particularly the Bildungsroman, which privileges the father as primary educator and eventual adversary. This course challenges the genre’s patriarchal premise by shifting focus to female representations, in order to reconsider the traditionally ‘masculine’ discourse on Bildung. As a dynamic construct, femininity allows to dispute the historically patriarchal paradigm of knowledge acquisition and the precarious position of woman beyond psychoanalysis. Departing from Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, we will open the genre’s paternal margins toward works such as Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem and Satrapi’s Persepolis.
GRMN 1440A. Dada-Performance and Digital-Interactivity.
This course investigates the invention of performance art in German Dada and its legacy and further development in contemporary interactive art in digital media. Both phenomena are discussed with respect to their aesthetic, philosophical, and social roots and intentions. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1440C. Poetry and the Sublime.
We will examine some theories of the sublime, and read them alongside selected poets who take up certain related questions about representation, perception, and power. The goal will be to come to a better understanding of why the sublime is important as a category in thinking about the relationship between literature, philosophy, and history. Texts may include: Longinus, Schiller, Kant, and Paul de Man on the theory of the sublime, and poetry by Hölderlin, Wordsworth, Rilke, and Celan. In English; reading knowledge of German helpful but not required.
GRMN 1440D. Modernity and Its Discontents: The German Novella.
After the failed revolution of 1848, the German bourgeoisie had to curb its desire to control the sphere of politics. At the same time, the effects of modernization started to manifest themselves in full force. We will discuss how the revolutionary changes of the second half of the 19th century in Germany were worked through in literature, and specifically in the realist novella. Readings by C.F. Meyer, Keller, Stifter, Storm, Raabe, Fontane, Mörike, and Heyse. In German. Recommended prerequisite: one course in the GRMN 0600 series.
GRMN 1440E. Märchen.
Fairy tales in German are usually associated with the Grimm brothers, but there is a rich tradition of popular (Volksmärchen) and literary (Kunstmärchen) fairy tales going back further and continuing into the present. We read a representative sample, consider typical features of the genre, and discuss the role of Märchen in shaping ideology. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1440F. Lyric Poetry From the Middle Ages to the Present.
Broad exploration of German poetry, including intersections between poetry/music/art: spiritual/worldly (medieval troubadours, Baroque); classical Greece/modern Germany (Goethe, Schiller, romantics, art songs), poetry/politics (Heine, Brecht), expressions/symbols (Rilke, expressionism), poetry after Auschwitz (Celan, Bachmann), contemporary reflections on history (V. Braun), poetry between cultures (Turkish-German poets, hip-hop). Intensive reading, discussions and vocabulary building. In German. Recommended prerequisite: one course in the GRMN 0600 series.
GRMN 1440G. Talking Animals and the Politics of World Literature.
We have encountered talking animals within literature for over four thousand years. Alongside the Fables of Aesop, there are comparable animal stories from Ancient Babylon, Egypt, and from the Indian-Arabian-Persian cultural space, whose distribution was just as far-reaching. Animal fables appear easy to understand and universally valid. But do we really understand what it means when animals talk in texts? This course will employ current approaches to human-animal-studies alongside concepts of world literature to examine why animals are made to talk, what functions animal stories have, and what the conditions for their dissemination are. [In English; all Brown students welcome.]
GRMN 1440H. Projections of America.
Since its discovery, 'America' has served as a projection screen for a variety of images of the 'New World': as utopia, as harbinger of modernity, and as the origin of political, economic, and cultural imperialism. Readings of the changing and shifting image of America in German literary and journalistic texts from the 18th century to the present (Lenau, Goethe, Heine, Sealsfield, May, Frisch, and others). In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1440L. German Lyric Poetry: From Goethe to Heine.
A survey of German lyric poetry during what Heine calls "die Kunstperiode." Focus on rhetoric of the lyric: apostrophe, prosopopeia, metaphor, metonymy and allegory. Close reading, frequent writing assignments. Reading in German, class discussion in English.
GRMN 1440N. Kunstmaerchen: the Literary Fairytale in the Nineteenth Century.
"Das Kunstmaerchen" or literary fairy-tale occupies a central place in the literature of late romanticism. Focusing on major examples from writers such as Tieck, Eichendorff, and Brentano, we will examine how the content and the representational structure of these texts contribute to debates on categories like the "natural," the "fantastic," and the "moral." In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1440O. Modern German Drama.
Explores the fascinating modern German dramatic tradition from the 19th century to the present, emphasizing plays that are still a part of the stage repertory today and authors that have exerted a strong international influence. Authors may include: Büchner, Wedekind, Brecht, Toller, Dürrenmatt, Frisch, Weiss, Heiner Müller. In German. Recommended prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1440P. Heroes, Failures and Other Peculiar Characters-The German Novel from Goethe to Kafka.
Readings in the tradition of the German novel, including the Bildungsroman, Realism and modernist fiction. Consideration especially of failed heroes and the failure of the novel genre. Authors include Goethe, Hoelderlin, Novalis, Stifter, Fontane, Musil and Kafka. Readings and class discussions in English.
GRMN 1440S. Grimms' Fairy Tales.
"One doesn't know the sorts of things one has in one's house," says the servant girl in Kafka's "A Country Doctor," as a stranger, who will soon act violently towards her, emerges on all fours from an unused sty. The precarious moment of finding more than one seeks in one's midst is among the key motifs of Grimms' "Household Tales" that we will trace, following the way they move writers of literature, psychoanalysis, and critical theory. Reading the Grimms among others, we will find: what was "once upon a time" is not finished, nor can these uncanny tales be domesticated.
GRMN 1440W. The European Novel from Goethe to Proust (COLT 1420).
Interested students must register for COLT 1420.
GRMN 1440X. "Stranger Things: The German Novella".
