Germanic Languages and Literatures

The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures offers language courses in German, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish, and Yiddish. The department also offers courses in German literature, Scandinavian literature, Weimar cinema, Scandinavian drama and film, Goethe, and Kafka.

For questions about specific courses, contact the department:

Departmental Office: 414 Hamilton Hall,
212-854-3202
Office Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Web: www.columbia.edu/cu/german

Conversation Courses

Students who wish intensive oral practice in German may take, in addition to Language Laboratory work, one of the 2-point conversation courses offered as parallels to the elementary and intermediate courses.

CLGR G4420 Walter Benjamin. 3 points.

In recent years, Walter Benjamin has become one of the most quoted media theorists. His philosophy of technology is not as widely known as the concept of aura he developed in his essay The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility. The contemporary relevance of his philosophy of technology lies in the fact that Benjamin establishes a connection between technology and different forms of habitation, and between the latter and the concept of habit (Gewohnheit), which is etymologically related to the concept of habitation (Wohnen). This enables a comparison of Benjamin’s approach with the philosophies of technology developed by Heidegger, Deleuze/Guattari, and Simondon, all of whom associate technology with the shaping of environments and the problem of poesis. In our seminar, we will reconstruct Benjamin’s media anthropology of technology through a close reading of his diaries and essays and compare it to philosophies of technology very much being discussed today.

CMPM V3100 Comparative Media: Approaches & Case Studies. 3 points.

Comparative media is an emergent approach in media and film theory. This course, taught by scholars from German and anthropology, introduces students to cutting edge research in media drawing on history, film & media theory, sound studies, literature, anthropology & visual culture. It adopts a comparative approach to media as machines and aesthetic practices by examining contemoprary media in relation to the introduction of earlier technologies. In doing so it decenters media theory, extending our focus beyond the U.S. and Europe by examining other cultural locations of media innovation and appropriation.

DTCH UN1101 Elementary Dutch I. 4 points.

Fundamentals of grammar, reading, speaking, and comprehension of the spoken language. During the spring term supplementary reading is selected according to students' needs.

Fall 2017: DTCH UN1101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
DTCH 1101 001/62849 M W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
1 Deutsches Haus
Wijnie de Groot 4 20/21

DTCH UN3101 Advanced Dutch I. 3 points.

Fall 2017: DTCH UN3101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
DTCH 3101 001/62531 M W 11:40am - 12:55pm
352c International Affairs Bldg
Wijnie de Groot 3 5/18

FINN W1201 Intermediate Course I. 4 points.

Prerequisites: FINN W1101-W1102 or the instructor's permission.

Continued practice in aural comprehension, reading, speaking, and writing; review and refinement of grammatical structures; vocabulary building. Readings include Finnish fiction and nonfiction.

FINN W1202 Intermediate Course II. 4 points.

Prerequisites: FINN W1101-W1102 or the instructor's permission.

Continued practice in aural comprehension, reading, speaking, and writing; review and refinement of grammatical structures; vocabulary building. Readings include Finnish fiction and nonfiction.

GERM  The Berlin Consortium Program. 0 points.

The Berlin Consortium makes it possible for science, social science, and humanities majors who have completed at least two years of college German to become German university students for an entire academic year or the spring semester. After a brief period of orientation and intensive language instruction, undergraduates from Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, General Studies, and Barnard College attend classes at the Freie Universität (FU) Berlin. Instruction is in German. The FU offers an exceptionally wide range of courses. Medicine, the natural sciences, and the humanities and social sciences are the largest faculties. Smaller, more specialized disciplines are particularly well represented and range from religious studies and ethnology to studies in Asian culture and in the antiquities, art history, and musicology. The Berlin Consortium Program is also open to a limited number of participants from beyond the Consortium institutions--Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University. A bulletin with an application and information about all aspects of the program is available in the Berlin Consortium Office in 203 Lewisohn, 854-2820.

GERM UN1101 Elementary German Language Course, I. 4 points.

Upon completion of the course, students understand, speak, read, and write German at a level enabling them to communicate with native speakers about their background, family, daily activities, student life, work, and living quarters. Daily assignments and laboratory work.

