GER 496C/596C

Spring 2018

GER 496C - Capstone Course, and Ger 596C graduate course: Culture

INSTRUCTOR: Prof. Albrecht Classen, Dept. of German Studies, 301 Learning Services Building, Office 318; tel. 621-1395;;

CLASS MEETINGS: Tu and Thu 2-3:15 p.m.

Class ROOM: Edu 320
OFFICE HOURS:Mo and We 11a.m.-12 p.m., and any other time after appointment (but always feel free simply to stop by at my office, LSB 318)

Course Topic: Deutsche Kultur- und Literaturgeschichte

Course Goal: Development of a overview of the history of German culture, literature, and history from the Middle Ages to the Twent-First Century, using each text as a kaleidoscope to study specific cultural and historical periods. You will also achieve a high level of linguistic fluency, and the ability to situate major texts into their historical-cultural context. As the title says, this is a capstone, and the goal is to provide you with a solid understanding of the entire history of German literature from the early Middle Ages to the present, by studying exemplary texts.

For graduate students, this course will serve as a foundation for their subsequent advanced courses, establishing a deeper understanding of the major historical-cultural periods and of major literary works.

Diversity: "We seek to create the comprehensively engaged university with the expectation that everyone will make a contribution to inclusive excellence. Diversity and inclusiveness are core values for the University of Arizona and offer a competitive advantage in attracting faculty, staff, students and their partners. Moreover, diversity allows the institution to prepare students to be leaders in global contexts." It is my personal goal to provide an all-inclusive classroom where everyone is equally respected and receives the same treatment and dignity, and has the same opportunity (


A. 1. Weekly contributions to a city and its features, depending on your interest. You'll become the expert on one specific aspect, whether history, art history, architecture, music, food, literature, sports, politics, infrastructure, fashion, etc. You will create a portfolio for your specialization, collecting data for each city. Every week you will give a brief presentation, contributing to the overall class discussion. You can perhaps also work in groups of two. Your journal should also contain brief references to the other information provided by the other groups. 

Section A: all the diverse aspects about Fulda and Kassel (for instance), summary. Section B: a written version about your poet, biography (if it was your turn). Section C: a summary and further elaboration of what we have done, studied, and learned in class. (most important). So, pay attention, please, to what the other students report, ask them back, and record this also in your journal. 15%

A. 2. In addition, each student chooses one of the poets/writers and provides a very brief biography (oral, maybe with handouts), and everyone is then asked to record that information in the journal. Those who present a writer, please select two critical studies or companions on the author and bring those books to class to share with everyone. 5%

Total: 20% (both the oral presentations every week and the final product, your journal).

1. History

2. Economy

3. Art

4. Architecture

5. Literature

6. Geography

7. Sport

8. Food

9. Museums

10. Education

11. Music

12. News and media

13. Technology

14. Infrastructure (traffic)

15. Politics

In other words, one or two choose, for instance, music, and every time we address a new city, your job will be to assemble key components relevant for music in that city throughout the centuries. Did major composers come from there, are there important bands or musicians, does the city have a major concert hall or opera house? Share this information so that the others can enter this into their portfolio.

Do not simply rely on Utilize the relevant sources in the library! Consult the various literary histories, the lexica, the encyclopedias, and, if possible, some of the relevant research literature. Always make sure that you add a page with the bibliography of all sources used (in German, please). For music, for instance, always consult Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (music library). 

For instance: Kassel - die Brüder Grimm, Märchen. So, we need to learn something about the genre of Märchen, about the Brüder Grimm, their work, but then also look for other writers originating from Kassel. Architecture, such as Wilhelmshoeh. We'll read the Hildebrandslied, then move quickly through the centuries for other works produced in Kassel.

Please regularly consult: Literarischer Führer durch die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, herausgegeben von F. und G. Oberhauser. Frankfurt a. M.: Insel Verlag, 1974.  PT163.L57 -you can read it only in the reference room and cannot check it out.

B: Write a brief critical summary of the discussion in class, your own understanding of the texts, and work with the new words learned in class. Please write a sentence for each new word. Submit every 2nd week, a total of 7 for the entire semester. 30% (ca. 800-1000 words each). In German, of course. This should be like a running journal focused on the literary texts. I will not pay too much attention to grammar or orthography, but to content and comprehension.
C: 1 Mid-term 20%: essay questions
D: 1 Final 30%: essay questions
E: Extra credit:  tba

Graduate Students: I expect you to do the same work as all other students, but your term paper (instead of B) must be on a higher level, ca. 2500 words, engage with at least 4 outside sources. Please focus on one of the major texts discussed in class, formulate a thesis about it, and develop your arguments, reflecting on the current research. In German, of course. You ought to familiarize yourself with the various literary histories and draw your information from there, emphasizing, for instance, what the different approaches might be.


