GER 496C/596C

Spring 2023 

GER 496C - Capstone Course, and Ger 596C graduate course: German Culture and Literature from 800 to 2023

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

CLASS MEETINGS: Mo and Wed. 2-3:15 p.m.

Class ROOM: Mod. Lang. 201
OFFICE HOURS: Tu and Thu 10a.m.-11 a.m., and any other time after an appointment (but always feel free simply to stop by at my office, LSB 318)

Course Topic: Deutsche Kultur- und Literaturgeschichte: Gespiegelt in den Balladen

Course Goal: Development of an overview of the history of German culture, literature, and history from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-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.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of the semester,

1. students have gained a broad and solid overview of the history of German literature in its cultural and historical context

2. students have established a satisfactory comprehension of the political, physical, and cultural geography of the German speaking lands

3. students can differentiate between the various historical periods of German literature

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

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:


Please ignore the following section for Spring 2023 semester. I used that concept the last time, but now I have a new concept for you. I kept the narrative because I might want to use it next year again.

Again, this does not apply this semester: 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, food, animals, parks, museums, music, etc. You will create a journal entry for each city, collecting data pertaining to your own interest and reflecting on what the others have informed us about for each city. Every week or so you will give a brief presentation, contributing to the overall class discussion. Your journal should also contain brief references to the other information provided by the other groups. 

Alert: you will understandably use the online material you can find; you must, however, digest it and present it in your own words as much as possible. Do not simply copy, which would be plagiarism (see below)!

A. All the diverse aspects about Fulda (for instance), B. summary, written version about your poet, biography (if it was your turn). C: a summary and further elaboration of what we have done, studied, and learned in each class (most important). So, pay attention, please, to what the other students report, ask them back, and record this also in your journal. D.: write down new words and formulate sentences. Submit 5 times per semester

(both the oral presentations every week and the final product, your journal). 30%


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

16. Gesundheitswesen

In other words, one or two of you 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 some fairy tales, then move quickly through the centuries for other works produced in Kassel, if they exist.

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 area on the 3rd floor and cannot check it out.

Please make sure that you do not simply copy texts from the web for your portfolio. You must express yourself in your own words.

So, in short, this is your learning experience about a city, in all of its complexity. Summary of data; not the interpretation of the texts. That will be in Section B. So separate those two sections in your book.

SPRING 2023:

The Ballad and the History of German Literature

The ballad was a new literary genre since the late 18th century, and we will trace its development from then until today. The ballad is still a lyrical poem but it deals with historical and political events. This makes it possible for us to study not only the literary text but also the cultural-historical context.

A: Journal: 30% (for each class meeting, ca. 200-300 words, reflect on what we have discussed, use new phrases or words, formulate questions, and comment on what we have learned)
B: 1 Mid-term 25%: essay questions
C: 1 Final 25%: essay questions
D: 1 oral presentation on any of the poets, ca. 10 min., with a PPP, or a poster, or however you prefer it: 5%

E: Based on your oral presentation, develop a term project, ca. 5 pp. of biographical information, and interpretation, with some visuals if available. 15%: 1. biography, 2. works, 3. interpretation, 4. bibliography (ca. 10 titles, culled from the catalog, and drawing from our library holdings; no need to engage with those studies, but provide all relevant information: name, title (italics), city: publisher, year (for books), name, "title," journal title vol. (year): pp. You can also add illustrations or be creative in other ways. 

F: possibly Extra credit:  tba

Graduate Students: I expect you to do the same work as all other students, but your journal must be on a higher level and engage with at least 4 outside sources (scholarly articles) pertaining to one of the poets/texts (one article per month). In German, of course. You ought to familiarize yourself with the various literary histories and draw your information from there as well, 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 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 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).

Participating in the course and attending lectures and other course events are vital to the learning process. As such, attendance is required at all lectures and discussion section meetings. Absences may affect a student’s final course grade. If you anticipate being absent, are unexpectedly absent, or are unable to participate in class online activities, please contact me as soon as possible. To request a disability-related accommodation to this attendance policy, please contact the Disability Resource Center at (520) 621-3268 or If you are experiencing unexpected barriers to your success in your courses, the Dean of Students Office is a central support resource for all students and may be helpful. The Dean of Students Office is located in the Robert L. Nugent Building, room 100, or call 520-621-7057.

