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GERMAN 311 A: Introduction To German Literary Studies

Meeting Time: 
MWF 11:30am - 12:20pm
CDH 101
Jason Groves

Additional Details:




Learning Goals: This course is intended to introduce you to the basic techniques of literary discussion, to develop your ability to interpret by close reading of German literature, and to refine your writing and translation skills. To do so, we will read and discuss a wide range of texts across three centuries (18th-20th) and three genres (lyric, prose narrative, drama).


Readings: The poems and stories are collected in the Course Reader (available for purchase at Ram’s on the Ave.). You will also need a good dictionary. The Oxford/Langenscheidt's is good. On-line dictionaries of course are also available (e.g., They are not oriented toward the material in this course; you will probably find them often quite good, but not fully dependable for our purposes.


For the longer prose texts and the dramas we will be using a website called Annotext, which is a web-based application developed at Dartmouth College to assist students in tackling difficult texts. It offers an alternative to such traditional reading aids as word lists, footnotes, or even standard German- English dictionaries. Students access an especially-prepared work on-line and then click on any word or phrase to receive its meaning instantly. All the same, I require students to procure hard-copy versions of the texts. This allows you to make marks and comments in the margins of your reading, and will greatly facilitate your engagement with the texts, while making them more memorable. The poems and stories on the syllabus are printed in the course reader. Inexpensive versions of the plays, which we will read in the final third of the course, are available in the bookstore on the Ave. They are very affordable.


Finally, we will be using an online primer, Jochen Vogt’s Einladung zur Literaturwissenschaft as introductory background readings for the terms of literary analysis. All readings should be completed before the class for which they are assigned. The Einladung can be found here:


Class participation: We learn much more by actively and critically engaging in the back-and-forth of conversation than we do by listening passively to lectures. The principle aim of class time in this course will therefore be to foster lively and thoughtful discussions. To this end, the texts and lectures will serve as an impetus for inquiry and debate. As a teacher, I will provide some background context and reflections for the works we consider, but my principle role will be to open them up for discussion by you. The discoveries you make with each other’s help will be the true learning experience of the course. In this course, I expect everyone to contribute to the conversation. This does not mean you need to come to every class with brilliant theories to propound, but rather that you open up and share your questions, ideas, and thoughts about the works we are considering.

Exercises: Written answers to questions to be turned in during class on the dates signaled in syllabus. Late assignments will not be accepted.


Papers: Your first essay (ca. 2 pages) will interpret a single poem by means of reflecting on your translation of it. The second paper (ca. 4 pages) will consist of a narrative analysis based on a chosen question. The final essay (ca. 6 pages) will concern drama. All essays should be typed, double-spaced. More information and guidelines TBA.


Group Projects: Will include one poetry translation and one drama Inszenierung. Details TBA.



 Class Participation: 25%

 Exercises: 20%

 Group Presentations: 10%

 3 Papers: 15% each


Policies: The general method of instruction is through lectures and classroom discussions. The primary language of instruction is German. We recommend that the student have completed German 203 or its equivalent. Readings of up to 30 pages of text in German are assigned for every class meeting. You will be graded on written work (75%) and on your participation in class (25%). Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day assigned; paper copies only, please no email attachments; exceptions on paper due dates can only be made with the advance permission of the instructor. Students will be working as teams in class as well as on some of their assignments. Because of the heavy emphasis on discussion, daily participation is expected. Everyone is allowed two excused absences, beyond that 0.1 points are deducted from your final grade per class period missed. Please familiarize yourself with the University’s policies on grading and grade change posted at Anyone with a documented disability requiring special accommodation must meet with the instructor during the first week of classes to arrange for such accommodation.


Catalog Description: 
Introduction to major critical concepts and basic methodological issues of literary studies. Diverse reading strategies plus special emphasis on analytical writing about literature. Readings from eighteenth- to twentieth-century literature.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:15pm