Ger 508 Approaches to German Studies

Course materials:

Syllabus Fall 2014

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

CLASS MEETINGS: LSB 346, TT 4:00-5:15 p.m..


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)

Course Objectives:

We will study a variety of critical approaches to literary studies as they pertain to German Studies, and we’ll look at a variety of methodological concepts. The goal is to familiarize you with the fundamental approaches to the theoretical discourse and thus to prepare you for all other graduate courses. We will hopefully welcome some of the other faculty members and learn from their research strategies and contents. At the same time we will look at a wide-ranging sample of poetry from the Middle Ages to the present to illustrate how we can apply theoretical positions to our own reading.

A. 1 Oral presentation on a theoretical concept relevant in literary studies: 30% (mostly individually, in exceptions in a group of two). Basically, walk us through one of the chapters in Geisenhanslueke’s book
B: 1 written paper (term paper) focusing on one text, or the works of one poet, i.e., an interpretation, with solid scholarly apparatus, engage with at least 6 outside sources, at least 3 in German): 30%: ca. 10 pp., or 8000 words (with careful reflection of relevant scholarship). You are asked to integrate some of the theoretical reflections that we’ll discuss in class. Most important: demonstrate in your paper that you have truly engaged with most recent scholarship. Please consult with your instructor about the outside sources! If you need to get items through ILL, please order them in good time. Due date: preferably within one month of your presentation, but absolutely final due date is Dec. 5 in my office! No electronic submission. Structure: Name, ID, Date, Word Count on top. Title, thesis statement, arguments, conclusion. Bibliography. At the bottom: sign that this is your own piece of work and that you did not receive outside help. 1.5 spacing, 1″ margins. Feel free to consult with instructor before you submit your paper.
C: comprehensive bibliography on a chosen topic (in consultation with instructor): 20% This can be the same topic as your term paper.
D: Active class participation, homework, text preparation: 10%
E: Library research paper: 10%


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.

See also:

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

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.

Particularly your library research and bibliographical work needs to be done by yourself as part of your learning experience.

Textbook: Achim Geisenhanslüke, Einführung in die Literaturtheorie, 6th ed., 2013

See the webpage for German cultural history:

READING MATERIAL: We are going to use 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 online: (gesprochene Texte)

Semester Plan (subject to change, particularly when colleagues will join us and present their own theoretical approach; we will then skip the section in the text book):

Aug. 26 and 28: Intro. and visit to the library; Geisenhanslueke 7-16 (Aug. 28: Literaturtheorie heute)

Sept. 2 and 4: Cont. with library research (Sept. 2, again, meet in the library); Geisenhanslueke 17-30: Aesthetic Theory. I will hand out questions for the library research paper due on 9-18

Sept. 9 and 11: Geisenhanslueke 30-35: Lukacs; Fruehes und hohes Mittelalter,  Walther von der Vogelweide: Der keiser als spieleman o.a.

Sept. 16 and 18: Library research paper is due in class on 9-16 (postponed to 9-23); Geisenhanslueke 36-41; Spaetes Mittelalter: Oswald von Wolkenstein

Sept. 23 and 25: Geisenhanslueke 42-50: Hermeneutics (Schleiermacher), Dilthey;  Renaissance: Ulrich von Hutten

Sept.30 and Oct. 2: Geisenhanslueke 50-57: Heidegger and Gadamer; Reformation: Martin Luther

Oct. 7 and 9 Geisenhanslueke 57-64: Rezeptionsaesthetik; Barock: Andreas Gryphius; Prof. Ecke is visiting on Oct. 9 (I’ll be out of town). Please summarize his presentation in writing and present his research approach in class next Tue.

Oct. 14 and 16: Geisenhanslueke 64-68 and 69-75: Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger; Anakreontik: Friedrich Hagedorn

Oct. 16: Focus on Baroque: study Hans Michael Moscherosch. We’ll meet at Special Collection for class.

Oct. 21 and 23:  Oct. 21: G. bis 73 (de Saussure), und Hagedorn; Oct. 23: Geisenhanslueke 75-80 and 80-85: Lacan, Althusser, Barthes, Genette;  Sturm und Drang: Gottfried August Buerger

Oct. 28 and 30: Geisenhanslueke 80-97 (Oct. 28) and 97-102 (Oct. 30): Barthes, Deleuze, Lyotard; Klassik: Friedrich Schiller

neu: Oct. 30: Geisenhanslueke90-95, 97-102.

Nov. 4 and 6:Geisenhanslueke  102-104 (Nov. 4; visit by Prof. Barbara Kosta) and 113-116 (Nov. 6): Kristeva, Paul de Man; Romantik: Clemens Brentano; Nov. 6: ; visit by Prof. Steven Martinson

Nov. 11: Veterans’ Day: no class

Nov. 13: Geisenhanslueke 125-132: Foucault; Realismus: Gottfried Keller

Nov. 18 and 20:Geisenhanslueke 135-141; Bourdieu, Luhmann; Visit by Prof. Chantelle Warner (11-18).; Expressionismus: Georg Heym

Comprehensive bibliography on your topic is due on 11-20: Section A: primary texts, with critical editions; B. Secondary Literature: 1. Monographs (ca. 8-10 titles); 2. Journal Articles. 3. Articles in Volumes; 4. Online sources, if any. In each section of B 2-3: at least: 20 titles. You are not expected to have read them all. This bibliog. will reflect your research capabilities.

You can write your paper on the same topic, but the bibliography must be more comprehensive, see above.

Nov. 25: Geisenhanslueke, Luhmann, and Expressionismus (28 is Thanksgiving)

Dec. 2: Geisenhanslueke 141-145: Medientheorie; Weimarer Republik: Karl Kraus, Nazi Era

Dec. 4: Geisenhanslueke 146-151: Nach der Theorie; Moderne (post 1945): Guenther Eich

Dec. 9: Visit by Prof. Gramling; Geisenhanslueke 151-159. Yoko Tawada. Absolute deadline for your term paper. But feel free until then to show me an intermediate progress of your paper so that I can help, correct in time, make suggestions, etc. You do not have to come up with a really new idea, but you need to defend a position and reflect on how various scholars have argued about.