Goethe’s famous description of the novella as an “unheard-of event” holds true to this day: scandals, murder, and the supernatural abound in this seminal German genre. Both meticulously structured and notoriously difficult to define, the novella as a form mirrors the paradoxes of its narratives. In this course, we will ask how form and content come together in the novella to engender strange occurrences that vacillate between everyday experiences and fever dreams. What is it about the German novella that creates such a particular sense of unease, and how does this genre mediate modern experience? [In English. All students welcome.]
GRMN 1440Y. Return to Sender: Love, Letters, and Literature.
This seminar investigates the relays between the postal system (18th – 20th century) and German literature, philosophy, as well as love. We will read selected correspondence and literary prose emulating or reflecting the epistolary form. Writers include Goethe, Kafka, Bachmann, and Celan. In English.
GRMN 1441A. Theater and Revolution (COLT 1411B).
Interested students must register for COLT 1411B.
GRMN 1441C. Introduction to German Romantic Poetry.
German Romanticism reflects a field of writing in which poetry was as powerful and seductive as it was riven by conscious conflict. Through numerous experimentations with open forms, Romanticism counteracts classical unities and closure. In this course we will closely read and discuss – with occasional turns towards music and the visual arts – a representative selection of poems by Brentano, Eichendorff, Günderode, Heine, Novalis, among others. In English.
GRMN 1441J. Zwerge und Riesen.
According to a famous saying by the Greek sophist Protagoras “Man is the measure of all things”. The so called Man-Measure-Fragment, passed on in Plato’s dialogue Theaetetus, has been the source of countless controversies ever since about the meaning of measure, man, all things, and language. The seminar follows aspects of this controversy in literary and philosophical texts where the perception of “man-as-measure” is taken to the extreme: in the encounter with others as giants or dwarfs. Texts to be read include The Aesop Romance; Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels; a chapter from Rousseau’s Essai sur l’origine des langues; Goethe’s novella Die neue Melusine; fairy-tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm; a chapter from Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra; Pär Lagerkvist’s novel Der Zwerg; and a poem by Stefan George: Das Lied des Zwergen. –– Taught in German.
GRMN 1441K. Sovereignty in Secret : The Poetry and Politics of the George-Circle.
The writers who gravitated toward the poet Stefan George included some of the most prominent poets and scholars of twentieth-century Germany and Austria, such as Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Ernst Kantorowicz. For his innermost circle, George’s poetry and persona were at the center of concern, yet in such a way that nothing less than a new world order was at stake: the poet-as-Führer was supposed to realize the realm that came to be called “secret Germany,” or: “die geheime Gemeinschaft der Dichter und Weisen, der Helden und Heiligen, der Opfrer und Opfer, welche Deutschland hervorgebracht hat und die Deutschland sich dargebracht haben” (Kantorowicz). In this course, we will examine the poetics of sovereignty that took shape within the George-Circle, critically interrogating those figures of speech and configurations of power that would find echo in, among others, Nazi Germany. In German.
GRMN 1450A. German-Jewish Literature.
From emancipation to anti-Semitism and from the "Golden Age" to the Shoah, Jewish life in Germany has experienced extremes comparable to no other cultural exchange. In this class, we will explore the German-Jewish encounter by reading literary texts written by German-Jewish authors. Readings by Lessing, Mendelssohn, Heine, Kafka, Jurek Becker, and others. In English.
GRMN 1450B. Die Berliner Republik und die Vergangenheit.
The opening of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany brought with them a dramatic rethinking of both the past and the present of the German nation. Literature, film, architecture, visual art, and music have played important parts in this process. This course will consider a range of documents from the contemporary Berlin Republic and the way they negotiate the Cold War and Nazi pasts. All readings and class discussion in German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 20.
GRMN 1450C. National Socialism and the Shoah in Recent German Prose.
Since Germany's reunification in 1990, German discourse on National Socialism and the Shoah has changed significantly. With the generation of the eye-witnesses disappearing, the third generation after World War II renegotiated issues such perpetratorship, guilt, and responsibility on the one hand, wartime-suffering on the other. During the last decade, German literature represented voices from different generations/groups. This seminar will examine literature by Grass (b. 1927), Klüger (b. 1931), Timm (b. 1940), Schlink (b. 1944), Biller (b. 1960) and Erpenbeck (b. 1967) to situate these literary interventions within the framework of characteristic debates of the last few years. Enrollment limited to 40.
GRMN 1450F. 20 Years After: The End of GDR and German Reunification.
The fall of the Berlin wall heralded the German reunification rather than the reformation of the GDR as an example of "democratic socialism." The 20th anniversary gives reason to discuss the development of Germany since 1990. Readings of Volker Braun, Christa Wolf, Thomas Brussig, Ingo Schulze, Clemens Meyer, Yadé Kara. Films: Goodbye Lenin, Das Leben der anderen, Willenbrock. Issues discussed: Cold War, Perestroika, Reunification, East-/West-German identity, Migration and Globalization. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1450G. Love and Death.
The course will examine the theme of love and death in four texts from around 1800: Lessing's Emilia Galotti, Goethe's Werther, Kleist's Penthesilea and Büchner's Woyzeck. We will focus on historical changes in the understanding and theory of emotions. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1450H. Images of America in German Literature.
What was, has been, and is America to Germans? Some believe America to be moving in the right direction, and others imagine America as thoroughly evil from the very beginning. Literature, however, does not say this or that. It displays complex images, plays with prejudices, idols, ideals, and stereotypes to show their inner mechanisms and conceptual limits. And, of course, it generates images and counter-images. By examining some canonical texts on this topic, the seminar reconstructs the major perceptions, attributions and ascriptions with which German authors over times have envisioned the United States – even without travelling there.
GRMN 1640C. German National Cinema from 1917 to 1989, and Cold War Germanys in Film.
Examines three phases of German national cinema in competition with Hollywood's early dominance of film production, from the founding of the UFA in 1917 through National Socialist Cinema, the "New German Cinema," and the cinema of East Germany. Explores representations of Germanys during the Cold War, 1949-1989, a mythical Germany cast as the locus of "world evil." Weekly screenings. In English.
