Why study German?

A group of students at the 2019 Minors Fair
2019 Minors Fair

Our goal in the German Program is to allow students to experience the richness and potential of the German-speaking world. 

German is spoken by more than 200 million people worldwide. German speakers share a multi-cultural history that is not only crucial to the identity of Europe today, but in international relations and questions of the human condition including issues of diversity, identity, gender, religion, ethnicity, race, physical abilities, political affiliations, economic background, age, and immigration statuses.

Carleton German strives to create a welcoming and inclusive learning environment that allows students to experience the richness and potential of the German-speaking world while also engaging in efforts to promote access, opportunity, equity, and justice.

After three terms of German at Carleton, our students have the linguistic proficiency and cultural competence to read literature and newspapers and to live and study in a German-speaking country. They are encouraged to take part in our biennial program in Berlin or to pursue overseas study with other approved programs.

To understand the German language and its people, we delve into German-language culture, including literary, philosophical, musical and artistic expressions right from the first course in the sequence. Students will gain the skills to engage with important writers, thinkers, creators, and discoverers in the original German.

German Courses

The courses 101, 102, 103, and 204 (205 is taught overseas in Berlin) are a sequential series of courses designed to prepare students in the basic language and cultural skills to provide the foundation for pursuing advanced work in language, and literature, and culture.

German 210-219 offers students the opportunity to delve deeper into specific issues, ranging from current news topics, to genre studies, and themes such as migration, the body, or film. Admission to these courses without taking German 204 is determined either by appropriate AP or other placement test scores, or by successful completion of the previous course in the sequence.

Courses beyond 103 have a number of goals: to refine and expand students’ linguistic ability, to give students access to great works of literature and culture, to broaden their cultural understanding, to improve their ability to engage in critical analysis, and to help them better understand themselves and the human condition. In class discussions, attention is focused on universal themes and concerns within the broad context of German culture.

Courses numbered 150-159 are survey courses in translation with no prerequisites. Other courses in translation are also offered, which open interdisciplinary ways of study.

Special Seminars for First-Year Students (in English):

Recent offerings have included: Monsters, Robots, and Other Non-Humans; Science, Authority and Conscience in Modern German Literature; The German Fairy Tale; Searching for the Self; and View of Reality.

Literature and Culture Courses in German:

Iron Curtain Kids – Coming of Age in East Germany; “Good Bye, Lenin!” German Post-War Culture, History, and Politics through Film; Refugees Welcome? Debating Migration and Multiculturalism in Post-War Germany; The Invention of Childhood: Coming of Age in Nineteenth-Century Germany; Mystery, Murder, Madness: Crime Stories in German Literature; Tense Affinities: A History of German Jewish Culture; In the Shadow of Goethe and Schiller: German Women Writers around 1800; Theater in Berlin; Studies in Twentieth-Century Prose and Poetry; The Age of Goethe; Realism and the Rise of Modernism; Romantic Visions of the World.

Literature and Culture Courses in Translation:

The Sound of German: German-speaking Cultural History From Mozart to Brothers Keepers; Indo-European Folktales; Studies in German Cinema; European film; From Gutenberg to Gates: History and Practice of the Book; Contemporary Women Writers in the German-Speaking Countries; Damsels, Dwarfs and Dragons: Medieval German Literature; Cultures in Conflict. Courses in World Literature offered in translation Fall Term: German 100: Views of Reality; LCST 100: Alien; EUST: Culture or Brutality: The German Questions. 

Activities & Events

German-language activities outside the classroom include a German lunch table in the dining halls, film nights, Kaffeeklatsch, a German study table in the library, “Cook and Study” events, and many more. Recently students have explored the German restaurant scene in the Twin Cities and New Ulm, met alumni from the German section at a German “Career Night,” and presented at a national undergraduate research conference.

The German Club “FKK” offers more exciting opportunities such as LipSyncBattles, an Oktoberfest, and intramural soccer. Students also may elect to live in the International House, where a peer native-speaker is in residence.

Check out the 10 reasons to learn German from the Goethe Institute.

In addition, watch a video of a recent event, highlighting Career Opportunities in 21st Century Germany or read a Carleton news article about Speaking German as a Career Tool.