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 Fall 2018
Scand St 424/LitTrans 337 – Nineteenth-Century Scandinavian Fiction
Susan Brantly, online, 3 credits
The 19th-Century generated some of Scandinavia’s best-known writers. The course begins with Romanticism and looks at Norwegian folktales, Esaias Tegnér’s popular Viking tale (Frithiof’s Saga), and Hans Christian Andersen’s world-famous stories, to name but a few highlights. From there, we move to the Modern Breakthrough, perhaps the most important period in Scandinavian literary history, during which writers were urged to take up current issues for public debate. Internationally famous Nordic writers did just that in classics such as Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Strindberg’s The Father. We will trace how these influential social debates about class and gender took literary form. As the century comes to a close, some writers, such as Nobel laureates Knut Hamsun and Selma Lagerlöf, react against the rationality of the Modern Breakthrough by turning to literary Decadence and Neo-Romanticism.
This course on 19th-Century Scandinavian Literature is being taught entirely online. Lecture content is streamed illustrated audio. Students will complete assigned readings, take quizzes and exams, and post to a discussion board. Students taking the class for a 4th credit will write a paper.
Students taking the course as Scand 424, must have some knowledge of a Nordic language. Students taking the course as Lit Trans 337 have no language requirement. Students in their first or second years need only ask permission to register.
Picture Credit: Ibsen Enlightens the World by William Strong (1902)
LitTrans 233 – Russian Life and Culture to 1917
Jennifer Tishler MWF 2:25-3:15 PM
This course presents an introduction to the rich and vibrant culture of Russia—its art and architecture, folklore, literature, music, religious life, and philosophy—from its origins through the beginning of the twentieth century. As we move through nearly one thousand years of Russian civilization, we will pay special attention to such recurring themes as the myth of Russia’s cultural hospitality, the theme of authoritarianism and reactions against authoritarianism, the concept of a Russian “people,” the status of women in Russian society, the views of “outsiders” to Russia, and the acceptance or rejection of cultural values and innovations as “Western” or “Eastern,” “Russian” or “foreign.”
The class will be taught in English. No knowledge of Russian or previous coursework in Russian studies is required!
(Students have the option of enrolling in the course for a 4th credit. Students who take the class for 4 credits will write an additional 10-15 pp. paper and will meet for discussion sections on Tuesdays every two weeks.)
Fulfills: REECAS Group III (Literature & Arts)
Lebedev’s “Fall of Novgorod.” On display at the Chazen
Tale and Ballad: LitTrans/Medieval/Folklore 345
The genres of ballad and tale, which originate in the distant past, have often been scorned by the literary establishment, but the fact that they survived through centuries of oral transmission until they were finally recorded in the fairly recent past testifies to their lasting existential appeal. The stories these texts tell are dashingly entertaining and often deeply disturbing: they may offer a profoundly fatalistic view of existence, but they may also voice an angry and, at the same time, humorous protest against oppression. When this narrative type was discovered by scholars and the societal elite about 1800, it inspired many first-rank Nordic authors, e.g., Hans Christian Andersen, Henrik Ibsen, Selma Lagerlöf; and in the 20th century it has cast its spell over Isak Dinesen, Villy Sörensen, and Pr Lagerkvist and its influence has moved from literary to other media today. The course examines both the original literature and its modern “imitations” as well as gives an introduction to the critical methodologies that have recently been developed to deal with this seemingly simple, but in reality highly sophisticated, narrative.
Scandinavian Life and Civilization – Scandinavian Studies 276 and 476
Tuesday and Thursday 11-12:15
If you are interested in a lot of different aspects of life in the Scandinavian Countries, this class is for you. Maybe you want to hear about Vikings or Nordic Gods; maybe you are interested in the Politics of the Welfare State and Sustainable Energy; maybe you like Scandinavian Heavy Metal or pop music; maybe you are a fan of Scandinavian Noir – exciting crime stories such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Kierkegaard’s existentialism; maybe you want to learn more about famous plays such as “A Doll’s House” or movies such as “A Man called Ove;” maybe you enjoy Scandinavian artists such a Munch and his painting of “The Scream;” maybe you want to explore the geography or geology of this region – and visit as a student or tourist with a greater knowledge of what you are experiencing.
This class brings in many different speakers / lecturers who are all passionate about their area of expertise and want to share it with you. The class runs twice a week and will have lectures and discussions. If you want to know more, please contact Nete Schmidt, firstname.lastname@example.org
See you in the fall!
BEGINNER LEVEL (Slavic 111)
MTWF 1:20-2:10 – Ewa Miernowska
Emphasis on proficiency in Polish through speaking, understanding, reading, and writing, with introduction to Polish culture. Vocabulary is reinforced through reading of easy texts from Polish press, watching Polish movies and viewing Polish Internet sites. Very engaging and fun class.
ADVANCED LEVEL (Slavic 277)
MWF 9:55-10:45 – Ewa Miernowska
Students expend their vocabulary by engaging with texts from different genres, historical periods and perspectives. Readings offer a variety of authentic materials: short stories, novels, poems, and press articles. Students discuss movies, explore Polish Internet sites, and are constantly involved in fun activities. Possibility of 16 retrocredits.
SCAND ST 520/FOLKLORE 530 – The Labor Movement in Nordic American Migration
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM to 10:45AM
“The Labor Movement in Nordic American Migration” will examine how immigrants from Scandinavia and elsewhere took part in the labor movement and other social movements of the early 1900s. We’ll read newspaper reports and academic articles, examine old cartoons, listen to labor songs, and watch documentaries. Doing so will help us understand the history and folklore of the working class in the United States and, as striking teachers make news across the country, examine how the labor movement is not relegated just to the past, but continues to adapt and change today. Finally, we’ll contextualize immigration within historical and contemporary social movements and give you a good idea of the many, often changing, facets of the labor movement while exploring the role you as a folklorist and student can play in documentation, preservation, and presentation.
Feel free to contact Dr. Marcus Cederström (email@example.com) with any questions!
Fall 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 Fall 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 (404 for graduate students only)
SCAND ST 102/404-002 – Second Semester Norwegian (404 for graduate students only)
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
(404 for graduate students only)
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
(404 for graduate students only)
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; May 21 – June 16, 2018
This course approaches the Vikings along historical lines, and its backbone is texts from medieval sources. The legendary history of early Scandinavia, the consolidation of the Scandinavian kingdoms, developments both at home and abroad during the great period of Viking expansion, finally the conversion of Scandinavia to Christianity (which wrote finis to the Viking adventure) –these are the historical subjects discussed. Within this historical framework, a good deal of attention is devoted to the pre-Christian religion of early medieval Scandinavia, to its system of writing (the celebrated runes) and its literature (including the mythological and heroic poetry of the Edda, the court poems of the skalds, and the Icelandic sagas), to Viking art and archaeology. As we learn about the medieval Scandinavians we gain a greater understanding of ourselves and the human condition.
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.