GRMN 1660B. Berlin: A City Strives to Reinvent Itself.
Contemporary Berlin buzzes with energy, yet this metropolis is characterized by the legacy of fascism and divided government. The city as cultural space will be interrogated in interdisciplinary ways. Topics range from Weimar culture and Nazi architecture to the Cold War and German reunification. In English with possible extra session for students who have completed GRMN 0400 or higher.
GRMN 1660C. German Culture in the Nazi Era.
Explores the variety and the contexts of German cultural production during the Nazi era. We will examine party sanctioned mass-mediated culture in the Third Reich including literature, film, theater, and public spectacle; as well as "unofficial" cultural productions including exile literature, literature of "inner emigration," "degenerate" art, and concentration camp poetry. We'll inquire into the effects of the political ministration of culture in the Nazi era, asking to what degree continuities in cultural production were sustained after 1933, and investigating the hallmarks and the legacies of a distinctive "Nazi culture." Previous course work in German history and/or the Holocaust recommended but not required. In English.
GRMN 1660F. After Hitler: German Culture and Politics, 1945 to Present.
From the country that produced Hitler and the Holocaust to today's democratic, peaceful Germany, this course explores the enormous cultural and political transformations since 1945 in both German states and reunified Germany. Topics include: responses to the Nazi past, Germany and Europe, protest movements, migration patterns, women, popular culture, socialism in East Germany, political and intellectual debates, recent assertions that Germany is now a "normal" country. In English.
GRMN 1660G. Kafka.
This course will analyze both the uncanny and comical aspects of Kafka's writings. It offers an exercise in literary analysis discussing methodological approaches as diverse as literary theory, media studies, and cultural studies. It also presents an overview of one of the twentieth century's most haunting writers who in many ways determined for our postmodern mind what we call "literature". In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1660H. Literary Discourse of Minority Cultures in Germany.
During the last thirty years or so, strong minority cultures have emerged in Germany. Writers from diverse cultural backgrounds have given voice to the problems and challenges of living among a dominant German culture that only reluctantly started to listen to their concerns. Authors discussed include Schami, Ören, Atabay, Dischereit, Monikova, Müller, and others. Focuses on questions of cultural and ethnic identity as expressed in and through literary texts. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1660I. Literature and Other Media.
When looking at literature and other media, the question is not, whether one will be replaced by the other, but rather, what one medium can do that the other cannot do so well or at all. Study of twentieth-century Media Theory Made in Germany with special emphasis on the relationships of literature to audio-visual media. Readings by Brecht, Benjamin, Adorno, Enzensberger, Kittler, Hörisch and others. In English.
GRMN 1660K. Thinking After Philosophy.
What does it mean when, after Nietzsche, we speak of the "end of philosophy"? Contemporary critical discourse in many fields of the Humanities and social sciences is profoundly impacted by a skeptical break with philosophical traditions that can be traced back to 18th- and 19th-century Germany. This course will follow the development of this break through a range of major paradigms, schools, and critical methods from the time of Goethe to the twentieth century. All readings and class discussion in English. First year students require instructor permission to enroll.
GRMN 1660L. German Jews and Capitalist Markets in the Long Nineteenth Century.
This course focuses on the commercial lives of German Jews, 1789-1918. While the classic historiographical debates surrounding assimilation, emancipation, and anti-Semitism will not be ignored, our spotlight will remain on capitalist markets, where Germans and Jews most often encountered one another. Our study will begin and end in the Franco-German borderlands, with revolution and warfare. In between, we will traverse the German landscape, meeting, among others, bankers in Frankfurt, wine merchants in the Rhineland, and department store magnates in Berlin, all in an attempt to understand the complexities of cross-cultural (dis)integration. Readings and instruction in English.
GRMN 1660P. Having Beethoven Over in 1970.
In 1970, Beethoven arrives in Bonn to visit his birthplace. A tour guide shows him around. It is a journey that begins with the museum one knows, but which gets weirder with each subsequent room. There is a jukebox in the basement. A gully is burning. There are strange utensils on display in the kitchen. As the demarcation between documentary and fiction become blurry, we realize that somebody must have added more rooms to the original floorplan. Our course will analyze TV crime series, Hollywood feature films, the Peanuts, radio pieces, and artworks surrounding Beethoven’s bicentennial. Taught in English.
GRMN 1660Q. Film and the Third Reich.
This course explores the cinema of the Third Reich as well as filmic responses to World War II and the Holocaust. Sections will be dedicated to propaganda films by Leni Riefenstahl and others; to the relationship between Third Reich cinema and Hollywood; to propaganda films produced by the Allied forces, and to movies about the Holocaust such as Shoah and Schindler’s List. We will discuss key concepts of film theory, cinema’s political efficacy, Holocaust representation in film, music, and language, and questions of trauma, commemoration, and victimhood. [Taught in English; students from diverse fields welcome.]
GRMN 1660R. Freud.
Introduction to Freud's theories of the unconscious and its manifestations, Freud's thinking on culture and aesthetics, his theory of sexuality, his view of religion, and of fascism. In English.
GRMN 1660S. Mord und Medien. Krimis im intermedialen Vergleich.
The genre of the mystery novel has proven exceedingly productive in German speaking countries. At the same time, the new and the newest media have discovered the mystery genre as one of the most appealing narrative structures in contemporary culture. Readings of mystery narratives in book form, on television, on CD-ROM, and on the Internet. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600 or permission.
GRMN 1660T. Germans/Jews, Deutsche (und) Juden.
From emancipation to anti-Semitism and from the 'Golden Age' to the Shoah, Jewish life in Germany has experienced extremes comparable to no other cultural exchange. Widespread philo-Semitism and the official taboo on anti-Jewish sentiments indicate that the relationship between Jewish and non-Jewish Germans today remains one of mutual nonunderstanding and distrust. Texts by Lessing, Mendelssohn, Heine, Kafka, and others. In English
GRMN 1660U. What was Socialism? From Marx to "Goodbye Lenin".
