GERMAN 120 A: Introduction to German Studies: A Multicultural Approach

Autumn 2023
TTh 1:00pm - 2:20pm / JHN 075
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

German 120                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fall 2023

Introduction to German Studies: A Multi-Cultural Approach


Tuesday / Thursday 1:00 – 2:20pm 
Johnson Hall 075

Modern research universities like the University of Washington are a 19th-century German invention. We think of the university’s divisions into areas of knowledge (natural sciences, social sciences, humanities) and departments (e.g., physics, psychology, history) as naturally reflecting the world, but in fact these categories artificially shape and determine what counts as knowledge in the first place. In this course we will explore the ways that German thinkers have worked alternately to construct the fields of academic knowledge, to promote cross-fertilization among those fields, and to challenge disciplinary boundaries. The course provides both an introduction to the modern university and an exploration of the relationship between knowledge and power. To that end, readings will include thinkers whose marginal status—whether as women, Jews, or people of color—produced instructive alternatives to the dominant culture. 


5 Credits: I & S and DIV

Taught in English: No German required!

All readings and films will be provided through Canvas.


Co-taught by Professors Kye Terrasi and Andre Schuetze


We recognize that the University of Washington stands on the lands and waters of the Coast Salish Peoples; the Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, and Tulalip.


Learning Objectives:


By the end of this course, students should be able to


  • Recognize, describe, and analyze the intellectual, cultural, and institutional contexts that contributed to the formation and organization of academic knowledge;

  • Recognize, describe, and analyze the critical role of specific German thinkers in disciplines ranging from sociology to physics;

  • Articulate critiques by underrepresented voices of dominant cultures of knowledge;

  • Think transnationally: incorporate diverse cultural perspectives in assessing fields of knowledge;

  • Organize their own university studies in a coherent fashion;

  • Recognize how pursuing a German Studies major or minor can add critical focus to courses of study outside the German department.



Required Texts:


  • All readings will be made available in digital format on Canvas.





  • Quizzes (4)                 20%

  • Worksheets (7)           40%

  • Staged Dialogue         25%

  • Participation               15%



Course Components:


Quizzes: Students will take a straightforward reading quiz designed to help them master the most important issues in the texts. (4 total)

Worksheets: Students should complete seven worksheets on the assigned texts, to be turned in at the end of the quarter. See details in Canvas. (7 total)

Staged Dialogue: With a partner, students will write and stage a dialogue between two thinkers with opposing views. See details in Canvas. (1 total)

Participation: In-class (or pre-class) writing and discussion activities graded for completion.



Course Policies:


ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: The University of Washington is a community dedicated to learning. Students belonging to the community adhere to the ethical obligations outlined in the student conduct code. Plagiarism, cheating, and disruptive behavior in class violate the code, and harm everyone’s learning. Any violations of the code in connection with the course will result in referral to the university administration for appropriate action.  Plagiarism of any sort will automatically result in a grade of 0.0 for the assignment, and possible referral to the University administration.


INCLUSION COMMITMENT: We seek to ensure all students are fully included in each course. If you find that there are aspects of course instruction, subject matter, or classroom environment that result in barriers to your inclusion, please contact your instructors, a departmental advisor, or the university diversity officer


PRONOUNS: This course affirms people of all gender expressions and gender identities. If you go by a different name than what is on the class roster, please let us know. Using correct gender pronouns is important to us, so you are encouraged to share your pronouns with us and correct us if a mistake is made. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. For more information on pronouns, see


ACCESS AND ACCOMMODATIONS:  It is crucial that all students in this class have access to the full range of learning experiences.  At the University of Washington, it is the policy and practice to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.


Full participation in this course requires the following types of engagement:

  • the ability to complete 20-40 pages of reading in preparation for each class;

  • the ability to prepare worksheets on these readings;

  • the ability to watch films or film clips online

  • the ability to attend bi-weekly classes with 30-40 other students;

  • the ability to complete in-class written quizzes;

  • the ability to write and perform a creative and critical dialog with a partner.


If you anticipate or experience barriers to your learning or full participation in this course based on a physical, learning, or mental health disability, please immediately contact the instructor to discuss possible accommodation(s).  A more complete description of the disability policy of the College of the Environment can be found here. If you have, or think you have, a temporary or permanent disability that impacts your participation in any course, please also contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS) at:  206-543-8924 V / 206-543-8925 TDD / e-mail /



Roles & Responsibilities for Academic Accommodations:


Student: inform the instructor no later than the first week of the quarter of any accommodation(s) you will or may potentially require.

