German Studies

Director of undergraduate studies: Paul North, 323 WLH, 432-6401,; language program director: Theresa Schenker, 325 WLH, 432-0783,;

The major in German Studies covers a broad tradition of more than five centuries in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and neighboring lands. Students gain deep competence in the German language while also reading great literature, analyzing distinctive artworks in many media, deducing intensive theories, and exploring political, linguistic, and cultural history. The German faculty works closely with undergraduates to develop their special areas of interest within these rich currents of German culture.

German language courses emphasize listening, speaking, reading, and writing in interaction with authentic cultural materials. The curriculum also introduces students to the basic questions and methods of literary criticism, with a focus on rigorous reading practices for a wide range of works from different genres, disciplines, and historical moments.

German Studies courses are diverse in their topics and highly relevant to other fields of study today. Pioneers in philosophy, political theory, sociology, psychology, history, classical philology, the visual arts, architecture, and music wrote and thought in German, as did founders of the modern natural and practical sciences. Majors discover Kant, Goethe, Beethoven, Einstein, Freud, Kafka, Arendt, and many other thinkers and writers who laid the groundwork for modernity and still hold keys to understanding it.

Germany is the third-largest economy in the world, and German is the first language of over 95 million people worldwide. Students with a foundation in the language, literature, history, and intellectual revolutions of Germany are prepared to enter a wide variety of vocations. Majors have gone on to postgraduate study in Germany and the United States, and many have entered top-tier law schools and graduate programs. Recent graduates work in fields as diverse as environmental policy, journalism, arts management, consulting, and engineering, as well as in governmental and nongovernmental organizations and businesses.


Prerequisite to the major are first- and second-year German or the equivalent.

Course Numbering

Group A courses Courses in Group A (GMAN 110–159) correspond to Yale's L1 to L5 designation of elementary, intermediate, and advanced language courses.

Group B courses Courses in Group B (GMAN 160-level and 170-level) are advanced L5 courses. Readings are in German, and the language of instruction is German. There is no restriction on the number of Group B courses that may count toward the major, provided all requirements are met.

Group C courses Courses in Group C (above GMAN 200) are all other courses. The language of instruction is typically English, but readings may be in German and/or English. Course level and prerequisites vary according to the expectations of the instructors.

Placement Procedures

An online placement examination will be accessible July 1 through August 15, 2017. See the departmental website for details. Students wishing to take the placement exam in January should sign up with the language director by December 1, 2017. Students may also consult with the director of undergraduate studies or the language director for advice about placement and about language study. Regardless of previous German study, students without a score of 5 on the German Advanced Placement test must take the departmental placement exam in order to enroll in any course above GMAN 110 or 125.

Requirements of the Major 

The major in German Studies consists of ten term courses, including three advanced language courses, four courses in an area of concentration, two electives, and the senior essay. All majors must complete at least one GMAN course numbered in the 150s, one in the 160s, and one in the 170s, plus six additional courses—four in the area of concentration and two electives—from Groups B and C, numbered GMAN 160 and above. With permission of the director of undergraduate studies, some substitutions and exceptions may be possible.

Areas of concentration Each German Studies major selects an area of concentration from five possible choices: (1) literature, (2) media and media theory, (3) history and politics, (4) critical thought, and (5) aesthetics and the arts. The literature concentration gives students access to worlds of thought and action. Students learn to read critically poetry, novels, plays, short stories, aphorisms, songs, and other genres. Courses fulfilling the literature concentration include at least one course each in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. The concentration in media and media theory explores a vibrant tradition of experimentation in new cultural forms and media in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Students investigate photography, radio, film, television, and computer media alongside landmark works in media theory. The history and politics concentration focuses on world-altering historical events and thought-altering theories of history from the Germanic tradition. Students become familiar with explosive political and social events, including the emancipation of the Jews and the Holocaust, the world wars, unification and reunification, and concepts and models for development in economy, social welfare, law, and environmental policies. The concentration in critical thought focuses on traditions of theoretical reflection on society, history, art, and language. Students become familiar with authors such as Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Benjamin, and Habermas. The aesthetics and the arts concentration surveys the rich Germanic traditions in the visual and musical arts, as well as the philosophical study of art beginning in eighteenth-century Germany.

Credit/D/Fail A maximum of two courses taken Credit/D/Fail may count toward the major, with permission of the DUS.