The international socialist movement was born in Germany, and many of Germany's most important cultural figures were attracted to its striving for social justice. But socialism seems to have come to a tragic end. Course includes theoreticians such as Marx and Luxemburg, writers such as Heine and Brecht, and a focus on East German culture (film, art, literature) and its aftermath since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In English.
GRMN 1660V. Nietzsche.
This course will provide an introduction into Nietzsche's thinking. Discussion of the major works from The Birth of Tragedy and Beyond Good and Evil to Thus Spoke Zarathustra. No pre-requisites. In English.
GRMN 1660W. Early German Film and Film Theory.
We will study the interference/interface of cinema and theory in the 20th century. Includes analysis of classical German films and texts by critics such as Eisenstein, Balazs, Vertov, Arnheim, Kracauer, Benjamin. In English.
GRMN 1661A. Race and Classical German Thought.
Thought about race has a complex history in modern intellectual culture; crucial paradigms regarding culture, identity, and biology have roots in the philosophy, science, and arts of eighteenth-century Germany. This course will give in-depth consideration to ideas and paradigms from classical German intellectual culture, and will trace their resonances within African, Francophone, French, and North American race theory in the twentieth century. All readings in English. Not open to first year students.
GRMN 1661E. Germany, Alcohol, and the Global Nineteenth Century.
This course examines the German "long nineteenth century" through the lens of the production, sale, and consumption of alcohol. The cultural resonance of alcohol allows us to better situate Germany in an increasingly global context, where its exchange reflected broader patterns of modernization, social transformation, and nationalism. Whether brewing beer in Chinese Tsingtao, harvesting grapes in California's Napa Valley, or celebrating Purim with wine in Palestine, Germans engaged the nineteenth-century world through their own historical traditions and trades. Our endeavors will be aided by the remarkable "Alcohol and Addiction Studies" special collections at the John Hay Library.
GRMN 1661F. Music, Religion, Politics (MUSC 1675).
Interested students must register for MUSC 1675.
GRMN 1661G. The Case of Wagner (MUSC 1640G).
Interested students must register for MUSC 1640G.
GRMN 1661L. The Promise of Being: Heidegger for Beginners (COLT 1610V).
Interested students must register for COLT 1610V.
GRMN 1700A. Introduction to Yiddish Culture and Language (JUDS 1713).
Interested students must register for JUDS 1713.
GRMN 1770. Introduction to Yiddish Culture and Language (JUDS 1713).
Interested students must register for JUDS 1713.
GRMN 1770A. Introduction to Yiddish Culture (JUDS 1713).
Interested students must register for JUDS 1713.
GRMN 1800. Posthumanism and the Ends of Man (COLT 1814Y).
Interested students must register for COLT 1814Y.
GRMN 1800A. Berlin: Dissonance, Division, Revision (COLT 1813J).
Interested students must register for COLT 1813J.
GRMN 1892. Kafka and the Philosophers.
Kafka’s writings take as a central concern the philosophical interpretability of what we call literature. What is one to make, for instance, of a text that begins with a protagonist awakening one morning to realize that he has been transformed into a monstrous vermin? Or another awakening protagonist unexpectedly detained by officers waiting in his apartment? For Kafka, “correct understanding of something and misunderstanding of the same thing are not entirely mutually exclusive.” We will study some of Kafka’s greatest stories alongside key attempts at interpreting Kafka philosophically, including Benjamin, Adorno, Derrida, Deleuze/Guattari, and Agamben. In English; diverse fields welcome.
GRMN 1900A. The Weimar Republic (1918-1933).
Advanced students of German culture will pursue their own interests in researching this fascinating period in German culture and political history. Common readings, general discussions, and individual class presentations will facilitate the development of individual projects. Covered areas include literature, art, music, film, politics, etc. Required for concentrators, written permission required for others. Prerequisite: at least 3 100-level GRMN courses or equivalent. In German and English.
GRMN 1900B. Sites of Memory.
The seminar explores the connection between representation and management of space and memory in the German context. Readings drawn from literary works, philosophy, public discourse about monuments and memorials, and so on. Assignments include individual presentations and final research project. Required for concentrators, open to others with instructor's permission. In English and German.
GRMN 1900C. Cultural Industry and the Aesthetics of the Spectacle.
This course explores mass culture and distraction as conceptualized by the Frankfurt School. Readings and discussions will engage with the emergence of distraction as a specific category of experience; the function of entertainment in the culture industries of Nazi Germany; the critique of mass culture in post war Germany, and the reformulation of spectacle and distraction in Culture Studies and postmodern discourse. Readings: Schiller, Adorno, Benjamin, Kracauer, Debord, Baudrillard, Postman, Virilio, Norbert Bolz. In German.
GRMN 1900D. Fleeing the Nazis: German Culture in Exile, 1933-1945.
When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933 this caused one of the biggest brain drains in history. We will trace the lives of leading experts in a variety of fields such as literature, music, philosophy, and the sciences and ask questions such as: Why did they leave? Where did they go? How did they do in their new environment? What did they say about their exile afterwards? Specific persons and places of exile will be studied according to the interests of the seminar participants. In German. Recommended prerequisite: one course in the GRMN 0600 series. Open to seniors only.
GRMN 1900E. Made in Germany - A Cultural History of Science, Technology, and Engineering.
In this seminar, we will examine the German technological imagination in literature and film. The material to be studied reaches from nineteenth and early twentieth century German Science Fiction to the history of engineering giants such as Volkswagen or BMW and will also include philosophical reflections of technology, the role of the German engineer as hero, and the image of the mad scientist. A field trip to Germany during spring break is planned. In German. Prerequisite: GRMN 0600. Enrollment limited to 20; first year students require an instructor override prior to registering.
