GERMAN 322 A: Introduction to German Cultural Studies

Spring 2022
MWF 10:30am - 11:20am / SIG 224
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
C LIT 251 B
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Cultures of Music: Harmony and Discord

Prof. Ellwood Wiggins

Graduate Mentor: Sophia Schuessler

“Where words leave off, music begins.” –Heinrich Heine

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” –Friedrich Nietzschepromo image 322-1.pngMusic is often claimed to be a universal language. It transcends cultural and national boundaries like no other discourse or artform and forges bonds of community between disparate people. Even in times of quarantine, music has provided a way for people to connect—whether singing together from apartment balconies, or coordinating zoom performances across continents. But music always emerges from a particular culture and has often been used to create exclusive groups and incite hatred as well as love. In this course, we will explore the history of musical experience in Germany as an introduction to cultural studies. We will listen to Bach and Turkish-German Rappers, watch films about Mozart and Cabaret, and read influential texts in music theory and ethnomusicology. Through close readings of song lyrics and stories that dramatize musical reception, we'll evaluate general claims about music in their specific contexts. We’ll learn about identity and hybridity, high and low culture, transcendent and ‘degenerate’ art. We'll even try out some dances! Music is a powerful emotional force that both unites and divides people, giving voice to the most beautiful and disturbing aspects of human culture.

*This course is taught in English, and there are no prerequisites

Learning Goals

By the end of the quarter, students should be able to:

  • Analyze musical works in terms of: sound, text, context, intertext, and interpretation
  • Articulate their own emotional reactions to music in language
  • Engage in both formal analysis and historical-cultural research of music
  • Describe major developments in history of musical experience in Germany
  • Use knowledge of musical history to illustrate cultural phenomena
  • Show how musical culture is complicit in--though sometimes critical of--society's racism, classism, and sexism
  • Speculate intelligently on the connections between musical and social forms

Expectations and Grading

In addition to preparing all materials before class, each student is expected to attend class regularly and participate in class discussions.

In this course we will use a system of evaluation called “contract grading.” In brief, that means I specify what you have to do to earn a particular course grade, and you decide what you’re willing and able to do and then sign up for the contract that works best for you. There are no surprises: if you fulfill the obligations of your contract, you get the grade you signed up for. Contracts can be renegotiated, if necessary.

Catalog Description:
Questions addressed include: What is "German culture," how has it been defined and contested, and how and why do we study it? Interdisciplinary methods and readings.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
April 13, 2024 - 3:13 pm