GERM-510 Theorizing Culture
Spring for 2015-2016
GERM 510 is one of the core courses in the MAGES program. The course is designed to introduce students to the major concepts, thinkers, and debates concerning European cultural identity formation. We will examine the historical emergence of national identity in the context of modern mass-produced print culture; trace the construction of a post-national, multicultural democracy in contradistinction to the colonial, imperialist, fascist, and communist past through a consideration of museums and memorials; and explore the appeal and perils of a cosmopolitan Europe in relation to visual media. Each module comprises theoretical readings and an application of the theories to cultural texts and objects. It is designed to make you more astute interpreters of cultural objects, and encourage you to integrate cultural analysis into your individual areas of concentration. In addition, the course will introduce you to certain genres of academic writing and oral presentation, enabling you to become more skilled at textual analysis, strengthen your abilities to conduct independent and collaborative research, and communicate succinctly and effectively.

The class is organized largely as a seminar. Most weeks, I will begin the class with an introductory lecture, followed by a discussion of the assigned texts and an application of theoretical concepts to cultural texts, artifacts, and sites.

Course Requirements:

Written requirements include weekly, one-page, single-spaced responses to the readings; a 2 page précis (single-spaced; condensation/analysis of a theoretical argument); a 10-12 page analytical paper in which you analyze a text or object of your choice through the lens of some of the theoretical texts we’ve discussed in the course; and a final written assignment TBA. In addition, there is a power point presentation based on collaborative analysis.

Preparation, responses, participation: All of you must come fully prepared to participate each week, and the quality of your preparations (not the quantity of your remarks) will make up 20% of your grade. Please read assigned texts slowly and carefully; a one-page written response to questions I post on Blackboard should be submitted by Sunday 5pm. Please submit your Responses by pasting them into the Discussion Forum, rather than by attachment. For application sessions, you will meet in groups outside of class to prepare for discussion.
Class attendance is mandatory. Each unexcused absence will reduce your final grade by one-third of a grade (e.g., from A to A-). Only medical or family emergencies count as excused absences. If you have to miss class for any other reasons, please notify me ahead of time in writing, and make arrangements for make-up work. If you have to miss class for medical/family emergencies more than once a semester, you should also arrange for make-up work. Needless to say, you should also get notes from your classmates covering the session you missed.


Class Participation,
Reading Responses 20%
Précis 10%
Power point Museum/memorial 10%
Analytical paper 40%
Final paper 20%

All courses in the BMW Center for German and European Studies, including the one described in this document, strictly follow the Honor Code of Georgetown University. In cases of alleged violations, the procedure described in the Honor Code will be followed.

As signatories to the Georgetown University Honor Pledge, and indeed simply as good scholars and citizens, you are required to uphold academic honesty in all aspects of this course. You are expected to be familiar with the letter and spirit of the Graduate School’s definition of and standards for academic integrity at As faculty, we too are obligated to uphold academic integrity and report all suspected cases of academic dishonesty.

Learning Goals:

This course contributes to the learning goals of the MAGES program by:
• introducing multiple perspectives on the major concepts, problems, and questions concerning European cultural identity formation
• practicing the analysis and interpretation of cultural texts, artifacts, and sites that are relevant to European identity
• fostering a self-reflective stance on transatlantic cultural differences and commonalities
• improving oral abilities in presentations
• strengthening the ability to write critically and originally
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
More information
Look for this course in the schedule of classes.

The academic department web site for this program may provide other details about this course.