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320 Milbank Hall  
Department Administrative Assistant: Tomara Aldrich 

Chair: Erk Grimm (Associate Professor)

Other officers of the University offering courses listed below:

Professors: Andreas Huyssen, Mark Anderson, Dorothea von Mucke, Harro Muller
Associate Professor: Stefan Andriopoulos
Assistant Professor: Tobias Wilke
Senior Associate: Irene Motyl (Language Coordinator)
Senior Lecturer: Richard Korb (Language Coordinator)
Lecturer: Jutta Schmiers-Heller
Adjunct Lecturer: Miranda Emre


The German Department’s mission is to engage a wider audience of students within the Barnard Community. Its curricular program and cultural events serve a large and diverse academic community on the Barnard and Columbia campuses. The Department is committed to creating venues for students, faculty and the public interested in the many facets of cultural life in the German-speaking countries or communities.

As an active contributor to campus life, the Department has constantly initiated new venues—from readings, lectures and film screenings to excursions—to supplement and enrich its annual course offerings. In disciplines such as Art History, Philosophy or History, a familiarity with the German language is an asset; in interdisciplinary areas such as Comparative Literature or European Studies, German often serves as the main or second language of study.

It is the goal of our department:

  • to teach the German language in a professionally reflected manner through a clear sequence of courses
  • to help attain and expand knowledge of Austrian, German and Swiss literatures through reading exemplary texts in theme- or period-oriented courses
  • to make familiar with characteristic features of Germanophone cultures by raising awareness of their geographical diversity and their historical richness in introductory survey courses
  • to give students the rhetorical and intellectual tools for moving confidently between two languages’ cultural traditions by offering exercises, sketches and other forms of active participation from elementary to advanced levels of expression
  • to create a learning environment that instills appreciation for critical thought and is conducive to acquiring a clearly defined set of skills, from language proficiency to interpretive adroitness and intercultural literacy

Courses in German are designed to develop proficiency in language skills and to present the traditions as well as the current developments in the literature and culture of the German-speaking countries: Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Courses in Dutch, Finnish, Swedish, and Yiddish are offered by the Department of Germanic Languages. For information contact 319 Hamilton Hall.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate with a German major should be able to attain the following outcomes:

  1. Write, speak, read, and listen in German at the intermediate-high level in German language using ACTFL; and carry-on an everyday conversation
  2. Identify and discuss the historical significance of major cultural works such as film, plays, opera, telenovela, audiovisual media
  3. Recognize cultural manifestations of social values and practices and apply effectively knowledge about cultural perspectives of majorities, minorities and underrepresented bi-cultural communities in German-speaking countries
  4. Discuss the regional and historical differences among the three German-speaking countries and communities in the European and global contexts by demonstrating knowledge of representative cultural products and practices as well as common social perceptions and values
  5. Demonstrate awareness of the relevant features of German language, culture or literature
  6. Apply the key elements of literary and cultural theory in an analysis and interpretation of literary or cultural works
  7. Complete an original research project about German literature and culture (includes finding and selecting appropriate sources; assessing their heuristic value; composing a concise research plan and a thesis statement; organizing a long piece of writing; establishing a reliable bibliography and proper citation practice)
  8. Compose a closely argued, coherently presented and well-documented essay or a well-organized portfolio in German, relevant to a genre, medium, period, author, theoretical issue, cultural context or creative goal

The language requirement in German is fulfilled by the completion of GERM V 1202 Intermediate Course II. Entering students with a previous knowledge of German will be placed in the appropriate course on the basis of their CEEB scores or in accordance with their achievements on a placement test taken prior to registration.

Three levels of language instruction are offered with an equal emphasis on reading, writing, oral comprehension, and speaking. The Elementary Full-Year Course, German V 1101-V 1102, includes CD-ROMs that the students will use to supplement their five classroom contact hours. In the Intermediate Course I and II, German V 1201 and V 1202, students work with a broad range of sources, such as newspapers, journals, statistical data, historical texts, literature, etc. These texts help build a foundation in the culture of German speaking countries and at the same time enhance the complexity and accuracy of language use. The content is presented through a wide array of media, such as the Internet, music, film, and art. German V 3001 and V 3002 Advanced German provide opportunity for intensive practice in speaking and writing German. These courses may be taken in reverse sequence. They are recommended as complementary companion courses to lecture/reading-oriented courses.

Satisfactory completion of or exemption from GERM V 1202 is required for enrollment in any of the advanced courses; the sequences in which these should be taken will be determined in consultation with the department.