German, Scandinavian Studies, and Slavic Languages Courses
The Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic offers a range of courses. We teach more than a dozens languages, including Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Icelandic, Kazakh, Norwegian, Old Norse, Polish, Russian, Sami, Serbo-Croatian, Swedish, Turkish, and Yiddish. Our courses explore cultures and literature from across the globe, from Iceland to Germany to Russia to Turkey. Study with GNS and see the world.
Questions regarding Undergraduate Courses can be directed to Bridget Sutton.
Questions regarding Graduate Courses can be directed to Mark Mears.
For course descriptions from current and previous semesters, please see our archive.
Coming in Spring 2018
Masterpieces of Scandinavian Literature: the 20th Century
Literature in Translation 274/Scandinavian Studies 374
Instructor: Susan Brantly
Can thrillers, science fiction novels, or films be literary masterpieces? Yes they can! Explore the changing fashions in literature throughout the 20th Century, while you learn important survival skills for the media age. Everybody wants something, so how do you assess what different writers want from you, and what tricks do they use to go about getting it? Through a selection of short texts, novels, and plays, we’ll be learning from some of the best: Nobel Laureates (Knut Hamsun, Pär Lagerkvist), medical doctors (P.C. Jersild), and other provocateurs (August Strindberg, Isak Dinesen, Ingmar Berman, Peter Hoeg, and the rest). This course fulfills the literature requirement, can be taken for Comm-B credit, and has an honors option.
German 275/Lit in Trans 277/Comparative Literature 350:
Kafka and the Kafkaesque
(Adler; TR 11:00-12:15; ENGR HALL 1227)
Franz Kafka (1883 – 1924) is an author whose impact on world literature cannot be overestimated. Born an Austrian Jew and living in the German-speaking Diaspora of Prague, he spent his days making a living as a successful employee of an insurance company and his nights desperately trying to create fiction that met his own exacting expectations. Constantly at odds with the demands of his family, friends, and fiancées/female acquaintances and plagued by poor health, Franz Kafka struggled his entire life long to reconcile the irreconcilable: life and writing.
Similar to Kafka’s characters, who are losers from the outset, the readers of Kafka’s texts seem doomed to fail in their attempts to understand this uncanny world, created out of common language. And here lies the uncomfortable paradox: We may understand his texts but we struggle to follow their logic and the mysterious world created by them. Even when our imagination and comprehension fall short of grasping the textual world we remain mesmerized by it.
In this course, we will read a wide selection of texts by Franz Kafka in order to approach an understanding of his universe and prepare ourselves to view this universe in comparison with other contemporary authors as well as authors from other cultures and eras (N. Gogol, W.G. Sebald, T. Pynchon, H. Mulisch, P. Roth). Lectures will also highlight literature, film, and art works in the tradition of the Kafkaesque. There will be a midterm and a final exam.
Dissent and Modern Identity: Václav Havel’s Protest
Directed Study, Spring 2018, 2cr, meeting schedule to be arranged
Professors David S. Danaher and Manon van de Water, GNS
What can an absurdist playwright and so-called dissident from late 20th-century Czechoslovakia teach 21st-century Americans about dissent and political power? What is the relationship between dissidentism and personal/collective identity in modern society? This directed study provides (partial) answers to these questions by engaging in a critical reading, and ultimately a dramatic presentation, of one of Václav Havel’s plays from 1978.
We will situate the play in its sociocultural context (Czechoslovakia during the “culture of dissent” in the late 1970s) by reading and discussing related plays and writings that help us understand its meaning and message. What is the power of theatrical performativity, and how does Havel craft his play to maximize its effect? In other words, what is the relationship, in Havel’s thinking, between theatrical performance and cultural/political performance? One focus of our discussion will concern the play’s relevance to contemporary society: what can Havel teach us about empowerment in our own society?
