The German Program: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Cultural Studies, and Social Psychology

Fall 2018
Winter 2019
Spring 2019
OlympiaStudy Abroad
Olympia +
study abroad option
Class Size: 75
25% Reserved for Freshmen
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Kathleen Eamon
aesthetics and philosophy, critical theory, psychoanalysis
Vuslat Katsanis
writing, comparative literature, film and visual culture
creative writing, philosophy, critical theory

This interdisciplinary program will integrate materials from German studies with philosophy, cultural studies, social psychology and psychoanalysis. We will investigate the foundations of humanism in German thought; questions about the emergence of capital, industry, and the German nation-state in Europe; the notion of the modern individual in morality and ethics; the rise of fascism (both in the early 20th century and in its 21st century guises); the debates surrounding national community and multiculturalism during the German reconstruction after WWII; the so-called Turkish turn in German studies; and the social psychology of the individual (or self) within social context. All students in the program will study the German language and many of our texts within philosophy will come from German-speaking authors such as Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Adorno, Lewin, and Buber. In addition to these texts, the program will introduce students to a wide variety of film, literature, and visual and cultural productions from and about Germany.

In fall (taught by Kathleen Eamon, Laura Citrin, Marianne Hoepli and Lynarra Featherly), our philosophical focus will be on the emergence of individualism in Kantian philosophy and Hegel’s radically historical and social rethinking about what it is to be a human, followed by Marx and Freud’s respective responses. Those historical anchors will be paired with reading the classic works in social psychology, a subfield of psychology that was largely developed by Kurt Lewin, a German Jew who fled Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s for the U.S. Early social psychological research focused on the relationship between the mass and the individual, asking questions about conformity, obedience to authority, groupthink, cognitive dissonance, persuasion, social judgment, stereotyping, stigma, and prejudice. Students will apply their understanding of these topics to view and assess a range of cultural productions, including early experiments in narrative film (from the silent era through the end of WWII), the German Expressionist tradition in art, and the Frankfurt School of critical theory. This quarter will provide the theoretical foundation in an interdisciplinary context the winter and spring work.

In winter (taught by Kathleen Eamon, Laura Citrin, Marianne Hoepli and Vuslat Katsanis), our philosophical focus will shift to an examination of critical theory and translation studies, focusing on German-Jewish and German-Turkish studies. Beginning with New German Cinema and the efforts of Fassbinder, Kluge, Herzog, and others, we will examine the slow move to untangle the national community from the heimat tradition. We will then study the literary and artistic experiments in a multicultural Germany through the works of Turkish-German filmmakers, artists, and intellectuals. Our social psychological work will move toward investigating the social psychology of the Holocaust, examining the key questions about human nature that the Third Reich and the Shoah (or Holocaust) raised. We will look to the role of Jewish thinkers and writers in the German cultural context, as well as theoretical, experiential, and fictional attempts to understand the Shoah. A special focus will be on the work of Primo Levi, an Italian Jewish Holocaust survivor, whose work we will read and unpack to understand issues of German shame and guilt, highly social and moralizing emotions, through a social psychological lens. We will then turn to both primary and secondary work from and on contemporary German-Turkish authors and cultural influences.

Spring quarter offers two unique options, taught by Kathleen Eamon in Berlin or Vuslat Katsanis on-campus in Olympia. Students who elect to continue in the program through study abroad, will travel to Berlin (with excursions to surrounding German-speaking areas) for nine weeks of study abroad and language study. There they will continue to engage these lines of study, with an additional emphasis on Germany’s memorial culture, its emerging multiculturalism and contemporary politics, as well as Berlin’s unparalleled art, music, drama, and architecture. The trip will include a weekend in Prague and a final two weeks of independent travel according to students’ choice.  Note: students enrolled in the fall quarter Nietzsche program who also study German language will be eligible to join this program in the winter and spring quarters and to join us for study abroad in the spring to Berlin. Students who elect to continue the program on-campus will work on a final self-designed research and/or creative project that incorporates aspects of the program’s cultural studies emphasis. The project will develop through a series of faculty and student driven workshops, critique sessions, and will conclude in a final exhibition of work. The quarter will also include seminars, art lectures, and one or two day trips to nearby cultural events 

Students interested in the German language portion of this program may register for 4 credits during fall and winter quarters. Students who register for 12-credits will not take the language component.

Study abroad:

This is an option for students in the Spring quarter. All questions regarding payment should be directed to the teaching faculty of this program.

1.            Special Expenses: $3,742   (Estimated expenses students will cover themselves)

2.            Required Student Fee:  $4,800   (Fee covers group expenses for services organized by college)

3.            Administrative Fee:   $400 (Nonrefundable deposit to cover administrative costs of running study abroad)

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

psychology, the humanities, and international studies.


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

$90 in fall and winter for museums and events.

Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 75
25% Reserved for Freshmen

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Monday, April 1, 2019 - 10:00 am
Com 308 - Media Classroom

Located in: Olympia

2019-04-05variable CRN added
2019-01-29Marianne Hoepli added to Spring teaching team
2018-11-14Spring description updated
2018-08-21Enrollment restrictions updated for Winter and Spring quarters
2018-08-20added Lynarra Featherly to teaching team
2018-08-14Description updated to reflect faculty teaching per quarter
2018-05-16additional credit options added (4, 12 or 16).
2018-03-14This program is now open to students of all levels.
2017-11-16Vuslat Katsanis joined the teaching team.