German Studies

Karen Remmler, Chair

Dominique Rampton, Academic Department Coordinator


103 Ciruti Center
413-538-2294
https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/german

Overview and Contact Information

The Department of German Studies offers a program that promotes an understanding of the connections between language and its larger cultural contexts worldwide. We prepare students for diverse career paths in today’s globalized world by integrating curricular innovation, experiential opportunities, and learning abroad. Our seminars at all levels facilitate transcultural competence, so that our graduates gain a deeper grasp of their own languages and cultures and a much more substantive level of self-awareness of their own traditions and values.

Language learning in our program emphasizes at all levels the interrelationship between target language and culture and native language and culture; self and community; curriculum and career. We also consistently explore the global interconnections between German and European cultures. We provide opportunities for students to integrate their interest in other subjects with material in our upper-intermediate and advanced-level courses. Furthermore, we encourage our students to seek experiential learning by participating in our exchange with the University of Leipzig, as well as the Berlin School of Economics and Law, and to combine study with internship experience(s).

Following the credo of Mary Lyon, the department has a proud tradition of connecting its rigorous curricular program with career exploration opportunities for students. We have built an alumnae network to provide current students with assistance when searching for internships or employment either in the U.S. or internationally. Many of these alumnae continued their studies in German and other fields at the most renowned graduate and professional schools in the United States and abroad. Finally, we provide students with support as they apply for internship(s) in German-speaking countries in such fields as science, business, politics, journalism, film, and the arts—to name but a few—as well as study and research and opportunities, as well as teaching fellowships abroad.

German studies majors graduating from Mount Holyoke College have used the analytical, cultural, and linguistic competence they acquired to pursue a wide range of careers in banking, business, education, government, international affairs, journalism, law, medicine, publishing, radio and television broadcasting, and the sciences.

All department members have Ph.D. training in interdisciplinary German studies and participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs. Our courses, therefore, contribute to such programs as critical social thought, film studies, gender studies, and Jewish studies. We strongly recommend that students take courses in other fields related to German and European cultures.

Our entire curriculum, then, supports the study of the German language within its European and global cultural and historical contexts and is adapted to the individual student’s learning style. To facilitate such learning, the department has proved a pioneer in creatively employing the use of technology throughout its curriculum, from elementary courses to advanced seminars. In addition, all our courses focus on developing critical reading, speaking, and writing skills and global competencies in line with the overall learning goals of Mount Holyoke College.

Class time focuses on interpersonal communication among students and with the instructor, and among students and German or near-native peer assistants. From the beginning, students learn strategies for understanding German speakers in a variety of contexts, on many levels, and in diverse situations. When selecting course content materials, we focus on our students’ goals in studying German. In weekly conversation sessions, German or near-native peer assistants provide opportunities for small-group informal conversations. 

Most courses are conducted in German, except first-year seminars, GRMST-205, and GRMST-231. However, students in these courses may receive credit toward the German studies major or minor by enrolling in a related independent study (GRMST-295).

The major in German studies, therefore, integrates learning inside and outside the classroom, the development of language skills with the study of the social, economic, and cultural developments in the German-speaking countries, in the past and present and within a larger transnational context.

The department also encourages students who are studying German or have an interest in Germany to apply to live in the German Language Living Learning Community in order to practice or improve their German while deepening their knowledge of the history and culture of the German-speaking countries. In addition, students have opportunities to interact with German faculty, take part in discussions with guest lecturers, and may also co-host events with the German Club.

Study and Internships Abroad in German-Speaking Countries

A junior year or semester, as well as summer programs and internships in Germany, is open to both majors and non-majors. To be appropriately prepared for study in Germany, students who wish to participate are required to have studied  German continuously, at least one course taught in German each semester, during their first and second years. Majors spending their junior year in a German-speaking country with a program approved by the department and the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives normally satisfy some of the minimum requirements of their major while abroad. By completing appropriate course work, including written work, students majoring in German may transfer the equivalent of one course per semester at the 300 level and additional credits at the 200 level. Minors spending the junior year in a German-speaking country with a program approved by the department and the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives may bring back the equivalent of one course at the 300 level and one course at the 200 level. Upon their return, students are required to participate in at least one course per semester in the department so that faculty can evaluate them based on work done in the senior year when writing recommendations for graduate school or employment opportunities.