For more information on this course, please contact David S. Danaher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
German 362-2: Mord und Totschlag: Deutsche Krimis als Texte und Filme
Instructor: Professor Sabine Gross
Spring 18, Tu and Thu, 5:30-6:45 pm
Prerequisites: German 249, 258, and 262; or German 249 and 274 or 284; or cons inst
L&S Credit Type: C
Honors: For full Honors credit, please enroll under course number German 385
Detective fiction is the most popular kind of entertainment fiction worldwide. In this course, you will read German-language texts and view films from two centuries of the detective/mystery genre. You will meet famous classical detectives (including Sherlock Holmes); German, Austrian, and Swiss detectives; female and Turkish-German detectives. You will watch the most famous German TV detective series, read at least one “detective story without a detective”, and you will observe and analyze different types of detectives (reason or intuition, police or outlaw), perpetrators, and crimes. We will debate big questions – human motivations (love, greed, hate…..), social marginalization and privilege, violence and justice. But we’ll also read like detectives – closely and attentively – as we follow the traces that criminals leave and sleuths pursue. You will learn about the rules of the detective genre and why some authors break them. You will learn about different forms of detective stories and analyze their clever construction, and we will discuss important aspects of mysteries such as gender and place/space, the role of suspense vs. surprise, and the role of humor.
The course language is German. Active oral participation is essential for this seminar-style class: come prepared for whole-group (and sometimes small-group) discussion and lively exchange.
Spring 2018 GNS Courses
For the most up-to-date listings of courses offered by German, Nordic, and Slavic please see the Course Guide under the subject headings GERMAN, SCAND ST, SLAVIC, and LITTRANS (Literature in Translation), and for Turkish and Kazakh courses see LCA LANG listings.
In the fall, GNS will offer introductory (first semester) courses in the following languages: Czech, Danish, Finnish, German, Modern Icelandic, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish, and Turkish. We will offer intermediate and advanced courses in these and other languages, including Polish and Serbo-Croatian.
German, Nordic, and Slavic Course Descriptions for Spring 2018:
German course descriptions
Scandinavian Studies course descriptions
Slavic course descriptions
Please contact our Undergraduate Coordinator for more information.
For course descriptions from current and previous semesters, please see our archive.
Summer 2018 GNS Courses
GNS offers a range of exciting courses this summer, offered both online and on campus. See descriptions below.
GERMAN 101/401 – First Semester German
GERMAN/JEWISH 267 – Yiddish Song & the Jewish Experience
SCAND ST 101/404-001 – First Semester Norwegian
SCAND ST 102/404-002 – Second Semester Norwegian
SCAND ST/MEDIEVAL 430 – The Vikings
SLAVIC 101 and SLAVIC 102 – First Year Russian
SLAVIC 117 and SLAVIC 118 – Second Year Russian
SLAVIC/THEATRE/CURRIC 362 – Drama for Teaching & Learning
For the most up-to-date listings see the Course Guide.
Please email our Undergraduate Coordinator if you have any questions about enrolling.
Information about Enrolling in Intensive Russian Language
For the summer 2018, the Slavic program will offer two sets of intensive Russian language classes for first year Russian and second year Russian. The accelerated program condenses one year of Russian study into an eight-week summer session. Students must enroll in the courses in pairs:
First Year Russian: SLAVIC 101 and SLAVIC 102
Second Year Russian: SLAVIC 117 and SLAVIC 118
UW-Madison students may enroll in these courses following normal procedures and do not need prior approval.
GERMAN 101/401 First Semester German / First Semester German for Graduate Students
9:00-10:50 AM M-F; June 18 – August 12, 2018
Presumes no knowledge of the German language. In the course students learn basic vocabulary around topics such as classroom objects, daily routines, descriptions of people and objects, simple narration in present time, etc. German 101 covers material presented in the textbook VORSPRUNG from Kapitel 1 to Kapitel 6. Students read and discuss “real” texts (written by and for native) speakers from the start. Grammar is explained using examples from these texts as well as from a graphic novel, told in installments, that traces the journey of an American exchange student, Anna Adler, to the university in Tübingen as well as her adventures once there. The course also offers basic cultural insights and comparisons that are further elaborated on in second-year courses.
