German at Eastman

German is spoken by 120 Million people in Europe and is of particular importance for music students. The Humanities Department offers a comprehensive program of study in German language, lyric diction, and literature/ culture. Courses at Eastman include:

  • two-semester sequence of Elementary German (GER 101/ 102, 4 credits each; GER 101G / 102G, 1 credit each)
  • two-semester sequence of Intermediate German (GER 201/ 202, 3 credits each, GER 201G / 202G, 1 credit each)
  • two semesters of German Lyric Diction (GER 115/ 116, 1 credit each)

Currently offered German courses at Eastman are:

GER 101/ 102 (101G/ 102G):  Elementary German

This two-semester sequence offers an introduction to German language acquisition for students without prior knowledge in the language with emphasis on all four skills: reading, speaking, writing and listening comprehension. Students with prior study of German must contact the instructor for a placement test.

GER 115/ 116: German Lyric Diction

GER 201/ 202 (201G/ 202G):  Intermediate German

This two-semester sequence continues the study of the German language on a more complex level. Elementary grammatical structures will be briefly reviewed but the goal of this course is to move students from drills and textbook study to free expression in German. Students finish the course by reading a drama or novel in German.

GER 221: Advanced German: Exploring Berlin

This course is designed to improve language skills of students with at least four semesters of college German. By focusing on the history and culture of Germany’s capital Berlin, students will read a variety of sources about Berlin’s architecture, history, literature, and the arts. Students will learn to analyze literary and non-literary sources, as well as films in German and are required to compose significant papers in German. The focus will be on 20th century topics.

GER 222: Advanced German: German Romantic Poetry

This advanced German class introduces students to major works of German literature from the period between 1780 and 1830. In addition to reading poetry by Goethe, Schiller, Brentano, Eichendorff, Tieck, Hölderlin, Heine, Novalis, and Mörike, we will study prose and dramatic works by Kleist, Lessing, Schiller, Goethe, and Hoffmann as well as philosophical writings by Schlegel, and Kant. Students should have completed four semesters of college German. Course language is German.

GER 223: German Through Film

This course is an advanced German course that is designed to increase students’ ability to speak and write in German, as well as improve reading and listening comprehension. Grammar will be reviewed only as it applies to students’ writing or reading. The course will offer an overview of German film history – or it may focus on a particular period and/ or genre. Course language is German.

FS 225/ GER 225: Introduction to German Film

This course provides an overview of cinematic production in Germany from the 1920s to the present. We will study the golden age of expressionist cinema during the Weimar inter-war years, Nazi cinema, East and West German films as well as examples of post unification cinema. We will study the films as artifacts as well as historical sources that reflect the rapid political and social changes of German society during the 20th century. We will view films by Robert Wiene Fritz Lang, Veit Harlan, Ernst Lubitsch, Leni Riefenstahl, Wolfgang Staudte, Frank Beyer, Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, Rainer Maria Fassbinder, Helma Sanders Brahms, Doris Dörrie, and Angelina Maccarone among others. Films are in German with English subtitles, all readings and discussion will be in English. No previous knowledge of German or German culture necessary. Cross-listed with GER 225

FS 226/ GER 226: German Film After 1945

This course offers an overview of German film after WWII, i.e. the formation of two German national cinemas. In the East, the state run studio DEFA dominated all film production while the West established a complex system of state and privately sponsored film funding. Students will compare East and West German films, and learn about their respective historical and cultural context. Students will also study how German unification was reflected in East and West German films, and how unified Germany reorganized its film production system. Cross-listed with GER 226

GER 271: Brecht

This course will introduce students to the works of Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956). As an influential playwright, prolific poet, philosopher and political thinker, Brecht has had a lasting impact on generations of writers. His work was directly affected by and responded to the political events of his time: World Wars 1 & 2, exile, and the building of socialist East Germany. We will consider his ideas on socialism, art and politics, art and pedagogy, high and low culture among others. The course will conclude with a few examples of more recent artists, who applied Brechtian concepts in their own works.

GER 276: Kafka

Born in Prague of German-Jewish descent, Franz Kafka was one of the most daring and experimental storytellers of the modern period. Many regard him as the first existentialist writer. In this course we will read one of his novels—The Trial—as well as shorter works such as his parables and paradoxes, short stories, and excerpts from his letters and diaries. Although all of his novels remained unfinished and unpublished at the time of his death, he would become one of the most influential figures in all of twentieth-century literature. His works would continue to shape those of later authors such as Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Thomas Bernhard, and Paul Auster, whose works we will read this semester. All readings and discussions will be in English, although students who wish to read some or all of the works in German will be encouraged to do so. Cross-listed as ENG 276

German as Requirement or Elective

Certain majors require one (e.g. voice majors) or two (e.g. theory majors) full years of language study. Students who do not have such requirements may choose to take only one of the above courses to satisfy Humanities elective credits, e.g. a student may take only GER 101, or if s/he has previous knowledge, whichever level s/he tests into.


Many students have studied German in High School, have earned AP scores, or have spent time in a German speaking country. If you are unsure about your skill level, contact Professor Steingröver ( to schedule a placement test. All students with prior study of/ exposure to the language must consult with their instructor in the first week of classes to assess proper placement. Students who fail to do so and are found to be overqualified for their chosen level risk receiving no credit for the course.

German Minors/ Majors/ Opportunities

Students wishing to pursue a Minor/ Major in German may do so in conjunction with the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the College of Arts and Sciences/ River Campus, which also offers a month-long summer study in Berlin. Scholarship funds are available for interested students. Furthermore, the Cologne program offers up to two students the fully funded opportunity to spend a year as a teaching assistant for English classes in Cologne. Please visit the Modern Languages website for more information:

Conservatory Exchanges with Germany

Eastman offers several conservatory exchange programs with German speaking countries, including Vienna and Freiburg. Solid language skills will maximize your experience abroad. More information on these programs is available through the office of Academic Affairs:

Grants to study in Germany

Many Eastman students have their first experience in Germany through summer study grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). If you have taken at least four semesters of German (or equivalent), you may be eligible for these grants. Eight Eastman students won DAAD grants in 2012. Visit for more information on short and long-term fellowships for Germany. Eastman students also regularly apply for Fulbright grants to study in Germany or Austria. Language skills are essential for applications to these countries. If you are interested in Fulbright grants, please contact ESM Fulbright advisor Professor Timothy Scheie ( and visit

Other sites of interest are: online dictionary German Art Song text archive Deutsche Welle for videos, audio, and news from Germany and the world in German as well as free language courses and placement tests. Goethe Institute for German courses in major US cities, Germany and online as well as news and cultural programs Projekt Gutenberg, full-text archive of German literature in the public domain