CIVS Courses


Germ. 201-202 (Fall 1997-Spring 1998): Intermediate German

Under the heading: Joint Learning Across the Ocean

Together with Max Kade Fellow Harald Zils and Helmut Rössler in Freiburg and Catherine C. Fraser, Indiana University, Bloomington

Students in Intermediate German collaborated with students at Freiburg University (H. Rössler: Landeskunde und Fremdsprachenunterricht). In the Fall '97 they were also joined by students from IU, Bloomington (C. Fraser: Theory and Methodology of College Geman Teaching).

The US students expressed their topics of interest in regard to German culture. The Freiburg students developed Web-projects based on these topics which contained reading material and exercises (examples). In the fall, the IU students observed and evaluated the project.


Germ. 222 (Spring 1999): Re-Inventing Story-Telling

Together with Max Kade Fellow Harald Zils

Course Description

Younger German authors seem to be finding—or inventing—a new voice for themselves. As The New Yorker recently put it, “storytelling has probably never been more inventively re-inventive.” During the semester we will read the works of several contemporary German authors—in translation—and look at the process of “making it” as a writer in one’s own culture and “infiltrating” another culture through translation. The course will be much more than Americans reading someone else’s literature, however. Whenever possible we will be joined by German literary critics and by the American translators of the works we discuss—and by the authors themselves. In some cases this will take place live, at Colgate; in others cases, via video-conferencing. Taught in English. German concentration credit will be given for those who participate in the FLAC component (see “Foreign Languages Across the Curriculum” of the Colgate Catalogue).

Reinventing Story Telling introduced students to contemporary German literature in translation. The students were able to talk to most of the authors and their translators via videoconferencing. A very special feature was the inclusion of young scholars who were specialists on the German author discussed. Via technology (videoconferences and NetMeeting), they were able to share their expertise with the Colgate students, gave lectures and chaired discussions at Colgate from their home institutions. Particpants were: the writers Thomas Brussig, Martin Grzimek, Sten Nadolny and his translator Breon Mitchell, and the lecturers Nathalie Jacoby (Freiburg), Gloria Fisk (City University, New York) and Sandra Schoell (Freiburg).

Article about this course in Colgate Scene.


Germ. 222 (Fall 2000): Re-Inventing Story-Telling

The writers Ralf Bönt came for a campus visit, so did Martin Grzimek who stayed for two weeks during which time he gave lectures, readings, workshops, and participated in a videoconference with his translator Breon Mitchel (in IU studio in Bloomington). As a highlight, the film Finlandia (based on a story by Martin Grzimek - see the very critcial review in the New York Times) had its first public screening. At the end of the semester, a second world premiere took place: the performance of the piece Kythera, a composition for solo voice by Violeta Dinescu based on a poem by Gisela Hemau. The composer was present when Neva Pilgrim (President of the Society for New Music) performed the piece at Colgate University (Hall of Presidents) while the poet was in a studio in Cologne from which she had introduced the poem via videoconference. The world premiere – which was Webcast – was reported on in several music journals.

Other videoconferences included conversations with Benjamin Lebert (the youngest German writer - studio in Berlin) and Uwe Timm (studio in Munich).



German. 340 (Spring 1999): German Conversation and Composition

Conversations with native German speakers from various areas of German life. Some visited Colgate, some spoke to the students via videoconferencing:

Greg Steinmetz (European correspondent for the Wall Street Journal -- studio Berlin);
• Discussions with German students (organized by Cornelia Wickerath);
Jan-Erik Gürth (producer of Multi-Kulti, Freie Sender Berlin - studio NYU);
• Joseph Diermaier (composer from Vienna – on campus visit);
Josef Neckermann (businessman – on campus visit) (son of the founder of the company Neckermann);
Milena Moser (Swiss Writer - studio in Berkeley);
Thomas Brussig (writer – on campus visit).



Germ. 351 (Spring 1997): Introduction to German Literature

Together with Max Kade Fellow Harald Zils

Literature was discussed in a general historical and cultural setting. Under the motto »Breaking down the classroom wall|, an international aspect was added for the contemporary era by having via videoconferencing a conversation with the Czech artist Karel Trinkewitz who now lived in Hamburg and had established the Prague-Hamburg partnership.




Germ. 351 (Spring 1998): Introduction to German Literature

Two modules:
(1) Traditional survey of German Literature (including popular literature)
(2) International mystery project with students in Freiburg and students of a German class at IU, Bloomington taught by Nadja Kramer

German. 351 (Fall 1998): Introduction to German Literature

Two modules:
(1) Introduction into Genres and Literary History
(2) Talk to the author (Gespräche mit zeitgenössischen deutschen Schriftstellern):
Gisela Hemau, Hans Magnus Ensenzberger, Bernhard Schlink, Ingo Schulze, and Thomas Brussig via videoconferencing (videoconferencing shared with two other courses).