The department has an exchange program with the University of Leipzig. In addition, the department participates in the College’s exchange with the Berlin School of Economics and Law. The department encourages students to apply for DAAD scholarships to help finance study abroad in Germany and DAAD RISE internships (for students in STEM fields). The chair and other faculty will assist each student with selecting an individually appropriate opportunities. See the department’s study abroad webpage for more details. Our students frequently spend time abroad, either in their junior year or in the summer. They also take advantage of diverse internship opportunities at German investment banks or brokerage firms, science laboratories, hospitals, newspapers, intercultural agencies, schools, radio and television stations, museums, libraries, archives, and other places of professional interest to them.

Our graduating seniors have consistently been awarded such highly regarded national and international graduate fellowships as DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), Fulbright, PAD (Pädagogischer Austauschdienst), Congress/Bundestag Fellowship for Young Professionals, Bundestag Internship Program (Internationale Parlaments- Praktika Internship Programm), CDS Emigré Parliamentary/Cultural Vistas Internships, and internships with the European Union.

Faculty

This area of study is administered by the Department of German Studies:

Karen Remmler, Professor of German Studies

Mark Lauer, Senior Lecturer in German Studies

Donna Van Handle, Senior Lecturer in German Studies

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 32 credits:

20 credits beyond GRMST-115 drawn from these or other upper-level courses:20
Intermediate German
Europe on the Edge: Introduction to European Studies
Lesen, Schreiben, Sprechen
German Culture Today
Topics in German Studies 1
Topics in German and European Studies in a Global Context 1
Three additional courses (12 credits), taught in German, at the 300 level including: 2,312
Senior Capstone Seminar (completed during the fall semester of senior year)
Total Credits32

Additional Specifications

  • A maximum of 8 credits toward the major may include courses taught in English, such as GRMST-231 or, with permission of the department, other cross-listed topics courses at the 200 or 300 level.

  • As culture is constructed and expressed through language, students are expected to conduct their work in the department and as much work as possible outside the department, in the German language. The major in German studies is intended to provide a focused concentration in the language and culture of the German-speaking countries within transnational European contexts. Students achieve an advanced level of translingual and transcultural competence.

  • Students’ trajectory towards completing the requirements for the German major is based on their level of language proficiency when they enter Mount Holyoke. Individual course selection is to be coordinated with the chair or departmental advisor. 

  • In conjunction with their advisors, students plan an individualized program of study suited to their interests and backgrounds. To ensure breadth of background and context, we strongly encourage students to include at least one pre-twentieth century course and to complement their German Studies major with a second major, minor, Nexus, or Five College certificate. Students may focus on a specific topic, period, or century. Courses focusing on German and/or European culture and taught in other departments or programs may be selected from such fields as anthropology, art, critical social thought, economics, environmental studies, film studies, gender studies, history, history of science, international relations, Jewish studies, music, politics, philosophy, psychology, religious studies, sociology, and theatre arts.

The minor in German studies is intended to provide a focused introduction to the language and culture of German-speaking countries within a larger transnational context. Students achieve a basic level of trans-lingual and transcultural competence.

Requirements for the Minor

A minimum of 16 credits:

GRMST-205Europe on the Edge: Introduction to European Studies4
At least one 4-credit course at the 300 level in the Department of German Studies4
Two additional 4-credit courses in German Studies beyond GRMST-115:8
The first must be taught in German beyond the 100 level.
The second may include any of the following: 1
GRMST-201, 221, 223 (4 credits, taught in German) 2
GRMST-215 (2 credits, taught in German)
GRMST-230, 231 (4 credits, taught in English)
Or an additional course at the 300-level
Total Credits16

Teacher Licensure

Students interested in pursuing licensure in the field of German studies can combine their course work with a minor in education. In some instances, coursework in the major coincides with coursework required for licensure; in other cases, it does not. For more information, please consult your advisor, the chair of the German studies department, information in the catalog on the minor in education and teacher licensure, or the program's website.

