Chair, Professor BRUCE KIEFFER

Professors: B. KIEFFER, NEWMAN*. Associate Professor: DRUXES. Part-time Lecturer: E. KIEFFER§. Visiting Assistant Professor: ZILCOSKY. Visiting Lecturer: HACHMEISTER§. Teaching Associates: WEIKERT, ZÖHRER.


The Department provides language instruction to enable the student to acquire all four linguistic skills: understanding, speaking, reading, and writing. German 101-W-102 covers German grammar in full. German 103 combines a review of grammar with extensive practice in reading and conversation. German 104 aims to develop facility in speaking, writing, and reading. German 109 combines very advanced language study with the examination of topics in German-speaking cultures. Students who have studied German in secondary school must take the placement test in September to determine which course to take.


The Department strongly encourages students desiring to attain fluency in German to spend a semester or year studying in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland, either independently or in one of several approved foreign study programs. German 104 or the equivalent and junior standing are normally prerequisite for study abroad.


The Department regularly offers courses on German literature in translation for those students who have little or no knowledge of German, but who wish to become acquainted with the major achievements in German literary and intellectual history.


The Department offers a variety of advanced courses for students who wish to investigate German literature and thought in the original. German 109 and 202 are given each year and are recommended as preparation for 300- and 400-level courses. 300-level courses are generally offered once every three years, allowing the student to gain comprehensive knowledge of German literature. The seminar 402 has a different topic every year and may be repeated. Students with special interests are encouraged to consult department members about the possibility of independent study (497,498). German 104 or equivalent preparation is prerequisite to all advanced courses.


To enhance a student's educational and professional profiles, the Certificate in German offers a useful tool for using the language in a wide variety of disciplines. The sequence of language and culture courses is designed to supplement a student's major at Williams by enabling the student to expand his or her knowledge in a related field.

The course of study for the certificate gives credit for German 101 and 102, which do not count toward the major. Students who enter Williams with previous training in German may substitute more advanced courses for the 100- and 200-level courses; they can also be exempted from up to two of the required courses. Thus, in order to earn a certificate a student must take no fewer than five courses (including three language courses) after enrolling at Williams.

Students must receive a minimum grade of B in each course taken in the sequence. In addition, they must receive a score of at least 650 (out of a possible 800) on the ETS (Educational Testing Service) Comprehensive Proficiency Test.

Required Courses:





109 or 202


-at least one course on German cultural history (literature, art, drama, music)

-at least one course on German intellectual, political, or social history


The Department supports two distinct majors: German Studies and German Literature.

German Studies

German Studies offers students an interdisciplinary approach to German intellectual and cultural history by combining courses in German language and literature with courses in History, Philosophy, Music, and other appropriate fields.

The German Studies major consists of ten courses. Students selecting the major must normally complete German 104 or the equivalent by the end of the sophomore year.

Course Requirements

German 103 or the equivalent

German 104 or the equivalent

German 109 or German 202

Two 300-level German courses

Five other courses drawn from German offerings above 104 and offerings in other departments chosen in consultation with the chair of the German Department. The electives must include courses from at least two departments other than German.

Examples of appropriate courses in other departments are:

Literary Studies 203 European Modernism

History 238 Germany in the Twentieth Century

Music 127 Mahler and His Era

German Studies majors may receive major credit for as many as four courses taken during study abroad.

German Literature

The German Literature major consists of nine courses. Students selecting this major should usually have completed German 104 or the equivalent by the end of the sophomore year.

Required Courses

German 202 Introduction to German Studies

One 300-level German course in the senior year


Seven other courses. At least four must focus on topics in German literary history. Two may be either language courses above 103 or relevant courses offered in other departments such as Literary Studies and Philosophy.

German Literature majors may receive major credit for up to four courses taken during study abroad.


At the beginning of the second semester of the senior year, students may nominate themselves to candidacy for the degree with honors. By the end of the junior year at the latest, however, they must have established, in consultation with the Department, their qualifications for undertaking the project, the pattern of study to be followed, and the standards of performance.

Students earn honors by completing a senior thesis (German 493-W031-494) of honors quality.