GRMN 1900N. Crime Scene Germany.
Crime scenes–Tatorte in German–are locations of past events, reconstructed and (re)staged. The class will provide an idiosyncratic overview of depictions of Germany as a site of Tatorte, in literary texts and beyond. In constellations of texts from Droste-Hülshoff to Rainald Goetz as well as in films and photography, we will discuss what it means to encounter (narrated) history in a place where you “can pick up any given stone anywhere and can be certain that something happened at that very place in those dark times…”(Michaela Melián)
GRMN 1900Q. Contemporary German Crime Fiction.
A “Krimi” in German can refer to a crime story in a multitude of media. This course will look at contemporary German, Austrian and Swiss “Krimis” as novels, TV-series and movies. After a brief overview of crime fiction in German speaking countries, we will examine what is being written, read, and watched today. Readings will include novels by Andrea Maria Schenkel, Christine Lehmann, Uta-Maria Heim, Hansjörg Schneider, Simone Buchholz, and Osman Elgin. We will also analyze several episodes of Tatort and at least one feature-length movie. In German.
GRMN 1910A. From Freud to QAnon: History, Politics, Psychoanalysis (HIST 1957J).
Interested students must register for HIST 1957J.
GRMN 1970. Independent Study.
Independent study on a particular topic related to German culture. In German or English. At the discretion of the instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
GRMN 1981A. Introduction to Yiddish Culture and Language (JUDS 1713).
Interested students must register for JUDS 1713.
GRMN 1990. Senior Conference.
Special work or preparation of an honors thesis under the direction of a faculty member. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
GRMN 2081A. Realism, Idealism, and Modernity (II) (PHIL 2080D).
Interested students must register for PHIL 2080D.
GRMN 2320A. 1700.
Comparing language (rhetoric, style), literature (poetry, drama, novel), and other cultural phenomena (theater, dictionaries, emblem books, professionalization), we will consider shifts in cultural paradigms from the early modern to the modern period. Grimmelshausen and Gellert; Gryphius and Gottsched; Opitz and Haller. Readings in German. Discussion in German or English.
GRMN 2320B. The Works of Heinrich Kleist.
Kleist's writings continue to pose interpretive and theoretical riddles for the modern reader nearly 200 years after their composition. We will read a selection of his major texts (dramatic, narrative, and journalistic) alongside some modern American and German criticism, covering methodological approaches such as deconstruction, psychoanalysis, and discourse analysis. Readings in German, with discussion in English.
GRMN 2320C. Enlightened Laughter.
We follow the development of German comedy and theory of comedy and laughter from the late Baroque to the Enlightenment, comparing comedies and theoretical texts with foreign examples. What kind of laughter is appropriate for a bourgeois stage? A German stage? Why is laughing important? What kind? Texts by Weise, Prehauser, the Gottscheds, Gellert, J. A. Schlegel, Lessing, also Molière, Destouches, Farquahar, Graffigny. German texts read in German. Prerequisite: Graduate standing or permission.
GRMN 2320D. Kafka in English.
No description available.
GRMN 2320E. Political Romanticism.
What, if anything, is political about Romanticism? We will read the literary and non-literary writings of British and German romantic authors, with a focus on their complex relationship to political ideas, political practice, and the very concept of "the political." We will also consider why the question of Romanticism's relationship to politics has been re-visited with such insistency in the 20th century. Authors include W. Wordsworth, P. B. Shelley, Coleridge, Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis, and Kleist. All readings and discussions in English.
GRMN 2330A. Vision and Narration in the 19th Century.
Explores the relationship between vision and techniques of linguistic representation in selected literary texts from late romanticism to the fin-de-siecle. Special attention will be paid to the idea of "realistic" representation and to problems that afflict both seeing and speaking in the texts. Authors include Kleist, Stifter, Storm, Keller, Hofmannsthal, Rilke, and Musil. Readings in German, discussions in English. Open to seniors with instructor's permission.
GRMN 2340A. German Literature 1968-1989.
Discussion of major trends in literature in German: New Subjectivity, postmodernism, feminist literature, the role of mythology, post-histoire. Authors to be discussed include Botho Strauss, Elfriede Jelinek, Thomas Bernhard, W.G. Sebald, among others. In German.
GRMN 2340B. Poetik der AutorInnen.
This course will examine postwar literary aesthetics as put forth in the so-called "Poetikvorlesungen" which several universities in German-speaking countries have instituted since 1959. These lectures have featured important contemporary authors thinking about their work - from poetic practices and aesthetic theories to biographic considerations and the technicalities of writing literature in today's world. In German.
GRMN 2340C. German Modernism.
This seminar will explore German literary modernism from around 1880 to the 1930s. Schools and authors to be studied will include Naturalism (Hauptmann, Holz, Schlaf), Neo-Romanticism and Symbolism (Hofmannsthal, Rilke, George), Expressionism (Toller, Benn, Kaiser, Brecht), and New Objectivity (Kästner, Döblin, Fallada). In German. Required proficiency: GRMN 0600.
GRMN 2450. Exchange Scholar Program.
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GRMN 2460A. German Literature 1945-1967.
Examines the literature and the literary debates in postwar Germany, East and West. Authors to be discussed include those of the Gruppe 47 and those excluded from the group in the West; Brecht, Seghers, Becher and the new generation in the East. Emphasis on cultural politics and the role of literature in postwar German society (the work of the mourning, political restauration).
GRMN 2460C. Literature of the German Democratic Republic.
Against the background of the history of socialism in Germany, an intensive study of GDR authors and East German authors since reunification, with opportunities to explore other areas such as film and art. Authors may include: Brecht, Müller, C. Wolf, Reimann, Hein, Braun, Tellkamp. Readings in German, discussion in English or German.
GRMN 2460D. Thomas Mann: Die Romane.
In this course, we will read and discuss Thomas Mann's novels, from Buddenbrooks (1900) to Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull (1954). Emphasis on narratological analysis and historical contextualization. In German.
