Graduate seminars carry an 800-level designation. Courses numbered 400 and higher may fulfill graduate degree requirements. Most course numbers are offered on a two-year rotation schedule. For more information on course offerings (time, location, etc.) see MSU Schedule of Courses. For a full list of courses offered by the German Program at MSU see our Course Catalog.

Fall 2020

GRM 455 German Cultural History: German Comics

It is a well-worn cliché that Germans do not have a sense of humor. Another oversimplification is that comics are always funny. This course challenges both of these ideas. We will explore the history of comics, which has its roots in the German-speaking world, and we will examine comics as a medium – a unique text-image combination in sequential arrangement – rather than just the ‘funnies’ that may first come to mind. We will work with the MSU Comic Art Collection – the world’s largest publicly available collection of international comics and graphic novels – and focus on contemporary German-language comics and graphic novels, which offer important ways to grapple with history, identity, and politics.
Wolff   MW 4:10-5:30

GRM 862 The Politics of Identity

This course explores theoretical frameworks and case studies focusing on the construction of identities in German culture. We will explore gender, ethnicity, race, nationality, class, residency status, and political identities along the German spectrum. We will be reading a wide variety of texts in multiple genres and paying close attention to historical shifts and political rhetoric throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries. 
Schuster-Craig Tu 3:00-5:50

GRM 863 From Past Tense to Future Perfect: Rethinking GDR Cultural Studies Today

This seminar will explore past, present, and possible futures of East German cultural studies. We will study original texts and artefacts in the context of their various audiences, East and West, popular and scholarly, before and after 1989/90. Course materials will include literature and film, but also music, visual arts, popular culture and other countercultures. Working with a multi-modal, multi-temporal approach operates as a lever for understanding the power of symbolic formations in the creation of cultural identities, and reminds us that, far from being defunct, the GDR remains a richly relevant source of meaning for contemporary German culture.
Mittman   Th 3:00-5:50

Spring 2021

GRM 461 Applied Linguistics for German Learners and Teachers

Research-based and practice-proven techniques for and tasks  in language and culture learning and teaching. Research-based analysis of contemporary issues and the intersection of culture and language. 
Goertler   TTh 1:00-2:20

GRM 491 German Film, 1918-Present: Immigrants, Exiles, and Others

Overview of German film history, including both mainstream and outsider cinema. Introduction to formal film analysis. Thematic focus on inclusion and exclusion, and on representations of social, ethnic, and linguistic difference. Students will co-coordinate a film series–part virtual, part live–as a Filmabend revival.
Mittman   TTh 2:40-4:00

GRM 815   Creating Significant Learning Experiences in the Literature and Culture Classroom

An overview of the scholarship of teaching and learning to create meaningful learning experiences designed to develop advanced competencies in the integrated literature and culture classroom. Our assumption is that learning is a constructivist activity that builds on iterative refinement through challenging, meaningful, and effective activities. The course itself is designed as an active, student-centered learning environment, where we will also apply these principles to produce learning goals, determine desired outcomes, and learning activities. This will result in the creation of a syllabus, modules, learning activities, and assessments accompanied by critical reflection.
Wurst   T 3:00-5:50

GRM 864   From Translation to Multilingualism

This course considers translation in its various forms – from ‘literal’ to metaphorical – and explores how the concept of translation can help us understand the relationship between language and experience that is at the heart of the literary discourse and any discussions of cultural transfer. We will work with theoretical and literary texts, and our guiding questions include: Which linguistic expressions, cultural concepts, or artistic forms defy or resist translation? What remains “untranslatable”? How do we define “correspondence,” “equivalence,”  and “fidelity”? What criteria make a translation good or bad? How have theories and practices of translation changed over the ages? Our discussions of translation will provide us with a foundation from which we can make connections to recent cultural debates around issues of multilingualism and “Heimat”.
Wolff   M 3:00-5:50

Past Graduate Course Offerings

GRM 820 The Origins and Legacies of Critical Theory

This course introduces students to the critical project: the mode of cultural and literary analysis that the Frankfurt School first called critical theory in the 1930s. It covers critical theory’s origins in the works of thinkers like Kant, Marx, and Nietzsche, and Freud, charts its rise in the 1920s and 1930s with Lukács, Benjamin, Horkheimer, and Adorno, and explores its contemporaries and continuations with Arendt, Foucault, Kristeva, and more current theoretical work that continues to unfold the critical project. (Handelman)