GERMAN 267 Yiddish Song and the Jewish Experience
Online; June 18 – August 12, 2018
Explores Yiddish song as an expression of the modern Jewish experience from Eastern Europe to the US. Covers folk song, popular and art music. Music and readings together provide an analytical framework to examine cultural and historical issues
SCAND ST 101/404-001 First Semester Norwegian
Online; June 18 – July 15, 2018
Norwegian 101 is a first semester language course that presumes no knowledge of the Norwegian language. It is open to freshman. The course develops basic skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing Norwegian. We offer a thematic, communicative approach to language teaching that strives to put language in the context of culture. Classroom time focuses on communication and listening, as well as introducing basic grammatical concepts. Homework centers on reinforcing vocabulary, reading, grammar exercises and writing. Thematic units covered in Norwegian 101 include social introductions, education, food, daily-life, leisure activities, weather and seasons.
SCAND ST 102/404-002 Second Semester Norwegian
Online; July 16 – August 12, 2018
This course continues to build basic skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing Norwegian. We offer a thematic, communicative approach to language teaching that strives to put language in the context of culture. Class time focuses on communication and listening, as well as introducing basic grammatical concepts. Homework centers on reinforcing vocabulary, reading, grammar exercises and writing. Thematic units covered in Norwegian 102 include clothing, family and relationships, appearance and personality, celebrations, hometowns and housing, work and economy.
SCAND ST 430 The Vikings
Online; June 18 – July 15, 2018
Within a historical framework, a thorough introduction to the culture, literature, and religion of the Vikings.
SLAVIC 101 and 102 Intensive First Year Russian
M-F; June 18 – August 12, 2018
Welcome to First Year Russian! In this course you will learn how to: read, write and pronounce the letters and sounds of the Russian alphabet; become acquainted with speakers of Russian in informal and formal settings; request and receive information; make simple statements, ask and answer yes/no questions; say goodbye; say where someone lives; exchange telephone numbers; ask to whom something belongs; link topics of conversation; express dismay and delight; express judgment and emotion, including strong feelings and opinions; express indirect questions; talk about sports, professions and music; express possession, location, and permission; give commands; talk about academic matters (university life and studies); express that you can or want to do something; talk about likes and dislikes, liking and loving someone or something; talk about past and future events; use some time expressions; recount what someone else has said; make inquiries and requests; express location; express going places; say when something happened; say that someone is glad or ready; express arrival or departure; describe prices and quantities; express possession; explain where someone is from; express needs and obligations; discuss theater, film, the weather, travel; make comparisons; express frequency; discuss learning and teaching; discuss what you want to be or become; single out a person or thing from a group; express absence; express need, permission, possibility, prohibition, shame, boredom and other states; describe people and things; talk about eating (always important!); make indirect requests; tell time; emphasize things; describe temporary states; ask for suggestions and advice; describe your interests; talk about summer plans; talk about dining out; AND MORE
SLAVIC 117 and 118 Intensive Second Year Russian
M-F; June 18 – August 12, 2018
Welcome to Intensive Second Year Russian! After completing this course, you will be able to: talk about yourself, your interests, and people you know; discuss university life, dining, theater, music and ballet; express opinions and preferences, convey surprise, regret, doubt and consolation; format letters and emails, find useful information on the Internet, use proper phone etiquette; make plans for travel and tourism; ask for, give and receive directions; recall important Russian cultural figures and read excerpts from famous works of literature; write and edit short written compositions on a variety of topics; deliver 3-5 minute presentations on topics of interest; and much more!
SLAVIC 362 Drama for Teaching and Learning
12:30-4:00 PM M-F; May 29 – June 17, 2018
Prerequisites: Open to first-year students
This is a methods course useful for all involved in teaching and learning, including foreign languages. Introduction to philosophy, methodology, and practice of the use of drama and performance techniques in any educational or recreational settings. Focus on creativity and embodied and contextual learning, based on current neurological, psychological, and sociological research. A practical class which includes demonstration and practice with children.
This course meets in the Eagle Heights Community Center on campus and works with the PreK class in the Eagle’s Wing Childcare Center. Free parking is available at the Community Center, and the 80 bus, which picks up throughout UW campus, takes students free of charge to the Community Center.
Students seeking to enroll in Directed Study courses for German, Scandinavian Studies, Slavic, or GNS must complete a Directed Study Form. Students should complete the form in conversation with the instructor with whom they plan to take the course. In most cases, students will not be authorized to enroll in a Directed Study courses until they have completed and submitted the form to our Undergraduate Coordinator.