Licensure also requires a formal application as well as passing scores on the Massachusetts Test of Educator Licensure (MTEL) in both the literacy component and the subject matter component. Copies of the test objectives for the MTEL are available in the Department of Psychology and Education.

Additional information about the Licensure Program, including application materials, can be found on the Teacher Licensure Program website.

Course Advice

GRMST-231 and GRMST-331 satisfy the Humanities distribution requirement. It may also be possible to count these courses toward the German major or minor with permission of the department.

Courses that satisfy the College language requirement only are designated as such. Other courses can satisfy either the language requirement or fulfill a Humanities distribution requirement.

Advice for New Students

First-Year Seminars offered by German Studies faculty and GRMST-231 are writing-intensive courses taught in English. Both courses are open to first-year students.

Placement in German Courses

The Department of German Studies will review the course selection of all entering students, taking into consideration school and AP records together with the results of the placement exam and answers to the questionnaire at http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/german/german-placement-exam.

All students with prior knowledge of German who plan to elect German in either semester must complete this questionnaire carefully. Final course placement will be based on the following considerations: the student’s specific training in German, the results of the student’s online placement exam, and scheduling possibilities. Students should take the online placement exam prior to registration, if possible.

Students in Groups II–IV, as described below, are required to complete the online questionnaire. Students may choose their courses according to the following guidelines, but all students are encouraged to consult with the chair of the department during the summer or upon arrival on campus. Email: kremmler@mtholyoke.edu

  • Group I: Students with no previous training in German, or with the equivalent of one year of study at the secondary school level, should elect GRMST-101 in the fall, or GRMST-103 in the spring. GRMST-101 and GRMST-102 constitute a yearlong Elementary German course; GRMST-103 is an intensive course that covers two semesters (one year) in one semester.
  • Group II: Students who have studied German for more than one year but for fewer than four years, or who feel they need a comprehensive review of grammar, should elect  GRMST-201. Students entering in the spring who have studied German for one or two years may choose GRMST-102 in consultation with the chair.
  • Group III: Students with three or four years of study in German should ordinarily elect GRMST-221. Students with four or more years of German or extensive experience living in a German-speaking country or speaking German should ordinarily elect GRMST-223 based on the results of the placement exam.
  • Group IV: Other students with previous training in German should consult with the department chair (kremmler@mtholyoke.edu) during the summer or in September for individual placement or enroll in GRMST-223.

All students contemplating spending all or part of their junior year in Germany should elect German in the first semester of their first year, since two continuous years of German in college are normally required for junior year programs in Germany.

Course Offerings

German Studies Courses

GRMST-101 Elementary German

Fall. Credits: 4

This course introduces speaking, reading, and writing German. Cultural and literary readings together with frequent use of video and other online resources dealing with everyday situations and experiences in the German-speaking countries sensitize students to the cultural context in which the language is used. Weekly conversation sessions with a German language assistant supplement class work.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
M. Lauer, D. Van Handle
Coreq: GRMST-101L.
Notes: Requires conversation session (50 minutes). Labs will begin the week after classes start.

GRMST-102 Elementary German

Spring. Credits: 4

Continuation of the elementary German course; practice in speaking, reading, and writing German. Cultural and literary readings together with frequent use of online resources dealing with everyday situations and experiences in the German-speaking countries sensitize students to the cultural context in which the language is used. Weekly conversation sessions with a German language assistant supplement class work.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
M. Lauer, D. Van Handle
Prereq: GRMST-101, or see department for placement. Coreq: GRMST-102L.
Advisory: See department for placement if you have not taken German 101 at Mount Holyoke College
Notes: Requires conversation session (50 minutes). Labs will begin the week after classes start.