GRMN 2500A. Rethinking the Bildungsroman (COLT 2520G).
Interested students must register for COLT 2520G.
GRMN 2660A. On the Sublime.
Survey of major theories of the sublime from antiquity to modern times, with emphasis on German, British, and French texts from the 18th to 20th centuries. Authors to be read include Longinus, Immanuel Kant, Edmund Burke, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Neil Hertz. Readings and discussions in English, with optional readings in original languages provided. Open to seniors with instructor's permission.
GRMN 2660C. Socialism and the Intellectuals.
The international socialist movement was born in Germany, and many of Germany's most important intellectuals were attracted to its striving for social justice. Against the background of 19th century politics and theory, the course focuses on the Weimar Republic, the cultural politics of the German Democratic Republic and the New Left in the Federal Republic, and developments since reunification. Authors may include Heine, Marx, Hauptmann, Brecht, Müller, C. Wolf. Readings in German, disucssions in English and/or German.
GRMN 2660G. Reading (in) German Literature.
What is reading? We will discuss theories of reading from reader-response-theory to performativity and its history. Beginning with Goethe's novel "Werther," we will read German literature since the 18th century. We will focus on the emerging conditions and techniques of reading (extensity, accessibility, popularity) which still shape text-reader-relations and on the double-bind of reading as a bourgeois model for subject-formation alongside profound ambivalence towards its pleasures. Finally: How is our own experience and performance of reading German literature? In German.
GRMN 2660H. Historicism, Photography, Film.
How does the emergence of photographic media--photography and film--affect concepts of historicity and historical experience? And how do philosophical concepts of history and historicity inform the aesthetics of film and of documentary film in particular? Taking Kracauer's critique of photography and Benjamin's work on film, photography and the philosophy of history as its point of departure and focusing on longitudinal documentaries from the former GDR, West Germany and Switzerland, this course proposes an inquiry into the relationship of photographic media and philosophical concepts of historicity. Readings and discussions in English. Open to graduate students. Juniors and seniors may enroll with instructor permission.
GRMN 2660I. Torture in European Literature and Aesthetic Theory.
Alongside the history of actual torture runs the history of representations of torture. Throughout the centuries, literature has worked through many of torture’s manifestations. Texts range from the biblical scenes of crucifixion and punishment to modern forms of torture. Writers like E.T.A. Hoffmann, Mirbeau, Kafka, Améry and Sartre have reflected on torture. And aesthetic theory has taken various stances towards the depiction of torture in the arts, ranging from Winckelmann and Lessing to Adorno and Elaine Scarry. Our graduate seminar will read and discuss a selection of literary and theoretical texts covering the period from the mid-18th century until today.
GRMN 2660O. From Hegel to Nietzsche: Literature as/and Philosophy.
This seminar has two aims. It will scrutinize Hegel's and Nietzsche's respective conceptions of literature, and it will analyze the particular use of literary texts in their writings. The choice of these two authors is based not only on the fact that they qualify as representatives of the trajectory of German philosophy in the 19th century. They also act as antagonists on systematic grounds: While Hegel seeks to outperform literature with philosophy, Nietzsche depicts human life as an "aesthetic phenomenon," arguably creating a "literary" mode of philosophy. Enrollment limited to 30.
GRMN 2660P. The Essay: Theory and Praxis.
An essay, Lukács once said, is not yet form, but form on the way to becoming form. It is something in between: between art, science, and philosophy, between reason and intuition, between "precision and soul" (Musil). We will begin with the idea of the essay in Montaigne and Francis Bacon, and trace its development in Germany's intellectual and literary history from around 1870 till 1960. We will try to understand why, during this period, the essay became the preferred medium of thought and one of the dominant forms of reflecting on great Westerns narratives as well as important contemporary discourses.
GRMN 2660Q. Freud and Lacan (ENGL 2900T).
Interested students must register for ENGL 2900T.
GRMN 2661A. “Other Worlds”.
This seminar explores the notion of “other worlds” in philosophy and art. The starting point for this exploration is a personal feeling. One day I realize that I exist in a world no longer there, although it had never crossed my mind that “my” world, as strange and inhospitable as it might have been, could come to an end. I have turned into a ghost without noticing. What shall I do? Adapt to the new world? Pretend nothing has happened? Resist the disintegration of the old world? Readings by Leibniz, Nietzsche, Bloch, Benjamin, Deleuze, Meillassoux. Films by Visconti and Godard.
GRMN 2661F. Textual Border Crossings: Translational Literature.
We will first attempt to discover what happens to a translation, as well as to the translator, when a text asks for asylum in the guest house of another language: “domestication” or “foreignization,” as Lawrence Venuti puts it? Or is it appropriation, acculturation, adoption? Or rather estrangement, alienation, defamiliarization? Next we will investigate different models of derivative, parasitic, and translational writing by authors as diverse as J. Franzen, E. Fried, Ch. Hawkey, E. Jelinek, Y. Tawada, P. Waterhouse, and others. Finally, we will examine translational writing as a means of decolonizing world literature.
GRMN 2661J. Art, Philosophy, and Truth: A Close Reading of Benjamin's Essay on Goethe's Elective Affinities.
This course will be devoted to a close reading of one of the most rewarding, and also most intricate, essays about aesthetics written in the first half of the twentieth century, Benjamin’s 1924 essay on Goethe. Rather than discuss the pertinence of the interpretation Benjamin proposes of Goethe's famous novel, we will focus on the ideas he develops in relation to art and philosophy, and the conceptual distinctions he introduces, such as the distinction between commentary and criticism, or the distinction between an artwork's material content and its truth content.
GRMN 2661Q. Goethe’s Faust.
