Sonora Syllabus

Ger 430: Crossing Borders/Crossing Cultures. Fall 2012. University of Arizona

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

OFFICE HOURS: Tue and Thu 09:00 a.m.-10 a.m., and any other time after appointment (but always feel free simply to stop by at my office)

CLASSROOM: Mod. Lang. 405. Meeting Times: Tu and Thur 5-6:15 p.m.

This is an advanced German literature and culture course, and we will explore the topic together in a seminar style, using German only in our conversation, in all writing, in the exams, and in the oral reports. This course has as its objective the investigation of cross-cultural experiences from a German perspective, focusing on the early history of Sonora/Arizona. This will allow us to understand, first of all, why we need the knowledge of German for the study of American and German history, anthropology, literature, and theology. Secondly, we will also grasp what the true meaning of ‘Crossing Boarder’ was for German Jesuits who lived in the Sonoran Desert during the eighteenth century. Thirdly, this will shed important light on German Studies as an interdisciplinary field of studies.

German culture and literature have almost as much to do with the German-speaking countries as with the exchanges between those and the rest of the world. Whereas the focus of many advanced German culture and literature courses in the USA rests on the new experiences of a multicultural society in Germany, our course will deal with the experiences of eighteenth-century German writers who lived in the Pimería Alta, today Sonora and Arizona, and reported in extensive publications about their travels and life in the foreign world. In fact, their crossing of borders meant a tremendous widening of the perspectives for themselves and their readers. These Jesuit missionaries produced some of the most exciting intercultural documents that are of great significance for the early history of Arizona.

Everything will be available online through my electronic textbook Sonora: This will be a web-based advanced German Studies course. You can print out any material from this website, or you can read it online both at home and in the classroom. But keep in mind that all these materials are copyrighted. You have the permission as students in my class to download and use the materials for the purpose of this class only. Always have the text passages indicated on the syllabus with you on the day when listed. Read the text at home and be prepared to discuss it in class. Do not hesitate to ask questions.

All holidays or special events observed by organized religions will be honored for those students who show affiliation with that particular religion. Absences pre-approved by the UA Dean of Students (or Dean’s designee) will be honored.

STUDENT BEHAVIOR: The policy against plagiarism, etc., is in conformity with the Student Code of Academic Integrity: For policies against threatening behavior by students, see:

Students with special needs who are registered with the S.A.L.T. Center ( or the Disability Resource Center ( must submit appropriate documentation to the instructor if they are requesting special accommodations.

1. Active class participation, demonstrating your German language skills and comprehension of material: 10%,
2. One oral presentation (introduction of reading section, of a major figure, of a specific historical aspect): 20%. Always 2 students work together.
3. 3 essays: discuss the specific points and approaches by the individual writer with respect to his travel experience (with rewrite option): 30%, Choose any particular theme or motif dealt with by Och or Pfefferkorn, present it, discuss it, and reflect on it. Ca. 700 words. Please spell-check before you submit it (in hard copy, stapled) in class. You will be graded on content and form. You can rewrite your paper.
4. 2 in-class exams (essay questions): 20%: these questions address the major points raised by the Jesuit authors. As long as you have reviewed all that we have read, you will be just fine.
5. 1 final paper (ca. 4 pp., reflecting on the entire course reading material and discussions): You can use personal reflections, or rely more on scholarship, or on the primary documents, but you must reach a comprehensive summary: 20%


Aug. 21: Introduction: History of the Jesuit Order in Europe and the New World

Aug. 23

Aug. 28: Continue reading the article on the Jesuits: Work on sections 1-7: Who were the Jesuits, what did they do

Aug. 30: Historische Einfuehrung: (read sections 1-6 at home)

Sept. 4: Historische Einfuehrung

Sept. 6: Joseph Och Ch. 1 and Ch. 2;

Sept. 11: Joseph Och Ch. 3; 1st presentation

Sept. 13: Joseph Och Ch. 2-3

Sept. 18: Joseph Och Ch. 4: see assignment, work at home (no class)

Sept.20: Joseph Och Ch. 5; 2nd presentation

Sept. 25: Och, Ch. 5

Sept. 27: Joseph Och Ch. 6;

Oct. 2: 1st essay due; Joseph Och Ch. 7 and 8; 3rd presentation

Oct. 4: 1st exam

Oct. 9: Joseph Och Ch. 9 and 10;

Oct. 11:Joseph Och Ch. 10: Class will be substituted on Oct. 15, 6 p.m., room tba (I’ll attend a conference in Co)

Oct. 16: Joseph Och Ch. 11 and 12

Oct. 18::2nd essay due, Joseph Och Ch. 13 and 14

Oct. 23:Joseph Och Ch. 15; 5th presentation:

Oct. 25: Excursion to Special Collections, UoA Main Library

Oct. 30: Stoecklein 1-4

Nov. 1: Stoecklein 5-8;  6th presentation:

Nov. 6: 3rd essay due; Och Ch. 14

Nov. 8: Och Ch. 15

Nov. 13: Ignaz Pfefferkorn A; 7th presentation:

Nov. 15: 8th presentations: Pfefferkorn: A weiter

Nov. 17: Excursion to San Xavier del Ba: Please plan extra time, travel down there takes ca. 20 minute

Nov. 20: No class, replaced with the Excursion on the previous Sat.

Nov. 22: No class, Thanksgiving Day

Nov. 27: Ignaz Pfefferkorn B;  9th presentation

Dec. 29: 2nd in-class exam

Dec. 4: Karl May, Der Oelprinz (1892-1893); Ignaz Pfefferkorn C. Last Day of class.


Dec. 7: : final paper is due in my mail box (LSB 301): 5 p.m.

Dec. 11: Last day for a review of your final grade in a possible case of a discrepancy.

Possible changes: The information contained in this course syllabus, other than the grading and absence policies, may be subject to change with reasonable advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.