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Intermediate German Sequence

Vassar's Intermediate German Sequence evolved in tandem with our attempts to develop MOOssiggang to conduct an online exchange with students studying English at the University of Münster in Germany. What began as an experiment, however, evolved into a three-course intermediate sequence that combines language learning (grammar review, vocabulary building, intensive writing and speaking) with a coherent, humanities-based study of cultural topics. It consists of three courses:

Intermediate I: Identity in Contemporary Germany

Using short texts, this low-intermediate course investigates questions of identity in contemporary Germany through three primary themes: debates on German citizenship in a multicultural society; the origin and nature of gender, sexual identity, and youth subcultures; and issues of East and West in reunified Germany. As part of exploring German identity, students use MOOssiggang to create, analyze, and role play their own virtual identities as students of German.

Intermediate II: Space in Weimar Germany

This intermediate course explores questions of space by studying an array of German texts, images, and films from the first half of the 20th century, including excerpts from novels, short stories, autobiographies, political statements, letters and poems from such key writers and political figures as Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Raineer Maria Rilke, Rosa Luxemburg, Irmgard Keun, Else Lasker-Schüler, Franz Marc, Ernst Bloch, Adolf Hitler, Bauhaus theorists, and others. In addition, students shoot a short video, and build their own German-language spaces in MOOssiggang, including a virtual utopia with students at the same level at Williams College.

Intermediate III: Contemporary German Media and Culture

This advanced intermediate course consists of two interrelated parts. In the first half of the course, students study three representative "case studies" from 20th century Germany: the role of radio and film in Nazi propaganda in the 1930s; East Germany's attempts to regulate rock-and-roll and popular music in the 1960s and 1970s; and the scandalous connections between yellow journalism and domestic terrorism in West Germany in the 1970s. During the second half of the course, students at Vassar work with students studying English and applied linguistics at the Universität Münster to study a contemporary cross-cultural media problem. Recent exchanges have focused on the role of media in reporting, representing, and potentially inciting deadly school shootings, such as the one at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in April, 1999, and the one at Johannes-Gutenberg-Gymnasium in Erfurt, Germany, in April, 2002.