During the first two years of language acquisition, professors emphasize grammatical components taught within basic cultural contexts. The first three courses are by necessity sequential because the students need to develop the basic skills that carry cultural meaning, but as they progress towards higher mastery, language skills and cultural understanding continue to inform each other and to work together.
At the 200-level, students perform a more in-depth study of the structural elements of the German language, and they receive a basic introduction to reading culturally relevant literary texts in German. German 230, Intermediate German, reviews these basic structural patterns of language and functions as a transition to and practice of more advanced structural language patterns, literary texts and cultural expressions and perspectives.
Our courses on the advanced level offer two major orientations:
• one stresses a literary context which reflects culture through the perspective of a subjective and creative mind,
• the other emphasizes a cultural context through collective public documents that address institutional, historical, political and psychological topics and events.
Exemplifying the first approach, German 310 Advanced German in a Literary Context and German 350 Topics in German Literature are courses that allow students to gain insight into German culture through the study of literary texts from a variety of genres and time periods. Distinctively, German 305 Advanced German in a Cultural Context focuses on how language, particularly structural elements and grammar, is essential to perceiving contemporary cultural situations and discourses. Courses, such as German 325 German Culture and German 360 Topics in German Culture, illustrate the second orientation listed above in that they explore a variety of essential issues in German contemporary culture as well as German intellectual and cultural history.
These advanced courses allow students to achieve mastery of structural components of language through the expression of the literary and cultural dimensions of language. The two major orientations of our advanced level courses are not mutually exclusive but, on the contrary, inform each other and create an interdisciplinary framework, in which our students become acquainted with aspects of German and European history, politics and governmental systems.
Courses at the 400- and 500-level in the German section begin to incorporate literary theory into the discussion and in-depth analysis of literary texts. Literature is still discussed within its cultural, political and historical framework, however the examination of these aspects is further informed by literary traditions and major cultural and literary movements. At this level, students are often expected to produce a more advanced research project.
Under the auspices of a Max Kade Foundation grant, the German Section also gives advanced German students the unique opportunity to take a creative writing course with a German writer-in-residence. German 370 Creative Writing in German provides students with an environment to experiment with the language by composing short prose under the guidance and instruction of an acclaimed German-speaking author.