German Studies 450

German 450: Construction of Identity 

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

CLASS MEETINGS: Online, via chatrooms and zoom
OFFICE HOURS: Mo and We 11a.m.-12 p.m., and any other time after an appointment (but always feel free simply to stop by at my office, LSB 318) (in the online version: via email, chat, FB, zoom, or skype)

Course Topic: Deutsche Sprache, Kultur- und Literaturgeschichte

Course Goal: This is a course where we take into view many different aspects of German culture, literature, language, history, and politics. We focus, however, on one novel, Michael Ende's Momo, and branch out from there. Normally, this course is taught on site in Leipzig during the Summer. This version, however, takes place online due to the COVID-19 crisis in 2020.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of the semester,

1. students have gained a solid ability to read a whole novel in German

2. students have gained a general insight into modern cultural issues in Germany

3. students have acquired the ability to navigate through a literary text 

4. students have achieved the ability to reflect orally and in writing, both in German, on the various topics covered in the course

5. students have improved their language skills in writing, grammar, speaking, and listening

6. students have developed a good understanding of the political structure of present-day Germany.

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 (

Accessibility and Accommodations
At the University of Arizona, we strive to make learning experiences as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience barriers based on disability or pregnancy, please contact the Disability Resource Center (520-621-3268, to establish reasonable accommodations.  

For future majors/minors:


A: Journal: 30% (summarize every one of our sessions in free writing, in German), submit once a week on D2L, always due on Fri, 4 p.m., under Assignments, ca. 4 pp. each week
B: 2 essays, 15% each, for a total of 30%, on D2L: I'll give you questions, ca. 4 or 5, each answer ca. half a page
C. Regular and active participation in the chatroom meetings (2 per week): 20%
D: 1 Final 20%: essay questions, on D2L: ca. 4 pp.


Although it is assumed that you will attend all class sessions, you are informed hereby that excessive absences will have consequences: More than two unexcused absences lead to a drop of one grade in this course, and more than four unexcused absences will lead to an automatic grade of (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).


  • Classroom attendance: 
  • If you feel sick, or may have been in contact with someone who is infectious, stay home. Except for seeking medical care, avoid contact with others and do not travel. 
  • Notify your instructor(s) if you will be missing a course meeting or an assignment deadline.  
  • Non-attendance for any reason does not guarantee an automatic extension of due date or rescheduling of examinations/assessments.   
      • Please communicate and coordinate any request directly with your instructor.  
    • If you must miss the equivalent of more than one week of class, you should contact the Dean of Students Office to share documentation about the challenges you are facing.
  • Life challenges: If you are experiencing unexpected barriers to your success in your courses, please note the Dean of Students Office is a central support resource for all students and may be helpful. The Dean of Students Office can be reached at (520) 621-2057 or
  • Physical and mental-health challenges: If you are facing physical or mental health challenges this semester, please note that Campus Health provides quality medical and mental health care. For medical appointments, call (520) 621-9202. For After Hours care, call (520) 570-7898. For the Counseling & Psych Services (CAPS) 24/7 hotline, call (520) 621-3334. 


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.

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.


1. Michael Ende: Momo (purchase via, used book stores, ebay, etc.), free of charge as a PDF here; and, more secure, here)

2. Die deutsche Geschichte im Mittelalter - online at:

3. Literaturgeschichte - knapper Ueberblick

4. A. Classen, Das deutsche Mittelalter in seinen Dichtungen. 4th rev. and expanded ed. 2009. Now available free of charge as a PDF

For background: see Deutsche Literaturepochen - Background information for each literary period


DDR Literatur

Politisches System

Reise nach Deutschland


Patrick Süßkind, Parfüm

Bernhard Schlinck, Der Vorleser. Alternativ

Schedule (always on chat or zoom):

June 8: Momo, Kp. 1; Einfuehrung: Deutschland

June 11: Momo, Kp. 2-4; journal due on June 12, Friday, at 4 p.m. (follow this pattern, every Fri); polit. System: Bundesregierung

June 16: Momo, Kp. 5-7; polit. System: Bundeskanzler/in

June 18: Momo, Kp. 8-10; Essay 1; polit. System: Bundestag. Journal 1

June 23: Momo, Kp. 11-12; polit. System: politische Parteien

June 25: Momo, Kp. 13-14; Journal2 (4 p.m.). polit. System: Bundeslaender

June 30: Momo, Kp. 15-17; polit. System:Wahlsystem

July 2: Momo, Kp. 18-19; Journal 3 (4 p.m.) and Essay 2; polit. System: 

July 7: Momo, Kp. 20-21; polit. System: Koalition

July 8 (alert, one day earlier than normal): Journal 4 (4 p.m.). End of class: vielleicht bleiben wir aber bei Momo. Till Eulenspiegel (in meinem Textbuch, unter PDF, siehe oben). Final will be due on July 9, 12 p.m.



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


Student Learning Outcomes; By the end of the semester, students will be able to engage critically with the history of German literature and culture, will know a solid selection of critical texts from the Middle Ages to the present, and will have acquired the skill to write about the crucial issues in solidly researched papers in German.

Web links:

Du bist minDietmar von Aist

The texts of Freidank and the Versmaeren

Die deutsche Literatur online: Bibliotheca Augustana

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