GRM 865 Reading Culture

The 18th century experienced a reading revolution that not only ushered in the new value system of the middle class contributing significantly to its social, cultural and economic rise. At the same time, concerns arose about the unregulated pleasures of reading leading to a split between reading for edification and “Bildung” on the one hand, and pleasurable reading on the other. (Wurst)

GRM 805 The German Language: Relationships, Development, and Varieties

Languages and language use changes with every interaction. What a typical German textbook says about the rules of German, is often not how people in German-speaking communities speak. In this course, we explore German dialects, contemporary developments in the German language, language contact (e.g., Denglish/Anglizismen), and language use in context, so that you do not sound like a textbook, when interacting with speakers of German. (Goertler)

GRM 864 The Representability of the Holocaust

This seminar will focus on the various ways the Holocaust has been represented and the different responses to these forms, including claims that the Holocaust is incomprehensible, unimaginable, or unrepresentable. Taking a diachronic approach, we will examine a variety of representational modes, from autobiographical accounts and historical documentation to theoretical reflections and fictional stories, as well as films, photographs, graphic novels, memorials, museums, and artworks. Keeping in mind that the representation of the Holocaust is both a complex issue and an international phenomenon, we will approach this topic via aesthetic, ethical, epistemological, and disciplinary questions, while concentrating on works within the German-language context. Open to students from all fields; readings was available in English and German. (Wolff)

GRM 815 Teaching German Culture: Theory & Practice

What is a compelling environment for learning? How do we design a syllabus, assess learning, create a teaching philosophy and understand the role of culture and literature courses within the curriculum? We look at best practices in college teaching and apply these principles in creating modules and learning activities for upper level courses. (Wurst)

GRM 862 German Studies: Construction of Identity: Autobiography

This seminar focuses on the myriad ways in which German-language writers, filmmakers, and other artists have adopted and transformed traditions of personal narrative and life-writing from 1945 to the present. Exploration of a wide range of forms of cultural expression, including autobiographical novel, memoir and essay, documentary and feature film, graphic narrative and emerging forms of digital autobiography. Theories of subjectivity, autobiography, memory, performance, and gender. (Mittman)

GRM 863 German Studies: Constructions of Community

This course explores theoretical frameworks and case studies focusing on the construction of various types of identity-based communities in German culture. This includes national, gender, ethnic, racial, class, and political communities along the German spectrum. Texts span a wide variety of genres: fiction, autobiography, grand theory, social theory, political journalism and social media/activism. Our goal is to understand not only the political motivations undergirding each text, but to be able to analyze both form and content within a culturally specific framework and to evaluate the effectiveness of both within community-based political debates and struggles. (Schuster-Craig)

GRM 891 German Second Language Acquisition

You learned German, but how did you get there and how can you help others achieve this goal? In this course we will explore the following questions: (1) How are languages structured and what are some key differences between English and German? (2) How do languages develop and how is textbook German different from the German currently used in Germany? (3) How are languages learned across contexts and what are some particular challenges and patterns for learners of German? (4) What are current best practices and approaches in German teaching in a variety of contexts? and (5) What are the standards and what is the current situation in the German teaching profession? (Goertler)

GRM 864 The Enlightenment and the Pursuit of Happiness

This course explores the central paradigm shift that the Enlightenment ushered in: the focus on the self-determination of the individual and happiness on this earth rather than in the afterlife. A new belief in a self-directed future gave rise to a sense of human perfectability and the overarching pedagogical impulse for self-improvement. Scientific interest raised awareness that the natural is not merely given but can be improved, which paved the way for the deliberate design of living conditions and the political environment. In literary texts and periodicals of the time, we will explore key concepts of the new middle class lifestyle: literacy, the reading culture, the new love paradigm, domesticity, sociability, and creativity. (Wurst)

GRM 891 Dialects and Sociolects of German: Development, Function and Dissemination

This course will examine the status and breadth of various German regional dialects based on distinguishing linguistic features as they relate to the standard language. Selected variants of German associated with specific groups in society will also be considered, e.g., Kiezdeutsch, Jugendsprache,  Frauensprache. (Lovik)