Instructor and TA: maintain strict confidentiality of any student’s disability and accommodation(s); help all students meet the learning objectives of this course.



RELIGIOUS ACCOMMODATIONS: Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (


HEALTH PROTOCOLS: Students and instructors in this course will adhere to the current Covid-19 prevention policies advocated by the University of Washington as regards to mask wearing, social distancing, and other public health guidelines.








Thursday, Sep 28



The University

Tuesday, Oct 3


For today's class, please read two texts:


1) Wilhelm von Humboldt, On the Internal Structure of the University of Berlin

2) W.E.B. Du Bois, Autobiography, Chapter 10 "Europe 1892 to 1894" (Excerpt)



Thursday, Oct 5


For today's discussion, choose one of the following two to read:


1) Friedrich Nietzsche, "On the Future of Our Educational Institutions"

2) Sekile Nzinga, "The University as Hyper-Producer of Inequality"



Tuesday, Oct 10


For today's class, please read:


Johann Winckelmann, “Reflections on the Paintings and Sculpture of the Greeks” (Excerpt)



Thursday, Oct 12


Expressionism in art and film


For today's class, please read:


1) Die Brücke Manifesto

2) Wassily Kandinsky, Introduction to On The Spiritual in Art


Film Studies

Tuesday, Oct 17


City and Film


Quiz 1



Thursday, Oct 19


Please watch the film Victoria by Sebastian Schipper in preparation for class



Tuesday, Oct 24


For today's class, please read:


E.T.A. Hoffmann, “Beethoven’s Instrumental Music”



Thursday, Oct 26


Cabaret, Dreigroschenoper, modern rap & techno

Social Science

Tuesday, Oct 31


For today's class, please read:


Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, Chapter 1


Quiz 2



Thursday, Nov 2


Last Generation, Fridays for Future


For today's class, please read:


1) Greta Thunberg, “Speech in the European Parliament”, 2019

2) Article on the Last Generation


Gender Studies

Tuesday, Nov 7


For today's class, please read:


1) Otto Weininger, Sex and Character (Excerpt)

2) Richard Krafft-Ebing, Psychopathia Sexualis (Excerpt)



Thursday, Nov 9


For today’s class, please read:


1) Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (Excerpt)

2) Arthur Schnitzler, scene four from Reigen



Tuesday, Nov 14


Heisenberg (Guest Lecture by Professor Ellwood Wiggins)


For today's class, please read excerpts from:


Werner Heisenberg, “Reality and its Order”


For your orientation, here's the Table of Contents of this work. The selections included for you to read are in bold:



  1. The Diverse Areas of Reality

  2. Language

  3. Order


  1. The Domain of Reality in Goethe's View

  2. (Classical) Physics

  3. Chemistry

  4. Organic Life

  5. Consciousness

  6. Symbol and Gestalt

  7. The Creative Forces

III. [untitled]


Additionally, please watch this short Ted Talk about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle:



Thursday, Nov 16


For today's class, please watch Copenhagen by Michael Frayn:


You will need to be logged into your UW Library account in order to access the video.


Quiz 3


Life Science

Tuesday, Nov 21


For today's class, please read:


1) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “The Experiment as Mediator of Object and Subject”

2) Art Spiegelmann, Maus (Excerpts)



Thursday, Nov 23



Language & Literature

Tuesday, Nov 28


For today's class, please read:


Franz Kafka, “A Country Doctor”



Thursday, Nov 30


For today's class, please read:


1) Fatima Al-Tayeb, “The Forces of Creolization: Colorblindness and Visible Minorities in New Europe”

2) Anna Kim, “Farbe bekennen”



Tuesday, Dec 5


For today's class, please read:


Immanuel Kant, “Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?”


Quiz 4


Thursday, Dec 7


For today's class, please read:


1) Sigmund Freud: Civilization and its Discontents (Excerpt)

2) Theodor Adorno, “Education after Auschwitz”






(Subject to modification. Any changes will be announced in class and posted on Canvas.)


Catalog Description:
Introduction to cultural, social, and intellectual developments in German-speaking lands and their wider influence in the world. Emphasizes transnational dialogues with underrepresented groups that critique the unequal power relations underpinning traditional concepts of culture and systems of knowledge.
GE Requirements Met:
Diversity (DIV)
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated:
April 11, 2024 - 1:39 pm