Go to Main Content

Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2017
Jan 18, 2018
Transparent Image
Information Select the desired Level or Schedule Type to find available classes for the course.

GERM 590 - German Novel in Long 18th Cent
In eighteenth-century Germany, the novel emerged as a key site of both generic innovation and the negotiation of cultural and social norms. As literacy rates rose and the publishing industry flourished, the disenfranchised middle classes sought out literature, and the novel in particular, as a means of asserting their cultural and social identity. The international success of epistolary novels of virtue rewarded, such as Richardson's Pamela and Rousseau's La nouvelle Heloïse, inspired numerous translations and imitators in the German-speaking world. The ready availability of novels, many of them with romantic story lines, to young female readers in particular led to fears about "Lesewut" and the capacity of literature to corrupt young minds. Female authors such as Sophie von la Roche attempted to counteract this trend by using the novel as a means of educating young women about the dangers of seduction. Meanwhile, authors such as Karl Philipp Moritz used the novel as an experimental space in which to test out ideas about psychology and human development. The psychological and experimental potential of the novel was explored more fully by Goethe; in Wilhelm Meistes Lehrjahre, Goethe established a blueprint for the Bildungsroman, and in Die Wahlverwandtschaften, he reinvented the novel as an experimental space in which different characters combine, separate, and reconnect like atoms in a molecule. Finally, Romantic authors such as Novalis and E.T.A. Hoffmann offered counter-models to the Bildungsroman while performing brilliant and wildly inventive interventions in narrative stucture.
Following a brief theoretical introduction, we will engage in close readings of several important novels of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Individual class discussions will focus on relevant issues such as authorship; narrative structure and theory; translation and international cultural transfer; issues of class, gender, religion, and sexuality; intertextuality; print culture; visuality and aesthetics; and connections to other genres such as the drama and the essay. 

Course Goals and Tasks 

On a thematic level, the course aims to help students acquire a nuanced understanding of the novel's status in modern German and European cultural and literary history via a discussion of its significance in the eighteenth century. Both primary and secondary readings are chosen in such a way as to help students identify different theoretical and critical approaches to the novel. In the process of reading and commenting on the novels themselves, students will develop their own critical perspectives. On a lexico-grammatical level, the course seeks to help students become competent and confident users of high-level German-language academic discourse. Special emphasis will be placed on enhancing academic vocabulary for talking about genre and literary structure, and developing awareness of stylistic and rhetorical complexity of academic and literary texts through repeated exposures. Students will also be expected to participate actively in class discussions using academic vocabulary and complex grammatical structures, and will be encouraged to reflect on their own academic development at the meta-level.

Writing and speaking tasks will include weekly one-page response papers, two short writing assignments, and one final synthetic paper. In addition, each student will be asked to lead a discussion of one of the topics and texts discussed in the class. 

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: MN or MC Graduate
Schedule Types: Lecture, Seminar

German Department

Return to Previous New Search
Transparent Image
Skip to top of page
Release: 8.7.2