Spring 2017: GERM UN1101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
GERM 1101 001/74139 T Th F 10:10am - 11:25am
316 Hamilton Hall
Amy Leech 4 5/18
GERM 1101 002/63295 M W F 1:10pm - 2:25pm
313 Hamilton Hall
Miriam Schulz 4 11/18
GERM 1101 003/64942 T Th F 2:40pm - 3:55pm
313 Hamilton Hall
Simona Vaidean 4 6/18
GERM 1101 004/27009 T Th 6:10pm - 8:00pm
315 Hamilton Hall
Niklas Straetker 4 15/18
Fall 2017: GERM UN1101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
GERM 1101 001/21971 T Th F 10:10am - 11:25am
313 Hamilton Hall
Thomas Preston 4 14/18
GERM 1101 002/16700 M W F 1:10pm - 2:25pm
313 Hamilton Hall
Chloe Vaughn 4 15/18
GERM 1101 003/18492 T Th F 2:40pm - 3:55pm
313 Hamilton Hall
Laura Tedford 4 12/18
GERM 1101 004/25336 M W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
313 Hamilton Hall
Diana Reese 4 11/18
GERM 1101 005/04371 T Th 6:10pm - 8:00pm
302 Milbank Hall
Foteini Samartzi 4 17/18
GERM 1101 006/11674 M W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
509 Hamilton Hall
Neil Ziolkowski 4 8/18

GERM UN1113 Elementary Intensive Reading Course, I. 2 points.

Primarily for graduate students and others who need to acquire a reading knowledge of German. This course does not fulfill any part of the language requirement for the bachelor's degree. A comprehensive introduction to German grammar accompanied by reading of appropriate texts.

Fall 2017: GERM UN1113
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
GERM 1113 001/17658 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
318 Hamilton Hall
Ross Shields 2 14/20

GERM UN1125 Accelerated Elementary German I & II. 8 points.

Equivalent to GERM V1101-V1102.

This intensive semester provides all of elementary German enabling students to understand, speak, read, and write in German. Topics range from family and studies to current events. Conducted entirely in German, requirements include oral and written exams, essays, German-culture projects, and a final exam.

Spring 2017: GERM UN1125
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
GERM 1125 001/13967 M T W Th 12:10pm - 2:00pm
316 Hamilton Hall
Simona Vaidean 8 14/18
Fall 2017: GERM UN1125
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
GERM 1125 001/27605 M T W Th 12:10pm - 2:00pm
316 Hamilton Hall
Simona Vaidean 8 12/18

GERM UN3780 Berlin/Istanbul: Migration, Culture, Values (GER). 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

An intensive seminar analyzing questions of migration, identity, (self-) representation, and values with regard to the Turkish minority living in Germany today. Starting with a historical description of the „guest worker“ program that brought hundreds of thousands of Turkish nationals to Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, the course will focus on the experiences and cultural production of the second and third generations of Turkish Germans, whose presence has profoundly transformed German society and culture. Primary materials include diaries, autobiographies, legal and historical documents, but the course will also analyze poetry, novels, theater plays and films. In German.

Fall 2017: GERM UN3780
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
GERM 3780 001/60720 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
303 Hamilton Hall
Claudia Breger 3 9/30

GERM V1201 Intermediate German Language Course, I. 4 points.

Prerequisites: GERM V1102 or the equivalent.
Corequisites: Recommended: GERM W1521.

Prepares students for advanced German language and literature courses. Topics emphasize contemporary German life and cross-cultural awareness. Daily assignments, video material, and laboratory work.

GERM V1202 Intermediate German Language Course, II. 4 points.

Prerequisites: GERM V1201 or the equivalent.
Corequisites: Recommended: GERM W1522.

Students read a German novel. Intermediate-high to advanced-low proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing German is expected upon completion. Daily assignments, video material, and laboratory work.

GERM W1521 Intermediate Conversation, I. 2 points.

Prerequisites: GERM V1102 or the equivalent, or placement by the director of undergraduate studies.
Corequisites: Recommended: GERM V1201.

Practice in idiomatic conversational German through discussion of a wide variety of topics.

GERM W1522 Intermediate Conversation, II. 2 points.

Prerequisites: GERM V1201 or the equivalent, or placement by the director of undergraduate studies.
Corequisites: Recommended: GERM V1202.

Practice in idiomatic conversational German through discussion of a wide variety of topics.

GERM W3442 Enlightenment, Sturm und Drang [In German]. 3 points.

We will be studying the Enlightenment, Storm and Stress and the Culture of Sensibility and German Classicism in light of this period’s reading cultures. (Goethe, Gessner, Schiller, Kant, Lichtenstein, Bürger, Lenz, Karsch, Klopstock, Hölderlin, Kleist).  Readings and discussions in German.