Although it is assumed that you will attend all class sessions, you are informed hereby that excessive absences will have consequences: More than three unexcused absences lead to a drop of one grade in this course, and more than five unexcused absences will lead to an automatic grade of E (failing). If justified circumstances prevent you from attending, please inform me in writing either before or after the event, and provide satisfactory documentation (e.g., doctor’s note).

Please treat each other with respect and tolerance. People do have different views and opinions, but all these can only contribute to the rich learning experience I hope you all will have in this class. You are strongly encouraged to participate in class as much as possible. The two class meetings per week will only be of profit for you if you respond to my questions and those of your classmates, and contribute on your own as often as possible.

For information on the University of Arizona Policy on Threatening Behavior by Students, click on this link.

- CELL PHONES: You are not allowed to have your cell phones on during class because a ringing will disturb everyone strongly. Either turn them off or mute them. All other electronic gadgets not pertinent to this class must also be off.

SPECIAL NEEDS: Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations to participate fully in course activities or meet course requirements must register with the Disability Resource Center. ( Students need to submit appropriate documentation to the instructor if they are requesting reasonable accommodations.

If you use secondary material for your papers, make sure that you indicate clearly where you took it from. Plagiarism and cheating violate the Code of Academic Integrity. For further information, see:

Do not ever copy from the work produced by your classmates or by other students who might have taken this course in previous semesters. If you receive help in writing your papers, make sure that the final outcome still represents your own work. You can discuss your papers with your fellow students, but at the end they need to consist of your own ideas and words! Be advised that the Web is a great search tool, but never, never copy from there without identifying very clearly what you used. At this point the scholarly value of web-based material still is not totally reliable, and the chances that you might stumble upon a most dubious webpage with untrustworthy information are very high. When you quote from a secondary source, clearly identify the quote and tell the reader in a footnote where you quoted from. Every year more than 100 students at the UA are caught having committed the crime of plagiarism, resulting in penalties that could be as severe as expulsion from the University! You are smart enough not to copy from other people.

If there is any doubt in your mind whether you might commit plagiarism, see:


Plagiarism and the Web

If you commit plagiarism, you could either receive a 0 on your specific assignment, or an F for the entire course. Depending on the gravity of the case, you might even be expelled from the University. Every plagiarism case must be reported to the Head of my depart., to the head of your dept., and to the Dean of Students.

READING MATERIAL: We are going to use, among other sources, a webpage developed at the University of Helsinki which provides excellent cultural historical information and good text selections. Access is free. Deutsche Kulturgeschichte (ID: kultur; Password: radi)

And: A. Classen, Das deutsche Mittelalter in seinen Dichtungen. 4th rev. and expanded ed. 2009 (available from the bookstore: produced by Fast Copy)

Now available as a PDF

Deutsche Literaturepochen - Background information for each literary period

However, for each city, we will have additional links for the relevant texts. Each group ought to work with me in advance to prepare ourselves for the respective city.


Jan. 11: Introduction. 

Stellen Sie sich kurz vor und nennen Sie einen Text, den Sie bisher waehrend Ihres Studiums am liebsten gelesen haben. Schreiben Sie dies erst kurz auf, und dann hoeren wir, was jeder zu sagen hat. Beginnen Sie auch schon mit Ihrem Portfolio, indem Sie eine ganze Seite über sich selbst schreiben, ev. auch mit Photo. Rein biographisch, wie: geboren am, in, Eltern, Geschwister, Schule, Abschluss, Hobbies, Reiseerfahrungen, spezielle Interessen, Arbeitserfahrung, etc.

Zum Einstieg: Karlsruhe, wir lesen Johann Peter Hebels Kalendergeschichten (fassen Sie die Geschichte "Kannitverstan" zusammen und wechseln zu anderen Gruppen und erzählen die Geschichte nach. Dann "Der geheilte Patient")

Was wissen Sie über Karlsruhe, historisch, kunsthistorisch, literarisch, etc. Wer hat dort gelebt und gewirkt?

Jan. 16: Besuch in der Bibliothek; wir treffen uns in der Empfangshalle des Hauptgebäudes

Jan. 18: Alhochdeutsche Literatur in Fulda: Leben im Kloster (Youtube); Hildebrandslied (in meinem Textbuch)

Jan. 23: Hrabanus Maurus, etc., die karolingische Klosterreform, Benediktiner. Wir lesen weiter das Hildebrandslied

Fragen zum Hildebrandslied

Jan. 25: Kassel, Brüder Grimm. Das Grimm Museum in Kassel

Brüder Grimm, Märchen 

Jan. 30: 1st journal. Ueber die Maerchen. Marburg und die Grimm

Märchen: Waehlen Sie ein Maerchen aus, lesen Sie es zu Hause und praesentieren Sie es in der Klasse. Wir diskutieren dann gemeinsam, was es bedeutet.

