CIVS Courses


Germ. 201-202: Intermediate German

Catalogue Description

The 201 and 202 courses complete the presentation of the basic structures of German and help students develop greater facility and sophistication in using these structures—in speaking, reading, and writing. These courses also continue the exploration of German cultures begun on the 100 level.


Fall 1997-Spring 1998 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 : Re-Inventing Story-Telling

Catalogue 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.” The course considers the works of several contemporary authors—in translation—and the process of "making it" as a writer in one's own cuture and "infiltrating" another culture through translation; however, the course is much more than Americans reading someone else's literature. Through guest lectures and via videoconferences, students are joined by German literary critcis, the American translators of the works discussed, and the authors themselves. Taught in English, German concentration credit is given for students who participate in the FLAC component.

Article about this course in Colgate Scene.


Spring 1999 together with Max Kade Fellow Harald Zils

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).


Fall 2000

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: German Conversation and Composition

Catalogue Description

Language is more than morphology and syntax; it is a living entity. This course is designed to connect language learning with real-life situations in which German is used—the next best thing to total immersion. It is a course for the German literature major as well as anyone who wants to brush up on German for private or business use. Today, Colgate is in touch with the rest of the world through the "Infobahn." Teleconferences with students, journalists, and artist abroad, collaborative web projects with German students, interviews with Germans in the United States and in Germany, critique of German television programs, discussion of German news as presented in German news broadcasts and newspapers are central to the course. The selection of teaching material is geared to the interests of the participants and therefore varies from semester yo semester.


Spring 1999

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, 352: Introduction to German Literature

Catalogue Description

This course develops critical and analytical skills through a program of selected readings in German literature of the 19th and 20th centuries in their cultural and historical cintexts.


Spring 1997 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.


Spring 1998

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


Fall 1998

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).

Fall 2001 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: 20th-Century Literature

Catalogue Description

Because of the wealth of the material, selections vary from semester to semester: Works read may be those of the "standard" authors such as Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Bert Brecht, and Günter Grass, or may come from contemporary authors, even ones who have not yet reached "canonical" status, e.g., Marcel Beyer, Thomas Brussig, Sten Nadolny, Bernhard Schlink, Ingo Schulze, W.G. Sebald, and Patrick Süskind. In the seond instance, videoconferences with the authors are arranged whenever possible.


Fall 1998 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: Drama

Catalogue Description

This course introduces the history and theory of drama and examines major dramatic works of the past three centuries. Works are selected from the oeuvres of such authors as Lessing, Goethe, Büchner, Hauptmann, Wedekind, Brecht, and Dürrenmatt. In the case of works by contemporary dramatists such as Botho Strauss and Peter Handke, students may have the chance to talk with the authors via videoconferences. The sourse may also include opera, e.g., works by Carl Maria von Weber, Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, and Alban Berg. Whenever possible, students will view videotaped or filmed performances, sometimes from theater archives. Collaboration with Colgate's theater program and a theater in Germany are, in some years, at the center of the course.


Spring 2001

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.


Fall 2005

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.


Fall 2007

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.


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.