The German Major
Our majors receive comprehensive language training as well as extensive exposure to German history, politics and culture. Our language courses at the 100-, 200-, and 300-level emphasize student participation and communication along with skills development in reading, writing, and listening comprehension. Cultural topics and authentic texts are introduced already in the first semester, and students at the 300-level and above are intensively engaged with the analysis and discussion of German short stories, poetry, plays, novels, films, philosophical treatises, historical writing and journalism.
Upper-division courses generally have a thematic focus, with topics ranging from “Business German,” to “Children and Youth in the Third Reich,” to “Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.” Survey courses like “Masterpieces of Modern German Literature” and “Germany Today” provide students with a broader perspective on German political, intellectual, and cultural traditions.
Students interested in studying German may declare German as their major or second major. Majors or second majors are required to complete 24 credit hours of upper level courses (300 and 400), at least 12 of which are on the 400-level. Students with extensive preparation prior to coming to Washington University can place directly into the 300-level. With the exception of 340 OR 341, only courses taught in German will count toward the major.
Both the major and the minor can be combined with majors in other departments, and many of our students take advantage of this attractive option. Some favorite combinations are German and Economics or Business, German and IPH, German and Pre-Med, German and Pre-Law, and German and English.
The German Minor
Students who intend to minor in German must complete 15 upper level credits in courses taught in German (300 and 400 level). With the exception of 340 OR 341, only courses taught in German will count toward the minor. At least 3 of these units must be at the 400 level.
Senior Thesis in German, Distinction in German, and Latin Honors in German
Students who wish to receive departmental Distinction in German and/or Latin Honors in German will write a senior thesis and must sign up for German 497/498 (with departmental permission) in addition to the 24 hours required for the major (for a total of 30 credit hours). Applications for admission to write a senior thesis must be submitted within one week after the first week of classes in the fall semester. Applications and guidelines are available in Ridgley 324 or can be downloaded here.
Recent senior theses in German:
Bartolomiej P. Kudrzycki, “No Such Thing as Miracles: Representations of the Wirtschaftswunder in Early Postwar Literature” (2013)
Harris Engelmann, “Der Jugend entgegen zu kommen: East German Youth Cultures in Construction, Reality, and Remembrance” (2013)
All undergraduates who wish to enroll in 400-level German courses (except German 401, 404 and 408D) must take German 340C or 341C for either three or four credit hours. 340C or 341C will only count toward the major or minor if taken for four credit hours (i.e., with the discussion section in German). Admission to 400-level courses (except German 401, 404 and 408D) without completion of 340C or 341C is by departmental permission only.
For those who want to expand their horizons beyond the German-speaking world, the department also offers beginning and intermediate Swedish language courses as well as cross-listed seminars on the Vikings and Scandinavian film. For more information regarding our Swedish program, please contact Matt Erlin.