Senior Requirement 

Seniors in the standard German Studies major enroll in GMAN 492, a guided senior essay tutorial course. Students meet biweekly with the DUS and staff, and work under the direction of a faculty adviser. The culmination of the tutorial is an essay of approximately thirty pages that gives evidence of careful reading and substantial independent thought. The essay may be written in either English or German, although only native speakers are encouraged to write an essay in German. Seniors typically write the essay during the fall term. A preliminary statement indicating the general area to be addressed and the choice of adviser should be submitted to the DUS by September 8, 2017; a three-page prospectus and a bibliography are due by September 22. A rough draft must be submitted to the adviser by November 3. The completed essay, due on December 8, 2017, is judged by the faculty adviser and a second reader.

Intensive major Requirements for the intensive major are the same as for the standard major, except that the intensive major replaces one advanced seminar with a second term of the senior essay. In the fall term seniors in the intensive major enroll in GMAN 492 and begin work on their project under the guidance and supervision of a faculty adviser. A significant portion of the research for the essay should involve materials in German. The essay may be written in either English or German, although only native speakers are encouraged to write an essay in German. A detailed prospectus, no longer than three pages, and a bibliography must be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies by October 20, 2017. The student must submit a draft of at least fifteen pages of the essay by December 1, 2017 to receive credit for the first term of the course. The second term, GMAN 493, is devoted to completing the essay, which should be substantial (between fifty and sixty pages); the completed essay must be submitted by April 13, 2018. The senior essay is judged by the faculty adviser and a second reader.


Candidates for the major in German Studies should consult the DUS.

Graduate courses Courses in the Graduate School are open to undergraduates with permission of the instructor and of the directors of undergraduate and graduate studies. Course descriptions may be obtained on the German department Website or from the office of the director of graduate studies.

Study Abroad 

Students are strongly encouraged to study in Germany for a summer, or for one or two terms on the Year or Term Abroad program. Appropriate course credit toward the major is granted for work in approved programs in Germany. Study abroad is valuable not only for achieving comfortable fluency in German, but also for gaining firsthand knowledge of the German cultural context. The department offers diverse opportunities for study abroad and a scholarship program for summer courses at German universities. Members of the faculty advise and consult with any students wishing to plan study in Germany. Students who have been approved to study abroad and who receive financial aid from Yale are eligible for aid while abroad. For information about the Year or Term Abroad program, see section K, Special Arrangements, in the Academic Regulations. Students who study abroad for one term may count up to two courses toward the major, with approval of the DUS. Students who study abroad for an academic year may count up to four courses toward the major, with approval of the DUS.


Prerequisites First- and second-year German or equivalent

Number of courses 10 (incl senior req)

Distribution of courses At least 1 GMAN course in the 150s, at least 1 in the 160s, and at least 1 in the 170s; 4 courses in area of concentration and 2 electives (numbered GMAN 160 and above) from Groups B and C; Literature concentration—at least 1 course each in 19th- and 20th-century literature

Substitution permitted With DUS approval, some substitutions and exceptions may be possible

Senior requirement Senior essay tutorial (GMAN 492)

Intensive major Two-term senior essay (GMAN 492 and 493)


Professors Rüdiger Campe, Carol Jacobs (Emerita), Rainer Nägele (Emeritus), Paul North, Brigitte Peucker, Henry Sussman (Visiting [F]), Kirk Wetters (Chair)

Senior Lector II Marion Gehlker

Senior Lector Theresa Schenker

Affiliated Faculty Jeffrey Alexander (Sociology), Jennifer Allen (History), Seyla Benhabib (Political Science), David Cameron (Political Science), Paul Franks (Philosophy, Judaic Studies), Gundula Kreuzer (Music), Patrick McCreless (Music), Steven Smith (Political Science), David Sorkin (History), Nicola Suthor (History of Art), Katie Trumpener (Comparative Literature, English), Jay Winter (History)

Group A Courses

* DUTC 130a, Intermediate Dutch IStaff

Continued development of reading, writing, and speaking proficiency in Dutch. Students review and improve grammar skills, expand their vocabulary, read newspaper articles, and watch and listen to Dutch newscasts. Prerequisite: DUTC 120 or equivalent. Course taught through distance learning using videoconferencing technology from Columbia University. Enrollment limited; interested students should e-mail for more information.  L3RP1½ Course cr
MW 4:10pm-6pm

* DUTC 140b, Intermediate Dutch IIStaff

Use of authentic Dutch texts to expand proficiency in the language and familiarity with the culture. Focus on Dutch cultural themes that reflect students' interests and fields of study. Readings include a novel and news articles on current events. Prerequisite: DUTC 130. Course includes students from Cornell University via videoconference.  L41½ Course cr
MW 4:10pm-6pm