Faust is one of the most inspiring and complex dramas written in German, with immense influence on later literary texts. Its form is stunningly experimental and plays out all metric forms that were known in the age of Goethe in German literature. The two-part drama takes place in a time that measures from antiquity to the early nineteenth century, but it is, throughout, a representation of existence within a modern socio-economic dynamic. In this course, we will closely read and discuss selected scenes. Taught in German.
GRMN 2662A. Theories of Poetry and the Poetic.
Poetry, poésie, poesìa carries a double meaning in many Western languages, since it can refer to a foundational principle of literary art in general as well as to a specific literary genre. Accordingly, the accent may be on poetic activity, derived from one or several meanings of the Greek poiein, or on the textual product, the poem. The course is interested in the problems and perspectives of this double meaning in a series of texts by poets and literary theorists from different periods, mainly Romanticism and 20th century modernism. Taught in English.
GRMN 2662J. This is Us in Language: On Mother Tongue, Fatherland, and I.
“‘We’ is the battle cry of people who take a single slice of the world and insist that it is the whole world.” (Kristof Schreuf) To show how literature and critical reflections on language can be taken as counter-articulations to authoritative claims wherever one speaks in the name of us/we, this class focuses on various texts, spanning from the 19th century to the present, in which we read about the use of one mother tongue (German), the representation of some fatherland (as a reference or projection plane for identities), and articulations of the I and the collective.
GRMN 2662K. Living On: Theories of Survival.
Sometimes one unexpectedly lives on. Lyotard once wrote that “survival implies that an entity that is or should be dead is still alive.” The idea of survival emerges with special force after traumatic events: global pandemics, genocidal wars, the death of a loved one, personal crises. Yet what if survival were not something added on to life but rather constituted it? Our seminar will test the hypothesis that surviving is the most intense and powerful form of living possible. Readings will be drawn from literature, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and critical theory, including Kafka, Benjamin, Freud, Canetti, Derrida, Lyotard, and Agamben. We will also examine Lear’s philosophical case study of radical vulnerability as it emerges in the aftermath of the Crow Nation facing eradication of their way of life, Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation. Diverse graduate fields welcome.
GRMN 2900. Theory and Methods of Foreign Language Teaching.
No description available.
GRMN 2970. Preliminary Examination Preparation.
For graduate students who have met the tuition requirement and are paying the Registration Fee to continue active enrollment while preparing for a preliminary examination.
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GRMN 2980. Reading and Research.
GRMN 2990. Thesis Preparation.
For graduate students who have met the residency requirement and are continuing research on a full time basis.
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GRMN XLIST. Courses of Interest to Students Concentrating in German Studies.
SWED 0100A. Beginning Swedish.
Swedish 0100 is an introduction to both Sweden and Swedish, covering various aspects of Swedish history, art and society, as well as screening at least three Swedish films per semester. The course packet contains the text/workbook, Mål 1, with additional materials. We will cover one chapter of Mål per week, with quizzes every three weeks. There will be a midterm and a final exam, along with a short take-home project. This is a small class, so your presence is absolutely required. Emphasis will be placed on speaking and understanding Swedish. Good will and good humor are required.
SWED 0200A. Beginning Swedish.
Swedish 200 is a continuation of Swedish 100, with the same goals, materials and methods. It may also be suited to students with some prior background in Swedish.
This is the second half of a year-long course (SWED 0100A and SWED 0200A) whose first semester grade is temporary. Neither semester may be elected independently without special written permission. The final grade at the end of the course work in SWED 0200A covers the entire year and is recorded as the final grade for both semesters.
SWED 0300. Intermediate Swedish I.
SWED 0300 is an Intermediate language course designed for students with some prior exposure to Swedish, either through study abroad or their own background. The course will be small and informal, tailored to the needs of the specific students, with joint emphasis on speaking, reading and writing. We will see several Swedish films, as well as read some fiction and poetry.
SWED 0400. Intermediate Swedish II.
Swedish 0400 is the most advanced Swedish language offered at Brown. Students are expected to be able to participate in everyday conversations, having mastered the basics of grammar and vocabulary, in addition to understanding basic spoken and written Swedish. Materials used in the course will include newspapers, poetry, short fiction, film, and music. Students will also be expected to access existing Swedish websites, to broaden their knowledge of Swedish history and culture. Course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 to 5:20.
Professor of Comparative Literature; Professor of German Studies
Katherine R. Goodman
Professor Emerita of German Studies
Carol Jean Poore
Professor Emerita of German Studies
Professor of English; Professor of Comparative Literature; Professor of German Studies
University Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature
Thomas G. Schestag
Professor of German Studies
Albert R. Schmitt
Professor Emeritus of German Studies
Professor Emeritus of German Studies and Professor Emeritus of Modern Culture and Media
Professor of German Studies; Professor of Comparative Literature
Thomas W. Kniesche
Associate Professor of German Studies
Kristina C. Mendicino
Associate Professor of German Studies
Distinguished Senior Lecturer
Distinguished Senior Lecturer in German Studies; Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Language Studies
Jonathan B. Fine
Lecturer in German Studies
German Studies exposes students to the language, literature, and culture of the German speaking areas of Central Europe. Concentrators combine intensive study of the German language with interdisciplinary studies by complementing courses from the German Studies core program with courses from other departments that deal with topics from the German cultural tradition. The quest for national identity that dominated German history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has been augmented by contemporary Germany's efforts to come to terms with its past and create new ways of dealing with diversity. Our curriculum therefore looks back at the German literary, cultural, and historical tradition, examining figures from Goethe or Christa Wolf to Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, alongside the “texts” of contemporary German media, including television, film, and music. Most concentrators study abroad for one or two semesters.
*In spring 2017, Professor Jane Sokolosky will serve as concentration advisor. Professor Kristina Mendicino will return as concentration advisor in fall 2017.
Standard program for the A.B. degree
Many students elect to complete a double concentration, combining German Studies with one of the above areas, or with fields such as International Relations or Economics, Comparative Literature or History of Art and Architecture.