GRM 815 The Theory and Practice of Teaching German Culture

In this course we will explore pedagogical, empirical, and theoretical issues regarding the teaching of German culture. The course combines theory with hands-on activities. Students will participate in culture learning activities and create activities. Depending on the student’s interest, a course participant can focus in his or her major assignments on research, teaching, or service learning (community outreach). Regardless of focus all students will walk away from the course with a product. The tentative topics for the course are: (1) Who are we? (2) What are our cultures? (3) What are the theories and standards for culture learning? (4)  What are traditional and contemporary methods and techniques of teaching culture? (5) How is culture learning assessed? (Goertler)

GRM 863 Film and Media Studies

Against the broad sweep of a century of German history, we will screen a number of classic films, as well as television and digital moving images, in order to explore the relationship between politics and aesthetics, narratives of national and cultural identity, the complex dynamic between those powerful metanarratives and the more fragile fabric of private lives. Gender, sexuality, ethnic and religious identities become visible here, as do the social limits of their expression. We will discuss a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of the moving image, setting those concerns against the broader backdrop of current debates about the state of German film and media studies in the 21st century. (Mittman)

GRM 805 The German Language: Relationships, Developments and Varieties   

This course will examine the linguistic development of the German language from its earliest periods to its present day status. The development of the German language will be traced from Germanic through Old High German and Middle High German to Early New High German and into present day German.  Both changes within the linguistic system (phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon) as well as stylistic developments in the written language will be addressed. (Lovik)

GRM 862 German Studies: Construction of Identity

Identity, in all of its inflections and idioms, is an important category in the political struggles of German minorities, right-wing populist movements, and in debates about the future of the European Union. This course will focus on post-1989 Germany and its position in Europe up to today, exploring minority identity politics, national identity, and the effects of transnational EU structures on German political identities. This course will also focus on different venues for communicating research findings, e.g., journalism, social media, blogging and academic writing. (Schuster-Craig)

GRM 820 Hermeneutics and Critical Theory

This seminar will examine the two major theoretical approaches to literature and culture from Germany in the last two centuries: hermeneutics and critical theory. Students will explore the conceptual frameworks underpinning both traditions and will read texts that cover hermeneutics (Schleiermacher, Heidegger, Gadamer), the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory (Lukács, Kracauer, Benjamin, Horkheimer, Adorno), as well as literature and film, including Goethe, Hölderlin, Kafka, and Charlie Chaplin. (Handelman)

GRM 865 From Past Tense to Future Perfect: Rethinking GDR Cultural Studies Today

This seminar will explore past, present, and possible futures of GDR cultural studies. During the Cold War, Western scholarship treated the GDR as a projection screen for its own (utopian or dystopian) fantasies, while Eastern reception struggled with the insistent need to model ideals for a “realexistierender Sozialismus”; in the wake of unification, Vergangenheitsbewältigung competed with ostalgic visions of a nation that had suddenly vanished from the map, both literally and figuratively.  We will study original texts and artefacts in the context of their various audiences, both popular and scholarly, before and after 1989/90. Moving beyond the more traditional confines of literature and film, we will also look at music, visual arts, popular culture and other countercultures. (Mittman)

GRM 864 Blurred Borders, Clear Visions: Intermediality in 20th-Century Literature in German

This seminar will address the complex phenomenon of intermediality by exploring the relationship between literature and other media, e.g., visual art forms. Questions of realism, authenticity, memory, documentation, and the writing of history will guide our discussions of works from the Austro-German cultural context. The history of photography and critical reflections on the concept of visuality will provide a foundation for our discussions of text-image relationships, and we will see how ‘intermedial’ texts respond to the challenges of representing subjectivity, World War II, the Holocaust, postwar reconstruction, and the German Democratic Republic. (Wolff)              

GRM 891 Tendenzen in der deutschen Gegenwartssprache

This course will examine a range of lexical, morphological, syntactical and semantic changes, including categorization of the German language (Umgangssprache), the spelling reform, the influence of English on German (Handy), contemporary sociolects (voll gut), and evolutionary changes (weil ich muss nach Hause, ich erinnere das, das macht Sinn). (Lovik)