The German Studies Concentration

The German Studies concentration provides students the opportunity to explore the cultures of German-speaking countries from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students combine coursework in the German language with a selection of courses with appropriate cultural content in consultation with the program director. Students are encouraged to participate in study abroad programs in Germany or Austria.


The German Studies concentration consists of a minimum of five courses with cultural content from one or more German-speaking countries:

  1. two courses must be in German at the level of 232 or above.
  2. the other three courses may be taken in either the German or English language and may be chosen from offerings in the St. Olaf German department as well as other departments, including religion, philosophy, music, and history.
  3. at least two courses must be taken from the St. Olaf German department.
  4. at least two courses must be from outside the St. Olaf German department. At least one of these must be from a field outside the discipline of German language/literature (whether taken from another department at St. Olaf or abroad).
  5. a maximum of two courses from study abroad programs in Germany or Austria may be counted toward the concentration.
  6. the student’s proposed concentration must be approved by the director of the German Studies concentration.

German Studies Checklist

Examples of courses outside the department (with major focus on German cultural content):


191: Europe from the Reformation to Modern Times

218 Reformation Europe
Students study Protestant and Catholic religious movements, Luther and other Reformers, political and social institutions, the Protestant family, intellectual traditions, and popular culture and beliefs in this interdisciplinary approach to Reformation Europe. Students also investigate the rise of nation-states, theological debates, the wars of religion, science and learning, printing and communication, and capitalism. Offered most years.

224 Modern Germany 
This course provides a survey of the history of Germany with emphasis on the period from 1700 to the present. Through primary sources, literature, and historical accounts, students examine Germany’s development from a collection of independent states to a great power, focusing on the social, cultural, and political impact of national unification, rapid industrialization, world wars, and European union. Offered alternate years.


342 Music of the Baroque Era 
An in-depth study of music literature and styles, ca. 1600-1750. Students survey music for vocal chamber ensemble, choirs, and solo and concerted instrumental genres as conceived for church, theater, and chamber settings. Through readings, listening, lectures, discussion, score study, research, and writing, students learn about developments in sacred, instrumental, and dramatic music from Caccini and Monteverdi to Bach and Handel. Prerequisites: Music 241, 242. Offered spring semester 2012-13 and alternate years.

343 Music Of The Classical And Romantic Eras 
Intensive study of musical literature between 1750 and 1900. The course begins with the development of the Viennese Classical School (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven) and continues with European trends in Romantic opera, Lieder, symphony and chamber music (from Rossini through R. Strauss). Prerequisites: Music 241, 242. Offered fall semester 2011-12 and alternate years.


260 Kant’s Moral Theory in Literature and Film
Students study the moral theory of Immanuel Kant by reading his texts and understanding the expression of their ideas in literature and film. They also clarify Kant’s moral theory through comparison of his theory to other moral theories, especially utilitarianism and virtue theory. The overall purpose of the course is to help students to understand and apply moral theories generally, and Kant’s theory in particular, to moral situations. Prerequisite: completion of BTS-T or permission of instructor. Offered most years. Counts toward film studies concentration.

261 Freud and the Study of Human Behavior 
Students examine Freud’s thesis that our thoughts and actions spring from the darkness of our unconscious. Because Freud based his theory on a small sample of case studies, the course scrutinizes this qualitative data and discusses the role of case studies in the study of human behavior. Students evaluate the criteria for a scientific theory of human behavior and consider whether Freud’s theory meets them. Offered during Interim. Religion 213 Lutheran Heritage Analyzing continuity and change within the Lutheran tradition, students consider Luther’s theology and proposals for the reform of Catholicism and evaluate major reappraisals of Lutheran beliefs and practices that developed in response to new issues and social situations. Topics include Orthodoxy and Pietism, conservative and liberal responses to the Enlightenment, modern European Lutheranism and issues of particular importance to Lutheranism in Scandinavia, America, and developing countries. Prerequisite: BTS-B.


214 Reformation Theology
Students analyze 16th-century reform movements in light of their theological and historical contexts and their significance for contemporary theology. The course focuses on contributions and lives of the major figures in the Protestant Reformations (e.g., Luther, Calvin, Zwingli) and the Roman Catholic Reform. Prerequisite: BTS-B. 215 Types of Protestantism Students examine the major forms of Protestant Christianity, their distinctive beliefs and practices and the historical circumstances that led to their formation. Topics include study of the contributions of major theologians (e.g., Luther, Calvin, Wesley), comparison of similarities and differences in belief and practice among Protestant churches and modern conflicts between theological liberals and conservatives (sometimes within denominations). Prerequisite: BTS-B.

234 Luther and Aquinas: Protestant and Catholic Theology in Dialogue
The theologies of Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther influence the lives and beliefs of Catholics and Protestants, yet cause persistent division between them. Students examine the distinctive theological contributions of the two theologians, particularly their respective doctrines of justification, sacraments, and God. Students interpret and evaluate each theologian’s doctrines as well as modern efforts to reconcile their differences. Offered annually or in alternate years. Counts towards medieval studies major.

262 Catholic Rome, Lutheran Wittenberg (abroad)
This course examines religion in Italy and Germany at several decisive turning points in the past and today. Students analyze Catholic theology and church practices, from ancient times to the Renaissance, through site visits and events in Rome (city of the popes) and Florence. They examine emergence of Protestantism through activities in the region around Wittenberg, birthplace of Martin Luther’s Reformation. They compare the influence of religion in Italian and German culture.