* GMAN 110a or b, Elementary German IStaff

A beginning content- and task-based course that focuses on the acquisition of spoken and written communication skills, as well as on the development of cultural awareness and of foundations in grammar and vocabulary. Topics such as school, family life, and housing. Course materials include a variety of authentic readings, a feature film, and shorter video clips. Tutors are available for extra help. To be followed by GMAN 120. Enrollment limited to 14 per section. Credit only on completion of GMAN 120. Students must preregister through Preference Selection during the online preregistration period. Details and a link to Preference Selection are provided on the German department Web site at  L11½ Course cr

GMAN 120a or b, Elementary German IIStaff

Continuation of GMAN 110. A content- and task-based course that focuses on the acquisition of communicative competence in speaking and writing and on the development of strong cultural awareness. Topics such as multiculturalism, food, childhood, and travel; units on Switzerland and Austria. Course materials include a variety of authentic readings, a feature film, and shorter video clips. Tutors are available for extra help. To be followed by GMAN 130. Enrollment limited to 14 per section. Students must preregister through Preference Selection during the online preregistration period. Details and a link to Preference Selection are provided on the German department Web site at  L21½ Course cr

GMAN 125a, Intensive German IPatrick Wolf

Intensive training in speaking, reading, writing, and comprehending the language. Focus on the mastery of formal grammar. For beginning students of superior linguistic ability.  L1, L22 Course cr
MTWThF 9:25am-11:15am

GMAN 130a or b, Intermediate German IStaff

Builds on and expands knowledge acquired in GMAN 120. A content- and task-based course that helps students improve their oral and written linguistic skills and their cultural awareness through a variety of materials related to German literature, culture, history, and politics. Course materials include authentic readings, a feature film, and shorter video clips. Tutors are available for extra help. After GMAN 120 or according to placement examination. Followed by GMAN 140. Enrollment limited to 14 per section. Students must preregister through Preference Selection during the online preregistration period. Details and a link to Preference Selection are provided on the German department Web site at  L31½ Course cr

GMAN 140a or b, Intermediate German IIStaff

Builds on and expands knowledge acquired in GMAN 130. A content- and task-based course that helps students improve their oral and written linguistic skills and their cultural awareness through a variety of materials related to German literature, culture, history, and politics. Course materials include authentic readings, a feature film, and shorter video clips. Tutors are available for extra help. After GMAN 130 or according to placement examination. Normally followed by GMAN 150 or, with permission of the director of undergraduate studies, by GMAN 171. Enrollment limited to 14 per section. Students must preregister through Preference Selection during the online preregistration period. Details and a link to Preference Selection are provided on the German department Web site at  L41½ Course cr

GMAN 145b, Intensive German IIPatrick Wolf

Continuation of GMAN 125. Focus on speaking, writing, and the conversion of grammatical knowledge into reading competence for literary and scholarly purposes. Prerequisite: GMAN 125.  L3, L4RP2 Course cr
MTWThF 9:25am-11:15am

* GMAN 150a, Advanced German, Contemporary GermanyFlorian Fuchs

An advanced language and culture course focusing on contemporary Germany. Analysis and discussion of current events in Germany and Europe through the lens of German media, including newspapers, books, TV, film radio, and modern electronic media formats. Focus on oral and written production to achieve advanced linguistic skills. After GMAN 140 or 145. For entering students with a score of 5 on the German Advanced Placement test, or according to results of the placement examination. Students must preregister through Preference Selection during the online preregistration period. Details and a link to Preference Selection are provided on the German department Web site at  L5
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

* GMAN 151b, Exploring Contemporary German CultureStaff

Advanced German course focusing on vocabulary expansion through reading practice; stylistic development in writing; and development of conversational German. Critical analysis of selected aspects of contemporary German culture, such as Green Germany, social movements from the 60s to today, the changing "Sozialstaat,” and current events. Prerequisite: GMAN 140 or equivalent.  L5
MW 9am-10:15am

Group B Courses

* DUTC 160b, Introduction to Dutch Culture and SocietyStaff

Study of contemporary Dutch culture and major events in Dutch history. Attention to cultural differences and their origins. Topics include Dutch art, exploration, and trade in the seventeenth century; modern immigration and Islam in Europe; water management and environmental issues in the Netherlands; and sex and drugs in Dutch political discourse. Readings and discussion in English.
MW 11:40am-12:55pm