SWED UN1101 Elementary Swedish I. 4 points.

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the Swedish language as it is spoken in Sweden today. The class will also introduce important aspects of contemporary Swedish culture, historical figures and events, and Swedish traditions. Upon the completion of the course, students who have attended class regularly have submitted all assignments and taken all tests and quizzes should be able to:   provide basic information in Swedish about themselves, families, interests, food, likes and dislikes, daily activities; understand and participate in a simple conversation on everyday topics (e.g. occupation, school, meeting people, food, shopping, hobbies, etc.); read edited texts on familiar topics, understand the main ideas and identify the underlying themes; pick out important information from a variety of authentic texts (e.g. menus, signs, schedules, websites, as well as linguistically simple literary texts such as songs and rhymes); fill in forms requesting information, write letters, notes, postcards, or messages providing simple information; provide basic information about Sweden and the rest of the Nordic countries (e.g. languages spoken, capitals, etc); use and understand a range of essential vocabulary related to everyday life (e.g. days of the week, colors, numbers, months, seasons, telling time, foods, names of stores, family, common objects, transportation, basic adjectives etc.) pronounce Swedish well enough and produce Swedish with enough grammatical accuracy to be comprehensible to a Swedish speaker with experience in speaking with non-natives. use and understand basic vocabulary related to important aspects of contemporary Swedish culture and Swedish traditions (e.g. Christmas traditions, St. Lucia, etc.).  Methodology The class will be taught in a communicative way. It will be conducted primarily, but not exclusively in Swedish. In-class activities and homework assignments will focus on developing speaking, reading, writing, listening skills, and a basic understanding of Swedish culture through interaction. Authentic materials will be used whenever possible.

Fall 2017: SWED UN1101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
SWED 1101 001/26170 M W 9:00am - 10:50am
1 Deutsches Haus
Lena Stenwall 4 16/18

SWED W1201 Intermediate Swedish I. 3 points.

The goal of this course is to further develop the speaking, reading, writing, and listening skills you have acquired in the first year Swedish courses and broaden your knowledge about the Swedish culture and history. Topics emphasize contemporary Swedish life and corss-cultural awareness. In addition to the main text, newspaper articles, shorter literary texts, film, and internet resources will be used. Class will be conducted almost exclusively in Swedish. To succeed in this course, you must actively participate. You will be expected to attend class regularly, prepare for class daily, and speak as much Swedish as possible. Methodology The class will be taught in a communicative way. It will be conducted primarily, but not exclusively in Swedish. In-class activities and homework assignments will focus on improving and developing  speaking, reading, writing, listening skills, and deepening the students' understanding of Swedish culture through interaction and exposure to a broad range of authentic materials.

SWED W1202 Intermediate Swedish II. 4 points.

The goal of this course is to further develop your speaking, reading, writing, and listening skills and broaden your knowledge about the Swedish culture, history and literature. Topics emphasize contemporary Swedish life and cross-cultural awareness. Topics to be covered include Sweden's regions, the party and political system, major historical and cultural figures, and the Swedish welfare state. In addition to the main text we will use a selection of short stories, newspaper articles, films and audio resources available on the internet. Class will be conducted almost exclusively in Swedish. To succeed in this course, you must actively participate. You will be expected to attend class regularly, prepare for class daily, and speak as much Swedish as possible. Methodology The class will be taught in a communicative way. It will be conducted primarily in Swedish. In-class activities and homework assignments will focus on improving and developing  speaking, reading, writing, listening skills, and deepening the students' understanding of Swedish culture through interaction and exposure to a broad range of authentic materials.

YIDD UN1101 Elementary Yiddish I. 4 points.

This course offers an introduction to the language that has been spoken by the Ashkenazi Jews for more than a millennium, and an opportunity to discover a fabulous world of Yiddish literature, language and culture in a fun way. Using games, new media, and music, we will learn how to speak, read, listen and write in a language that is considered one of the richest languages in the world (in some aspects of vocabulary). We will also venture outside the classroom to explore the Yiddish world today: through field trips to Yiddish theater, Yiddish-speaking neighborhoods, Yiddish organizations, such as YIVO or Yiddish farm, and so on. We will also have Yiddish-speaking guests and do a few digital projects. At the end of the two-semester course, you will be able to converse in Yiddish on a variety of everyday topics and read most Yiddish literary and non-literary texts. Welcome to Yiddishland!