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/SmartPHONES: 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.I will do everything in my power to make it possible for you to participate fully in the class.

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.


For Spring 2023: Deutsche Balladen (Mittelalter bis ca. 1750) und  Deutsche Balladen (ca. 1800-1950). Bertolt Brecht (all the other sources are only additional)

4. Die deutsche Geschichte im Mittelalter - online at:

6. Literaturgeschichte - knapper Ueberblick

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

Deutsche Literaturepochen - Background information for each literary period

Die Geschichte der Deutschen: Sendungen des ZDF


DDR Literatur


As a replacement


Jan. 11: Introduction. What have you learned, what major texts have you studied so far? The Ballad as an ideal genre for our purposes, the capstone experience.

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, dann interviewen Sie die anderen im Seminar. Anschliessen hoeren wir, was jeder ueber die anderen zu sagen hat. Hausaufgabe: Beginnen Sie auch schon mit Ihrem Journal/Tagebuch, 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. 

Was ist ihre Lieblingsstadt in den deutschsprachigen Laendern? Wo sind Sie schon einmal gewesen? Was war besonders an der Stadt? Wenn Sie noch nicht in D oder A gewesen sind, welche Stadt wuerden Sie gerne besuchen?

Jan. 18: Besuch in der Bibliothek; wir treffen uns in der Empfangshalle des Hauptgebäudes: Literaturgeschichten, Bibliographien, Lexika, Enzyklopaedien etc.

Jan. 23: Deutsche Literaturgeschichte (link oben). Jeder waehlt eine Epoche, einen Autor, ein Werk dieses Autors und praesentiert im Seminar

Wir fangen an mit 3 Balladen, die das Motiv der Seejungfrau betreffen: 

Goethe: Der Fischer (1778), Gottfried Keller: Seemaerchen (ca. 1854), Kurt Schwitter: Die Nixe (1942)

Jan. 25: Ihre Power Point Presentationen. Dann: Goethe: Der Fischer  Dazu ein Video, Vertonung von Franz Schubert. Fragen zur Ballade (nicht dieses Semester: Heute beginnen wir mit unserer Staedtereise, im noerdlichen Hessen. Was wissen Sie ueber Kassel und die Brüder Grimm. Das Grimm Museum in KasselMärchen: Waehlen Sie ein Maerchen aus, lesen Sie es zu Hause und praesentieren Sie es in der Klasse. Wir diskutieren dann gemeinsam, was es bedeutet.)

(Nicht dieses Semester: Wir lesen: Marchen I, Märchen)

Jan. 30: Aenderung: fuer heute: Goethe: Der Fischer (1778) (Nicht: Weiter mit den Maerchen. 1st journal is due (faellig, 5 p.m.). Ueber die Maerchen. Marburg und die Grimm


Feb. 01: Zuerst Abschlussdiskussion zu Goethes Ballade. Dann lesen wir Keller. Fragen zur Ballade  (Nicht: Fokus: Marburg. Noch einmal ein Märchen: Der Wolf und die sieben Geißlein.

Video ueber Marburg

Feb. 06: Fuer heute lesen wir: Kurt Schwitter: Die Nixe

(Nicht: Fokus: Innsbruck: Presentations. Then we look at the Ambraser Heldenbuch online and then read about it: Ambraser HeldenbuchFor today, select one of the writers or texts contained in the Ambraser and make a short presentation (dates, works, importance, maybe content of one of the stories)

Feb. 08: Hildebrandslied Mittelalterliche _Dichter und Autoren: Fragebogen

Ambraser Heldenbuch

Feb. 13: Hildebrandslied ("Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen ( Text und Vortrag (einstimmig). Vierstimmig; Komposition von J. S. Bach.

