German Website


Chair, Professor BRUCE KIEFFER

Professors: DRUXES**, B. KIEFFER, G. NEWMAN. Lecturer: E. KIEFFERž. Teaching Associates: DEGEN, CZECH.


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 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 111-112 offers an alternative introduction to German with a focus on reading competence. German 201 emphasizes accuracy and idiomatic expression in speaking and writing. German 202 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 who wish 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 201 or the equivalent. In any case, all students considering study-abroad should 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 202 is given each year and is recommended as preparation for upper-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 201


* 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 201

German 202

Two of the four sequence courses 301, 302, 303, and 304

Four other courses drawn from German offerings above 202 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

Comparative Literature 232 European Modernism: Modernity and Its Discontents

History 239 Modern German History

History 338 The History of the Holocaust

Music 108 The Symphony

Music 117 Mozart

Music 118 Bach

Music 120 Beethoven

Philosophy 309 Kant

Philosophy 316 Schopenhauer and Nietzsche (Deleted 2005-2006)

Political Science 322 The German Question in European Politics

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

Majors with advanced interests are encouraged to propose independent-study courses (GERM 497 or GERM 498).

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

Two of the four sequence courses 301, 302, 303, 304


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 Comparative Literature and Philosophy.

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

Majors with advanced interests are encouraged to propose independent-study courses (GERM 497 or GERM 498).


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.