Introduction

Did you know:  

  • German is the official language or co-language of 9 countries and that it is a minority language throughout the globe including in Poland, Namibia, Brazil, and Romania? It is the most spoken native language in the European Union.
  • The Sorbs/Wends are a Slavic minority who have maintained many of their cultural traditions and practices in eastern Germany?
  • The first Institute of Sexology was founded in Berlin in 1919?
  • The U.S. poet Audre Lorde taught at the Free University in Berlin in the 1980s and 1990s, helping spur the Afro-German movement?
  • Germany is home to the largest Turkish population outside of Turkey?
  • Between 23% and 38% of the populations of Austria, Germany and Switzerland have a migrant background?

A relevant field for the 21st century, German Studies emphasizes the diversity of the German-speaking world. Of course, German has long been a crucial language of culture, the arts, philosophy, and the social and natural sciences. The German-speaking countries have played a significant role in European and global world history, while united Germany is one of the driving forces behind European integration and economic development. The Germanophone world offers some of the most innovative literature, music, art, film and other forms of cultural expression and a breadth of multicultural perspectives. As a result, German is an important language—not just in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, and the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland—but also throughout the world.

    The German department at Lawrence University embraces the notion of German cultural studies. We guide students through the process not just of language learning, but also becoming familiar with the literature, history, and culture, including popular culture—film, television and popular literature—of the German-speaking countries. We believe that language is always part of a larger context, and our beginning language instruction integrates pertinent cultural material. Most classes, even at the elementary level, are conducted in German, and the program insists that every course, at all levels, is both a language and culture course.

    Furthermore, German Studies courses encourage students to develop analytical, interpretive and critical thinking skills and we embrace interdisciplinary frameworks. Our faculty work in and across multiple programs and departments including: Ethnic Studies, Film Studies, Gender Studies, Global Studies and History. Similarly, our courses draw from many intellectual traditions, including, literary studies, film studies, queer studies, gender studies, history, critical race studies, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, disability studies, and history of science. We view all cultural artifacts as “readable.” This means not only literature, but also film, history, comics, music, art and visual culture, architecture, politics, social media, fashion, and much more. We believe this exciting mix of approaches and geographic locations enables students to most effectively understand an increasingly dynamic, diverse, and interdependent international community, a global community in which the German-speaking countries are ever more important. The knowledge and skills that German Studies students acquire are applicable to a wide variety of careers and offer a lifetime of cultural rewards.

    We offer many opportunities for students to study in the German-speaking world through our affiliated programs in Berlin, Freiburg, and Vienna. We also offer a short-term trip to Berlin in conjunction with the course Berlin: Experiencing a Great City. On campus students can maintain a connection to things German through the department’s lunch and dinner tables, which are all facilitated by our language assistants, as well as other departmental programming.


    Required for the major in German

    The German major requirements are structured so as to offer students the flexibility to select courses based on their individual interests. After attaining proficiency in the language, the only required courses are GER312: Reading Texts and Contexts and the Senior Experience (either GER600: Senior Seminar or an independent study).

    Students who complete the major in German can expect to achieve the following:

    • At least intermediate-high to advanced-low level proficiency in the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing);
    • The ability to engage critically and analytically with a variety of literary and cultural texts (e.g., poetry, film, drama, material culture, visual art, historical documents, novels, popular music) by situating them in their aesthetic, historical, political, social and (inter-)cultural contexts;
    • Demonstrate knowledge of Germanophone cultures as diverse, dynamic, multi-lingual, and global;
    • At the culmination of the major, execute the research and writing skills to carry out an independent project relevant to the discipline of German Studies using primary and secondary resources.

    The major in German requires:

    1. 60 units beyond GER 202, including GER 312: Reading Texts and Contexts. At least 36 of these units must be taken at Lawrence. Only 12 units taught in English may count toward the major, but tutorials in German taken in conjunction with courses taught in English may count as German credit.
    2. Students usually complete a capstone project in the senior seminar or in conjunction with a departmental course taken during the senior year (see Senior Experience below).
    3. Students who expect to graduate present a portfolio by the second week of their final term. The student's advisor will review a portfolio consisting of the following materials submitted electronically:
      1. a brief reflection statement in which students evaluate their intellectual development as German majors
      2. a list of courses taken for the major
      3. sample Lesejournale or other short writing assignments from all German courses numbered 300 and above taken at Lawrence
      4. four papers from upper-level courses, two of which may be from courses taken abroad
      5. the capstone paper

    Senior Experience in German

    The German department's Senior Experience consists of an independent research project that explores a question of the student's own choosing relevant to the discipline of German Studies. Students hone their research and writing skills through the Senior Seminar (GER600) or independent study. They typically develop and explore a research question during Fall Term and complete the writing of the project during Winter Term of their senior year. Beyond the completion of a capstone project, other important components of the Senior Experience are advanced instruction in academic research and writing, evaluation of primary and secondary resources, peer and instructor feedback, utilization of various theoretical perspectives, and extensive revision.

    Students undertaking a capstone in another discipline or who are wishing to receive teacher certification should work with all concerned departments/programs to assess the feasibility of an interdisciplinary capstone.


    Required for the minor in German

    1. Thirty-six units beyond GER 202, including GER 312: Reading Texts and Contexts. At least 24 of these units must be taken at Lawrence. Only six units taught in English may count toward the minor, but tutorials taken in conjunction with English courses may count as German credits.

    Teacher certification in German (K-12)

    German majors can seek certification to teach German at the elementary and secondary levels. To be certified, students must spend a term in a German-speaking country studying the language and culture and must pass an oral and writing proficiency test. Students can add an endorsement in a second area (such as another language or English as a second language) by completing the appropriate minor. Students who plan to seek teacher certification should review the requirements in the Education Studies section of the catalog and meet with the director of teacher education, preferably before the end of the sophomore year.