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Course Descriptions

Department of Germanic Language and Literature

Adjacent to Halsey Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400125
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4125
(434) 924-3530

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts Candidates are required to take at least eight graduate courses (24 credits) and are encouraged to take a balanced load of courses, ranging from the Middle Ages to the present. One course may be taken outside the department if desired (with departmental approval).

GERM 510 or its equivalent is expected at the M.A. level. An examination (three-hour written, one-hour oral) is required to complete the M.A. degree. It is based on a departmental M.A. Reading List. The oral includes a short prepared talk in German, and the entire exam is taken during the third semester.

Each teaching assistant normally teaches one elementary German course in the teacher training program and at the same time enrolls in three graduate courses.

Master of Teaching in German For students interested in pursuing a high school teaching career, there are two options in conjunction with the Curry School of Education: a 5-year program, in which the student gets a B.A. in German and a Master of Teaching, and a 15-month program, the post-graduate Master of Teaching. For more information, please contact Alicia Belozerco, Curry School of Education, Ruffner Hall or Janette Hudson, German Department.

Doctor of Philosophy Requirements for entry into the Ph.D. program are the M.A. degree and departmental permission to proceed. The latter is a decision arrived at in a meeting of all faculty members, and it is based on class work, the M.A. examination, and the general performance of the student in the teacher training program.

Requirements include at least ten graduate courses (30 credits are required beyond the M.A. degree). Specialization that prepares for a dissertation is encouraged.

Periodic evaluation of the teaching performance of graduate instructors forms an integral part of the evaluation of the candidate’s progress in the program. Each student must teach a minimum of four semesters beyond the M.A. degree.

Candidates normally specialize in the works of one author, in a genre (poetry, novel, drama, or Novelle/Erzahlung) and in a period (medieval, romantic, post-war, etc.). Literary theory, however, may be substituted for a genre.

In the first semester as a Ph.D. candidate, the student submits a proposed reading list in all three areas to a committee of three faculty members (appointed by the chair after consultation with the student). Generally the head of the committee is the student’s dissertation advisor. The author, genre, and theory lists are based on departmental core lists, whereas the period lists are developed along the lines of previous period lists. In certain cases a combination of two specialties not mentioned in the guidelines can be approved by the chair and the committee of three. By the end of the second semester after the M.A., however, all three parts of the list must be in final form.

For the Ph.D. a reading knowledge of French is required–or another language, if approved by the chair and the student’s committee, and this requirement must be fulfilled before the Ph.D. examination. Reading knowledge is demonstrated either by passing a literature course in the respective department with a grade of B or better, or by passing a written examination administered by the German department. Students should study French during the summer, inasmuch as this does not count as a regular course.

The Ph.D. examination consists of three written examinations–a period, genre, and a major author–plus a two-hour oral which includes a 15-minute critical presentation. The oral follows the written exam within a week, and the overall examination is graded as distinguished, passing, or failing. In the case of a failure, the student is granted another opportunity to take the examination within the following two semesters. All course work and the language requirement, however, must be completed before the examination can be taken.

The Ph.D. dissertation should be a book-length manuscript suitable for publication. With special permission the department has accepted three publishable articles instead. For the dissertation defense, a committee member is selected from outside the department.

Each semester a Ph.D. student teaches a five-day elementary German course plus enrolls in three graduate courses. Candidates generally complete the eight courses in three semesters (three courses each of the first two semesters, two the last). If desired, however, the student can take ten courses in four semesters (three courses each of the first three semesters, then one the last). In either case the Ph.D. exam takes place at the end of the last semester of course work, either early in January or in May. Whether taking the three- or four-semester option, students who postpone the exam from May until late summer are not granted the last-semester course reduction, but are required to take the normal three courses.

The continuation of financial support from year to year in the department is contingent upon satisfactory progress toward a degree.

For more information or application forms, please write: Volker Kaiser, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of German, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400125, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4125.

Course Descriptions


GERM 500 - (3) (IR)
Critical Writing and Bibliography
Supervised practice in the organization and writing of articles for scholarly journals. Includes introduction to bibliography.

GERM 505 - (3) (IR)
Special Topics
Major figures, genres, or literary problems serve as the focus for an intensive course within any literary period.

GERM 510 - (3) (IR)
Introduction to Middle High German
Introduces Middle High German and selected readings in Middle High German literature.

GERM 512 - (3) (IR)
Medieval German Lyric Poetry
Prerequisite: Knowledge of Middle High German.
Reading of selections from the Minnesang, in the context of the development of Middle High German poetry.

GERM 514 - (3) (IR)
Medieval German Epic
Prerequisite: Knowledge of Middle High German.
Theory and analysis of the great Middle High German romances and courtly and heroic epics, including the Nibelungenlied, Erec, Parzival, and Tristan.