* GMAN 162a, Pre-1945 German Culture and HistoryMarion Gehlker

An advanced language course focusing on improving upper-level written and oral language skills through the discussion of selected aspects of pre-1945 German culture, politics, and history in literary and nonliterary texts, films, and the arts. Topics include the Kaiserreich, the Weimar Republic, Expressionist art and film, youth movements, social democracy, and Nazi Germany. Emphasis on vocabulary building through frequent oral and written assignments. After GMAN 140, 145, or 150, or with permission of instructor.  L5, HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

* GMAN 173b, Introduction to German Lyric PoetryFlorian Fuchs

The German lyric tradition, including classic works by Goethe, Schiller, Hölderlin, Eichendorff, Heine, Mörike, Droste-Hülshoff, Rilke, George, Brecht, Trakl, Celan, Bachmann, and Jandl. Attention to the German Lied (art song). Development of advanced reading, writing, speaking, and translation skills. Prerequisite: GMAN 150 or equivalent.  L5, HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

Group C Courses

Unless otherwise indicated, courses in this group are conducted in English with both readings and discussion in English. The courses are open to all students in Yale College.

GMAN 208b / HIST 254b, Germany from Unification to Refugee CrisisJennifer Allen

The history of Germany from its unification in 1871 through the present. Topics include German nationalism and national unification; the culture and politics of the Weimar Republic; National Socialism and the Holocaust; the division of Germany and the Cold War; the Student Movement and New Social Movements; reunification; and Germany's place in contemporary Europe.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

* GMAN 211a / HUMS 314a / LITR 441a / PHIL 412a, Marx, Nietzsche, FreudRüdiger Campe

The revolutionary ways in which Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud redefined the ends of freedom. Key works of the three authors on agency in politics, economics, epistemology, social life, and sexuality. Agency as individual or collective, as autonomous or heteronomous, and as a case of liberation or subversion. Additional readings from Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Weber.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* GMAN 212a / EP&E 487a / HUMS 261a / PHIL 417a, Critical Theory and the Frankfurt SchoolAsaf Angermann

Introduction to the thought and writings of the philosophers known as the Frankfurt School, who founded and developed the idea of Critical Theory. The method of Critical Theory as a way of thinking about the complex relations between philosophy and society, culture and politics, and philosophical concepts and social reality. The meaning of concepts such as critique, history, freedom, individuality, emancipation, and aesthetic experience.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

GMAN 214a / FREN 270a / LITR 284a, Mad Poets of the Nineteenth and Twentieth CenturyThomas Connolly

Nineteenth- and twentieth-century French (and some German) poetry explored through the lives and works of poets whose ways of behaving, creating, and perceiving the world might be described as insane. Authors include Hölderlin, Nerval, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Mallarmé, Lautréamont, Apollinaire, Breton, Artaud, and Celan. Lectures in English; readings available both in original language and in English translation.  WR, HU
MW 11:35am-12:25pm

* GMAN 226a / LITR 218a, The Faust TraditionJan Hagens

The development of the Faust motif through time, from the period of the Renaissance and the Reformation to the twentieth century. Readings from the English adaptation of the original German chapbook and from works by Marlowe, Ben Johnson, Goethe, Wilde, Bulgakov, and Thomas Mann. Screenings of films with a Faustian theme.  HU
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

GMAN 227a / HUMS 330a / LITR 330a / PHIL 402a, Heidegger's Being and TimeMartin Hägglund

Systematic, chapter by chapter study of Heidegger’s Being and Time, arguably the most important work of philosophy in the twentieth-century. All major themes addressed in detail, with particular emphasis on care, time, death, and the meaning of being.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

* GMAN 246b / LITR 346b, Ends of the EnlightenmentKirk Wetters

Kant's question "What is Enlightenment?" traced through literature, philosophy, theory, and the arts. Classic theories through the mid-twentieth century from works by Rousseau, Voltaire, Nietzsche, Spengler, Schmitt, Weber, Adorno, Heidegger, Habermas, Foucault, and Derrida. Theoretical work is paired with literature, art, and film.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* GMAN 273a / FILM 319a / LITR 368a, The Third Reich in Postwar German Film, 1945-2007Jan Hagens

Close study of the intersection of aesthetics and ethics with regard to how German films, since 1945, have dealt with Nazi history. Through the study of German-language films (with subtitles), produced in postwar East, West, and unified Germany through 2007, students consider and challenge perspectives on the Third Reich and postwar Germany, while learning basic categories of film studies.  HU
M 3:30pm-5:30pm

