German Website


Chair, Professor BRUCE KIEFFER

Professors: B. KIEFFER, NEWMAN. Associate Professor: DRUXES. Part-time Lecturer: E. KIEFFER§. Teaching Associates: GREINEDER, SCHAGERL.


The department provides language instruction to enable the student to acquire all four linguistic skills: understanding, speaking, reading, and writing. German 101-W-102 stresses basic communicative competence and 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 107 emphasizes accuracy and idiomatic expression in speaking and writing. German 108 combines advanced language study with the examination of topics in German-speaking cultures. Students who have studied German in secondary school should take the placement test given during First Days 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 is the minimum requirement for junior-year abroad programs sponsored by American institutions. Students who wish to enroll directly in a German-speaking university should complete at least 107 or the equivalent. In any case, all students considering study-abroad are advised to discuss their language preparation with a member of the department.


The department regularly offers courses on German literature in translation for 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, thought, and culture in the original. German 108 is given each year and is recommended as preparation for 300-level courses.


To enhance a student's educational and professional profiles, the department offers the Certificate in German. It requires seven courses-two fewer than the major-and is especially appropriate for students who begin study of the language at Williams.

Students who enter Williams with previous training in German may substitute more advanced courses for the 100-level courses; they can also be exempted from up to two of the required courses.

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

Appropriate elective courses can usually be found among the offerings of German, Art History, History, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, and Theatre.

Required Courses

German 101

German 102

German 103

German 104

German 107


* at least one course (in German or English) on German cultural history (literature, art, drama, music)

* at least one course (in German or English) 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 no later than the end of the sophomore year.

Required Courses

German 103

German 104

German 107

German 108

Two 300-level German courses, at least one of which must be taken in the senior year.

Four other courses drawn from German offerings above 108 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:

ArtH 267 Art in Germany: 1960 to the Present

History 238 Germany in the Twentieth Century

Literary Studies 203 Literary Movements: Modernity and Its Discontents: European Modernism

Music 120 Beethoven

Philosophy 201 Continental Philosophy: From Hegel to Post-Structuralism

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 108

Two 300-level German courses, at least one of which must be taken in the senior year


Six 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.


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

Students interested in honors should consult with the department chair no later than April 15 of their junior year. The usual qualifications for pursuing honors are: (1) an overall GPA of 3.33 or better, (2) a departmental GPA of 3.67 or better, (3) a strong interest in a specific topic for which an appropriate faculty advisor will be available in the senior year.