GERM 521 - (3) (IR)
Reformation-Baroque 1700
Studies German literature from 1500 to 1680.

GERM 523 - (3) (IR)
Weise to Wieland
Studies German literature from 1680 to 1750.

GERM 525 - (3) (IR)
Age of Goethe I
Studies German storm and stress and classicism, focusing on Goethe and Schiller.

GERM 526 - (3) (IR)
Age of Goethe II
Studies representative romantic works against the background of German intellectual history, 1795-1830.

GERM 530 - (3) (IR)
Studies German literature and intellectual history from 1795 to 1830.

GERM 537 - (3) (IR)
Nineteenth Century
Studies major writers and works from 1830 to 1890, including Grillparzer, Stifter, Heine, Hebbel, Keller, Storm, Fontane.

GERM 547 - (3) (IR)
Turn of the Century
Discusses the major literary movements at the turn of the century with analysis of representative works by Hofmannstahl, Schnitzler, George, Rilke, Thomas Mann, Musil, Kafka, and others.

GERM 548 - (3) (IR)
Twentieth Century
Introduces the main currents of German literature since 1920, emphasizing five or six of the major authors.

GERM 549 - (3) (IR)
Contemporary German Literature and Culture
Emphasizes the intersections of German culture, literature, politics, philosophy and mass-media in the postwar and post-holocaust era. Special attention will be given to the politics of memory and cultural renewal following the events in 1949, 1968, and 1989.

GERM 550 - (3) (IR)
Studies in Lyric Poetry
Investigates the theory and practice of lyric poetry in Germany, emphasizing major authors and traditions.

GERM 551 - (3) (IR)
Studies in Prose Fiction
Studies representative works of fiction, either novels or shorter forms, emphasizing formal and thematic developments, and representative theories of fiction.

GERM 552 - (3) (IR)
Studies in Drama
Investigates dramatic theory and practice in Germany, emphasizing major authors and traditions.

GERM 560 - (3) (IR)
Old Icelandic
An introduction to the language and literature of the Vikings, with exercises in the grammar and basic vocabulary of Icelandic.

GERM 584 - (3) (IR)
Introduction to Literary Theory
Examines current theories of literature, including Marxist, psychoanalytical, formalist, structuralist, and hermeneutic approaches.

GERM 595, 596 - (3) (S)
Guided Research
Individually directed special research projects.

GERM 740 - (3) (IR)
German Intellectual History From the Enlightenment to Nietzsche
Studies the development of the concepts of "education" and "evolution," and the predominance of aesthetics in German culture. Includes lectures on the impact of Leibnitz, Kant, and Schopenhauer; and readings in Lessing, Kant, Schiller, Fichte, Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche.

GERM 741 - (3) (IR)
Nietzsche and Modern Literature
Reading and discussion of the major works of Nietzsche, in English translation, from The Birth of Tragedy to Twilight of the Idols. Emphasizes the impact of Nietzsche on 20th-century literature and thought in such diverse authors as Shaw, Rilke, Thomas Mann, and Kafka. Includes a term paper to be submitted in two stages and a final examination.

GERM 742 - (3) (IR)
German Intellectual History from Nietzsche to the Present
Readings in and discussion of the intellectual, philosophical, and social history of Germany from the late nineteenth century to the present.

GERM 750 - (3) (E)
German Cinema
Studies the aesthetics and semiotics of German film, with a focus on expressionism and New German Cinema.

GERM 751 - (3) (S)
Advanced Topics
Investigates subjects requiring considerable previous knowledge.

GERM 770 - (3) (IR)
Narrative Theory
Study and comparison of major theories of narrative, including Booth, Stanzel, Barthes, Genette, Cohn, Bakhtin, and others.

GERM 881 - (3) (Y)
Pre-Dissertation Research I
Supervised reading, directed toward the formulation of a dissertation proposal by the individual student.

GERM 882 - (3) (Y)
Pre-Dissertation Research II
Supervised reading, directed toward the formulation of a dissertation proposal by the individual student.

GERM 891, 892 - (3) (S)
Special problems in German literature and linguistics.

GERM 893, 894 - (3) (S)
Seminar in Language Teaching
Studies the theory and practice of language teaching with supervised classroom experience. One group meeting per week plus extensive individual consultation. Required of all teaching assistants in the teacher training program.

GERM 895, 896 - (3) (S)
Guided Research
Special research projects for advanced students. Individually directed.

GERM 897 - (3, 6, 9, 12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research

GERM 898 - (3, 6, 9, 12) (S)
Non-Topical Research
For master’s thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.

GERM 996 - (3) (S)

GERM 997 - (3, 6, 9, 12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research

GERM 999 - (3, 6, 9, 12) (S)
Non-Topical Research
For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.

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