Feb. 15: Das Juengere Hildebrandslied (Heidelberg. Berichte. Dann: Minnesang Mittelhochdeutsche Textauswahl:Wir lesen nur:  Kurenberger

 Manessische Liederhandschrift (video)

Digitale Version

"Ich hab mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren" (Text); Heino)

Feb. 20: Das Juengere Hildebrandslied (Nein: Karoline von Gunderrode  Karoline von Günderrode)

Feb. 22: Bürger: Leonore2nd journal  (5 p.m.)

Feb. 27: weiter mit Bürger  

March 01: Goethe: Erlkoenig

March 04 to 12: Spring break

March 13: Friedrich Schiller: Der Handschuh

März 15: Schiller: Die Kraniche des Ibykus

3rd journal (5 p.m.)

(nicht dieses Semester: Fokus: Wien, and: Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach: Krambambuli)

(nicht dieses Semester: Aphorismen Modernere Schrift)

März 20: Schiller: Der Ring des Polykrates 

März 22: Goethe: Der Zauberlehrling 

März 27: Goethe, Der Zauberlehrling 

März 29 Mid-Term: Einfach wie ueblich: ein paar Essay-Fragen zu unseren Texten, die wir bisher gelesen haben. 

April 03: Heinrich Heine: Belsazar 

(nicht dieses Semester:

 April 05: Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Der Knabe im Moor 

April 10: Theodor Fontane, Balladen: Brücke am Tay

Andere Version zum Mitlesen

April 12: weiter mit  Brücke am Tay und Anastasius Gruen: Der Brautkuss; Journal 4 (5 p.m.)

April 17: Theodor Fontane: Herr Ribbeck und Die Fuesse im Feuer

April 19: Brecht:  LegendeBrechts Ballade von Laotse (Nicht dieses Semester: Nuernberg - video (Bilder, Musik, kein Sprecher

April  24: Brecht: Fragen zu Brechts "An die Nachgeborenen"

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

April 26: Brecht: Die Lösung

(nicht dieses Semester Werbefilm über Nürnberg (mit Ton)

Mai 01: Wolf Biermann, Der preussische Ikarus (nicht: Hans Magnus Enzensberger) Journal 5 (5 p.m.)

YouTube version

Mai 3: Letzter Tag

Strukturieren Sie Ihr take-home folgendermassen: Praesentieren Sie kurz 5 Staedte: 40 Pkte (Themenspektrum, Geographie, Geschichte etc.); stellen Sie stets 2 Dichter von dort vor (Werke, wichtige Aussagen, Gattungen, etc.), insgesamt also 10 Namen und Kurzbiographien: 40 Pkte; waehlen Sie 4 Literaturepochen und charakterisieren Sie sie: 20 Pkte. Hierbei wichtig, dass Sie jedesmal zwei Dichter in die jeweilige Epoche eingliedern (das koennen such die selben sein wie oben.

(nicht dieses Semester: Zusammenfassung, eine literarische Karte von Deutschland)


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 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

Maerz: Vorbereitung auf das Mid-Term (not updated)

Althochdeutsche Literatur in Fulda: Leben im Kloster (Youtube); Hildebrandslied (in meinem Textbuch)

Fulda Stadt VideoHrabanus Maurus, etc., die karolingische Klosterreform, Benediktiner. Wir lesen weiter das Hildebrandslied

Fragen zum Hildebrandslied

Karlsruhe: Karlsruhe, wir lesen Johann Peter Hebels Kalendergeschichten -  beantworten Sie die Fragen im google doc.

Walther von der Vogelweide: "Under der linden"  und "Ich saz uf eime steine" (im Textbuch). Würzburg

Balladen (Liste) Balladen (Texte)

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)

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

Fragen zu Brechts "An die Nachgeborenen"

Brecht: Die Loesung

Weiter mit Brecht, "Laotse" und "Die Loesung" (unter: Balladen)

Kleist-Handbuch : Leben, Werk, Wirkung / herausgegeben von Ingo Breuer.

oder Peter Nusser, Deutsche Literaturgeschichte,  PT85 .N87 2012  v.2 .

Celan, Todesfuge. Interview mit Thomas Sparr, 2020