* GMAN 305a / HUMS 137a / LITR 199a, Germanic Heroic LegendJohanna Fridriksdottir

Exploration of heroic legends from medieval England, Scandinavia, and Germany, narrating stories about brave warriors and unyielding heroines; the epic battles, fates, and love triangles of Germanic heroic tradition across time and countries. Thematics concerns include heroism, ethics and honor codes, the tension between family and marital ties, emotions, normative gender roles, and monstrosity.  HU
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

* GMAN 318a / EP&E 264a / PHIL 323a / PLSC 323a, Exile, Statelessness, MigrationSeyla Benhabib

An interdisciplinary examination of exile, statelessness, and migration. Consideration of the meaning of exile as opposed to migration or banishment; whether a stateless person is also in exile, how the theme of exile is rooted in the Jewish condition of “Galut;” and how these conditions throw light on democratic societies. Authors include Hannah Arendt, Judith Shklar, Judith Butler, and contemporary authors such as Linda Zerilli and Bonnie Honig. Prerequisites: strong background in political philosophy, 19th or 20th century intellectual history, literary studies, or permission of the instructor.  HU, SO
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* GMAN 320b / FILM 418b / GMST 265b / HUMS 135b / LITR 356b, Scandinavian Cinema and TelevisionKatie Trumpener

Contemporary Scandinavian film and television examined in relation to earlier cinematic highpoints. Course explores regionally-specific ideas about acting, visual culture and the role of art; feminism and the social contract; historical forces and social change. Films by Bergman, Dreyer, Gad, Sjöström, Sjöberg, Sjöman, Troell, Widerberg, Vinterberg, von Trier, Ostlund, Kaurismäki, Scherfig, Kjartansson; as well as contemporary television series selected by students.  HU
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* GMAN 354a / FILM 459a / LITR 355a, The Films of Fassbinder, Herzog, and HanekeBrigitte Peucker

Examination of representative films by three major German language auteurs. Topics include cinema’s investment in painting and theatricality, its relation to gendered, imaginary, and abject bodies and to the specificities of time and place; the fictions of the self that these auteurs construct; and how questions of identity intersect with ideology and the political.
Films subtitled; all readings and discussion in English.  HUTr
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm, W 7pm-9pm

* GMAN 374a / LITR 307a, Walter Benjamin and the Modernization of Nineteenth-Century ParisHenry Sussman

The radical modernization of Paris under the Second Empire (1851–70) as seen through the eyes of Walter Benjamin. Focus on Benjamin's Arcades Project, a compendium that charted developments such as Parisian mass transit and streamlined traffic, the construction of apartment houses, and the dissemination of mass media. Readings from other literary texts on the same events include works by Balzac, Zola, and Aragon.  HU
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

GMAN 381a / PHIL 204a, Kant's Critique of Pure ReasonPaul Franks

An examination of the metaphysical and epistemological doctrines of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Prerequisite: PHIL 126 or DRST 004.  HU
MW 9am-10:15am

* GMAN 408a / FILM 357a / LITR 304a, Books, Displays, and Systems TheoryHenry Sussman

A status report on the book as a medium in an age of cybernetic technology and virtual reality. The contentious no-man's land between books and contemporary systems.  HURP
MW 4pm-5:15pm

Reading Courses

* GMAN 100a, German for ReadingMarion Gehlker

Students learn the skills with which to read German-language texts of any difficulty with some fluency. Study of syntax and grammar; practice in close reading and translation of fiction and expository prose in the humanities and sciences. Conducted in English. Does not satisfy the language distributional requirement.
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

* GMAN 102a / JDST 416a, Reading YiddishJoshua Price

This course is designed to build literacy in Yiddish, the vernacular of Ashkenazi Jewry. With focus on the accelerated treatment of Yiddish grammar, regularly supplemented with simple primary texts (poems, songs, folktales), and followed by close readings of (modern) Yiddish literature, students will be able to navigate most Yiddish texts with the aid of a dictionary. May not be taken concurrently with elementary or intermediate German.
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

Senior Courses

* GMAN 478a or b, Directed Readings or Individual Research in Germanic Languages and LiteraturesPaul North

Individual study under faculty supervision. Applicants must submit a prospectus and bibliography approved by the faculty adviser to the director of undergraduate studies. The student meets with the adviser at least one hour each week and takes a final examination or writes a term paper. No credit granted without prior approval of the director of undergraduate studies.

* GMAN 492a and GMAN 493b, The Senior Essay TutorialPaul North

Preparation of an original essay under the direction of a faculty adviser.