Coursework

Language Of Instruction

Courses offered in the department of German are sometimes taught in English and sometimes in German. Graduate students are expected to have near native fluency in English and advanced knowledge of German in addition to a third language relevant for their research area.

Course Requirements

There are a total of 15 courses required for the PhD.

Core Courses (6 courses)

GERMAN 401 German Literature and Critical Thought, 1750-1832 (1 Unit)
GERMAN 402 German Literature and Critical Thought, 1832-1900 (1 Unit)
GERMAN 403 German Literature, Critical Thought, and New Media, 1900-45 (1 Unit)
GERMAN 404 German Literature, Critical Thought, and New Media since 1945 (1 Unit)
GERMAN 405 Basic Issues in Foreign Language Teaching (1 Unit)
GERMAN 406 Contours of German History since 1750 (1 Unit)

Pro Seminars (2 courses)

German 407 Pro Seminar
Pro Seminars are spring quarter courses in which students develop a research-level paper, often in conjunction with previous or contemporaneous work in other courses. Students will present their own work in at least one Pro Seminar within the first three years of study.

Electives (7 courses)

Students will choose seven electives, graduate level courses either in the Department of German or in related disciplines.

Additional Degree Requirements For The Ph.D.

  • Participation in the various departmental colloquia throughout the year, including those devoted to professional development;
  • Qualifying Examinations–generally taken in winter quarter of the 3rd year;
  • Dissertation Prospectus–must be completed by the end of fall quarter of the 4th year;
  • German Language Examination (usually taken during the first year);
  • Third-language Examination, which can be accomplished by taking a graduate or upper-level undergraduate course in the relevant language; by passing a reading exam; or by taking an intensive language course during the summer equivalent to second year of college study;
  • Ph.D. Dissertation, a body of original independent research; and
  • Oral Defense of the dissertation.

Typical Course Of Studies

  • First Year: Fellowship Year. Students take three courses in the fall and winter quarter, and two courses plus one Proseminar in the spring quarter. They take the German Language examination.
  • Second Year: TA-Ship. Students take two courses in the fall and winter quarter, and one course plus one Proseminar in the spring quarter. In addition, students assist with a large lecture-course in English each quarter.
  • Third Year: TA-Ship. Students take the qualifying examination in the winter quarter, and they participate in one Proseminar in the spring quarter. In addition, students teach the German 101 sequence.
  • Fourth Year: Fellowship Year. Usually taken at a German University and supported either by Northwestern funds or outside grants for which students are required to apply. Prospectus in the fall quarter, work on the dissertation.
  • Fifth Year: TA-ship. Students teach the German 102 sequence. They continue work on the dissertation, and they take the third-language examination. The dissertation defense will take place in the spring quarter.

About Teaching As A Graduate Student

Teaching is an essential element of the education and training experience of graduate students at Northwestern in general and the German Department specifically. At least one year is required by the Graduate School. We engage in active discussions with students at the end of each year concerning teaching possibilities and assign courses with a view toward creating the best teaching portfolio as possible.

Course Descriptions

GERMAN 322 German Contributions to World Literature (1)
Investigation of literary texts from diverse genres and periods which are marked by a sense of constraint apparently at odds with the view associated with Western modernity of the individual as the locus of freedom and autonomy. The “German contribution” as a somber corrective to Enlightenment optimism.

GERMAN 324 Modern German Drama (1)
Modern drama of the German stage as a “moral institution,” as defined by Friedrich Schiller and echoed by Erwin Piscator. Works by authors ranging from Heinrich von Kleist to Peter Weiss.

GERMAN 401 German Literature and Critical Thought, 1750-1832 (1)
This course begins with the formative aesthetic discussions undertaken by Lessing and Mendelssohn, turns to Kant’s program for critical self-reflection, and considers a wide range of responses, including those of Schiller, the early romantics, Kleist, Hölderlin, and Goethe.

GERMAN 402 German Literature and Critical Thought, 1832-1900 (1)
Thematic approach to key texts of 19th century German literature between Goethe and Gottfried Keller, tragedy and the Bildungsroman. Literary and philosophical texts are read side by side in order to interrogate traditional concepts of realism, mimesis, and interpretation.

GERMAN 403 German Literature, Critical Thought, and New Media, 1900-45 (1)
Built around selected key texts on the aesthetic theories of modernism (e.g., by Nietzsche, Adorno, Bürger, and Kittler), this course explores the relationship of literature and the visual arts and scrutinizes the status of literature within aesthetic production in modernity. Particular attention to works by Rilke, Kafka, Brecht, Lasker-Schüler, Benn, Musil, and Mann.

GERMAN 404 German Literature, Critical Thought, and New Media since 1945 (1)
Overview of the most influential texts that reflect the mounting concern with media in German literary and critical theory since the Second World War. Emphasis on the effects of the rise of media studies and theory on the understanding and interpretation of literature.

GERMAN 405 Basic Issues in Foreign Language Teaching: Theory and Practical Applications (1)
This course focuses on basic principles of second language acquisition and language teaching methodology. It introduces students to the major trends and theories in language teaching. The critical reflection of pedagogical practices is emphasized.

GERMAN 406 Contours of German History since 1750 (1)
Partly thematic and partly chronological approach to familiarizing graduate students with the social and cultural contexts of major intellectual and literary developments. Focus on the end of the early modern order, industrialization, urbanization, unification, utopianism, expansionism, the burden of the National Socialist past, and the vexed question of national identity.

GERMAN 407 Proseminar (1) Spring quarter writing workshops in which students complete a research-level paper in conjunction with work in others courses.

GERMAN 431 Contemporary German Literature (1)
Readings from authors representative of literature in the former East and West Germany’s. May be repeated for credit with change of topic.

Sample Classes:

  • Essential Readings in Modern Jewish Culture
  • Rise and Fall of Modern Yiddish Culture

GERMAN 441 Studies in Communication and Culture (1) Content varies. Samples; feminist literature, media studies, the history of literary journals, and other specific topics representative of current research interests. May be repeated for credit with change of topic. Sample TOpics: Trauma; Nietzsche.

GERMAN 490 Independent Reading (1) May be repeated for credit. Permission of instructor and department required.

GERMAN 499 Independent Study (1) May be repeated for credit. Permission of instructor and department required.

GERMAN 590 Research (1) Independent investigation of selected problems pertaining to dissertation. Permission of instructor and department required. May be repeated for credit.