GERMAN 500 A: Literary Theory, Methodology, and Bibliography

Autumn 2024
W 1:30pm - 4:20pm / DEN 110
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Very Preliminary Syllabus

(6. June 2024)

Literary Theory, Methodology, and Bibliography (GERMAN 500)

Jason Groves (he/him/his)



This course has a double, if not triple focus. It introduces methods of research and bibliography, as well as theoretical and practical aspects of research and bibliography. It offers a snapshot of German Studies today, as an inter-discipline that is co-constituted by Gender Studies, Textual Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Global Literary Studies, among other contemporary fields of study. In order to give space to both literary theory and interpretation, we work with a core text, Kafka’s Das Urteil (The Judgment), and look at recent interpretations that give us insight into diverse methodologies in the humanities and beyond. All readings will be available in English and students outside of German Studies are welcome. Finally, this course also surveys several significant genres of professional writing and offers a primer on academic writing and style, while offering a forum for discussions of career objectives in and beyond the university.


While this course is a fixed part of the doctoral curriculum in Germanics at the UW, it is intended to integrate into, facilitate, and augment your existing areas of interest, particularly within the scope of departmental offerings and University of Washington initiatives and offerings. To that end, the reading schedule in this syllabus can be adjusted based on your individual interests and aspirations. We come to this group with different training and disciplinary interests, and such a course will be most effective if each student’s main areas of interest are represented in the curriculum. Wherever possible, the reading schedule will be organized in coordination with departmental events, and readings have also been included that showcase cross- and transdisciplinary initiatives at the University of Washington.



Regular Attendance. This seminar will be conducted synchronously.

Active Participation. The work of this course consists in engaging in a discussion of ideas and methods, and the success of the seminar depends on everyone’s active engagement in these discussions. If you find yourself unengaged, let me know; this course is designed to be more flexible than most, and active communication will make the most out of this design.

Reading. You are expected to finish all of the assigned reading. We will read up to 100 pages a week. If you encounter difficulties completing the reading, please let me know.


ASSIGNMENTS (description at the end of the syllabus)

  • 3 Presentations
  • Annotation assignments on Perusall
  • Personalbibliographie of a writer or collective (MLA format)
  • Syllabus design



  • Introduce a text and lead a discussion



All books / readings will be available as PDFs



Names and Pronouns: If you go by a different name or gender pronoun than the one under which you are officially enrolled, please inform me. Students are expected to refer to each other by preferred names and pronouns during class. My pronouns are he/his/him.

Inclusion Commitment: I 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 instructor or your departmental advisor.



Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions.  Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS.  It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.


Week 1: September 25


  • David Gramling, “Dear Incoming Graduate Student Colleague” in: Diversity and Decolonization in German Studies.
  • Elizabeth Mittman & Krsna Santos, “Opening our Imaginations: A Dialogue on Graduate Education”


Week 2: Date TBD (Monday September 30?: World Literature, Textual Studies, and Bibliography

*Second half of class: special session on bibliographies with Theresa Murdock, Germanics Librarian, and Deb Raftus, French and Italian Librarian*


  • Venkat Mani, “Prologue,” “Introduction” and Chapter 5 in: Recoding World Literature: Libraries, Print Culture, and Germany’s Pact with Books

Suggested Readings:

  • Hansel/Kaiser, “Einführung,” 21-27, “Bibliographische Hilfsmittel im Internet,” 29-45;
  • Raabe, 1-30; Introduction to German Bibliographical Materials.


Week 3: October 9: TBD 

Alternative asynchronous session on Publishing and Presenting


  • Eric Hayot, The Elements of Academic Style: Writing for the Humanities


Week 4: October 16 : Literary Theory and the Politics of Knowing


  • Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction
  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing

Suggested Readings:

  • Linda Tuhiwai Smith, “Colonizing Knowledges” in: Decolonizing Methodologies


Week 5: October 23: Gender Studies; Queer Theory


  • Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution”
  • Christine Kanz, “Differente Männlichkeiten: Kafkas Das Urteilaus gendertheoretischer Perspektive” (Jahraus/Neuhaus, 152-75)
  • “Forum: Feminism In German Studies” (Edited by Elizabeth Loentz; With contributions by Monika Shafi, Faye Stewart, Tiffany Florvil, Kerry Wallach, Beverly Weber, Hester Baer, Carrie Smith, and Maria Stehle)]

Suggested Readings:

  • Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner, “What Does Queer Theory Teach Us about X?” 
 PMLA, Vol. 110, No. 3, pp. 343-349.


Week 6: October 30: Black German Studies, Black European Studies


  • Fatima El-Tayeb, “Blackness and its (Queer) Discontents”
  • Mark Thompson, “Introduction” and “Becoming Negro” in: Kafka’s Blues: Figurations of Racial Blackness in the Construction of an Aesthetic

Suggested Readings:

  • Suggested: Sara Lennox, “Introduction” in: Remapping Black German Studies


Week 7: November 6: TBD

Assignment Due: Bibliography


Week 8: November 13: Sprachkritik; Multilingualism


  • David Gramling, “Researching Multilingually in German Studies: A Brief Retrospective”
  • David Suchoff, “The Breakthrough to Jewish Languages: ‘The Judgment’”

Assignment Due:



Week 9: November 20: Digital Humanities, Public Humanities, Environmental Humanities


  • Katherine Hayles, “How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine”
  • Miriam Bartha and Bruce Burgett, “Why Public Scholarship Matters for Graduate Education”
  • Hannes Bergthaller et al., “Mapping Common Ground: Ecocriticism, Environmental History, and the Environmental Humanities.” Environmental Humanities (2014) 5 (1): 261-276.
  • Heise, “Globality, Difference, and the International Turn in Ecocriticism”



Week 10: DATE TBD (Nov 25?): Critical University Studies


Marc Bosquet, “The Waste Product of Graduate Education: Toward a Dictatorship of the Flexible”


Week 11: December 4: TBD




Perusall Annotation Assignment

On a weekly basis, post or comment on a topic related to our course readings. More details to come.


  • Facilitate a discussion of one of our meeting topics and texts
  • Facilitate a discussion on a professional topic of your choice (e.g. academic publishing, public scholarship, collaboration, citation tools, disciplinarity, inclusivity in the FL classroom, etc.)
  • Present state of the field assignment.

Bibliography Assignment  

  • Compile an author bio-bibliography (or of a collective)

Final Project: My first German Studies Course, an annotated syllabus

Catalog Description:
Historical survey and analysis of criticism (Methodengeschichte) and modern trends in contemporary theory. Methods of research and bibliography, as well as theoretical aspects of practical interpretation.
Last updated:
July 15, 2024 - 3:50 pm