GRMST-103 Intensive Elementary German

Spring. Credits: 8

Two semesters in one. Practice in speaking, reading, and writing German. Cultural and literary readings together with frequent use of online resources dealing with everyday situations and experiences in the German-speaking countries sensitize students to the cultural context in which the language is used. Weekly conversation sessions with German language assistant supplement class work.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
M. Lauer

GRMST-115 German for Internships and Research

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 2

For students who wish to acquire a working knowledge of German to prepare for an internship or research in a German-speaking country. Some knowledge of German affords students access to better placements in internships, especially DAAD RISE summer internships (http://www.daad.de/rise/en/rise-germany/) sponsored and supported by the German government. Focus on vocabulary and structures used when interacting with German speakers in specific cultural contexts or discipline-specific situations. Help with applications and resumes, along with presentations and staff from the CDC, McCulloch Center, and Alumnae Association.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
D. Van Handle

GRMST-201 Intermediate German

Fall. Credits: 4

This course emphasizes further development of contextual reading, writing, and speaking skills in German. Focus on strategies that help students learn vocabulary and use grammatical structures in appropriate ways. Discussion of a variety of texts and genres, as well as exploration of topics such as immigration and social justice. Frequent writing assignments and speaking opportunities.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
M. Lauer
Advisory: It is recommended that students have taken GRMST-101, GRMST-102, or GRMST-103, or the equivalent.

GRMST-205 Europe on the Edge: Introduction to European Studies

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Europe embodies crossroads of multiple cultures, memories, migrations, and political demarcations. Taking a critical view of conventional paradigms of European nation states and "master" narratives, we study shifting European cultures and identities through multiple perspectives across time and space. What remains of the ancient and modern regimes? How have global movements, historical upheavals, and shifting boundaries within and adjacent to European borders from early empires to contemporary global networks affected the transformation of lives? Where is Europe heading today? Faculty from across the disciplines will join us to discuss Europe as a subject of global imagination and networks.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
K. Remmler
Notes: This course is designed for students eager to expand their knowledge of globalization, cultural politics, identity formation, and critical social thought. Students are encouraged to combine this course with the study of one or more European languages and cultures, International Relations, film and media studies, translation studies, or other courses dedicated to transnational perspectives.

GRMST-215 Lesen, Schreiben, Sprechen

Spring. Credits: 2

Intensive practice in reading, writing, and speaking German. Students will write short essays on topics of their choosing, in addition to application letters and a sample resumé for an internship or job in Germany. We will focus also on developing reading strategies and on improving students' ability to converse colloquially, idiomatically, and formally in German. Readings on popular culture, music, as well as current political, social, cultural, historical, and economic issues in the German-speaking world, reflecting student interest and academic focus. Students engage in a variety of speaking activities such as presentations, role-playing and simulations, pair work, and group discussions.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
M. Lauer
Advisory: GRMST-201 or equivalent recommended,
Notes: Students in German Studies 221 or 223 are strongly encouraged to enroll in German Studies 215 or 216 for additional language practice and review.

GRMST-221 German Culture Today

GRMST-221SH German Culture Today: 'Stories and Histories'

Spring. Credits: 4

This course examines historical, cultural, and political developments that continue to frame debates about the twentieth century, World War II, the former GDR, and German unification. Thematic focus helps students develop accuracy, fluency, and complexity of expression. Reading, writing, and speaking are consistently integrated. Special emphasis is placed on text organization toward expanding students' language abilities, with a gradual movement from personal forms of expression to written and public discourse.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
M. Lauer
Advisory: Previous study of German, normally equivalent to 3 semesters of college German, or 3 or more years of high school German recommended.
Notes: Taught in German.

GRMST-223 Topics in German Studies

Topics in German Studies provide students with an intensive study of major themes, issues, and paradigm shifts in German cultural studies.

GRMST-223BR Topics in German Studies: 'Berlin: Cultural Memories, Identities, Spaces'

Fall. Credits: 4

Berlin provides a testing ground for understanding how space shapes memory and identity. Historic sites within the built environment of Berlin mark historical upheaval and reconciliation and the transformation of the periphery into productive sites of commerce and cultural exchange. Multiple historic and contemporary sites will serve as a point of departure to explore the emergence of multidimensional identities in today's Europe. We explore the history, design, function, construction, and, in some cases, destruction, of major historical sites in Berlin, such as the Berlin Wall, the Reichstag, the Museum Island, the Holocaust Memorial, and others through case studies, archival research, and visual media. Students have the option of creating media projects and of drawing from other academic and professional interests.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
K. Remmler
Take GRMST-201 or GRMST-221.
Notes: Taught in German. May be taken for 300-level credit with permission of instructor.

