German Studies 450

Course materials:

German 450: Construction of Identity: Time, History, and the Self 

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

Covid-19 guidelines per UoA

All UA policies pertaining to classes in one location. For my own specifics, see below.

CLASS MEETINGS: Modern Languages, Rm 506, Tu and Thu 3:30-4:45 p.m.

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 three novels, Michael Ende’s Momo, Bernhard Schlink’s Der Vorleser, and Patrick Suesskind’s Perfuem.

Student Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the semester,

1. students have gained a solid ability to read contemporary literature 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.


  • Face coverings are required in our classroom: Per UArizona’s Administrative Directive, face coverings that cover the nose, mouth, and chin are required to be worn in all learning spaces at the University of Arizona (e.g., in classrooms, laboratories and studios). Any student who violates this directive will be asked to immediately leave the learning space, and will be allowed to return only when they are wearing a face covering. Subsequent episodes of noncompliance will result in a Student Code of Conduct complaint being filed with the Dean of Students Office, which may result in sanctions being applied. The student will not be able to return to the learning space until the matter is resolved.

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 six times throughout the semester on D2L, always due on Fri, 4 p.m., under Assignments, ca. 300 words 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: 10%

D. 1 oral presentation: 10% (choose any topic that would be relevant for our current discussion, drawing from the text, expanding on the issue, ca. 10 min., in German. You can do a PPP, or speak freely, but you must engage the rest of the class in a discussion following your presentation).
E: 1 Final 20%: essay questions, on D2L: ca. 3 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:

Arizona Library page on how to avoid plagiarism.

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.

2. Patrick Suesskind, Perfüm (free online version)

3. Bernhard Schlink, Der Vorleser (free online version)

2. Die deutsche Geschichte im Mittelalter – online at:

(brauchen wir nicht dieses Semester)

3. Literaturgeschichte – knapper Ueberblick (fuer Hintergrund)

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):

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?”)


Aug. 24: Einführung, Kennenlernen, Kursplan. Dann: 1. Welche literarischen Texte haben Sie bisher gelesen? Sprechen Sie miteinander darueber. 2. Waren Sie schon einmal in einem deutschsprachigen Land? Wenn nicht, was waere Ihr Traumziel? 3. Welche Kurse haben Ihnen bisher am besten gefallen? Was haben Sie dort studiert? 4. Sie haben bestimmt ein Haustier; wenn nicht, was wuerden Sie gerne haben, order dann, welchen Sport order welche Musik lieben Sie? 5. Was ist besonders bemerkenswert an Tucson und Southern Arizona? Wie wuerden Sie dies einem deutschen Freund vorstellen?

Aug. 26: Die Geschichte der deutschen Literatur: Jeder uebernimmt eine Epoche und bietet eine kurze muendliche Einfuehrung

Aug. 31: Michael Ende: Momo: Einstieg, biographischer Hintergrund, seine anderen Werke? Bitte forschen Sie in bisschen. Ich werde Ihnen stets so ca. 8 Seiten pro Sitzung aufgeben, fuer heute: Kapitel 1-3.

Sept. 2: Momo: Kapitel 4-6

Sept. 3: Tagebuch 1, due at 5 p.m.

Sept. 7: Momo. 1. Vortrag. Wir schaffen heute wohl nur Kp. 5-6. Ichwerde den Syllabus bald anpassen, damit wir mehr Zeit fuer Momo haben. Kapitel 7-8; Chloe

Sept. 9: Momo, Kapitel 7-8

Sept. 14: Momo, Kapitel 8-10

Sept. 16: Momo. 11-12

Sept. 17: Tagebuch 2, due at 5 p.m.

Sept. 21: Momo, Kapitel 12-13; 2. Vortrag: Richard

Sept. 23: Momo: Kapitel  14-15

Sept. 24. Essay 1, due at 5 p.m.

Sept. 28: Momo: Kapitel 14-15

Sept. 30: Momo: Kapitel 16-17.

Oct. 1: Tagebuch 3, due at 5 p.m.

Oct. 5: Momo: Kapitel 18-19; 3. Vortrag:  Michael

Oct. 7: Momo: Kapitel 20-21. 4. Vortrag: Em

Oct. 12: Süsskind: Kap. 1-2

Oct. 14: Süsskind: Kap. 3-6

Oct. 15: Tagebuch 4, due at 5 p.m.

Oct. 19: Süskind: Kap. 7-9

Oct. 21: Süskind: Kap. 10-11. 5. Vortrag: Talitha

Oct. 26: Süskind: Kap. 12-14-15

Oct. 28: Süskind: Kap. 16-19

Nov. 2: Süskind: Kap. 20-24  6. Vortrag: Cody

Nov. 4: Sueskind: Kap. 25-29

Nov. 5: Tagebuch 5, due at 5 p.m.

Nov. 9: Sueskind: Kap. 30-32. 7. Vortrag: Malaquias

Nov. 11: Sueskind: Kap.33-36

Nov. 16: Sueskind: Kap. 37-40

Nov. 17: Essay 2, due at 5 p.m.

Nov. 18: Sueskind: Kap. 41-43. Vortrag: Carlos

Nov. 23: Sueskind: Kap. 44-46: Vortrag Jonas

Nov. 25:Thanksgiving, no class; please read: Sueskind: Kap. 47-49.  9. Vortrag:

Nov. 30: Sueskind, Zusammenfassung von 47-49, Vortrag: Sarah.Kap. 50-51

Dec. 2: Exam, in class, Sie können Wörterbücher benützen

Dec. 4: 6. Tagebuch, 4 p.m.

Dec. 7: Abschlussdiskussion: moderne deutsche Literatur