Feb. 1 und 6: Heidelberg. Minnesang Mittelhochdeutsche TextauswahlManessische Liederhandschrift

Feb. 6:

Karoline von Günderrode

Feb. 8: Würzburg: Walther von der Vogelweide, Ruprecht von Würzburg (see in Verserzahlungen) The texts of Freidank and the Versmaeren (see under: Die getreue Kaufmannsfrau), Konrad von Würzburg (see my Textbuch under PDF, above)

Feb. 13: Fortsetzung mit Konrad

Mittelhochdeutsche Klassik - ein kurzer Ueberblick

Feb. 15: 2nd journal. Augsburg. Wir lesen: Brechts Ballade von Laotse, Liederbuch, Brecht: (Der Augsburger Kreidekreis): Bertolt Brecht: Text: An die Nachgeborenen.

Bertolt Brecht: Die Liebenden (1927). Bertolt Brecht: Text: An die Nachgeborenen.

Fragen zu Brechts "An die Nachgeborenen"

Brecht: Die Loesung

Feb. 20: weiter mit Brecht, "Laotse" und "Die Loesung"

Feb. 22: Berlin: Theodor Fontane, Balladen: Brücke am Tay

Feb. 27: Berlin:  Heinrich von Kleist. Wir lesen ein paar seiner Anekdoten, 1-5

März 1: 3rd journal; weiter mit Kleist (Klasse faellt aus; ich bin auf Reise; bitte benutzen Sie das Tagebuch und schreiben Sie eine Interpretation einer der Anekdoten (historisches Deutsch, zuerst etwas schwierig, aber die Kernaussage ist immer ganz einfach)

März 3-10: Frühjahrsferien

März 13 und 15: Journal 4Wien: Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach: Krambambuli

Interview mit Wissenschaftlerin Daniela Strigl (ab 33.55 Min.)


März 20: Aphorismen

März 22: Niki Pfeifer: Das Reh. Violante

Maerz: Vorbereitung auf das Mid-Term

März 27:  Mid-Term (Essay-Fragen).

April 3: Journal 5; und April 5: Breslau (heute: Wrocław) Barock; youtube video;  Gryphius (Text in meinem Textbuch)

April 10 und 12: Breslau: Silesius (in meinem Textbuch)

April 17 und 19: Journal 6 ist fällig am 17. Stuttgart (pdf). Weimar: Schiller, Balladen

April  24 und 26: Nünberg_Hans Sachs. Der Schüler vom Paradies (in der PDF-Fassung meines Textbuches), dazu Der schoene Brunnen "Schlaraffenland", Fastnachtspiele, Gedichte etc. Wir lesen nur: "Der Schuler vom Paradies" und "Schlaraffenland"

Mai 1: Journal 7; letzte Sitzung: Zusammenfassung, eine literarische Karte von Deutschland



Danke fuer Ihre gute Mitarbeit und Ihr fleissiges Studieren. Ich hoffe, es hat Ihnen Spass gemacht.


Web links:

Du bist min; Dietmar von Aist

The texts of Freidank and the Versmaeren

Die deutsche Literatur online: Bibliotheca Augustana

Kurt Kusenberg, "Nihilit" und "Wer ist Man?")

Bertolt Brecht: Die Liebenden (1927). Präsentation:  Bertolt Brecht: Text: An die Nachgeborenen.

Fragen zu Brechts "An die Nachgeborenen"

Brecht: Die Loesung

Augsburger Liederbuch Augsburger Liederbuch

Oswald von Wolkenstein, Kl. 18- youtube (Kl 85)


(Martin Luther - Einstieg). Frankfurt a. M.

95 Thesen im Original  95 Thesen in moderner Übersetzung

Martin Luther I                           Luther II        Luther III (Nation)

Luthers Leben, Wittenberg, Eisleben, Eisenach

Babylonische Gefangenschaft - Text

Luther - Reichstag - Text

Gnadenlehre, sola fide: Rechtfertigungslehre 1999


Goethe: Der Zauberlehrling: youtube Version auf Deutsch

Erlkönig; Schubert's version. Classic Period: Goethe: Der König in Thule; Heidenröslein. Goethe: Schuberts Version

Panopto Video

Ramstein: Rosenrot (video). Textversion

Take a look at the Fraktur print).

A Lessing und Toleranz 

Heinrich HeineDeutschland ein Wintermaerchen
Vortrag über Romantik; und Vortrag von  Heine: Die Grenadiere. Belsazar

Fragen zu Heine