GRMST-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

GRMST-311 Advanced German Composition and Conversation

Spring. Credits: 4

This class offers intensive work in oral and written expression in German. Frequent papers and other exercises aimed at revising grammatical structures, improving students' writing in German, and broadening their comprehension of content and style. Oral reports, class discussion, and team exercises. Students will also have the option of completing an ongoing project of interest to them such as creating a YouTube channel or developing independent videos.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
K. Remmler
Prereq: One four-credit course above GRMST-201.

GRMST-325 Senior Capstone Seminar

Fall. Credits: 4

This capstone seminar explores the trans-disciplinary practice of German studies and its evolution from a study of literature and language to a field that draws from multiple disciplines, visualities, and approaches across the liberal arts curriculum. We explore such questions as: What does German studies mean? What are the intersecting fields of inquiry ranging from German Jewish studies to environmental studies that form the way we address cultural, social, and political issues throughout German cultural history up to the present day? Within this context each student will draw from their academic and professional interests to present work in progress towards a major research project that may culminate in a media project, honors thesis, or standard research paper.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
K. Remmler
Restrictions: This course is limited to seniors.
Prereq: GRMST-223.
Notes: Repeatable for credit.

GRMST-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.

Topics in German and European Studies in a Global Context 

GRMST-231 Topics in German and European Studies in a Global Context

An introduction to critical reading, writing, and arguing skills, emphasizing the practice of oral and written strategies for discussing and analyzing printed and film texts and the reader's responses to them. Courses are taught in English.

GRMST-231EM Topics in German and European Studies in a Global Context: 'Embodiment in Theory: Precarious Lives from Marx to Butler'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

We examine the writing of major nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century theorists, such as Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Dubois, Arendt, Fanon, Foucault, Butler, and others through the lens of embodiment. Rather than read theory as an abstract entity, we explore how theory itself is an embodiment of actual lives in which human beings experience life as precarious. What are the social conditions that create vulnerable bodies? How do thinkers who lived or are living precarious lives represent these bodies? Through a series of case studies based on contemporary examples of precarity, we examine the legacy and materiality of critical social thought.

Crosslisted as: CST-249EM, GNDST-204EM
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
K. Remmler
Notes: Taught in English

GRMST-231GB Topics in German and European Studies in a Global Context: 'A Global Enterprise: Germany Works'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Students will explore how the humanities and social sciences contribute to our understanding of the changing role of work from a historical perspective. We will investigate how the concept of 'work' effects social organization and individual identity formation. By concentrating on the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries within the German speaking countries and beyond, the seminar will shed light on the two eras when technological changes and their concomitant transformations in social and individual organization brought disruptive change to our notions of 'work.' We will focus our attention on 'work' by literary scholars, artists, and philosophers who often work in cross-disciplinary research networks.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
M. Lauer
Notes: Taught in English. Students may receive German credit if they complete their assignments in German.

GRMST-231NT Topics in German and European Studies in a Global Context: 'Black, Jewish, and Muslim Cultures in Germany: Intersectionalities of Othering'

Spring. Credits: 4

As much as German culture is riddled with extreme examples of persecution and nationalism, the presence of those deemed non-German, such as Black Africans, African Americans, Jews, and Muslims, shaped cultural expression and cultural exchange. In this seminar we explore the expression of otherness as portrayed in literature, film, and art from the eighteenth through twenty-first Centuries. Drawing from critical race theory, critical ethnic studies, and gender studies, we consider work by non-Germans as well as the representation of others in German canonical and popular cultural production.

Crosslisted as: JWST-225NT, CST-249NT
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
K. Remmler
Notes: Taught in English

GRMST-331 Topics in German and European Studies in a Global Context

This seminar is designed to explore theoretically and practically the nature of our field of inquiry. We explore such questions as: What does German studies mean? What is interdisciplinary work? What role does literature play in culture studies? What is the relationship between language and the construction of culture? What meanings have been attributed to the terms of 'culture' and 'civilization?' Texts from a variety of disciplines are studied. Students write term papers on topics related to their major field(s) of interest.