Spring 2017: YIDD UN1101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
YIDD 1101 001/69961 M W 10:10am - 12:00pm
408 Hamilton Hall
Anruo Bao 4 3/18
YIDD 1101 002/77031 M W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
401 Hamilton Hall
Agnieszka Legutko 4 6/18
Fall 2017: YIDD UN1101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
YIDD 1101 001/11720 M W 10:10am - 12:00pm
316 Hamilton Hall
Agnieszka Legutko 4 13/18
YIDD 1101 002/27499 M W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
404 Hamilton Hall
Anruo Bao 4 6/18

YIDD UN1102 Elementary Yiddish II. 4 points.

This course offers an introduction to the language that has been spoken by the Ashkenazi Jews for more than a millennium, and an opportunity to discover a fabulous world of Yiddish literature, language and culture in a fun way. Using games, new media, and music, we will learn how to speak, read, listen and write in a language that is considered one of the richest languages in the world (in some aspects of vocabulary). We will also venture outside the classroom to explore the Yiddish world today: through field trips to Yiddish theater, Yiddish-speaking neighborhoods, Yiddish organizations, such as YIVO or Yiddish farm, and so on. We will also have Yiddish-speaking guests and do a few digital projects. At the end of the two-semester course, you will be able to converse in Yiddish on a variety of everyday topics and read most Yiddish literary and non-literary texts. Welcome to Yiddishland!

Spring 2017: YIDD UN1102
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
YIDD 1102 002/63787 M W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
404 Hamilton Hall
Agnieszka Legutko 4 7/18

YIDD W1201 Intermediate Yiddish I. 4 points.

Prerequisites: YIDD W1101-W1102 or the instructor's permission.

This year-long course is a continuation of Elementary Yiddish II. As part of the New Media in Jewish Studies Collaborative, this class will be using new media in order to explore and research the fabulous world of Yiddish literature, language, and culture, and to engage in project-oriented activities that will result in creating lasting multi-media online presentations. In addition to expanding the command of the language that has been spoken by the Ashkenazi Jews for more than a millennium, i.e. focusing on developing speaking, reading, writing and listening skills, and on the acquisition of more advanced grammatical concepts, students will also get some video and film editing training, and tutorials on archival research. The class will continue to read works of Yiddish literature in the original and will venture outside of the classroom to explore the Yiddish world today: through exciting field trips to Yiddish theater, Yiddish-speaking neighborhoods, YIVO, Yiddish Farm, and so on. And we will also have the Yiddish native-speaker guest series. Welcome back to Yiddishland!

YIDD W3101 Advanced Yiddish. 3 points.

May be repeated for credit.

Prerequisites: YIDD W1201-W1202 or the instructor's permission.

Reading of contemporary authors. Stress on word usage and idiomatic expression, discussion.

YIDD W3333 Advanced Yiddish. 3 points.

May be repeated for credit.

Prerequisites: YIDD W1201-W1202 or the instructor's permission.

Reading of contemporary authors. Stress on word usage and idiomatic expression, discussion.

YIDD W3334 Advanced Yiddish. 3 points.

May be repeated for credit.

Prerequisites: YIDD W1201-W1202 or the instructor's permission.

Reading of contemporary authors. Stress on word usage and idiomatic expression, discussion.

YIDD W3520 Magic and Monsters in Yiddish Literature [In English]. 3 points.

A Serious Man, the 2009 movie by the Coen Brothers opens with a Yiddish folk tale featuring a dybbuk. Dybbuks, golems, magicians, and monsters haunt not only Yiddish literature but also the contemporary cinema, as illustrated by such recent films as The Unborn and The Possession. Why are we so attracted to dybbuks, spirit possession, magic, and monsters in the twenty-first century? This course will focus on magic, monsters, dybbuks, demons, and golems in Yiddish literature and beyond, including film and popular culture. We will approach the supernatural motif from the perspective of gender, body, and performance studies, and will explore the questions of memory, trauma, and identity. The aim of the course is to encourage students to discuss and critically engage with the various texts and film adaptations listed on the syllabus in an attempt to answer the following questions: In what ways do these works explore, interrogate with, and reflect on human experience? What do they tell us about the powers of good and evil? How relevant are they in the twenty-first century? The course puts emphasis on developing the skills of critical, analytical, and abstract thinking in relation to the discussed works, as well as the ability to express that critical thinking in writing. No knowledge of Yiddish required.

YIDD W3800 Readings in Yiddish Literature: The Family Singer [In English]. 3 points.

This course examines a topic in Yiddish literature.

The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.