Germ. 351 (Fall 2001): Introduction to German Literature

Together with Max Kade Fellow Harald Zils

Course Modules

(1) Discussion of the contemporary literary “scene” and literary “industry”in Germany with
(a) John von Düffel (prize-winning German playwright and novelist) (campus visit)
(b) Andrea Heyde, director of the German Book Office, New York (studio NYU). The German Book Office is an official German government sponsored agency which tries to promote German literature in the US.
(2) A multi-institutional theater project. Students at Colgate and in Germany accompany the production of the children’s play Kalif Storch from the first rehearsals to the premiere at the Theater in Freiburg, work on joint projects, and discuss their ideas with the authors as well as the production staff and actors. All materials of the play based on  a fairy tale by Wilhelm Hauff) – the various versions of the fairy tale, the dramatization with the director’s cuts, stage design – are online. A special program (Mr. Check from Xipolis, Munich) allows instant access to a standard German dictionary.
- Colgate students;
- German class from the Angell-Gymnasium (a German high school based on Montessori pedagogy);
- Students from  the seminar “Drama – Theater – Schule” of the Pedagogical University in Freiburg;
- Students from the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität.
The project is directed by Angelika Weiss, dramaturg of the Theater in Freiburg. She coordinated the various joint tasks developed by the participating teachers. The projects (program notes, posters, dramatic texts, production ideas) are Web-based so that the students are able to collaborate across the Atlantic.
While the students in Germany will visit rehearsals and a performance, the Colgate students will receive videos of rehearsals and the production. All groups will also meet via videoconferences. (Newspaper report about the project)



Germ. 479: Modern German Literature

Together with Max Kade Fellow Harald Zils

Two modules:
(1) Early and mid 20th century literature
(2) Contemporary literature: Gespräche mit zeitgenössischen deutschen Schriftstellern
Gisela Hemau, Hans Magnus Ensenzberger, Bernhard Schlink, Ingo Schulze, and Thomas Brussig via videoconferencing (videoconferencing shared with two other courses).



Germ. 485 (Spring 2001): Drama

The students in a German drama course experienced a theater workshop with Angelika Weiss (Theater Freiburg) and Uwe Möller (Dance Theater Basel, Switzerland) on campus  and had the unique chance to watch a video from the ongoing production by the Freiburg Theater of Ödön von Horvath's Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald. The highlight was the conversation with the director, set desiger and actors via videoconferencing.


Germ. 485 (Fall 2005): Drama

The Schiller year (200th anniversary of Schiller's death) was the reason for a collaboration project about Schiller's Die Räuber with (1) Lafaytte, Vassar, and Wheaton, and the universities in Freiburg and Paderborn, and (2) The Berlin Ensemble and the Freiburg Theater, and (3) Schiller-scholars.

In addition to regular videoconferences workshops on the campus of the participating institutions were held.

See list of civs-projects.



Germ. 485 (Fall 2007): Drama

The German and Austrian culture is marked by phantasies of the recent violent past: fascism, suppression by the communist regime in the GDR (German Democratic Republic), the Red Army Faction (RAF, also called the Baader-Meinhof Group/Gang) in the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany). The course »Language - Body - Power« tried to examine how intellectals, writers and artists coped with the articulation of the complex interdependencies between the individual and the political and social events – not only in regard to understanding the past but also in regard to influence the present time.

The course included an analysis of the multimedia performance art by Valie Export, the prose Kassandra by Christa Wolf (1983) and the prize-winning drama Ulrika Maria Stuart (2006) by Elfriede Jelinek, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004.

Participants were: (1) Lafayette, Vassar, University of Paderborn and (2) lectures and conversations with Valie Export, Pia Janke (Vienna), Mary-Kay Lombino, Rachel Kitzinger (Vassar), Mary Ann Calo (Colgate), (3) the director and ensemble of the prize-winning production of Jelinek's play by the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, (4) the director and ensemble of the production of Jelinek's play by the City Theater Freiburg, (5) Angelika Weiß,darmatic advisor of the Freiburg theater

The videoconferences were supplemented by workshops on the campuses of the participating institutions (e.g. theater workshopn at Lafayette by Suzanne Westfall) and joint visits of exhibitions and play performances.



FSEM 007 (Fall 1998): Talk to the Author

Together with Max Kade Fellow Harald Zils

Course Description

"Talk to the Author" is our motto in our First-Year Seminar in the fall '98. We will read some of the most up-to-date German novels, listen to songs, look at art, and watch current German films in translation (there will also be a FLAC component, see FLAC description). All writers, filmmakers, and artists whose work we will discuss have agreed to talk to us via teleconferences. This way, we will get a firsthand knowledge of the present-day German-speaking world (there will be writers/artists from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) as well as an understanding of current poetry, fiction, and art. These teleconferences are organized in collaboration with Prof. U. Beitter (Loyola College, Baltimore, director of the Berlin seminar with German writers and author of "Schreiben im heutigen Deutschland: die literarische Szene nach der Wende"). It is to be expected that other schools as well as other moderators in Germany will also participate. The class will be one great experiment. Web-projects are going to replace the traditional papers. Join us for a different kind of educational experience.


FSEM XXX (Fall 2000): Looking Back

First-year students in a class about memory and the Holocaust talked to campus visitors as well as electronic visitors:

Martin Grzimek (who grew up in a former refugee camp), Robert Goldman (author, spokesman of the Voice of America, and former head of the European bureau of the Anti-Defamation League), and Peter Dünkelsbühler (journalist), came to Colgate (as did for the Peace Studies program Helene Sperling and Frank Chalk ).

The writer Ingeborg Hecht talked to the students via videoconference about her life as a half-Jew in Gerany and the Nuremberg Laws (studio Freiburg – see the article: ”’Ich glaube, dieses Land ist nicht mehr antisemitisch.’ Die Freiburger Autoring Inge Hecht beantwortet via Internet-Videokonferenz die Fragen amerikaniscger Studenten.” In: Badische Zeitung, December 7, 2000.)

Originally, the class had been set-up as a companion course to "Arbeit am Gedächtnis: Holocaust-Literatur" by Ursula Renner-Henke, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Unfortunately, this course had to be cancelled because of a relocation of Prof. Renner-Henke to the University in Essen. As a substitute arrangement, a few Freiburg students participated as partners in a more informal setting: discussions via videoconference, project criticism via threaded discussions.

Two writers who were not able to participate in the fall came to Colgate in the spring 2001: Jeannette Lander and Bernhard Schlink.



More courses will follow.