The Bi-College Department of German draws upon the expertise of the German faculty at both Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges to offer a broadly conceived German Studies program, incorporating a variety of courses and major options.
The purpose of the major in German is to lay the foundation for a critical understanding of German culture in its contemporary international context and its larger political, social, and intellectual history. To this end, we encourage a thorough and comparative study of the German language and culture through its linguistic and literary history, institutions, political systems, and arts and sciences.
The German program aims, by means of various methodological approaches to the study of another language, to foster critical thinking, expository writing skills, understanding of the diversity of culture(s), and the ability to respond creatively to the challenges posed by cultural difference in an increasingly global world. Course offerings are intended to serve both students with particular interests in German literature and literary theory and criticism, and those interested in studying German and German-speaking cultures from the perspective of communication arts, film, history, history of ideas, history of art and architecture, history of religion, institutions, linguistics, mass media, philosophy, politics, and urban anthropology and folklore.
The German program aims, through the study of German language, culture, and literature, to foster:
- critical thinking.
- expository writing skills.
- the mastery of critical theories and methodologies, crucial for the analysis of cultural artifacts.
- the ability to respond intellectually and creatively to the challenges posed by cultural difference in an increasingly multicultural and global world.
- a thorough knowledge of German language.
A thorough knowledge of German is a goal for both major concentrations. The objective of our language instruction is to teach students communicative skills that enable them to function effectively in authentic conditions of language use and to speak and write in idiomatic German. A major component of all German courses is the examination of issues that underline the cosmopolitanism as well as the specificity and complexity of contemporary German culture. German majors can and are encouraged to take courses in interdisciplinary areas, such as comparative literature, film, gender and sexuality studies, growth and structure of cities, history, history of art, music, philosophy, and political science, where they read works of criticism in these areas in the original German. Courses relating to any aspect of German culture, history, and politics given in other departments can count toward requirements for the major or minor.
After the completion of the GERM 101-102 sequence (or its equivalent) the German language and literature concentration normally follows the sequence 201 and/or 202; 209 or 212, or 213; plus additional courses to complete the 10 units, two of them at the 300 level; and finally one semester of Senior Conference or either an additional 300-level seminar in German or GERM 403 (Supervised Work) for double majors.
A German Studies major normally includes 201 or 202; 223 or 245; one 200- and one 300-level course in German literature; three courses (at least one at the 300 level) in subjects central to aspects of German culture, history, or politics; and one semester of GERM 321 (Advanced Topics in German Cultural Studies). Within each concentration, courses need to be selected so as to achieve a reasonable breadth, but also a degree of disciplinary coherence.
A minor in German and German Studies consists of six units of work. To earn a minor, students are normally required to take GERM 201 or 202, five additional units covering a reasonable range of study topics, of which at least one unit is at the 300 level. One upper-level course may be chosen with the approval of the department from the recommended electives for German Studies majors.
All of our majors are required to write a senior thesis in German, or—if they are double majors—to produce a thesis in a related discipline that has significant overlap with their work in German. They typically take a 300-level seminar in fall and write a research term paper that often becomes the foundation for their senior project. In the spring semester they take the mandatory 399 Senior Conference consisting of weekly meetings and discussions of thesis proposals and drafts with their advisor(s).
A detailed description of the format, goals, and assessment criteria for the senior experience can be found in the complete departmental statement in the Catalog (PDF).
Requirements for Honors
Any student whose grade point average in the major at the end of the senior year is 3.8 or higher qualifies for departmental honors. Students who have completed a thesis and whose major grade point average at the end of the senior year is 3.6 or higher, but not 3.8, are eligible to be discussed as candidates for departmental honors. A student in this range of eligibility must be sponsored by at least one faculty member with whom the student has done coursework, and at least one other faculty member must read some of the student’s advanced work and agree on the excellence of the work in order for departmental honors to be awarded. If there is a sharp difference of opinion, additional readers will serve as needed.
We encourage students majoring in German to spend time in German-speaking countries in the course of their undergraduate studies. Possibilities include summer work programs, DAAD (German Academic Exchange) scholarships for summer courses at German universities, and selected junior year abroad programs (Berlin, Freiburg, Vienna).