German 3365 Page German 3365: Gegenwartskultur im deutschsprachigen Raum German Pages

Course Information

This course will cover current events and various aspects of contemporary cultural life and development in German-speaking countries and societies, i.e. art and architecture, literature and music, customs and festivals, diversity and multiculturalism, mass media and entertainment. This is not a lecture course. The students are expected to participate actively and regularly in class presentations and discussions. Students are required to read all texts and come prepared to discuss in German what they have read.  


After successful completion of this course you will



In addition to the novel „The Reader“ by Bernhard Schlink, the students will read current newspaper and magazine articles in German, explore German web sites, watch German TV, films and videos and listen to German music. The students will receive a one page concise schedule as well as detailed weekly schedules. Please read these schedules carefully and make sure you know what is due that week.


Required Books:   Bernhard Schlink. Der Vorleser. Zürich: Diogenes, 1997 (bookstore)

                             German-English-German Dictionary (bookstore)

                             Tatsachen über Deutschland, Österreich und die Schweiz (professor)


Fieldtrips: The German, Austrian and Swiss embassies and their cultural institutes offer various cultural events. Students are required to participate in several fieldtrips to these cultural events in Washington, DC or Baltimore. The dates and events will be announced in class.


Important:  Doing your homework (written or otherwise) is absolutely vital. You must be prepared for every class. Read the assigned texts prior to the meeting time. Prepare a very good oral presentation. Use PowerPoint to bring your point across.


Honor Code: The college’s honor code will be strictly enforced. Students must sign the honor pledge on all assignments and tests, and write it on all essays. The honor pledge is posted in every classroom.




Daily Preparations and Class Participation


Oral reports




Final Presentation





Attendance: Regular attendance is essential for academic achievement. Therefore, attendance is mandatory. Three unexcused absences will lower the final grade by 3%, four by 6%, five by 9%, and so on. Excused absences are at the discretion of the instructor. Absences caused by college-related activities are excused only if the instructor is made aware of them in advance.

Daily Preparations and Class Participation: Daily preparations and active participation in class discussions are absolutely vital to academic growth. If you don’t show up for class, you can’t participate in class discussions. Merely coming to class is not enough. You should read German newspapers on-line and must have read the assigned pages for the day. Be an active participant. Speak up, speak out, and throw your hat into the ring. Ask questions and comment on others' opinions. Every time you are not well prepared for class discussions, I will record a check next to your name. At the end of semester, I will total the checks. Your participation grade will be determined by how many times you were not prepared for class , e.g. if you were not prepared for class 6 times, your participation grade will be B- (that is 30 classes minus 6 divided by 30).

Oral Reports: Each student will give ten (10) short oral reports to the class about contemporary cultural aspects of German-speaking countries. You can use the books, Focus, Spiegel, Amerika Woche, on-line German newspapers or magazines, German TV, or other Internet sources, etc. Please always submit a copy of what you have read. I highly recommend using PowerPoint when you give your reports to the class.

Essays: To improve your writing skills, you will write four (4) essays in German. Each essay must be at least 500 words each. The essays should be typed, double-spaced, with words counted and printed at the bottom. You can, of course, use the topics of your oral reports for the essays. You must list all your sources if you use any books, articles or on-line sources. Title of your essay, your name, my name, title of the course, and any bibliographical information are not considered part of your essay, and should not be included in your word count. Fanni Göbel, director of German House will be your writing assistant. You will submit the first draft to me, which I will return to you, along with comments and suggestions. You will write a second draft and take it, along with your first draft, to Fanni and she will help you make any necessary corrections. She will, however, not rewrite your essay. She will sit with you and discuss with you your third and final draft. Please turn in all three drafts for a final grade.

Final Presentation: At the end of semester, you will give a longer oral presentation to the class using PowerPoint. You will have to decide about a topic early on in the semester and collect materials for it. Work on that topic as early as you can. Discuss your drafts either with me or with Fanni Göbel, no later than November 20th so that we can give you some feedback and suggestions. The presentations will be conducted in the last week of classes. You can also use your imagination and make a video or conduct a radio show on the local campus radio station.


Important: Do not ignore problems. Ask questions. Do not fall behind. Complete all required readings on time. Be active in class. Call me or send me an e-mail if you need help, or have any questions about what we learn in class.


Please join the German Club and/or support it and the German House by attending cultural events sponsored by both.


Changes to all aspects of this syllabus are at the discretion of the instructor.


Viel Spaß und Erfolg!