Knowledge of the German language is not required for declaring a concentration in German Studies. However, since language fluency is the basis for sophisticated understanding of German culture, students must meet a language requirement by the time they graduate.
- Nine courses beyond GRMN 0400 or GRMN 0450;
- At least six of the nine courses must be at the 1000-level (or higher);
- Two of the 1000-level courses must involve writing assignments in German, and students must obtain at least a grade of B in these courses;
- At least five of the nine courses must be taken in the Department of German Studies (or four if a student spends a whole year in Germany on Study Abroad);
- Completion of a Senior Seminar (i.e. a course from the German Studies 1900 series) as part of the five courses within the Department of German Studies; and
- If a student studies abroad for one semester, as many as four courses, in the case of two semesters, as many as five courses, from study abroad may count toward the concentration.
|Twentieth-Century German Culture|
|From Faust to Freud: Germany’s Long 19th Century|
|Tales of Vampirism and the Uncanny|
|The Poetics of Murder: Crime Fiction from Poe to the Present|
|Historical Crime Fiction|
|Nietzsche - The Good European|
|Repetition: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Freud|
|German Aesthetics from Lessing to Heidegger|
|Classical German Literature: Goethe und die Klassik|
|Eighteenth-Century German Aesthetics|
|Drama and Religion|
|What is an Image? German Aesthetics and Art from Lessing to Heidegger|
|Freudian Inspirations: Psychoanalysis and the Arts|
|Reading Friedrich Hölderlin; An Introduction|
|The Individual in the Age of Industry|
|Crime and Punishment- Introduction to German Mystery Texts and Films|
|Guilt Management: Postwar German Culture|
|Modern German Prose, 1978-1998|
|Turn of the Century|
|The Works of Franz Kafka|
|Unmittelbar nach 1945: Literatur und Film in Deutschland|
|The Modern Period|
|Vergangenheitsbewältigung: German Literature of Memory|
|Dada-Performance and Digital-Interactivity|
|Poetry and the Sublime|
|Modernity and Its Discontents: The German Novella|
|Lyric Poetry From the Middle Ages to the Present|
|Projections of America|
|German Lyric Poetry: From Goethe to Heine|
|Kunstmaerchen: the Literary Fairytale in the Nineteenth Century|
|Modern German Drama|
|Heroes, Failures and Other Peculiar Characters-The German Novel from Goethe to Kafka|
|Grimms' Fairy Tales|
|The European Novel from Goethe to Proust (COLT 1420)|
|"Stranger Things: The German Novella"|
|Return to Sender: Love, Letters, and Literature|
|Theater and Revolution (COLT 1411B)|
|Introduction to German Romantic Poetry|
|Die Berliner Republik und die Vergangenheit|
|National Socialism and the Shoah in Recent German Prose|
|20 Years After: The End of GDR and German Reunification|
|Love and Death|
|Images of America in German Literature|
|German National Cinema from 1917 to 1989, and Cold War Germanys in Film|
|Berlin: A City Strives to Reinvent Itself|
|German Culture in the Nazi Era|
|After Hitler: German Culture and Politics, 1945 to Present|
|Literary Discourse of Minority Cultures in Germany|
|Literature and Other Media|
|Thinking After Philosophy|
|German Jews and Capitalist Markets in the Long Nineteenth Century|
|Having Beethoven Over in 1970|
|Film and the Third Reich|
|Mord und Medien. Krimis im intermedialen Vergleich|
|Germans/Jews, Deutsche (und) Juden|
|What was Socialism? From Marx to "Goodbye Lenin"|
|Early German Film and Film Theory|
|Race and Classical German Thought|
|Germany, Alcohol, and the Global Nineteenth Century|
|Music, Religion, Politics (MUSC 1675)|
|The Case of Wagner (MUSC 1640G)|
|The Promise of Being: Heidegger for Beginners (COLT 1610V)|
|Introduction to Yiddish Culture and Language (JUDS 1713)|
|Introduction to Yiddish Culture and Language (JUDS 1713)|
|Introduction to Yiddish Culture (JUDS 1713)|
|Posthumanism and the Ends of Man (COLT 1814Y)|
|Berlin: Dissonance, Division, Revision (COLT 1813J)|
|The Weimar Republic (1918-1933)|
|Sites of Memory|
|Cultural Industry and the Aesthetics of the Spectacle|
|Fleeing the Nazis: German Culture in Exile, 1933-1945|
|Made in Germany - A Cultural History of Science, Technology, and Engineering|
|The Works of Heinrich Kleist|
|Kafka in English|
|Vision and Narration in the 19th Century|
|German Literature 1968-1989|
|Poetik der AutorInnen|
|German Literature 1945-1967|
|Literature of the German Democratic Republic|
|Thomas Mann: Die Romane|
|Rethinking the Bildungsroman (COLT 2520G)|
|On the Sublime|
|Socialism and the Intellectuals|
|Reading (in) German Literature|
|Historicism, Photography, Film|
|Torture in European Literature and Aesthetic Theory|
|From Hegel to Nietzsche: Literature as/and Philosophy|
|The Essay: Theory and Praxis|
|Freud and Lacan (ENGL 2900T)|
|Textual Border Crossings: Translational Literature|
|Art, Philosophy, and Truth: A Close Reading of Benjamin's Essay on Goethe's Elective Affinities|
|Theories of Poetry and the Poetic|
Candidates for honors will be expected to have a superior record in departmental courses and will have to be approved by the Department of German Studies. Honors candidates must take one additional course at the 1000-level from the German studies offerings and present an acceptable Senior Honors Thesis. The additional course may be used for preparation of the honors thesis. Students are encouraged to discuss their thesis topics with the concentration advisor no later than the third week of classes in Fall of their Senior year.
The department of German Studies offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Arts (A.M.) degree and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. The A.M. degree is only awarded as a transitional degree for Ph.D. candidates and is not open for admission for non-Ph.D. applicants.
For more information on admission and program requirements, please visit the following website: